Sunday, October 5, 2014

Postcards from Kuwait

For those who don’t know I am hanging out in Kuwait for a little while as a soldier and an engineer. This is not an assignment that will make a good book or movie, but it is one where I have a job where I feel more useful and that I find more satisfying than other jobs I have had overseas.

I will not post much about my day-to-day job. Yes, there is the whole "operational security thing", but more than that, like any job, the stories that come from the daily workings take a while to set up and are probably not that interesting to those outside (unless you really enjoy the process of military construction work orders).

When I deploy, people often ask if I need anything. In truth, the answer is not much – as far as stuff is concerned. Our food and lodging is provided (thank you for paying your taxes). Wonderful organizations send enough Girl Scout cookies and other goodies to give diabetes to ever Soldier, Arab and Filipino in the country. It also still regularly cracks 100 here. Once in Iraq a well-meaning family member sent gummy bears – or at least that’s what the writing of the packet said the fussed gummy block used to be. However, I will put up any postcards or pictures and read all letters.

My room in Iraq with pictures from friends and a giant letter from an elementary school class

In absolute Bliss

We started our journey at Ft. Bliss, Texas. This little post is right next to the west-Texas town of El Paso (and yes, you do find yourself singing Rosie’s Cantina quite often). It is located in the heart of the Chihuahuan Desert. While this does not sound that appealing, it has its own beauty. The mountains were still to the west and it’s at close to 4,000 feet so it was a half-way house of sorts between the front range of Colorado and the Arabian desert (An improvement in realistic training from the pre-deployment exercises that prepared us for the mountains of Afghanistan in Ft. Riley, Kansas).

Franklin Mountains: Helping lieutenant at Ft. Bliss find "west" since 1854

Low scrub brush of the Chihuahuan Desert at the M9 range

Energy Efficiency in the Army

The energy engineer in me was also excited to see some of the neat things that Bliss is doing as it bumbles towards the goal of becoming a net zero energy post.

Rooftop solar

Perfect display of window shades done right. Taken at high noon.
Putting the oppressive western Texas sun to use heating water for the dinning facility
If you look closely you can see the occupancy sensor on the thermostat
Shading the cars and getting some power

And for the grand finally: rooftop solar, hot water heating and window shading

One Last Scamper in the States

Our training wrap-up coincided nicely with a race. Ft. Bliss trains air defense soldiers from all of the world to include the Germans (and Japanese). To start Oktoberfest the Germans put on a fun little 5k and 8k. I had a solid run with nicely even splits. While a few young ‘uns rounded out the overall podium, I took 1st in the male 30-39. From the age group award you would think I won the whole shooting match – the German’s take their age group awards seriously.

Heading to the sandbox

Our trip over was unremarkable, but I would be remiss if I did not note the Pease Greeters of Portsmouth, NH. While I would have loved to spend some time with the Bangor greeters, these guys were truly amazing.

These guys are pretty awesome. If you're wondering where all the uniforms are, we had a lot of DA civilians on  our flight.
Best dog coat. Ever.

See you all in a little while.

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