The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.


November 20, 2006

Name: CAPT Doug Traversa
Stationed in: Kabul, Afghanistan
Hometown: Tullahoma, TN
Milblog url:

And now for something completely different. Here are some of the more austere rules of Camp Phoenix:

First of all, no alcohol is allowed here. This is not an issue to me, as I have never been drunk, and rarely drink wine, never mind hard liquor. So I couldn’t care less about the booze prohibition, but it wears on a lot of my compatriots.

Second, you always have to be in uniform, either the DCUs or the PT uniform. This is only an issue because our brand new PT uniforms do not include sweat shirts. All we have is a t-shirt and a running jacket. This is not going to cut it in the winter, so I suspect I’ll be wearing my uniform all the time once it gets really cold. This is annoying, but not a huge problem.

Third, sex is absolutely prohibited. Now before you all freak out, let me elaborate. I am not talking about adultery or fraternization, which are forbidden by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Nor am I advocating for premarital sex. I am simply pointing out that we are at a base full of lonely men and women, many of them young and single. Couples do form. But men are not allowed to enter women’s quarters, and vice-versa. Sex is expressly prohibited in any form here. Yet the PX sells condoms and pregnancy kits. Hmmm. There must be other uses for these items.

Fourth, we can’t even have pets. While this is pretty far down on most people’s gripes, it hits me hard.

Finally, you can’t leave the base except for official business. There are no vacation opportunities, no sight-seeing, no nothing. You can’t go to a restaurant and have a nice meal. I can’t even go over to ISAF and play rugby anymore.

So you take people and put them in a combat environment, take away booze, sex, recreation, sight-seeing, good food, clean air, green grass, pets, and you have a recipe for misery. Despite this, the troops push on, getting the job done, and while there is certainly grumbling and complaining, things hold together pretty well. I think this aspect of what the troops go through is overlooked. It’s not just the combat, it’s the lack of much fun back at the base that is equally tough, yet we fight on.

Remember this next time you see troops coming home. Not only have they been through war, they’ve been through mind-numbing boredom. I see it in some of the men around me. It is vital to have something to do. Thanks goodness for my hobbies and my writing. I have been spending at least two hours a day, often more, on my writing, both blogging and e-mails. It has been my salvation here.


Amen, brother. The wars are basically all the same now. We were also restricted to base in I Corp in Vietnam, going crazy for the basics of a social life. We were mostly single, very young and mostly draftees, doing our time and then going home to college or work... Hang in there and I promise you 30 years from now you will not only be proud, but you will be amazed at how much you accomplish between now and then!! As for the rules, aren't they made to be broken?

Have you packed yet? While I love reading your posts you really need to be focusing more on that R&R. And, by the way, NO BLOGGING while you are at home! :)

Having visited deployed personnel in Kosovo who also fall under General Order #1 I've seen the boredom factor there that you describe at Camp Phoenix. Granted the security threat doesn't seem to be as great in Kosovo as it is for you all there but those "four Hesco walls" can get to be a bit much after a few months. Luckily for us you have chosen to use your "down time" to keep us posted about your experieces. I appreciate that very much!

Safe travels home and enjoy your family and friends.

Friends of mine in khandahar in the canadian camp play ball hockey. Can you guyshoop up with them

Ah, you get to talk to females, I didn't get to talk to women (RVN), and when they showed up I found I couldn't - they were awesome and I was awed and in shock. Read more, write more and remember those that impose the rules do so for their benefit not yours.

Hello from TN. I'm sure you are very bored there! Just know all of us at hm. are thinking of you.So glad to find this site to e-mail some of you. Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.

What can we send you (other than girls, pets, grass, booze) that might lighten the boredom? And where? Books? What kinds? What else?


Well, CAPT, you must agree that no alcohol (General Order #1) is good overall.
I have deployed to war zones a few times, and you don't want the guy next to you hung over with a weapon.
It sounds like your main beef is about the no sex rule. We also had to have 4 people, dressed in BDUs one E-8 minimum and on official business to go downtown in Kaposvar, Hungary with NO
threat whatsoever!
People will find a trashcan or somewhere to have sex. In Iraq, the female put a shoelace on the door when she 'didn't want to be disturbed'!
It does start jealousies and gets to be bad for morale.
Stay in there and soon you will rotate home. Oh, I'm sure you have internet, including those cameras!! I saw several "interesting" pictures in the recycle bin sent from wives and girlfriends!

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