THE RULES |
November 20, 2006
Name: CAPT Doug Traversa
Stationed in: Kabul, Afghanistan
Hometown: Tullahoma, TN
Milblog url: http://traversa.typepad.com
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.