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.


May 17, 2007

Name: LT Carl Goforth
Posting date: 5/17/07
Stationed in: Anbar Province, Iraq
Milblog url:

The Al Asad Airbase is located just a few short clicks from the Euphrates River about 180 kilometers due west from Baghdad. The base is built on an historically biblical site: The local population has maintained for thousands of years that Abram, Sarai, and Lot stopped here and camped for a short time while travelling from Ur to Haran. This spot is revered, one of the reasons Saddam Hussein built his premier airbase here. It is well known that he spent a lot of time on this base, and used it to train Iraqi Olymic teams alongside the military.

The oasis is tucked away on a protected area of the base, and is only a two-mile run from the barracks. Standing here felt surreal. What a privilege to have somewhere quiet to retreat to from time to time, a place that is sacred to Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faiths alike. The picture can only capture a fraction of how beautiful this spot is. The date grove surrounding the oasis is lush, full of color, and bursting with life.Framed_goforth_hi_oasis2


Thanks for posting this. My niece was stationed at Al Asad twice with the Marines, but I don't know if anyone ever told her of the history of the place. The only time she ever mentioned the Euphrates to me was when she was involved in the recovery of some Marines who drowned in a flood there. Apparently that area has notorious mud flats. You offer a different perspective.

There are so few images of water in Iraq, thanks for this. It's good to have an image to help envision my dream for the future - when all of Iraq is "lush, full of color, and bursting with life."

I found your post very beautiful. But honestly my initial reaction was that of fear. All I could think of was that you may be possibly be standing in an ambush. In fact, That's what I expected this essay to explain. In my cynisism I have found that a peaceful feeling opens the door to unexpected chaos. So I try to keep my self grounded with this thought:In the end it all turns out OK. If it's not OK, It's not the end.

Lt. Goforth:
The news back here in the States is all of bloodshed and violence. It is refreshing to see an image so peaceful from this part of the world. It is a suitable reminder of the peace we all pray for in the world. To know that you have stood in the same spot that people like Abram and Lot once stood must be very humbling. That this is a spot that is sacred to so many faiths, yet is not a source of contention like other sites in the regions reaffirms my faith in the Abrahamic family, that we are all children of God.

All the times I was at Al Asad and I had no idea that was there. Would have made a nice addition to my photos of Ur.

"The picture can only capture a fraction of how beautiful this spot is." Beautiful, yes and peaceful - a side of Iraq of which we see so little. I can feel the peace just from looking at the picture, so that in person it must be spellbinding. Thank-you so much LT Goforth for a glimpse of this ancient oasis.

The soccer stadium at Al Asad was also a draw for Saddam and his devil spawn. The guys who ran the Hadji Shops in the base said Saddam and his sons were at the base alot for games.

I knew about this Oasis and went there in person. The Bible doesn't mention it but the Quran does mention that Abraham rested at this Oasis.

It's lamentable that only a portion of this area was taken, because I could the privilege to be there an admire the beauty it has

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