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.


August 29, 2007

Name: SFC Toby Nunn
Posting date: 8/29/07
Stationed in: Kuwait / Iraq
Hometown: Oakland, CA via Terrace B.C. CANADA
Milblog url

The Shelbystanis* were a nation of stupid people that aggravated me beyond belief. I was always in a state of disbelief about the things I was hearing. The leadership was drunk on stupid juice all the time. But I have now entered a new place. I am currently in the capital of POGistan. Also know as AJ in Kuwait. I was selected to come down here with our crew to display our vehicle and discuss it with some VIPs.

The reason I have dubbed this place POGistan is due to the complete state of denial that the majority of people that live here operate in. There are paved streets with street signs and painted lines, motorpools with fences, and Starbucks with complete food courts and all the amenities of home. I feel like I am back in the States.

As I was walking through the quad area last night it was like I was back at college, with young guys and gals hanging out in the warm night air, flirting and dancing while drinking thier Venti Java Chip Frappacinos (for the record, I am a fan of those). I was able to pick up a couple of the newest issues of International Relations and sit there reading. It was hard to believe that only a few days ago we were getting shot at. Mortars were falling from the skies and we looked at every person as if they themselves were going to kill us. Now I am watching my crew, J and Hamster, checking out the girls and making plans to go to the pool.

We are billeted in a large "warehouse" type building. It has separate areas with plenty of wall lockers and space. It is a hard structure with arctic AC, unlimited power outlets (Dual Voltage), cable hook ups, and to top it off FREE WiFi. Thats right I am typing this post right now from my very own computer. This is only the second time that I've ever been able to do that, lying in my comfortable bunk that has a decent mattress.

The best part of this experience is to hear these people complain about the substandard living conditions and diminished quality of life. The only thing that is not here is a bar! I had a hard time listening to the guy I was bunking near complaining about the speed of his internet, when this is the fastest I have experienced since being in theater. Our guys walk a mile to pay $7 an hour for slow, inconsistent internet while this guy is laying on his bunk with his own laptop complaining that its taking 20 seconds for a page to load. I can remember waiting 5-8 minutes for a page to load only a few days ago.

The comments about this "combat zone" also are getting a little confusing, because this is 9-5 only and when you're not working you are in civilians, going to the "club", hanging at the civic center, and enjoying the best gym I have seen in a while.

Don't get me wrong. I am not "hating" on these gals/guys, I am straight jealous! I wish my guys could live in nice accomodations like this and enjoy all the luxuries that come with it. BUT, I am still a warrior and I could not live with myself if I came all this way, separated from my wife and kids, just to sit here not doing what I have been trained to do.

I have a need to be in it. I don't know why. I guess I just have to know in my heart that I am the guy that can. Sooner or later I will be too old for this, and then I am not sure what I am going to do. I am starting to understand how my father possibly feels facing retirement.

So the best case scenerio would be to have my Black Forest cake and eat it too. I would do my job but come home to a place like this. Then it would truly be Recreational Warfare!

*Shelbystanis: residents of Shelbystan, aka Camp Shelby, Mississippi


I remember times like that, and how cool we thought it was when they put the first internet cafe up at AJ. I also remember REMFs when we de-mobed complaining how tough it was for them the spend a year away from their families...while only going as far away as Ft. McCoy. Now I understand why the post club was off-limits to returning personel.

SFC Nunn,

I know how you feel. When I was AAS in Kuwait, Baghram AF, or even Camp Phoenix in Kabul I was astounded, shocked, pissed off and let down by the number of people that have no clue there is a war going on. In fact, my "golden rule" is that if you can get a mocha frapp, large pepp pizza or a DQ blizzard then you are not at war and should be paying taxes. It is weird to have just a few hundred miles and a few hours separate you from utter death to living in luxury with no fear.

I remember Generals and others in air conditioned comfort in RVN, and I imagine that General Washington didn't have the same living conditions in Valley Forge that his Continental soldiers did, but he would ride to the sound of the guns. I don't worry about it, D-day in France was supported by soldiers that never ever left England, and some that never left the United States. Nothing to marvel over, just enjoy the fools and foolishness - there is enough real war for those that want it won. Always.

SFC Nunn,
The first time I was in the middle east I was stationed at Ali Al Salem AB, in Kuwait in '04 as security and although we didnt have all the amenities as some of the bigger posts we didnt have daily motar attacks; but I remember distincly searching TCN's and there vehicles all day and night and thinking, "why the hell am I not up North." I felt like Jake Gyllenhaal in JARHEAD. Having deployed a second time I remember stopping threw Kuwait and realizing that the anxiety of wanting to get "some" and not being able to and not being able to do anything about it is far better than the anxiety and fear of actually getting some.

I am reading all of this situation and wondering why would the complain? When my brother in law was in the Box, he spent his time in tents on both tours! It was a miracle to them when, in their last few weeks, received high speed internet. No real showers, but hey, at least they could call home. He talked of a palace they stayed in in Falujah and then moved on. I wish you all had that luxury everywhere you went. You deserve it. Like you said, recreational warfare!

Thank you for you description. I am a college English student in Indiana and we were given this as website as a link to learn more about our troops. Thank you for helping us to understand more about what it is you are doing. I hope you’re enjoying your time and will be rested and ready to return to harder conditions. Thank you for your willingness to do your job!

We (Americans and civilians in general) are so lucky to have people like you that feel a calling to keep us safe and protect our country and our values. I am also glad that you get to take a small break and have a little bit of better living conditions. Best wishes.

I appreciate your service, but I wish you were being used in a better way to protect us and our country. Namely, in Waziristan going after the reconstituted Al-Queda.

I really enjoyed reading your post. It's good to hear that at least some of you guys have better living conditions. I can understand why it would be irritating to hear people complain when the majority of our troops are not as lucky. You definitely deserve good living conditions! I wish all of our troops were living like that. We are so proud and grateful for you guys!

let me say it for you...

i do hate fobbits.

I wish all our service people were living safely, also. Don't be too hard on the POGistanis, they're away from their homes and loved ones, too. I guess you could look at it like my husband, the army ranger, looks at it: Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug. Please stay safe.

Good luck and God Bless!

Hello Toby I'm reading your post as part of a learning assignment in a college english class. I want to thank you for a reality check for us who have everything so secure and easy. We take things like this for granted and I can only thank you for what you're doing. Its great to hear you are feeling a bit of home there, I can imagine how wonderful it would be to relax and be comfortable for a while. I have a lot of respect for all of our people putting there life out to protect ours. Thanks again

I am having a bit of difficulty understanding why you belittle those who serve but not in the theatre you have been sent. Yes, we need those who face the bullets daily but additionally, the services that are provided by those in "safer" areana's are vital to the support and supply of our combat soldiers. Respect is deserved / required for all who serve, regardless of location. Isn't it also a wonder that this place exists as a brief respite from the hell experienced a few hours north. Sit back, take it in and enjoy it for what it is. Release the tension and breathe in the moments. Recharge.

There's some guys in Ramadi living in very crummy conditions I would love to send to Kuwait for some r&r. At least a good hot shower and a china toilet to use. I'm glad you had a respite from the lousy camping conditions,you deserve it. Thanks for all you do for us, for America.

Like many places around the world people can be quite forgetful of the hardships some are enduring at this very moment. I hope you find what your looking for in life, good luck.

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I enjoyed reading this article and comments. DSL internet service providers offer the best of high speed internet.

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