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.

SLEEPING IN HELL |

August 16, 2007

SLEEPING IN HELL
Name: Teflon Don
Posting date: 8/16/07
Stationed in: Ramadi, Iraq
Milblog url: acutepolitics.blogspot.com

After five days in a row of having the power go out every afternoon around 1:00 pm, we finally seem to have consistent electricity again. Hopefully the juice stays on -- it's hard to stay up on sleep for nighttime missions when the power continually goes out during the hottest part of the day (the time we have for sleeping).

I talked with the lead KBR electrician who was sent to fix the problems as they arose each day: It seems there are a number of reasons for the difficulties. First, the electrical system is a hash of several different standards: US, British, and one or two Middle Eastern. ME triangular cable does not fit well into round-receptacle American circuit breakers. Secondly, the generator is a different model than those in service in most areas. When the generator goes down, there are often no spare parts to fix it immediately.

Lastly, the KBR electricians are short on correct tools. Apparently, KBR has enough money to pay their workers the exhorbitant sums required to retain them in spite of the danger and poor conditions, but not enough to equip them properly. Normally, blatant soulless capitalism doesn't concern me much -- the open market usually produces a contractor who is capable of providing decent service. But in a closed-bid world such as the one enjoyed by KBR in Iraq, where almost all non-combat support roles are contracted -- from food service to laundry to electricity to latrine supply and maintenance -- it is unlikely that KBR will lose a contract simply because it will not spend the money to keep a few soldiers in power for 5-6 hours every afternoon.

Not that I am bitter.

Viva la monopoly!

Comments

One might suggest, if he was cynical, that having less progress fits the needs of certain neo-conservative power brokers.

Find some M915A4 semi tractors. They have AC standard issued. Sometimes it's good to be an 88M. ;)

This is what Rummy would have dismissed as typical "soldiers griping".

It's what I call criminal incompetence. How many years are we into this thing now, and we cant get the electricity working or give our people what they need?

We can cut taxes on rich people during a war, but we wont use taxes to pay soldiers more, or improve their benefits after they come home?

But thats ok, as long as I say I support the troops, verbally, and vote for people like Bush who support the troops with lip service instead of deeds.

This is what Rummy would have dismissed as typical "soldiers griping".

It's what I call criminal incompetence. How many years are we into this thing now, and we cant get the electricity working or give our people what they need?

We can cut taxes on rich people during a war, but we wont use taxes to pay soldiers more, or improve their benefits after they come home?

But thats ok, as long as I say I support the troops, verbally, and vote for people like Bush who support the troops with lip service instead of deeds.

Patrick: "But thats ok, as long as I say I support the troops, verbally, and vote for people like Bush who support the troops with lip service instead of deeds."

That would be why then I have in front of me as I go through my checks for this past month, one for Operation AC for AC units for Iraq. Call my check lip service if you will, but it has many brothers to a wide variety of organizations that provide so many services to our soldiers and to our wounded. And as well, I have a postcard on my desk looking at me that thanks me for my long letter and the parcel I sent. Odd - he didn't think it was lip service.

Teflon Don: I am deeply sorry that they are having difficulty providing AC and you suffer. I wish Operation AC could do something for your particular situation. Maybe not but check with them anyway and see what they say. Contact: http://www.operationac.com/
and see what if anything they can do to help. I cannot affords a full unit but will send another contribution to defray cost just in case they can be of help you. Hope so!! God bless...

I feel what you're saying about the problems with power and air conditioning. I was in the Navy and we didn't have contractors to fix the problem. But when I was in the Gulf we had the a/c go out in our berthing compartment, and 40 guys living and sleeping in the same small ass room is not very comfortable. And not to mention the fact that we lost sleep and when we had to go to watch all the higher ups were pissed because we couldn't stay awake. That didn't get the damn a/c fixed any quicker, they just bitched at us more. Funny how things like that work out, isn't it?

I feel what you're saying about the problems with power and air conditioning. I was in the Navy and we didn't have contractors to fix the problem. But when I was in the Gulf we had the a/c go out in our berthing compartment, and 40 guys living and sleeping in the same small ass room is not very comfortable. And not to mention the fact that we lost sleep and when we had to go to watch all the higher ups were pissed because we couldn't stay awake. That didn't get the damn a/c fixed any quicker, they just bitched at us more. Funny how things like that work out, isn't it?

I feel what you're saying about the problems with power and air conditioning. I was in the Navy and we didn't have contractors to fix the problem. But when I was in the Gulf we had the a/c go out in our berthing compartment, and 40 guys living and sleeping in the same small ass room is not very comfortable. And not to mention the fact that we lost sleep and when we had to go to watch all the higher ups were pissed because we couldn't stay awake. That didn't get the damn a/c fixed any quicker, they just bitched at us more. Funny how things like that work out, isn't it?

I would say this would make life even more difficult than it already is for your group, and it is most likely not exclusive to you. I would think that if this is the way this one contractor responds that many of the same things happen on a widespread basis. Outsourcing is a cheap alternative, but rarely does the quality of service rival that of doing it in house.

It is so sad to hear that after all this time we still cannot take care of the soldiers fighting overseas. They deserve the best of whatever we have to offer, and I am sorry to say that I read more and more posts of those left to fend off the heat, and be expected to go into battle rested and ready. God bless you all, and I sincerely hope your situation improves.

Your post about how the electricity goes out constantly made me think. In fact, I was just a few minutes ago responding to another poster on here, when my juice went out for no apparent reason. It does this a lot where I live in Indiana. I have no idea why. There is not a cloud in the sky nor a breath of wind. Yet out goes the power. So here I was, cussing about it to no one but the empty air and it finally comes back on. Then I saw your post immediately and it made me think how trivial it is for me to lose juice and still be safe and pretty much comfortable. Then I thought of you guys losing juice. Let's just say my perspective about the minor outages I "put up with" is a little less skewed now.

Wow, you never think about the fact that you guys could lose power. Just as Lon wrote above, I recently had a problem with my power going out. Once I read your post, I no longer complain about small things like that. I will pray that your stay is more comfortable, or at least as comfortable as it can be :)

The utter unpreparedness of the contractors is infuriating and pathetic. It is unbelievable to me that there is no plan or structure to how the contractors seem to operate. When one decides to accept a job to rebuild the infrastructure of an entire country, one might want to ensure that the proper tools and plans to do so have been acquired. I'm surprised that the contract situation in Iraq has not caused more political hay here in the States. I hope that they power stays on for you.

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