GRAVEYARD OF OLD T-WALLS |
August 19, 2008
GRAVEYARD OF OLD T-WALLS
Name: James Aalan Bernsen
Posting date: 8/20/08
Stationed in: Iraq
Milblog: James Aalan Bernsen
Among the most ubiquitous things on a U.S. base overseas are security barriers. They range from the lowly sandbag wall, to the low but more stout Jersey Barrier, to the massive T-Wall. They're used on our bases, out in town to protect Iraqi neighborhoods -- everywhere.
In fact, the concrete wall-building industry is one of the biggest industries in Iraq right now.
Hesco barriers. A frame of wire and cardboard filled with sand. These are portable, easy to put up, and you just add sand. They're better than nothing, but certainly not ideal. Over in a far corner of our base -- so close to the edge that you can look over the wall into a Baghdad neighborhood -- is a place where T-walls go to die. Or at least to wait.
Most of the early T-walls are about five feet tall and built with long horizontal bases. These served lots of purposes, but they were far from perfect, and less than ideal when it came to force protection (see this post on the rocket shrapnel that hit my trailer). The military decided, perhaps to the taxpayer's chagrin but definitely to our relief, to build tall, vertical T-walls that reached up 12 feet or more.
T-walls of the larger variety. These have become such iconic symbols of life in Iraq that generals give miniature replicas out as departing gifts to their subordinates. But though the trend towards the larger T-walls replacing everything else, there are still tons of other kinds around.
Many folks have taken to decorating them. At the Baghdad International Airport there's a row painted with the flag of each of the 50 states, and signed by soldiers from those states. Some of the drawings are crude, but most are elaborate and well-done:
A close-up shot of the previous image.
This one is at the base you enter and leave through in Kuwait. I hope it will be the last T-wall I ever see.
Another one from Kuwait.
Here's a T-wall from the airbase in Qatar.
Back in Iraq, the Military Police do a good job on their T-walls.
More T-walls over at the M.P. compound
As I said, T-walls outlive their usefulness at some point. With the Hesco Barriers, it's easy. You just dump the sand -- which they do over on the golf driving range -- and then send the barrier frame to be recycled. T-walls, however, are a different problem, hence the graveyard:
It's not exactly China Lake, California and B-29s, but these desolate remnants of our military past will be a reminder, long after we're gone, of what it was like at the peak of the war.
Walking to lunch one day, an Army captain friend of mine nodded to some of the barriers we passed on the way. "What do you think will happen to these things when we're gone," she asked.
"I don't know. Maybe they can lay them on their sides and use them for road beds. Or for canals," I said,not too convincingly.
The truth is, there probably isn't any good use for them other than making walls, and hopefully Iraq will one day get to the point where walls aren't all that necessary anymore. Still, they're big, they're heavy, and there here, and they will likely still be here for generations -- if not centuries. Kind of like the Marsten Mats I kept running across in France that were left over from D-Day, T-walls will endure long after the American military is gone.