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.


October 06, 2008

Name: James Aalen Bernsen
Posting date: 10/6/08
Stationed in: Iraq
Milblog url: James Aalen Bernsen


Why does Saddam's architecture always look like a bad set design from a Conan the Barbarian movie?


A close-up over the window. This looks like a quote. Probably from Saddam. Nobody else in Iraq is worth quoting, apparently.


What in the world could be cooler than a concrete swan?


Except, perhaps, a concrete chicken...



This is the abandoned mosque on base. Something blew it up between the first time I went by it and now. Most likely a rocket, and it was probably months back, since we've had I think two rockets on the entire base in the last two months. Good work Jihad Joe. I think if you blow up a mosque you pretty much ruin your chances of getting into paradise.


The Rhino Runner making its morning trip. I've done this a few times, and fortunately it was a quiet ride.


When we just drive around the compound, however, we use more conventional transportation: a Ford Ranger or Ford Explorer. The next few pictures are from a trip we made to another base also in the compound.


If you don't have access to a vehicle, there are bus lines.


The roads are pretty poor where they are actual roads. They're constantly working on them, and we often have to take a detour through sand. Fortunately, they've finished this section here.


But they aren't going to make progress if the Pakistani guy is sleeping on the job. To quote Blazing Saddles, "It can't be more than 114!" Actually, I checked about an hour later. It was 113, but that thermometer was in the shade. Our truck, by the way, can cool the air down with its A/C unit to about 105 before it gives up.


Oh, those nice folks in the Army safety office really know how to give you happy thoughts. This sign reads: "Narrow Roads + Fast Driving = Death!" Thanks. Happy happy, joy joy!


On the other side of the wall there's a billboard for the Iraqis, which is at least more inviting. Beautiful blue skies and clouds and a green blob of Iraq. I'm sure it probably says something like "Calling in the tip line and reporting evil men will make Iraq a happy place again. With fairies dancing and lollypop trees!"


A bunch of MRAP Vehicles. These are some mean SUVs. They crush lollypop trees.


Wind + ubiquitous trash + miles of barbed wire = a fenceline strangely reminiscent of a Mexican border town.


I say, anyone for tea?


Sorry, no time for it. These guys are about to go down IED alley with nothing but up-armored Chevy Suburbans. The next time you hear some politician going nuts about how much contractors make in Iraq, ask them if they'd like to put their faith in an up-armored Suburban. It takes some serious intestinal fortitude to ride in a vehicle whose gun turret is an open hatchback.


Wow, looks like the same crappy place it was when I left it 2 years ago. Dusty third world moonscape.

what a condescending post. and an equally condescending remark from rogerthat. it is well known that we are the cultural ambassadors for the world. excelling in architecture and food and art and music.

Truth hurts. It's all Saddam's fault. This place could look like Kuwait if it wasn't for that dictator.

architecture? now i know you're kidding. my comments are directed at the palace areas, of course. saddam's builders and decorators definitely had the "miami vice" motif down cold.
the rhino bus always kills me...we call it the twinkie.
stay safe...

Your sense of humor is great. Now you just need to put a picture of you by one of those wonderful fountains with an american flag. Hope you are back soon. Be safe!!

Being a bona fide Iraqi citizen, let me clarify some things in the above photos:

1) In images 1 & 2, the inscription is NOT a quote from Sadddam. It is a verse from the Quran.

2) The large billboard in image 12 is talking about the improved security situation, and is encouraging Iraqis to uphold those gains.

Be safe......

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