So. The last what...twenty days? A whole lotta nothing, really. Let me bring you up to speed.
My totally amazing and super cool girlfriend, Connie, bought and sent me a Magic Jack. I just plugged it into my computer and free calls to any phone, land line or cell. Pretty cool. So in addition to email, now I have Yahoo IM, which it's been so long since I logged into Yahoo chat I don't remember, Google IM, Skype, and now Magic Jack. Pretty sweet, especially when I consider that when I was in Saudi for Desert Shield, a call home cost something like $50.00 for fifteen minutes. I think I called home maybe three times in nine months, if that. Skype is good, and I like the video feature, but it is computer to computer. Magic Jack is computer to phone, and it works great. Unless it's after dark here, in which case the server gets busy and connectivity is spotty. Still, it's a world away from 1991.
We had our combat patch ceremony. We all stood in a formation and the Battalion Commander made a little speech and then the company commander, CPT Z, went around slapping T Patches on everybody. Some of my boys said they didn't feel right, wearing a combat patch without having, you know, seen any combat, and I said they didn't have to wear it. Then I pointed out that it was for serving in a combat zone, not necessarily for actually being in combat. They are here, I said, and I know that if they were called upon to go suit up and kick in doors, they would do it without hesitation, and the fact that the war has progressed to a point where they don't have to do that is a good thing, and not a refection on them. If it means you never have to get shot at, that's great, and you can go home and wear your combat patch and never have to duck your head to any man, because you were ready to do your part, I said. Still, they are warriors, combat soldiers, infantrymen, and on some level, they all want to go out there and shoot something.
My PSD section has been gutted. Since we do not have a full time PSD mission, we have been tasked out to some of the sections. We will run PSD missions as the need arises, which is maybe once or twice a week or so. A couple of guys went to Badging, making access badges for our little camp. Three more went to Engineering, which is basically a cooler name for maintenance. One is loaned out doing some admin stuff for a few weeks. Another is doing PAO stuff, working on the newsletter and such. The rest are here and there, doing grunt work. I now belong to Force Protection, meaning I do stuff relating to counter terrorism and base security. It's not as cool as that might sound. For example, I spent the day stringing concertina wire. It sucks. Not fun.
Last week we had a battalion weapons competition. I was the NCOIC of the event. In a nutshell, we had teams from every company in the battalion come here and compete against each other in clearing, disassembling, reassembling, and conducting a function check of five weapons systems: The M9 pistol, M4 carbine, M249 machine gun, M240 machine gun, and the big dog, the timeless M2 .50 caliber BMG, also affectionately known as the Ma Deuce. The event went well. Of course, it was a total canine and equine extravaganza, but that's too be expected. My company did not win. To be expected, as we only had a few infantrymen competing, all of them from my PSD. The rest were clerks and jerks, desk jockies and assorted support pukes. I say that with affection and respect, of course. I expected one the three line companies to win, but no, the winning company was Echo company. The transportation company. They kicked everyone's ass, and I don't think they put up anyone other than truck drivers and mechanics. A bunch of hardcore infantry types got served by some wrench spinners.
Hmm, what else? Oh, the day they finally hanged Chemical Ali, and good riddance to that piece of shit, I saw three huge plumes of smoke rising over the Baghdad skyline off in the distance. I later learned they were three major car bombings out across the river from the Green Zone.
The day before the weapons competition, me and Stroud and the S3 Sergeant Major were driving over near Liberty and we saw a procession of many, many very new, very shiny black Suburbans rolling by in the opposite direction, escorted by a plethora of MP's in assorted tactical and non-tactical vehicles. We are used to seeing the odd two or three Suburban motorcade, but this was ten, twelve, fifteen. I was struck not just by who many vehicles there were, but by how clean they were. You don't see many clean vehicles around here. I read later that VP Biden was here, so there you go.
Some of my boys grilled hamburgers and hot dogs tonight, so that was good. I had a fake pineapple flavored beer, which just tasted like a pineapple flavored soft drink. Disappointing.
So that's about it.