Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday Thoughts

Here are a couple more pictures from our recent sightseeing trip.  

Getting to the roof of the building so we could look out over Baghdad involved negotiating places that OSHA would not approve of.

When you work in a place like this, helicopters are always around.  Frankly, I kinda dig it.  They're a reminder to me that we're in a very different environment and to make the most of it.

Since my last post, the weather has warmed up a lot.  I can say that my carefully calibrated Skipometer classified the temperature yesterday and today as officially "hot".  Yesterday was 99 and today was 102.  It's time to start lugging the water bottles around and to make sure we have our hats if we're going to be outside for more than a few minutes.  The dust is bad, too - I carry a bottle of Visine around with me for when it starts turning my eyeballs into red-hot sandpaper.

Things are going well at work.  I like the position I'm in and the people I work with.  We're working on some important issues for the Corps of Engineers for the remainder of our time in Iraq.  General Odierno has said that the military will be out of here in late 2011 and we're proceeding down that path.  The small bases that have been all over the country, and all over Baghdad, are shutting down left and right.  Some of the activities that took place are being shifted to the few large bases that will remain for another 12-18 months, others are being sent off to Afghanistan, and others are just being ended or sent home.  I've felt a big change in the atmosphere since I left in early March.  There's a rapidly increasing awareness that we're starting to wind things up now - right now - and the tempo is getting faster.

Most of the people I talk to think that it's about time.  Iraq is very fragile, but it seems to be holding together.  Who knows what'll happen in the future - it could hold up, it could blow up, or it could muddle through somehow.  But we're at the point where we aren't making the decisions now, the Iraqis are, and since it's their country, that's the way it should be.  We've done a lot to train them and restore a lot of infrastructure, services, and capabilities.  We've spent a ton of money and then some.  There's still a security problem, particularly up north, but it's a small fraction of what it was a year or two ago.

I read a few other blogs by military people both in Iraq and in Afghanistan, and the difference is striking.  The soldiers in Afghanistan are still in pretty heavy combat.  Here, it seems, they're bored stiff.  They're wandering around the bases, doing normal duties at their desks.  

There's still a lot to do here before the last plane leaves, though.  I feel pretty good about what I can contribute to the effort.  The next year is going to be an interesting ride.

1 comment:

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 04/24/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.