Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Road Trip: Talil

I just took a road trip down south. I visited a command down in Talil to discuss one of my projects. Talil is a former Iraqi Army air base that's been taken over by US forces for the duration. It's about a 5-hour trip by road, which is how I went.

The trip started on Sunday. We left in the morning and headed south. This is a typical farm that's close to the base.

We stopped for lunch at Scania, which is a small base that's really a convoy truck stop, then pushed on again. About an hour later, one of the vehicles in our convoy (not mine) had a bit of trouble. Specifically, its transmission literally exploded, blowing a huge hole in the side of the case, and debris knocked one of the tires off its rim. We tried to tow it, but the transmission was seized up solid, so we had to wait for a very long time for KBR to come out with a wrecker and a security team to haul us off. Fortunately, we were out in the middle of nowhere. An Iraqi police truck pulled up once, and a Bedouin came by with about 20 of his camels. All our security guys got their pictures taken with the camel, but since I was the "high value client", they wouldn't let me out of the truck! We finally got into Talil many many hours after we should have. After being in body armor and helmet all day, I was a tired little puppy.

The Iraqis built their airbase adjacent to the ancient city of Ur. This city flourished about 4000 years ago. At one time it was the largest city in the world with about 60,000 people. The prophet Abraham was reportedly born here, the patriarch of both Islam and Judaism. What was Ur is now a large dirt hill. Years ago, the Iraqis restored the famous Ziggurat, and there have been many archaeological digs at the site. We turned the site back to the Iraqis last spring, so technically it is beyond the wire for us and no longer readily accessible. I was disappointed because I really would have liked to visit it. At least I got to see the Ziggurat from a distance.

We were supposed to leave early this morning, but were delayed and wound up leaving right after noon. The southern part of Iraq is flat and desert. It's pale dust as far as you can see. About the only people who live here are Bedouin. Here's a typical Bedouin tent.

And yes, the Bedouin still use camels. We came across this huge herd ambling along the way.

The trip back was uneventful: no breakdowns, no problems, just a nice fast run. Got back to the base in time to get some work done and play catch-up. Tomorrow, I have to participate in a briefing to our general. I'm not looking forward to it since one of his high mucky-mucks keeps changing my slides so the information is incorrect. So tomorrow I'll probably have to put that individual on report. Maybe next time she'll leave my damn slides alone!

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