Hey there! I’m sitting in a USO Internet cafe using one of their computers at Joint Base Balad, so I only have a few minutes to write.
My unit is almost out of here. I have a couple more weeks in Iraq, a few days in Kuwait and then a couple days in my old stomping grounds of Fort Bliss, TX. That was my first duty station on active duty where I learned how to run a newspaper. I love ElPaso and I look forward to being there again. I wonder if the German Air Force still trains there. More importantly, I wonder if they still have the German club with the great schnitzel and beer.
So, Army of Mine will be coming to an end at the end of August. This has been a great trial in social media. I really look forward to getting home and starting a new topic and something that might last longer. This tour has really dialed me into the blogosphere and the power of Facebook.
Although we can’t use Facebook — or blogs — on official DoD computers, Morale, Welfare and Recreation centers and USO facilities provide a decent work around. These social media tools have become such a critical part of the media landscape, that you are an idiot if you call yourself a public affairs practicioner and you don’t engage them. You can find top ranking officials making “official” blogs unofficially. The Multinational Corps – Iraq (MNC-I) public affairs sergeant major manages the MNC-I Facebook page, for example. It’s a great, informative page without the feel of PA spin doctoring. It’s funny, I mentioned this FB page to my leadership and they just laughed. They also think their sole audience is their hometown audience. They forget this is a counterinsurgency and we are supposed to be winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqis and the world. Some people aren’t hip to the Internet I guess.
As for my living conditions, I can say that I am in temporary housing a couple of miles from where I was before. These are not like the two man trailors I was in before. They are 20 man boxes — wood squares, really — filled with man-made wind of every stench and temperature. Yeah, use your imagination on that one. Then again, you might be better off not.
The good news about our location is that it is closer to the chow hall or, at least, it is on the way to everything else, so I tend not to skip meals as much as I used to. The path from the shack to the dinning facility is lined with trees and dead pigeons. This avian valley of death is the result of pellet-gun strapped airmen getting their rocks off picking on helpless birds. Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh. They actually have a legitimate reason for killing the flying rats. Since we are an air base, the birds make their way onto the flight line and become a threat to the aircraft. I’m not sure I buy it, but it sounds good enough.
I guess I will spend the rest of my time here trying to stay out of trouble. Everyone is edgy, irritable and just wants to go home. That leads to friction and drama, but so far we are keeping it together pretty good.
Until next time.