Friday, July 16, 2004

Camp Arifjan and BOG

I am currently stationed at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. Camp Arifjan (also known as Araifjan, Arefjan and Urayfijan) is a joint project between U.S. engineers assets and the Kuwaiti government. It literally sits in the middle of the desert but in spite of it's location, it is a hub of activity. Arifjan provides permanent support facilities for American troops in Kuwait and is the starting place and ending place for many units entering and leaving Iraq.  
The camp is divided into several zones, some of which are more improved than others. As per the usual, unwritten, standard operating procedure, the active component resides in the permanent facilities on the side of the camp with more amenities while the Guard and Reserve live in tents in the zone that is more transient and lacking in improvements. This disparity is a sign of the institutional bigotry that exists between the active component and all reserve forces. I'm not complaining though, there are many more people in this war who have it much worse than me. I'm fortunate to be where I am. However, if the bias towards the active component is as obvious as it seems to be here, what's it like out there in the hinterland?  
I'm assigned to a Transportation Group and work in the S-1 shop (personnel), which is completely new for me. I've always worked in operations before this. This unit's deployment is winding down and the resulting amount of paperwork coming into our office is comparable to water flooding from a broken fire hydrant. We have awards to process, evaluations, various and sundry things related to redeployments, leave requests, etc. It just goes on and on and we have to complete it all long before we depart (I say "we." I may not be included in "we."). 
Since I arrived here as a cross-leveled asset, my fate is still up in the air. My original orders as an individual replacement entitled me to depart the theater with my unit of assignment, regardless of the number of days active duty indicated on my orders. Since I was cross-leveled to another unit after I arrived in theater, the length of my stay is now open to interpretation and the Commander may or may not have any input into my situation.  
For the Army reserve, mobilization now means a call-up could last as long as 18 months. This gives units time to train up for deployment, spend a year "boots on the ground" (BOG), and to demobilize. My orders say I will be here for 408 days and the clock didn't start ticking until my I.D. was swiped after I entered the theater. If I'm forced to stick to the strick interpretation of BOG, then I could be here until sometime in mid-2005. In light of that, I'm not pinning my hopes on going home early.


lee said...

I was wondering if you are still in kuwait... My unit was activated in early feb, 2003. We left ft lewis for kuwait on may1, 2003, then two weeks redeployed to baghdad airport. The 12th month after we were allmost certified, trucks washed, the extention for another 3 months came. I finished all up in aug 2004, after watching the ship that we loaded our trucks on departed. We we a total of 18 months active. life well seem strange when you get back.

Sojack said...

Hi Lee,

No, I'm not still in Kuwait. I'm lucky enough to be back home in Arkansas. My tour of duty was not as long as yours. I'm sorry you got extended. That had to be rough and I can only imagine how you felt when you got the news. I'm glad you home and hope you are doing well. Take care.

Anonymous said...

Hi...don't know if anyone is still monitoring this or how exactly blogging any rate, I may be deployed to Camp Arifjan sometime in the near future for a lengthy tour and wondered if there was any advice (wish I woulda, wish I coulda)anyone could offer...I'd like to arrive as prepared as possible...thanks...

Sojack said...

Hi Anonymous,

I'm still monitoring the blog comments but have not been updating the posts since returning home. I'm happy to answer any questions you may have. Is there an address where I can e-mail you? These are moderated comments so you e-mail won't be visible to the public if you post another comment.

Anonymous said...

Hi, My fiance was recently deployed to Camp Arifjan. Can you give us any insight into what life is like for a woman there.

Sojack said...

I'm not sure which branch of service your fiance belongs too, but you need not worry too much. Life at Camp Arifjan is much like life for service members stationed anywhere else in the world, just with much more limited services and comforts. Women in all branches of service are treated according to military regulations and policies, not by the laws of the country they are stationed in at the time. People have regular work shifts, wear DCUs (Desert Camo Uniforms) during duty hours, and have scheduled off time. During off time, they are allowed to wear civilian clothes, go to movies, eat fast food, go to church, play video games, and generally socialize with friends. Recreational activities and down time are generally safe. As long as your fiance uses good judgement about whom she chooses to socialize with, she will be fine. She is no more likely to find herself in a compromising situation than she would at home.

The Post is very safe, vehicles and workers are all thoroughly searched before they are allowed to enter. Workers on post are screened before they are hired and they are always strictly supervised.

I hope you find this information helpful. If you wish to know more, just post another comment with your e-mail address included. I won't make the comment public, so your e-mail address won't be revealed.

Rick said...

Looks like you have been back from Kuwait for a while.

I am applying for a job with a defense contactor, where the position is based out of Camp Arifjan.

Would love to get any info about Kuwait from your personal observations if you are still checking this blog. My email is rrose at cityoftulsa dot org


Anonymous said...

My son is a combat Airman recently deployed to Camp Arifjan. To some the term compat Airman may sound strange but he has extensive compat training with the Army. He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal and the Joint Service Achievement Medal after his first tour in Iraq.
Although in the Airforce he is assigned to work with the Army transporting supplies into Iraq.
My question is after spending one, two, or three weeks on the road in compat mode what is done, if anything, for them once they get back to the safety of camp? Is there a specific period of time before they are sent out on the road again? What happens in their down time?

Sojack said...

Thank you for writing and I thank your son for his service. The job that he is doing is a difficult assignment and no one has more respect for the sacrifices he makes than, soldier like myself, those who plan and provide support for the tasks he is assigned.

Let me assure you that drivers who participate in convoys that go across the boarder into Iraq are allowed sufficent time to rest before being sent out on another mission.

Very respectfully,


Anonymous said...

Sojack: I am a Seabee that may be deployed to Camp Arifjan what should I expect? is there anything that I should buy stateside?

Anonymous said...

Sojack: I am a SeaBee that may be deployed to camp Arifjan is there anything i shoud know?

Christine said...


Thanks so much for posting this blog, it is very informative. I am applying for positions overseas in civil service and was called for an interview for a position on Arefjan. Bottom line it sounds relatively safe.


Christine retired MSGT USAF

eastlingirl said...

I am a FED DOD CIV, have been deployed to Camp Arifjan. I know that it is a great camp and it could be worse. I am female, was there for 9 months, just got home this month, 02-08. Going back in March 08 I wanted to say that being a female & a CIV is much different than a female soldier over at CA. I'm very happy to have done my best to serve and apply my SKA's to help our own.
On the other hand, I have never seen so much fraud and abuse, kickbacks, theft in my lifetime. I will say this, I am very much aware of what really goes on over there. I dont have to think twice now on making judgement of situations. It is true they search the gates, but I dont feel they do it like they should, many things that should not get on the base do and much, much more. I dont want to scare anyone, but this experince woke me up. Just becareful who you trust and give personal information too, even if it is someone from where you came from. Take care.

Anonymous said...

HI, I know most of these post are pretty old. I will be deploying as a DA Civilian in January '11. Can anyone update me on their improvements at the base? Anything that I should take for someone who has been there and wish they would have known? ANY help would be great :) if you would like to email me. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Will be leaving soon & wondering what you would recommend I take along with me. For example sheets, towels...thank you in advance!

Sojack said...

Anonymous (last one),

You will find you can purchase most everything you need once you arrive in Kuwait. The PXs are well stocked and I never did without anything. Also, people who are preparing to redeploy and return home often sell what they have accumulated over the course of their deployment. So often times you can get some good deals from people who are anxious to get rid of it to avoid the hassle of mailing it home.

If you have a 3G or 4G (quad band GSM) cell phone, you can by a SIM card from a vendor in the PX which will allow your relatives and friends to get in touch with you quickly if they need to do so. It is cheaper for them to call you on your cell than for you to call them on a cell, by the way.

If you have other electronics you wish to take, I suggest you do so. PCs operate on the power grid just fine, however; you'll need a transformer and converters for your other equipment. Again, this is all available from the PX and vendors outside the PX.

Good luck!