Monday, July 12, 2004

Camp Doha

After relocating to Bay 99, my priorites shifted to adjusting my internal clock to Kuwaiti time, staying on top of the outgoing flight schedule, and keeping my you-know-what in a square pile. The last thing I wanted to do was unpack a bunch of stuff and then have to frantically cram it back from whence it came.

I was still pretty wound up from all the activity and having trouble relaxing in my new environment. It took three days for me to completely wind down. Doc was getting a little worried about me too. She said I was starting to get a real frazzled looking. She gave me a few Ambien, though the first one didn't have any effect. Another night passed before I got any good rest.

To complicate matters, my back had been aching a little too. I tried to ignore it and hoped it would get better. However, it didn't get better and during my sleepless nights, the pain had worsened. About the third day, I decided to go down to the clinic and have it checked out. Doc escorted me and then walked down to check the flight schedule, which by this time had become a thrice a day activity. A nurse prescribed me some anti-inflammatories and told me to take it easy for the next few days. I wondered how I was going to "take it easy" if I suddenly had to grab all my crap and haul it back down to catch a flight. Carrying 300 pounds of luggage is not a proper prescription for a spasming back. As I was leaving the clinic, Doc met me and pronounced that my name had mysteriously dropped off the flight manifest and her name was still very low on the list. For the moment, my problem was solved.

The next couple of days were spent checking the flight manifest three times a day, e-mailing people at home about 10 times a day, IMing people at every opportunity, reading, and generally lying around waiting on a flight north to magically appear. By the fifth day, my back was feeling better and I was getting antsy to get the show on the road.

Click here to see the view from Bay 99. The soldiers call these smokestacks "Scud Goalposts".

While wandering around on Friday, we stumbled upon the Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC) office. I remembered from a conversation with a Major while still at home station, that the CFLCC office is where individual replacement orders are generated. From the get-go, my orders had been questionable and fuzzy at best. And the Reserve Readiness Command (RRC) into which I was transferred didn't provide any good explanation. I decided to contact the unit directly.

The unit itself has a very active Family Readiness Group and a good website so they are very well connected with people back home. I emailed the Company Commander through the website and totally caught him off guard. In fact, those were his exact words. He explained to me that he had no knowledge of any replacements coming his way. The unit First Sergeant agreed. When I asked the RRC about it, they shockingly couldn't provide any input. So, when I saw the CFLCC office during my wanderings at Camp Doha, I jumped at the opportunity to look into the validity of my orders.

For the next couple of days, I talked back and forth with several different offices and finally found someone who could research my situation. On Saturday morning I learned that my orders had in fact been generated by mistake and I should not have been assigned to the unit in Iraq. Instead I was supposed to be assigned to a higher headquarters in Kuwait.

This turn of events made me pretty happy and I knew it would make my family and friends happy too. The hostilities were increasing up north as the deadline for the power hand over from the U.S. back to the Iraqi government approached. And the location where I was going was getting mortared more frequently as a consequence. Needless to say, the worsening conditions added to the stress my family, friends, and I were feeling about my deployment.

While I was not opposed to being assigned to a unit that really needed a replacement, the position I was going to was a couple of steps backwards for me in terms of career progression. In Iraq I would have been a transportation platoon leader. As a senior Captain, I've already been a platoon leader, detachment commander and company commander. I was hoping for a job on staff, somewhere I could gain some experience managing larger groups of people and equipment. This was my opportunity and I would report the next day.

Looking back on my experience at Camp Doha, I realize now that the back spasm, dropping off the flight manifest, and stumbling on the CFLCC office were all fortunate coincidences. It's easy to get frustrated when stumbling blocks are thrown in our path and we generally only look at them pessimistically. It's hard to slow down and look at the big picture and realize that an event, seemingly negative, can turn out to be a positive thing. Coincidences are seen in hindsight, not predicted. Perhaps it just wasn't my destiny to go to Iraq. All I can say is "Thanks!" Thanks to all the people back home, those who I know and those I don't know, who sent me wonderful prayers and positive energy.

1 comment:

Charlie said...

Sounds like they are just playing "Hurry up and Wait" with ya. Glad you are not going up north. Very proud of you.