Head Coach J Robinson is currently overseas in Kuwait spending time with US Troops. Please read J's entry and check back for more updates!
SD6 # 1 Thoughts from Kuwait
But were ever we go with it .......
Salty Dog is on the ground in Kuwait. I accepted an invitation from Gen Nash (he Commands the 34th Infantry Division in MN) and Chaplin Morris to go to the Middle East theater again and spent some time with our MN troops. As they say in the service, my boots are now on the ground in Kuwait and I well be here for the next 7 days going from unit to unit.
The last time I was in theater I started writing a few thoughts back every day on what I saw and some of the thoughts that goes though one head before, during and after their experience. I will attempt to do the same this time around. I take no stand on any position as it is not the same as I am not being deployed as the men and women are here for months at a time but the thought process that one goes through when coming to a place like this is interesting. I like the word interesting but Sue has said I need another word so if you have suggestions for another word for me to use please send them. I hope to give you some limited insight; a little humor, some facts and some thoughts on what is going on in a totally different environment than the majority of us live. I'm not a journalist so make sure you cut me some slack
Chaplin Morris who brought me to Iraq last time is not here but has put me in the capable hands of Chaplin Buddy Winn who is high energy with the specific instruction from Chaplin Morris to fill up my day. Chaplin Winn well be what they call here, my handler so he is tasked to take care of me and get me around and keep me out of trouble. It is easy to relate to this relationship of having a handler as my wonderful wife Sue has the same handler responsibilities back in the states so I am use to taking orders.
They sent me an itinerary and it has me going from 0700 (that's 7 o clock in the morning for us civilians) to about 2200 (10 PM) everyday. Things on the schedule will include some combatives training, individual sessions with the non commission's officers (Sergeants etc), a workshop on goal setting for the troops, prayer breakfasts, leadership development and just some hanging out and talking with the troops. Chaplin Winn told me when I got off the plane that I am scheduled to speak at church on Sunday. If there is a big explosion in the Middle East on Sunday you will know it has nothing to do with the war.
One of the things that is difficult for the soldiers here is that they are drawing down in Iraq meaning they are bring all their equipment back to Kuwait. What this means is there is a lot of convoy duty into Iraq which is dangerous once they cross the border into Iraq. It is relatively safe once back in Kuwait so they have to have their game face on once they cross the border. The other problem they deal with here is the one faced by every army in history which is the boredom of day after day of doing the same thing. Most the days are the same so it is import for the commanders to come up with things for the soldiers to do to keep the moral up. Most of soldiers are trained to project force not sit around, so sitting around in a garrison can lead to moral problems if they are not kept busy. So it becomes a necessity to keep them busy and occupied with constructive things to do training and recreation wise.
When first asked to go overseas again it was yep, sounds like as good idea. Nine months ago it was just a thought and I did not think much about it because it did not actually require me to do anything. The interesting part is how your thought process changes the closer you get to leaving or deploying. You laughingly ask yourself "What the hell am I doing" comes to mind plus a hundred other different things that go through your mind. You don't dwell on the different scenarios that come up in your mind they just seem to pop in and out. Where will I be, how will I get around, what is the threat level both in Kuwait and each base, what do they want me to do, why me, just to name a few. I am sure these are many of the questions soldiers and those that cover wars have had for thousands of years, It is a different experience to actually experience those thoughts and to be able to feel your reaction to them. Not good or bad just different.
I flew to Washington DC then caught a United flight to Kuwait city. I have to stop using that word "interesting". In watching the passengers get on the plane you can't help as to label them as to their appearance only to find out they are something completely different from your preconceived notion. The gentlemen next to me was older (can't believe I said that.... he's not my age, I asked him and he is 70 so he qualifies as old) quiet and kept to himself as he sat down a seat away. When selecting my seat I had asked the computer for and found a row that had empty seats. I ask this fellow if he would turn the air knobs down and we began a dialog that flourished. Instead of the contractor I thought him to be, he was he was a doctor (general surgeon) who is going to Baghdad for a year. Come to find out he is also a Vietnam vet and a graduate of the University of Minnesota. I asked him why he at his age he would want to go to Iraq and he said rather humbly because "I can make a difference". I slept better on the flight knowing if something happen I was the first one going to get immediate medical care.
The flight was 12 hours long enough time to read, sleep and actually get a little work done. When I arrived in Kuwait City I was meet at the plane and helped through customs and we drove to the base. There is a security detail that will go with us every time we leave the base as we are going to visit a different location every day.
Chaplin Winn had a session scheduled with some troops from a Signal Battalion that provides all the communication in this AO (area of operation) 2 hours after I got here. Chaplin Morris who brought me here last year gave Chaplin Winn specific instructions to keep me busy and from the sound of things it is going to happen.. We are going to have some fun with my limited use of my old Army terminology as in sit rep, AO, COB (figure that one out) etc. We talked with the signal soldiers for about an hour and you can really see the appreciation on their faces when you tell them you came all this way to just say thank you plus there are a lot of people back home that believe in what they are doing. I think they hear it a lot better when some one from the world (USA) is actually telling them. It seems to hit home with more force and penetrates deeper.
So I am heading for the rack, bed what ever you want to call it. A full day tomorrow. A Sit rep will follow (don't you just love all this army talk)
Salty Dog 6