Postcards from Tradocia

Week One: Beige Planet

Welcome to the neighborhood

Welcome to the neighborhood

More than anything, I can’t get over how brown everything is. The heat is expected, both from experience and legend (140 degrees in the shade! etc.), but the beige is overwhelming. Maybe that’s why the Army switched to the ACUs: to give us some other color to look at, camouflage be damned. The ground, the sky, the buildings, the tents, the Navy uniforms (they’re wearing sharply starched DCUs here) – every damn thing is beige, tan, brown, and taupe. Even our wall lockers are tan! Couldn’t they have picked, you know, black, or gray, or something?

The heat, of course, is the other notable characteristic of the place. One hundred-twenty degrees Fahrenheit is beyond a feeling of “hot,” becoming an actual force, as if you can feel the photons and infrared radiation punching you in the back of the head from 93 million miles away. But unlike a miserable humid day in the US, you can accept the dry furnace-like heat with a shrug – at least it lets your sweat cool you as intended, even in the incredible heat.

As for the war here: we’re about as far in the rear as one can get and still be in a deployed status. Not that it’s a surprise, but it’s still odd to see people walking around in street clothes, sipping Frappucinos and standing in line to see the latest Harry Potter movie. Fast food is firmly entrenched, even more so than in Iraq years ago: KFC, Taco Bell, Burger King, Hardee’s, Pizza Hut, Subway…all available above and beyond the endless free food available at the dining facility, food that the workers sling with gusto in huge piles on your plate. The gyms are huge and well-appointed, and recreation buildings are festooned with flat-screen TVs, PS3s and Xboxes, pool, and foosball tables.

Civilian clothes were a welcome comfort – at least until our unit running the camp command cell complained that they didn’t bring any clothes, so why should we be allowed to wear any? The kibosh was quickly applied: no civvies until the CCC got their luggage from the shipping containers. (The same set of containers that has my box packed in April, as I wrote about previously.) The decision was mind-boggling; what did their status have anything to do with ours? The PX sells clothes, and one could get them sent from home; all that aside, what would the benefit be of the prohibition? I guess it’s that things don’t suck enough in their current state, so measures of increased suckitude must be applied. Hopefully the ban will be lifted soon, but it’s a worrying sign of irrationality so early in the mission, with the rest of the year stretching before us, hot and brown. No need to add any more discomfort or difficulty; events have a way of providing that on their own.

3 Comments

  1. Mrs Melobi

    Don’t take your boots off outside. You will never find them. No other place seems as needful of a little clown barf.

  2. Dale Day, MSG, USA-Ret

    As an author – very well written. Makes me feel like I’m there. But, thank the Lord I’m not as I can’t stand what heat we have here in Vegas.

  3. The Pontiff

    Glad to hear that they’ve upgraded the franchise interiors to mirror their CONUS counterparts. Wearing my A2CUs for the first time tomorrow. Gotta say that they feel much more comfortable as they feel lighter in weight and seem to breathe better than the regular ACU. Weird to wear the dog tags outside of your uniform though.

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