Bags upon bagsThree more duffel bags and a footlocker (or tote) per man: that’s the load that arrived last night. The baggage was hotly anticipated, since most people loaded their stuff heavily with comfort items: civilian clothes, sheets & blankets, games, and other diversions. My bags were all half-empty, since everything I could think of to bring couldn’t fill them. Ignoring the brigade’s packing list also helped greatly; I figured it was nonsense when I saw our extreme cold-weather ensemble on the list. And as long as I’m ignoring one part of the list, might as well chuck the whole thing…Even still, all that crap needs to find a home, which isn’t a problem right now, but if the prophesied influx of soldiers really happens, we’re going to be damn near sleeping on piles of duffel bags.

Speaking of the exercise in human Tetris that is our building, the last two days have also been a flurry of reconfiguration, bracing for the arrival of newcomers. The neighbors expanded their space into the notional hallway, creating a weird vestibule at the entrance of our area that would be perfect for hanging raincoats – if only it ever rained. Meanwhile, the E-4 on the other side is somehow living alone, after the other three troops in his area abandoned him to establish a totally exposed shanty of their own, further down the hall. Their space seems a drastic downgrade; they’re basically living in the hallway, without even a poncho liner curtain to shield them from the rest of us, virtually piled on top of each other. It doesn’t bother me – they chose their arrangement – but it certainly puzzles me.

Essential war supplies

Essential war supplies

Meanwhile, my job at the HQ is quite pedestrian, and it (among many other factors) makes this feel less like a deployment and more like a year-long relocation to some branch office. I’m providing a basic first-tier help desk, the same kind of service provided in any corporate or public sector office anywhere in the world. (I hesitate to say that I “run” it, as the whole thing kind of shambles forward of its own accord, without much prompting by anyone.) It seems strange to fly across the world with piles of body armor and weapons and fire-resistant uniforms, just to help people figure out where to store PowerPoint files, but I guess that’s what they mean by “network-centric” warfare.