It’s been ten days since we officially took over the mission here, and already it’s hard to tell that our predecessors even existed. Signs have been changed, web pages altered, desks rearranged, SOPs remade, procedures rethought, all in a frantic effort to make our mark. Like a giant meteor suddenly wiping out the dinosaurs in a flash of light and a torrent of ash, our unit stands on the proverbial bones of brigades past, sometimes seeming like those other deployments never happened. Yet occasionally an artifact from these long-ago soldiers (long ago being two rotations ago) surfaces from the geological strata of filing cabinets and web servers: an old unit crest or phone roster, reminders of our predecessors and their hard work.
Sometimes, people still call us looking for soldiers of these brigades long past. Some poor 2nd lieutenant from the help desk called me the other day, asking about computers on our network that had policy exemptions in effect. I told him I didn’t know of any in our possession, and he asked if he could talk to some master sergeant from the 29th IBCT. I said well sir, that was three rotations ago – so maybe late 2008 or 2009? I think he’s gone now. I know we’re just lowly Guardsmen, living in the slums of Zone 6, far from the fancy silverware and swimming pools of Zone 1, but you’d think they’d have some clue as to who their subordinate units were. I didn’t blame the lieutenant, though; I’m sure he just showed up, fresh out of Officer Basic Course, and they handed him a list and said, “start making calls.”
One of the changes around town is a new sign outside the TOC. This sign was produced some weeks ago, and I immediately noticed something amiss: the unit patch image had obviously been blown up from a tiny web graphic to a giant square decal. It looks horrible, and I couldn’t help but voice my objection – we’ll be the laughing stock of the camp! Everyone will think we’re a bunch of talentless National Guard hacks with no graphic design skills! The TAG said we can’t use the Red Bull with the 1 in it! Etc… Obviously, as the sign’s presence attests, my objections fell on deaf ears, and there it stands, a proudly pixelated mess. (The sign also says “Kuwait” under our name. No shit we’re in Kuwait!) I guess it’s not really that bad – from a distance, the pixelation isn’t that noticeable, and some people can’t notice it at all, so probably no one will ever know. But it remains my secret shame, and I avert my gaze from it every morning.
The heat is starting to break, as we head into September. It’s still over 100 degrees, but it wasn’t quite as oppressive today, a slight lifting of the sun’s punishing hand. The mornings are becoming almost pleasant, maybe in the 80s or low 90s; before you know it, I’ll be digging out my extreme cold weather parka! Maybe not. But the days go by quickly; indeed, instead of trying to fill my hours, I’m scrambling for more, both at the TOC and on my off time. Soon it’ll be winter and I’ll be home for leave, shoveling snow from the driveway and human food into my mouth, and maybe by then the Iraq war will be over, depending on the whim of the Iraqi government. That’s a topic for another day, though…