Al Asad Services

Things here are mostly inert, with the last indirect fire occurring months ago, causing us to develop a false sense of security. Aside from living in open bay tents and having to walk everywhere, the services available are quite accommodating.

Bathing is available in trailers with hot water, lasting only a couple of minutes due to the small water heaters. This makes one learn how to turn off the water between soaking, lathering up, and finally rinsing, a conservation effort usually not exercised in the U.S. The water in the trailers is not potable, as a result there are pallets and pallets of bottled water everywhere. You can't walk further than a city block without having bottled water available. Aside from our camp area, most other places are serviced with porta-johns complete with their wonderful odors.

Internet and phones are available, but each takes time to stand in line to use. Though free, the internet is very slow and the computers available all have missing keys and are filled with the powdered dust of the Iraqi desert. I have had to compose emails and postings on my computer at home (look, I am already resolved to the fact we will be here a while) and use a memory stick to transfer them in order to utilize the 30 minute time limit in the most effective manner. As for the phones, you have to wait in line either at the AT&T phone center, where use is not limited to 30 minutes and the price per minute is more expensive, or wait in line at the government contracted phone booth, where time of use is limited to 30 minutes and there are only ten phones, but it is only four cents per minute. Either way I have found it much easier to utilize email as a way of communication on a regular basis. Maybe one day I will replace my waiting in the internet line with waiting in the phone line.

Goods are available from the Marine Corps Exchange. If there is merchandise you see that you want, it is better buy it right then, or else it will be gone. You never know how long it will be before new stock arrives as it has to travel in by convoy, a constant target of the enemy. At night, with the minimal electricity and supply of light bulbs, there are only a couple of lights, making shopping hard on the eyes. All of the merchandise is covered in dirt and dust, making reading labels close to impossible. Lines at the checkout are extremely long, further reducing the propensity to spend money there. Also, as you spend cash, your coin change is not in U.S. currency, but in gift certificate coins, only redeemable at the Exchange.

Burger King and Pizza Hut are available in the trailers at the walking mall, which is lined with gravel and a constant pool of stagnant water that emits the most wonderful of odors. Also available is a beauty salon where soldiers can get manicures, pedicures, and a head and neck massage after a haircut. Of course there is also a standard three dollar barber shop providing nothing but a marginal clipping service. Next door is a coffee shop and a Subway, providing a semi-touch of home.

By Bert Stover |  March 4, 2006; 9:20 PM ET  | Category:  Al Asad, Iraq
Previous: Naming the Enemy | Next: Across the Wire at Night


Please email us to report offensive comments.

It appears this blog is being censored. About 25 comments from the "Naming the Enemy" entry were deleted. I have no idea if Bert is deleting it himself or if the deletions are the result of the Post's editors or the military censors. In any event, the free exchange of ideas (even loony ones) is not well-served by such tactics. The people erasing the commentary of the blog's readers should be ashamed of themselves -- after all, this is America, not Iraq!

Posted by: E. Etage | March 9, 2006 09:35 AM

After my initial posting above, the missing entries from the last Bert blog chapter abruptly returned. Thank you to whomever.

Posted by: E. Etage | March 9, 2006 12:04 PM

...well Dorothy, it really looks like you are DEFiniteLEE not in Kansas any longer. Thanks for providing the rest of us with a front-side view of what its like in this theater. At the risk of appearing redundant, stay safe and return to your family wiser and stronger because of this period in your life. "That which does not kill you will 'only' make you stronger. Out!

Posted by: Big Dawg | March 9, 2006 01:07 PM

Bert, It may seem a little hard on you at this time by your of color remarks BUT think of the guys out in the Bush on Seal Teams who cant go to the jon or to the store for goodies. I understand your gripe but you have it good compared to say our Vietnam Vets whom fought with next to nothing in rations let alone ammo and a cause. I am still praying for all of you to come home safe and Im not knocking you at all.It just seems you have taken on a new attitude toward our forces and suppliers. Maybe im wrong but I dont think so.


Posted by: Wolf69tango | March 9, 2006 06:42 PM

n the 1960ís an anti-war movement emerged that altered the course of history. This movement didnít take place on college campuses, but in barracks and on aircraft carriers. It flourished in army stockades, navy brigs and in the dingy towns that surround military bases. It penetrated elite military colleges like West Point. And it spread throughout the battlefields of Vietnam. It was a movement no one expected, least of all those in it. Hundreds went to prison and thousands into exile. And by 1971 it had, in the words of one colonel, infested the entire armed services. Yet today few people know about the GI movement against the war in Vietnam.

-- From the new film-- Sir, No, Sir!

Posted by: Observer | March 9, 2006 09:10 PM

A poster says:

" have it good compared to say our Vietnam Vets whom fought with next to nothing in rations let alone ammo and a cause. "

But we all know that our brothers who died in Vietnam died for no cause, no reason, just a pack of lies and the invasion of a foreign country that had done us no harm. Today our brothers in Iraq are in the same boat. How many more will die for no good reason, just the arrogance, stupidity, and immorality of our "leaders"?

Posted by: Observer | March 9, 2006 09:18 PM

Iraq Veterans Against the War

Posted by: Observer | March 9, 2006 09:21 PM

Really good to find your site. We have a relative there and he isn't saying much about what is going on.

How about making a wish list for the families of the troops at your location on what to include in care packages that would address specific shortages there?

Would small lamps and lightbulbs be something usefull?

Posted by: Dean Covey | March 10, 2006 08:59 PM

We have a relative there and he isn't saying much about what is going on.


Not surprising. For many it's too much to talk about. The civil war and chaos in Iraq is a bloody hell brought on by liars Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush. Do you think they care about our brothers, sisters, uncles, and cousins? What did they send them to die for?

Posted by: observer | March 10, 2006 10:21 PM

Thank you for taking the time to tell us what life is like there! Whatever the politics or opinions of readers may be, the insight Bert gives is a godsend to families and loved ones of those located near him.

Posted by: A loved one | March 12, 2006 08:12 PM

Bert, appreciate you giving us a description of what Al Asad is like. I would think it is a much better place to be than most in a theatre of War. It is probably more like a Holiday Inn compared to what other Vet's have delt with or will in the future. But, keep up the positive moral. It helps get through the uncertainty. Give my Son Sgt. Pate a message for me...Love you, keep up the good work, and, kick ass when you need to!

Posted by: Pate's Dad | March 13, 2006 10:01 AM

Sounds like a Marine Corps base! No-frills and proud of it. We visited one MC way station on the road up to Baghdad and it was, well, utilitarian, er, functional, ah, sparse? I guess you don't want it too nice and get too 'comfortable' there is the plan. How is the mail delivery?

Stay alert!

Posted by: Che Dee Tree | March 13, 2006 10:35 AM

A British SAS soldier resigned from the army, describing the military intervention in Iraq as a "war of aggression" and "morally wrong".

He said he had witnessed dozens of illegal acts by US fighters who viewed Iraqis as "sub-human". Mr Griffin said: "I saw a lot of things in Baghdad that were illegal or just wrong. The Americans were doing things like chucking farmers into Abu Ghraib, or handing them over to the Iraqi authorities, knowing full well they were going to be tortured."


A soldier has no obligation to obey illegal orders.

Posted by: An American | March 13, 2006 12:36 PM

Thanks for your efforts. It is important to hear firsthand, the truth.

Posted by: D. Harrington | March 13, 2006 09:04 PM

Thanks for your service to our country!

Posted by: An American | March 14, 2006 10:42 AM

Keep up the good work.

Posted by: observer | March 14, 2006 10:43 AM

Thanks for the local point of view. Iraq is too far over too many horizons for we posters to see it clearly.
One of the earlier posters asked about a wish list of things in short supply. That's a good idea; I remember a friend's wife, 15 years ago, saying that the things her husband's unit couldn't get were razors and chapstick. They were in the supply system, of course, but the system had assumed that razors would be used on facial hair, not a sand and hair mixture, and that a tube of chapstick would last days rather than hours.
I presume those particular shortages have been corrected by now, but I also know that there's always a shortage of something. List it and you'll get it.

Be well and stay safe.

Posted by: Somebody's Dad | March 14, 2006 06:33 PM

As much as we can say that the Bush Administration is a propaganda machine and they duped he nation in the drum beat to war. Isn't it even remotely possible that the political party that seem to hold so saintly is a propaganda machine of its own. I remember as a kid on sports teams thinking that when ever the my team lost that the other team must have cheated or that the ref screwed us. As I aged though, I eventually came to the conclusion that most of the time it was truly my team that lost the game and no one else. Some times you win some, times you lose, and yes sometimes you get screwed. Please, remember, that politics is a messy game, some folks are honest, some are theives. I don't believe, however, that the honest are all amongst one party while the other is filled with theives. I beleive rather, that each party is a hetergeneous mix honest people and theives. Disagreement with the outcome of an event should not always lead to the notion of conspiracy and theivery.

By the way, I have heard some rather disconcerning stories about the Democrats and some shenanigens around election time. Are they true, I don't know, I wasn't there and I have not been able to spearhead an investigation.
Before we all go off the deep end and believe in ernest all those that we agree with, take a minute to figure out where they come from. Just because it disputed FOX news doesn't necessarily mean it should be taken for gospel.

Posted by: Getreal | March 14, 2006 06:59 PM

Congrats on your promo from "wobbly-one" to Chief.

I think, in every OS theatre, there were gripes about the PX/BX system, and the lack of hot water; however, we all learned to adapt (just like you're doing, now).

How's the flying conditions? With that much sand; and the heat. Wow, I don't envy you.

Keep us posted. Your blog is interesting reading.

BTW, disregard the "ankle biters." They freedom of speech is the essence of America being America.

Posted by: I. H. Suggs, Jr. , CW4 (Avn), Ret | March 15, 2006 11:21 AM

Re: BTW, disregard the "ankle biters." They freedom of speech is the essence of America being America.

Agreed. And we must all remember three things:

1) International law makes it clear that unprovoked aggressive war is the most fundamental of all war crimes.

2) We are engaged in a conflict based on lies, a criminal enterprise. Every American death in Iraq is a pointless waste that achieves nothing. The liars who conspired to commit this criminal activity are culpable for the American dead and for the deaths of tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

3) The lesson of Nuremburg is unambiguous: No marine, airman, sailor, or soldier is obliged to obey an illegal order. Indeed, it is a moral imperative to refuse.

Posted by: An American | March 15, 2006 03:31 PM

For those who have never been in the service "shut the hole in your face". You don't have a clue what you are talking about. If you have never served, either peacetime or wartime, how can you honestly give an opinion about what should or should not be, or how a soldier should or should not feel. You are in the comfort of your home with your family and friends near. That soldier took an oath, he chose to make the sacrifice. Something you know nothing about. Only the soldier, only the veteran knows what the sacrifice means. And it is with honor, pride and knowing that the sacrifice was made so that you could shoot your mouth off about something you know nothing about. I like the saying, "If you can't stand behind our soldiers, then by all means, go stand in front of them."

Posted by: a wife | March 15, 2006 03:40 PM

Just reading above comments about "war of aggression."

Has there ever really been a war where aggression hasn't been involved? In WW II we were on the moral high ground, but I beleive that all the combat soldiers and their higher-ups were using "aggression" to some degree.

Scan the history books and try to find a war where tea, crumpets, and jolly good times where hurled to and fro at the front lines.

Terms like "war of aggression" are propaganda in their own right. Ever think that some of the elected officials, both here and abroad, who are anti-war may stand to benefit financially or politiclly from the spread of anti-Bush/ anti-war propaganda? Or is it true that all those who stand in opposition are pure of heart and mind? Just playing devils advocate here, not making accusations.

I was just watching a program this afternoon about the bombings of the American embassy and marine barracks in Lebanon in the early '80s. One line in the documentary said that to get American military out of your country all you have to do is kill a few of them. Sure enough the US pulled out of Lebanon. Same thing happened in Somalia. Every time our soldiers get killed we think it is not a worthwhile endeavor. (I am not trying to say that even one American life, or even that of a non-US citizen is trivial) Is it possible that our extreme distaste for blood shed and war blinds us from seeing that governments in the Mid-east which are non-militant extermists might just be a good idea worth persuing? Just playing devils advocate again...All you folks over seas take good care and thanks for being strong.

Posted by: Bill | March 15, 2006 06:59 PM

Just to clearify my last post...

"Is it possible that our extreme distaste for blood shed and war blinds us from seeing that governments in the Mid-east which are non-militant extermists might just be a good idea worth persuing?"

what I meant to say was...Is it possible that our extreme distaste for bloodshed and war blinds us from seeing that governments in the Mid-east wich are NON-MILITANT and NON-EXTERMIST...etc.

Again, to all service men/women good night (or good day whichever it may be over there) and stay safe. Hell, keep the Iraqi civilians safe too for that matter.

Posted by: Bill | March 15, 2006 08:50 PM

This blog is a conduit for our friends and family members of the soldiers 2-224th who are serving in Iraqi. Those of us who live in this Guard Family have one purpose while we sit in front of our portals; to catch a taste or a feel of what our loved ones are experiencing. We try to experience what they do, if only for a moment, so we can soothe and comfort them when they feel the weight of working 6000 miles away from their loved ones, upon their shoulders.
For those of you seeking a glimpse of our family & friends overseas, through the eyes of Bert, sit back and enjoy. When you get to one of the idiots who come here for their own selfish causes, skip over it as I do. Responding to their blogs will only encourage them to continue. Ignore them and we can get back to what is really important, Family!

Posted by: Dwano | March 16, 2006 12:29 AM

In the context of international law it is not correct to say that all war is aggressive. A nation or people that is resisting a foreign invasion and/or occupation is not engaged in aggressive war, and legally apeaking their struggle is justified.

Unprovoked aggressive war, on the other hand, is the most fundamental of war crimes. During the Vietnam war, thousands of US GIs courageously resisted the crime of aggressive war and were jailed or exiled. In an era when our "defense" department is regularly engaged in the crime of aggressive war, the government realized that conscripted soldiers could no longer be trusted and thus we no longer have conscription.

While most of our soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen don't view the occupation of Iraq as a crime, they know that it is an enormous and useless blunder and that they are being asked to sacrifice their lives for no good reason.

Bert, as time goes on, it would be good to hear from you how our men and women are dealing with this harsh reality.

Posted by: An American | March 16, 2006 06:25 AM

Apparently international law makers haven't spent much time in real war or else they are lost in the paper thin world of semantics.

It makes me sick that people come in here to trash our servicemen/women and attempt to speculate as to what they think and know. "they know that it is an enormous and useless blunder..."
Please don't assign your beliefs to those whom you don't know, especially when they are experiencing first hand what you only witness from a biased television program, newspaper, or wind bag best friend.

Cut the crap and drop the pretense of the ominscient one. No one really knows how this will end, and until it is over predicting its uselessness will only aide in creating a self fulfilling prophecy. If we tell ourselves that it won't work enough times, then it won't work. Catch the drift...this is how trash talking the war effort emboldens the Bin Ladens of this world.

Posted by: Bill | March 16, 2006 07:16 PM

"While most of our soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen don't view the occupation of Iraq as a crime, they know that it is an enormous and useless blunder and that they are being asked to sacrifice their lives for no good reason."

You know this because you are currently serving in the military?

Posted by: Joe | April 13, 2006 10:26 PM

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