Contemplation on My Day Off

Day 27
I had a day off yesterday. First one since we started standing watches. There’s not much to do here. I got caught up on email. I posted a blog entry that I could not get posted earlier in the day because the Internet connection was struggling. I went the DFac (Army-speak for the place where they feed people) to eat dinner. They had steak, lobster and shrimp but you had to choose between the lobster and the shrimp. I had steak and shrimp. It wasn’t bad. Walked over to Camp Spearhead Mall, got an ice cream at Baskin-Robbins, and then spent about three hours reading Mr. Knief’s book, Diamond Head.

It’s a good book. Very entertaining. I’m getting to know John Caine, Mr. Knief’s main character. I think I’ve met Kimo already but he’s only been referred to by that name one time. I’m anxious to get to know Kimo better. He’s the reason I’m reading this book. It kind of interesting how things work. A T-Shirt I saw in Hawai`i led me to investigate a fictional person name Kimo. This led me to an author named Charles Knief. I then get to meet Mr. Knief, if only through email to date, and as a result of the impression Mr. Knief leaves on me I end up reading his books. Some times it is interesting to follow the chain of events that leads to one’s actions.

Anyway, I read until about 0030 and then went to bed. It was odd not standing watch. I’m not sure that I like having days off. At least not unless there’s something to do. I think I’d rather be out with the guys I work with. At some point I think there may be some MWR trips to places here in Kuwait. Hotels or whatever. That might be fun. To be honest though, I’m a bit apprehensive about being out on junkets like that. We all know that al Qaida et al are out there. al Qaida would relish the opportunity to walk a suicide bomber into a group of American service members. That is one of their established MOs. If I am going to go out into Kuwait, I’d feel better about it as part of military endeavor. Fully armed, equipped and mounted up. A hard target. You can call me paranoid, Hollywood, whatever you like. I just want to make sure that I leave here in the same or better condition than I arrived. I think our biggest threats here in Kuwait are accidents and terrorists.

Terrorists may try to hit Camp Spearhead. They’ve done something like this before when they drove a truck into a camp in Beruit and killed some 200 plus marines. However, I consider such an attack unlikely and most likely to be unsuccessful if it is attempted. There are, however, some other opportunities that they might consider worthy. MWR forays into Kuwait would definitely be prime targets. This would be in line with al Qaida’s bombing of bars that are known to be gathering spots for service members.

We’ll see how things go. It is a difficult choice for me. I really like getting out into the society and culture, learning about how their society works, seeing how it is different from my own society and other societies I am familiar with. Weighing this against the inherent risk associated with being out in society is difficult. It is impossible for me to accurately assess the risk involved in going out there. For that I am suppose to trust my commanders. Yet, history and observation indicates that commanders don’t always get it right. As I mentioned yesterday, some of the things that soldiers are doing in Iraq seem ill advised to me. Here in Kuwait I think we cannot go out into society in full military force save for the purpose of moving from one base to another.

One of the jokes here is to pull up to Starbucks in full gear driving a Force Protection humvee which has a heavy, crew served weapon mounted on it, walk in and order coffees to go. Some of the interaction we’ve had with the Kuwaitis indicates that US Forces are not necessarily all that welcome here insofar as the Kuwaiti equivalent of Joe Six Pack in the Wal-mart parking lot is concerned. Of course, they also seem to indicate that they think Kuwait can handle its own defense. Kuwait defense force doctrine seems to say that Kuwaiti Defense Forces are only intended to hold off an aggressor until international help can arrive.

This is an interesting and thought provoking experience. It will be interesting to see what lessons I learn for it. I expect that it will be six months to a year after I leave this place before I will really begin to understand what it is I have learned here. For now, its not bad. I’m relatively comfortable. I am comparatively very safe. I enjoy my job and the people I work with. I feel like I am doing something worthwhile and important.


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