NEAR DULUIYAH -- They do jumping jacks, push-pits and sit-ups every morning. Then there's the guys practicing Brazilian ju-jitsu.
This, for sure, is the active-duty Army. I am now with the Stryker brigade (3rd Brigade, 2nd Division) from Fort Lewis. In December, some 5,000 soldiers attached to the brigade made their way from Kuwait to a location that -- due to security concerns -- cannot be reported.
But you know you have arrived when you come upon row after row of big white tents and hundreds of eight-wheeled, green fighting vehicles lined up across a flat, treeless expanse of land.
The base was built from scratch in the past couple of months. Though
more austere then some of the older bases, it has some
This brigade is intended to be the first step in launching a new high-tech army, so the units are equipped with plenty of computers and impressive execessories including a large plasma, high-definition screen.
In the afternoon, at the "BUB' (Battle Update Briefing) the screen
displays all sorts of charts and graphics as the officers review the
latest plans. And in the evening, in a corner of the battalion nerve center
-- in an olive green tent known as the Tactical Operations Center -- the
plasma screen becomes movie screen.
Two nights ago, they featured Bad Boys II. Tonight, it was The Twin Towers of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. During the climactic battle screen, orcs and humans faced off with arrows, swords and battering ram.
Meanwhile, in the other corner of the TAC, duty officers used radar to try to pinpoint the origin of a mortar round lobbed in our general direction.
Generally, though, this camp has had only a few sporadic mortar attacks,
and no casualties resulting from those attacks. The brigade is very
aggressive about responding to attacks with outgoing mortar fire,
and squads of Stryker vehicles that head to the "point of origin," where the
mortars are thought to have been fired from.
So, when not trucking around the countryside in a Stryker vehicle, I've
been sleeping soundly here.
Other soldiers in this battalion want to say hello and send their love to their families. These are the guys on the Internet with me now: Pfc. Juan Trevino, Sgt. Daniel Hall, Staff. Sgt. Brian Gilmer, Spc. Brandon Adair, and Spc. Josh Wettlin.