Troops in Iraq adjust to life without comforts
Spc. Shawna Cale of Rugby, N.D., a member of the 957th Multi-Role Bridge Company, details the discomforts of life in Iraq. LSA ANACONDA, Iraq - No running water, no electricity, and a spread of tents: That's the first thing most people would noti...
Spc. Shawna Cale of Rugby, N.D., a member of the 957th Multi-Role Bridge Company, details the discomforts of life in Iraq.
LSA ANACONDA, Iraq - No running water, no electricity, and a spread of tents: That's the first thing most people would notice when they look at our home at Logistical Supply Area (LSA) Anaconda, Iraq.
It's not exactly the way we're accustomed to living in this day and age, but things are not as bad as they seem.
Members of the 957th Multi-Role Bridge Company (MRBC), an Army National Guard unit from Bismarck, have started to call their small encampment "Camp Dakota." It has 33 tents with mosquito netting, which in this part of Iraq is a major bonus. The tents also have wood floors, installed by another North Dakota/Minnesota Army National Guard unit, Charlie Company of the 142nd Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), from Camp Ripley, Minn.
Camouflage netting provides shade and keeps the tents cool during the daytime. The operations tent is up and running with a phone and computer access, thanks to generators. The MRBC also has a fully operational maintenance tent, which always is busy repairing the unit's numerous vehicles. The soldiers get one hot meal a day, provided by the unit's own mobile kitchen, or MKT. It has been named "The Sandy Six Café" in honor of the unit's six cooks, who prepare the food and keep the MKT running smoothly. They have built a small picnic area where everyone can eat. Most importantly, there is an endless supply of potable water to drink.
There is access to showers and a PX where soldiers can buy supplies and a few other items such as soda and chips. A volleyball court and horseshoe pit have been set up for recreation. There are nightly movies in the MWR tent (Moral, Welfare and Recreation).
Things haven't always been this way. When the unit arrived here in May, the area was a big empty lot full of sand and garbage.
The unit has been running haul missions between Camp Virginia, Kuwait and LSA Anaconda, so they needed a home in LSA Anaconda as well as in Camp Virginia.
After the first convoy, 19 soldiers stayed at LSA Anaconda to set up camp. They worked long hours setting up the tents, filling sandbags, digging bunkers, and finishing the basic layout of the camp. They also pulled what has come to be known as "Camp Dakota Duties." That includes daily police calls of the area (cleaning up litter), burning human waste, pulling guard duty at night, garbage detail, escort duty (supervising locals who work on base), and CQ (Charge of Quarters, monitoring the operations center during the night). They worked hard, and when the company moved here in June, the camp was fully up and running.
Since the company has moved in, the camp has been alive with activity. Many soldiers have been building shelves and benches to make life a little more comfortable, along with setting up camouflage netting to shade themselves from the hot Iraqi sun.
Plans are in the works to get all the tents wired with lights and outlets, and possibly even install air conditioning. All in all, life for the members of the 957th MRBC is improving daily. It will never be the luxuries of home that everyone longs for, but it is as about as good as it gets over here, and everyone is grateful.
The 957th Multi-Role Bridge Company is living up to the name 'multi-role'. The unit has trucks, bridge boats, and bridge bays (sections) to build the floating ribbon (pontoon) bridge. Since the bridge isn't needed at present, they are using the trucks for moving cargo and the bridge boats for river patrols.