Wednesday, April 6, 2011

TTT - 4/5: Kuwait Update Pt. 2

So as usual, I forgot to blog for two weeks then I'm a day late the next week. I guess I should set an alarm for Tuesday afternoons! Anyway, on with the update!

I left off at the end of week one, desperately wanting the rest of the unit to arrive! That would wait another week though. So in the meantime, between paperwork and turnover stuff, I went caching on Kuwait Naval Base. Yup, they have that here too! The good news was there were 4 caches listed on the base! One I had been tracking since May of last hadn't been found. Can you say FTF in a foreign land because I CAN! :D After further research, I realized that 90% of the caches in Kuwait are on Coalition Forces Facilities. Good news for me, and bad news for me...

So to leave our base we have to have a letter that says we are allowed to leave to go do certain job related tasks on the other bases. Problem 1, not all bases have job related tasks on them for everyone. Problem 2, the letters expire every week so I constantly have to get updated ones. Problem 3, none of the letters allow for travel out to Kuwait City...this is the biggest problem for me since I have to get items in the city to do my job. The good news there is that people know this and don't really bug me too much about it.

Another road block in the leaving the base is that people who live here drive...well, let's just say they aren't the safest people to drive around. Speeds of up to (I'm guessing) 200 KmPH. That's about 125 MPH... They don't typically use turn signals. If you are in the space they wish to occupy, they will move you if they can't get around you. The best part is that Stop signs are generally more of a suggestion than a law... All these things require us to carry a letter that indicates the risks of driving and the precautions taken to mitigate those risks. We are now up to 2 pieces of paper required to leave the base...

Now, on my "Travel Letter," an E8 (second highest enlisted rank) or an O5 (the lowest rank of a "senior" officer) has to sign the letter. That is of course unless you have a Letter of Exception to Policy signed by the general...this letter states that an O4 can sign the letter which in our case is who signs the letters...paper number 3.

Finally we need the vehicle registration placard, which is like our DoD stickers at home, but we rent the vehicles here so there are no decals. Also we need to show our IDs. In other words, we have to carry a binder of crap just to leave the base...And if there is more than one person (which you can't go out alone of course) each person needs a "Travel Letter." Now off we go!

So we can't go anywhere unless on official business, we can't go to town without long pants, and generally speaking we should wear collared shirts to conduct any business. Good thing some people were told they wouldn't need civilian clothes. ;)

The final week without the crew was pretty uneventful. I went out in town a few times to make the contacts I needed for buying stuff locally and we took a trip to one of the local cellular companies. The cell companies here are the only source of wireless internet, which is the primary internet source. That trip will be touched on later as it is an on-going story that just recently concluded and we still aren't out of early February in this update. :D

Just before the main body arrived the 9 of us enlisted were moved into our permanent barracks, which was one row of buildings from where we already were...why we couldn't stay I don't know, but that's the Army for you. :p Once we got into our buildings we moved beds and lockers around to try and make the accommodations a little more friendly. Boat division had their own building, as did Security. The rest of the the unit who were not chiefs, officers, Weapons department (they got to stay with their Navy counterparts,) or female got another building (my building!) Each division then got their own "room" in the building. We tried to make the individual space as fair as possible, but the Army likes to come rape buildings of beds and lockers once people transfer out. A couple days later everyone arrived!

It was 3 AM when 7 of us got up to meet the buses as they arrived at Kuwait Naval Base. We made one last trip through the buildings to ensure beds had linens and each person had enough lockers then we went to the parking lot...and waited...and waited...and waited some more...They finally arrived at about 5 AM, after we were told they would be leaving at about 2:45...lucky us. :) They arrived just in time for breakfast, but since they were all 11 hours behind all they wanted to do was sleep! Some guys were able to tough it out based on the minimal sleep they could get on the plane, while other guys just made their beds and crashed.

After the first day, the next couple days included indoc briefs and area familiarization, on and off base for some people. The good news was everyone made it. The bad news was that they only had 4 days to get the hang of everything because we were taking over! There was very little turnover time between the rest of the guys and the outgoing unit, but luckily for me fixing boats is fixing boats no matter where it is or who was doing it before you...

That should be enough boring details for this week. Next week I'll get into more of the cell phone company ordeal and driver's two favorite subjects for the last two months! I may even throw in a caching experience or two. Hopefully by the end of next week's tale I will be caught up to present and the story won't be so long and boring!

See everyone next week...(now where is my alarm?) ;)

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