After 98 days in Iraq I left Wednesday, 26 and flew by military transport to Ali Al Salem Airfield in Kuwait where I'm waiting for the weekly flight to the United States, also know as the Freedom Plane. I flew by military transport which is always an adventure.
Although officially Kuwait is still considered a war zone it's much more relaxed than Iraq and I believe there haven't been any hostile fire incidents recently. We're actually not even required to carry our weapons with us. Ali Al Salem Airfield is not only a military base it's the gateway to Iraq and Afghanistan. On my way to Iraq we flew from the United States we stopped at Ali Al Saelm Airfield in Kuwait. About two thirds of the soldiers, who were headed to Afghanistan, immediately got on another plane and left the same day. The other third of us, who were headed for Iraq, went to another base in Kuwait for a few days of additional training. A few days later we flew to Iraq.
This time I arrived at Ali Al Salem on a Wednesday and my flight to the United States doesn't leave until Saturday night. I've been given just a few chores and I just have to wait at this Air Base in the Kuwaiti desert for two days. The place is a huge tent city that reportedly handles over a thousand soldiers passing through every day either going to or returning from Afghanistan or Iraq. Most everybody is like me they have to wait a few days for a plane to go somewhere else.
So everybody is either "inbound" which means they're headed back to the United States or "outbound" which means they're headed to either Afghanistan or Iraq. Again, among the outbound soldiers I see bigger goups standing in front of signs saying "Kabul" and Mazar-i-Sharif which are destinations in Afghanistan and these soldiers don't even get assigned a tent.
There seems to be hundreds of men & womens tents and they have a concrete floor and there's about a eight double bunk beds in each tent. You walk a short distance to a dining facility, shower houses and bathrooms, which the military calls latrines. I'm traveling by myself but there's always soldiers to talk to if you feel like it. My tent has filled up with a group of male nurses who worked "dustoffs" which are medical evacuation helicopters in Afghanistan and it sounds like they've been through a lot. However, everybody seems relieved that they've finished their deployment and they're headed home. We are all feeling a huge sense of relief as we realize we're finished and we're away from the combat zones.
MAJOR MARTIN LESSER
Tallil Air Base (AKA Ali Air Base) adjoins COB Adder. A talented soldier painted this blast wall & included the Ziggurat (see post 01/17/11)
Good place to nap.