"Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order." - John Adams
Jumping the TOC to Kuwait had a surrealistic quality. Over the course of this war, our minds have been programmed to view Kuwait as a forbidding temporary place to reside when either coming or going to Iraq or Afghanistan. Now we had to face the fact that we would live like transients in a hostile climate while we continued to work towards mission success. A good portion of our battalion remained at COB Adder to run various tasks until the base closes. Meanwhile, our convoys roll day and night all over southern Iraq in their quest to remove every remaining trace of our military presence. The headquarters personnel are now making all this coordination happen from tents in the middle of the barren Kuwaiti desert. Nights are cold and there are no terrain features or vegetation to give shelter from the wind. The days of CHUs are gone and at night our weary backs sleep on folding cots arranged 50 Soldiers to a tent. The showers run out of hot water almost instantly. The DFAC has long lines. But on the news reports we see the continual updates of our comrades successfully moving out of Iraq and catching flights home. We know that soon we too will reach end of mission and catch a flight home. Nearby Camp Virginia is a scene of constant arrivals and departures for units who are done and leaving. Occasionally, one of our own subordinate units is included in this mix. But at Camp Buehring the beat goes on. Retrograde is ongoing. It has to be completed by December 31st.
It is really a good thing that we are now on the sprint to the finish line. Kuwait is not a fun place to be for any length of time. It is a featureless desert that is seemingly devoid of any life. There are random camels, dogs, and birds. But for the Soldier who toils long hours it gives very little luxury to relieve stress. Kuwait is always best in the rear view mirror. Just a few more convoys, a couple more base closures, and a little patience over these last few days and we will all have this place in our collective rear view mirrors. Mission comes first and to that end we will dictate the successful end of our stay in this forbidding place.