Sunday, May 1, 2011


My trip to Qatar –

Yesterday morning I woke up with a mission… Get out of NKC. I did some checking and was able to get on stand by for a Helo flight to Bagram. Once arriving in Bagram (after a surreal – last time ride – across Kabul, I was able to get on the stand-by list to fly from Bagram to Qatar. Fortunately, I made it.. However, it still turned out to be a loooong day.

We had roll call and were told to wait – finally the time came to load in the plane.. so they marched us all out there (not literally, altho we were in ranks..but it was more like a casual walk) we got to the plane and were told to standby. So we did, to find out they had a hydraulic fluid leak, and we weren’t able to load yet – so, we were marched back to the waiting area.. to wait. After about an hour, we did this all over again, but this time, we were able to board! We actually got in, got seated and took off. After about an hour in the air – they noticed a fuel leak – so yes, you guessed it, we turned around. Now, I was sleeping throughout this, so imagine my disappointment, when we landed after about 2 hours of flight time (the flight to Qatar takes much longer) – to discover we were back in BAGRAM! OMGosh.. wow.. the landing was very scary.. you can tell there was panic, because the two Airmen were strapped in, and feverishly watching through the windows.. then you hear some bangs, and we landed.. hard.. I have to say, I was praying the whole time we were getting ready to land…asking GOD to not have taken me this far, to end it this way..

Obviously, we landed safe and sound, and were ushered off the plane ASAP – leaving everything behind.. After about 4 hours of waiting, we were once again taken out to the plane – to reload – only this time, it was a new plane. We got on board and were yet again, told they were having mechanical issues and there would be a delay. After about an hour – we went airborn.. THANK YOU GOD. We made it to Qatar about 2 am in the morning and were sent thru customs/immigration and the armory to drop off any weapon and magazines.

I was fortunately picked up by some of our guys and taken to billeting, given a room and was finally able to settle in about 5 am this morning. What a day!!
Today, I went to the CENTCOM building. This part is mainly for my Casualty Folks – so listen up..

Some things to know:
The wires were not run yet for the computers. Desks/computers were there, but not the wiring/cable. The office is as it is listed on the slide. Awesome.. Huge, compared to the closet we live in there. The space has tons of filing cabinets, a huge TV (will have to be moved, tho – for better viewing) and printers, fridge, etc. Now, the unfortunate part is that the couple of people that are working in there are not due to move out until next month – and with them they will take some of the stuff – what that will be, is anyone’s guess, therefore I could not do an inventory. Looks like you will still be good to go, though, even if they take half the filing cabinets, everyone will have plenty of space!

-things to note coming in to QATAR
-You can turn in your ammo here, at the armory, when you turn in ALL your magazines and weapons – do not bring knives (longer than 6 inches) brass knuckles, weapons of any sort…
-no magazines that could be considered porn of any type.. no pornography of any kind (CDs/toys, etc) – no shit they say this at the brief!

For the building you will work:
-No external devices allowed in the building: laptops, cells, CDs, iPods, etc. They are very strict on building security, cameras every where and if you breach it, you can bet your butt, there will be a lock down and they will find you..
-there are 8 desks set up including a Tamberg for Video Teleconferences (that is on order) you can set up in the CAS CELL area – Capt Trexler is ordering enough and I told him we would need one – follow up with him when you get here, to ensure you get one of them
-That space I was trying to figure out what it was – looks ilke a hallway –its actually a “customer service” counter that’s the area customers would be waiting, but that door – to that area- will be locked and you shouldn’t have to worry about it – it will be more like “dead space”
-MSgt Tate will need to come when all is set up – ensure now that the comms guys (talk to Mr B) know that we need to have a SHARE Drive – not just Share Point – no lines are up yet, therefore I could not check that out
-Ensure to add to the SOP that in the event of a USFOR-A death – at AL Udied – those reports need to be reported to us in the same manner we process for USFOR-A Kabul personnel BUT we also need to inform 357th I think it is - the AF personnel that runs the base here.. they need to be informed of any death that occurs on this base – verify the unit (357th or 359th.. something like that)
-Once MSgt Tate comes in, he will be able to inventory what Is left in the office, and then, order any thing else that is needed.. keeping in mind, what we do not order – will stay behind when the cell moves to a different building
-Our Cell is not with any other USFOR-A personnel. We are down the hall and around the corner.
-Couldn’t take pics inside the building – due to the security restrictions – but it looks as its laid out on the PPT
-They only have a couple vans – but its not too hard to sign out the keys – to make “pick-ups” etc.. you guys will have to coordinate that with Capt Trexler or MSgt Brooks- they have the keys (2 different vans)
There is a big white board in the office area – again, you guys will have to turn things around a bit – to make the most of it.. they are all set up like cubicles, so, you can move around, just keep in mind all cabeling is done from under the flooring, so you wont be able to move them too much, but you can atleast open them up to eachother – so everyone there can see eachother.. or, however you choose

For the billeting:
Rooms are 2 person rooms and every two rooms share a kitchenette/common area and a bathroom, as the pictures show
The rooms are cold.. and there is one big rug between the beds, but you will probably need runners and rugs in common areas- but there is an exchange here so you can do that then; definitely KEEP your heating blanket/etc – there is no “heat” option on the thermostat
No coffee pot in the kitchenette area – so you’ll need one (if you want coffee for your room)
There is a DSN phone in the kitchenette areas – but – you can’t call out on it, only receive calls on it
There is free WI-FI throughout and its good!
The beds are ridiculously comfortable.. not the skinny flimsy mattresses.. they are very nice!
There is a fridge and microwave in the kitchenette
In the rooms there is a sink with mirror and a closet across from it
These are the weird plugs – so you will have to get converters – they are not the same as the Afghanstan plugs (you can buy them here at the PX)
Billeting building is the most beautiful building here (on the inside) – it’s the most color you will see
The outside is very drab.. very grey.. NO COLOR.. you will be lucky to see a fake green shrub somewhere..
There is laundry facilities (to do your own) (I sent pics) at the ends of the halls
It’s a constant 80-85 degrees except during heat of day – which it has risen to about 100-105. I am sure it will get worse during summer
The wind blows and it smells like the ocean here.. love it!
The building is a 5-7 min walk to work, 5 min walk to the gym that’s the size of Crisostomo. It has racquetball courts, a pool and of course all other gym related equipment; across the street (about 5 min walk) is the PX that has a theater, pizza hut, starbucks, couple little shops, and of course a PX
Further down the road is the Coalition Forces side – which has another PX, other fast foods and the sports bar – its probably a 20 min walk or so – in that same area is what they call the “Bra” because it has two tents, with tips that stick out – making it look like a BRA – that is the hang out – music, sports bar, stores etc around it, to include karaoke, etc
There is a bizarre here, but I have no idea where..
The airport terminal – actually looks like one.. nice shiny floors, TVs, customer service desks – set up just like at a CIV airport, they are very friendly and helpful!
Across from the airport is the shoppette – it’s a 24 hour store – but you don’t have to buy anything – you sign in and make your selections and they put it in your bag, and off you go (sub sandwiches, chips, cereal, milk , pop, candy bars, MREs, pop tarts, etc.. you are allowed 2 sandwiches, 2 chips, 2 candy bars, 2 drinks, and then of course cereal/muffin milks, etc.. you can go stock up – at no charge

Okay, I think that is all I remember. Again, I could not get pics of the inside, but the PPT is a good replica. I wish the cabeling was done, I would ensure you had a share drive/network to move stuff too, but get with the comms guys (via Mr. B) to ensure that is being done and that they can transfer our files, etc
I hope this helps you guys! You will be happy here (even with the differences in security (no laptops, etc) it is a much nicer facility, much nicer billeting and amenities we just don’t have at NKC. I think you will be happy..

BTW – the 3 drinks a day – the beers (from what I hear) are in very big TALL glasses –probably the size of 2 normal beers in the states – so really – its more like drinking 6 beers.. rather than 3. I have not partaken in the alcohol consumption – told my mom I was going to wait and have my first glass of wine with her.