Saturday, March 14, 2009

Letter From Kerry

An interesting aspect of deployments concerns the population of the different Foward Operating Bases (FOBs) where the soldiers are stationed. There are FOBs all over Afghanistan and they range in size from the large from the 17,000 person bases like Bagram all the way down to the smaller ones that have less than 200 soldiers. Unique personalities emerge while soldiers are on these bases for a year. A curious sub-species of soldier emerges. I am definitely plagiarizing, but I wanted to describe some of these types.

A "FOBBIT" is a sub-species that never, ever under any circumstances leaves the safety of his base (except to re-deploy!). These people make every effort to remain in the safety of their offices or hooches in order to remain safe.

Closely related to the FOBBIT is the "TOC-ROACH." (A TOC is a Tactical Operations Post; the Army loves acronyms!) The TOC-ROACH is the individual who is always hovering around the coffee pot and drinking large quantities of coffee at the expense of everyone else. Whole bottles of French vanilla creamer have been known to disappear in the depths of one coffee cup. Likewise, a do-nut does not stand a chance once this creature becomes aware of its presence. Normally moving at the speed that makes even a ground sloth appear to be fast, the TOC-ROACH is capable of incredible bursts of speed over short distances (usually covering the 4-6 feet needed to pounce on someones unguarded homemade brownies when said person is not looking).

Another interesting personality is the "HARD LURKER". Chameleon like in appearance, the Hard Lurker exerts massive amounts of energy in the effort to appear to be contributing to the fight and outworking everyone else. These creatures thrive when a superior officer is around and always hover near someone who is actually working. Like a moth attracted to a candle the Hard Lurker hovers, sweats, and then disappears at the first opportunity. Normally coming in late (because he worked so hard that he had to stay late the night before), the Hard Lurker is frequently found in the coffee shop or the gym (although he is never working out!)

The SHOWER FAIRY frequents the bathrooms and showers of the various FOBs across Afghanistan and Iraq. In a land where hot water is scarce the SHOWER FAIRY often enters a stall and takes up as much hot water as humanly possible actually cooking himself. The inordinate and massive use of hot water is normally accompanied by incredibly off key singing. Not many people are brave enough to sing Barry Manilow in a shower full of Infantry soldiers. However, the full rendition of Copa Cabana often wafts through the air as the SHOWER FAIRY weaves his haunting and poorly sung melodies across the deployment bathrooms like a sick, twisted siren of old. The SHOWER FAIRY is normally identified by his or her 20 pounds of shower gear and bath gels.

The CAB CHASER is the hero-wannabe that always dreams of getting earning the Combat Action Badge (CAB). This badge is awarded to any service member who has received indirect or direct enemy fire or seen combat. The CAB CHASER, while dreaming of this award, does not actually want to be in combat. He or she simply wants to be near enough to a stray round to claim the award while still remaining safe. Once earned, the CAB CHASER, in a stunning metamorphosis, evolves into a FOBBIT and sometimes even becomes a TOC ROACH.

Closely related to the CAB CHASER is the GEARDO. The GEARDO is the soldier who simply has to have the coolest and most high speed equipment. The cost of his arsenal of special gear and $100.00 special operations style sunglasses rivals the budget of many third world countries. One simply never knows when he might need a $400.00 flashlight that has a compass, altimeter, flashing beacon light, and a GPS when he is in the dining facility. Who knows...the lights might go out and he can save the day.

The RUMINT is the soldier who simply knows the latest and greatest bit of information. "I heard from my brother's friend who used to have a friend who had a cousin who had an ex-girlfriend who once visited the White House on a tour who bumped into the Secretary of Defense on this tour that the army was going to start using invisible bullets in order to fool the enemy." The RUMINT always inserts himself in a conversation that he was not originally a part of and then drops a juicy bit of information that leaves his audience spell bound in utter amazement (The RUMINT thinks it is at his vast knowledge while the listener wonders who this bozo is and how he even got into the conversation in the first place.)

These are some of the types of soldiers that frequent your army. The types of creatures mentioned here are also found (in different variations) across the millions of cubicles and offices in corporate America.

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