View Full Version : WTF? Conditions at Afghan air base spur complaints

10-30-02, 09:20 AM
Is it supposed to be like Paradise Island in the Bahamas? I thought it was war.

Bagram air base, the headquarters for U.S. troops fighting terrorists in Afghanistan, is woefully short on amenities, some Air Force personnel complain.

They say the mountain-rimmed base 27 miles north of Kabul is clouded in unhealthy dust. Troops sleep in crowded tents, work out in inadequate fitness centers and volleyball courts, and squeeze into small bathrooms.

Lines are long at the base exchange and the chow hall. There is also a complaint with how the Army uses recycled water to do the base laundry.

"Unfortunately, they recycle their water too many times, and they do not ensure your clothes are completely dry," says one airman. "Therefore, when your wadded-up, bagged clothes are placed back in the bin, they sit there."

The evidence of the poor conditions is in the form of 23 black-and-white photographs. The photos are being circulated at the Pentagon and at U.S. Central Command in hopes they will result in improved living conditions at the epicenter of the war on Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network.

But in some circles, the photo spread is having the opposite effect. Some Navy officers say the Air Force is composed of a bunch of "whiners" and "crybabies."

"It's about time they grew up and learned the hard lessons of expeditionary warfare," said a Navy officer. "I expect that our Marines have been dealing with equally poor or worse conditions on the ground in Afghanistan, and I'm sure they haven't been complaining."

Even some Air Force officers fear the photo presentation may brand the Air Force as being full of complainers. What's the use of complaining about tacky volleyball nets when most of Afghanistan lives in poverty, asks one officer. "The Army and Navy would laugh at us," he said.

Cmdr. Frank Merriman, a spokesman at U.S. Central Command, which is running the war in Afghanistan, said conditions are better since the photographs were taken. For example, tents are being fortified with wood floors.

"[Conditions] have improved," Cmdr. Merriman said. "We're talking a field location that was built from scratch and it has slowly evolved over time. Some of the things are as you see them. Some have improved."

He added: "It's an evolutionary process, but you have to understand it is a field environment. You don't have good buildings to start off with. You had basically desert that you had to develop something out of and improve over time and that's the process going on right now."

The pictures show an austere, dusty base camp built from the ruins of a long civil war.

"Main road. That's not haze, it's dust," says the caption on a picture of Bagram, a bombed-out former Soviet air base. "The dust is about two inches thick on the road, the consistency of talcum powder. Doesn't brush off. Just sticks to you. Gets up your nose, in your eyes and mouth. You cannot get away from it."

Air Force troops have grown accustomed to some of the best amenities when they deploy to far-off lands. They often are bedded down in air-conditioned tents, enjoy televisions and modern fitness centers, and eat the best chow.

An anecdote from Desert Shield, the 1990 buildup in the blistering hot desert of Saudi Arabia before the war with Iraq, has become part of Army lore.

Touring Army top brass saw Army soldiers living in crowded tents, with poor laundry and recreational facilities. An Air Force unit across the road slept in air-conditioned tents.

The Army visit resulted in development of new Army tent cities, complete with laundry and recreation areas.

The Air Force photographs of Bagram included:
ĽA view of the Air Force village, consisting of numerous tents and dust.

ĽAn Air Force woman brushing her teeth in a small

bathroom. "One sink and three showers for all the women in the AF village," the caption says. "Men's side is a bit larger, but not much."

ĽA long line for breakfast. "You wait through the line even if you just want to grab cereal, milk and fruit," says a caption. "Bottled water is only provided at breakfast and supper and you are only allowed one bottle per meal. Lunch is MREs (meals-ready-to-eat pouches)."

A photo of the chow hall reads, "No A/C or heat. Tables are raw plywood. If someone large sits at one end the whole table tips."

There are also pictures of Army facilities, such as its lone mess hall and a recreation center where the refrigerators have only bottled water, which must be consumed on the premises. The Army theater for the entire base seats 25.

Pentagon officials say they believe two Air Force sergeants compiled the slide show while visiting Bagram from a U.S. base.

Previously held by the Northern Alliance in its long resistance to the Taliban regime, Bagram is now an around-the-clock operation as the hub of counterterrorist operations.

10-30-02, 10:40 AM
Sounds like those air force types have it better on deployment than we did when I was at Tustin! Of course K-Bay was nice...

If they'd look at it as one big camp-out....

I remember my first DET. "What! They have showers! What'll they think of next!" Wasn't nobody *****in' any more than usual. It's all part of the deal. Actually, if I remember right, there wasn't nearly as much *****in' as usual. It was all about gettin' the job done so we could go home. That's what the Marine Corps trains for. Expeditionary and amphibious warfare.

10-30-02, 11:30 AM
Something is wrong with this picture??????? <br />
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<br />
Associated Press Writer <br />
<br />
October 27, 2002, 2:34 PM EST <br />
<br />
<br />
KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Afghanistan -- They sleep in air conditioned...

10-30-02, 11:56 AM
I can see the commercial in the making now....

On location in Afghanistan with the Boy Scouts, I mean Air Force, and as they are whining someone says "What do you think this is? A Holiday Inn? And the old lady starts laughing!!!


10-30-02, 12:35 PM
Oh good LORD! How do you 'style' a miltary haircut? Volleyball? A 'quiet room' and 'sports bar' WTF over! Okay, I had it easy. Never, in 6 years, did I endure the things that many on this site have. With that, the 'conditions' on San Clamente Island offered less than what these guys are complaining about. We had a tent. Rolled it up in the day time sun, rolled it down for the night time. Had a couple of blankets hanging along the back side so the women could have their own area. Toilet? that was a 50 gal drum cut in half, laid on its side with plywood over the openning. The plywood had a hole cut in it at each end. It was in a fairly secluded area and someone would 'look out' for when the women needed to use it. If ya had to pee, ya just found a good hill. I was on 3 different ships. We never had any of that stuff they're whining about. In the Persian Gulf for Desert Shield/Storm we had lines for green hot dogs at mid-rats. Only good thing was, we were on an amphib ship, and since the Marines didn't land by sea, the traditional breakfast of steak and lobster was going to spoil. We had about 3 dinners like that. Got to watch the Super Bowl about 2 months late. It was sent to us from the parents of a guy in our shop. We got to watch the tape of the 'home coming' parades for the servicemen who were in Desert Storm - while we were still in the Persian Gulf! Spent over 90 days at sea so we had a 'beer day.' Two warm Buds on the flight deck. The kicker was, we had it Good compared to the people on land and we were damn thankful of the 3 semi-hots and narrow cots the Navy provided us. What do you expect from the Air Force anyway. Had buddies go out to Fallen for a joint excersize. The Air Force said the Navy barracks that they were to use were unsat and they ended up in a Marriot hotel while the Marines were in tents on the flight line! Just lets ya know who takes war and serving their country seriously I suppose.

Cellar Rat
10-30-02, 03:01 PM
What a joke. What more can be said than has already been said here. Can you imagine mud Marines in the bush wondering where the A/C is? Useless azzwipes..... thank God I never had to do a tour with anyone like these Air "Farce" ladies.