Wednesday, November 02, 2011
The Waiting Game
Nov. 2, 2011
We arrived in Kyrgyzstan at 4:30 a.m. following a 14 hour flight, with an anticipated 24-96 hour layover before heading on to our next destination. Our current location is strictly a way-point where forces temporarily halt en route to Afghanistan, although the newly elected Kyrgyz President, Almazbek Atambayev, has decided that the base may close by the end of 2014. As noted in today’s edition of Stars and Stripes, the base is used by both the military and civilian airlines, which certainly is a cause of conflict among the Kyrgyz citizens.
It's very cold here – the temps were in the low 30's when we arrived and never rose above 45 degrees the rest of the day. Upon landing, we were shuttled to a large Quonset hut where we received an in-brief and temporary lodging. It took approximately 3 hours for our gear to be moved from the airstrip to the staging area, where we found that it had accidentally been combined with another unit’s baggage. It was quite frustrating to sort through 600 identical bags in order to find your own. There's no Delta baggage crew here to do that job, but thankfully the Marines jumped in, took charge, and had the bags separated and identified within 30 minutes. As we sorted our gear, I was thankful to be wearing a cold weather jacket, as the weather was "bone chilling" cold.
Time drags by at waypoint locations. For the transient service member, there is little to do but sleep, eat, and perhaps read a book or check your e-mail if an internet drop is available aboard the base. As was the case in Iraq and Kuwait, the Kyrgyz base provides several Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) tents for transients to relax, catch a movie, and order a coffee. These days, it seems rare to find a base or FOB without internet access, and it is not untypical to find troops “Skyping” their loved ones via video-chat, a technology that would have been unimaginable a mere decade ago.