About 5 and a half weeks in now. The whole time we were with the guys we replaced they told us, yea you don't see much rain here but it has been clousy and rainy for over a week now. Most of the base is gravel but where its not has become a mud bath. Not too much recent events since last email. We've done more patrols and had various other military groups come and stay here for a while and then leave. One group, that was led by an Air Force Major, and about 50/50 Army and Air Force inquired as to the conditions under which we live in order to decide whether they would live up here permanently or be based elsewhere and come up here when necessary. They asked about all these ammenities and I must have been angry that day because I responded, we live like soldiers and do just fine. Well that answer didn't win me any points and while they came and stayed to conduct their assesments of the area they left saying they'd be back in a month or so. The whole time they complained about the conditions (we've had some power and heating issues and the showers lack hot water sometimes, but we get by) I apologized and told them next time I'll ensure the mariot down the road is available to accomodate their every need. Luckly the major had a good sense of humor and told his boys to stop complaining (he's been in the military longer then I've been alive so even though he's Air Force, he's an 'old soldier').
Other events coming up for me will be a patrol tomorrow to go to the District Center to pay the locals working on the road improvement project. They go around filling up pot holes and smoothing it out (this is a dirt road).
Operations around here, especially on the FOB are very much, get it done, however possible, situations. We had some 7 ft hesco's come in. (Hescos are these giant metal grated containers, lined with a cloth like material, that we fill up with dirt, basically hard shelled snad bags that are open on the top. We use them to create walls.) Now the dimensions on a 7ft hesco is 7ft tall and a square of roughly 3 by 3 feet. So a lot of dirt and one hesco contains 4 of these 'boxes' linked together. As you can imagine, with all this metal and material each one complete hesco weighs well over 100 lbs. Now I ordered 30 of these things but they gave me 30 pallets with each pallet contained 3 full hescos. Making each pallet, if I had to guess, around 500 lbs. These things show up in jingle trucks (local container trucks that we contract out. They're called jingle trucks because the locals like to hang, what I can only describe as, metal versions of beads that people might hang in a doorway if they were from the 70's. The locals put these things everywhere and decorate their trucks in a 'pimp my truck fashion.........different strokes I guess') So these trucks show up with 8 pallets each and there is no way they are making it up the hill to our FOB (we're on a big hill). So the first OSHA violation is I send the locally contracted back hoe/front loader to go and push these things up the hill. Now all jingle trucks are flat beds with 20 ft shipping containers put on them. They are secured by wratchet straps....thats it. Sometimes they use 4, sometimes 2 so dynamics come into play with these things. As they come up the hill we have them turn off into what we call the red yard where they 'cool off' for a time of our choosing for security purposes. Now this yard is about 3/4 of the way up the hill and as you turn off the road and into it your still on an incline for a little bit until the yard opens and flattens. Well two of the truck drivers, probably nervous about making it up all the way turn a little too sharply and turn before they've made it up the hill. Now the trucks are narrow to make it through the passes in the mountains but the height is comprable to our big rigs. Think the full height, with the weight I described above of the loaded hescos, about 2/3 the width of american big rigs, with the containers just loose enough that dynamics start to come into play all trying to turn on what is probably a 30-35 degree hill and you quickly realize why I thought for sure that these two trucks were going to tip and tumble down the hill. One soldier caught it on camera and I will try to get those pictures, but yea OSHA violation #1 (actually thats probably like 4 but we'll count it as one).
Now the next problem is off loading these things. They are stacked to the top of this container and are stacked at a full sized loading dock with all proper equipment. I have at my disposal a forklift.......thats borken, and a bobcat with forklift atachment. Also for reference a bobcat can't even reach the first pallet due to the height of the truck and the prongs are too short to reach the set back pallets and the bobcat, due to the size, can only lift one hesco at a time, not even a full pallet and I have 2 stacks of 4 pallets each recessed in the truck. Well the boss says we need them so we get two operations going. The first involves a container crane, with lots of chains and we basically wrap up the hescos and then raise the crane, this works well but is painstakingly slow. So the faster method is we get the back hoe guy (whos nuts) up on a small drop off that the trucks back up to (efectively putting the back hoe at container level) and we wrap the hescos in chains and then wrap the chains around the bucket of the back hoe and he yanks them out. Between the free falling hescos as they come tumbling out or the swing hescos from the crane as the hescos finally pass the point of no return I'm pretty sure that qualifies as OSHA violation #2.
Thats just a small example of the things that go on here. Maybe next time I'll tell you how my truck mechanic (relying on just learned experience) and I (relying on my one EE class at the academy) are attempting to diagnosis our generator and power problems with a multi meter and lots of crossed fingers (hey is this supposed to have voltage.....I dunno, should these two wires be connected.......not sure, now what was it my professor said about 3 phase power and keeping the phases seperate? Was that important) All while my 1SG overwatches and interjects such helpful hints as (Hey sir we're all out of those double sized breakers but if we take out that single breaker and connect all the wires into this one then this triple will fit in there...........uhhhhh, thanks Top).
Well thats enough for me, I'll talk to everyone later.