I had to clear this up for Jen as well; I know all of the stories that have been on the news about Ramadi. Before I got out here I was a little worried as well, but in fact I am at Camp Blue Diamond, which used to be a wild game preserve for Saddam and his sons.
Ramadi is across the Euphrates from us and there is a huge wall (about 30 feet high) which blocks out everyone’s view of us. I think Saddam didn’t want to see the Iraqi people or have them see him. On the other side of us is a huge wall as well, which used to have huge portcullis gates at each end of camp. [See below for an example of a portcullis gate! -Jen] However, now the gates have been removed and it’s just the arches! We have these well guarded with barriers and lots of firepower, artillery, and snipers, so nobody gets more than a hundred yards of us.
I won’t be leaving the camp, unless I have to go on a convoy, which are at night, for safety, or on Helo. There is a chance that I will be going to Camp Fallujah for a month or so, but that camp is a lot like ours, away from the city and heavily fortified.
As for living conditions (as I mentioned before) I am in a large guest quarters with 12 other officers, and it is just like a frat house. I have a night shift and have the place to myself most of the time. I am the Division G6 (Communications) watch officer. I maintain all communications systems (secret internet/e-mail, regular internet/e-mail, telephones, satellite, tactical radio and HF radio) for the Division units, which are spread over a 100 square mile area around Baghdad. If something goes down, I have to identify it and then start the repair process. Once that starts, I then have to start the report process to the colonels and have to keep updating them until the issues have been resolved.
I am also working part time as the Information Management Officer with a Warrant Officer. We have to do a lot of IT work like creating data bases, Active Server Pages, maintaining websites and development work. We were working 8 hour shifts, but now I have 12 hour shifts and might go up to 16 hour shifts pretty soon.
I only get about 4 hours of sleep a day. I have trouble sleeping, because people come in and out all the time, slamming doors and such, oh well. I wake up around 2ish and then go to the gym for an hour and a half, then go back to the room and relax. I then get ready for the night meeting around 7 and work from 8pm till 8am and start the whole thing all over again. We work 7 days a week, no days off. I don’t mind it much; I am actually having a good time. I get to do what I wanted to do when I joined the MC.
Palace grounds—This is near the river where I work.
This is the other side of Usay’s Palace.
This large gate is the entrance.
This is the outer hallway of the palace in which I work.