Hell is this dusty.

Hell is this dusty.

As SSG Rice put it, "If I owned this place and Hell, I'd live in Hell and rent this place out."

This picture was taken by one of my teammates (either Big Red or Basstid; I'm not sure) at the Forward Logistic Element (FLE) during Operation Mountain Thrust. You'd see these big pillars of dust every once in a while, often caused by Chinook or Black Hawk overflights, which happened several times a day.

Everywhere at the FLE was covered with this superfine dust--3 to 8" of it. It's like moondust, and gets into everything. Combined with the 110-120 degree heat, and it's a pretty miserable place to be. I only spent perhaps a week here, and that was a week too long; I'd rather be up on the mountain again.

Each morning and evening, the wind would come howling in, blasting everyone with the sand and dust. If you didn't sleep under cover (which resulted in sweating horribly), you'd wake up under sedimentary layers.

I wrote about the FLE in my journal:
0816hrs (local)

How to Simulate Life at the FLE:

  • Turn on your oven to BROIL. Leave the door open.

  • Get a cup of superfine sand. Dump half of it on your face. Eat the other half. Repeat twice daily, plus once at 2AM.
  • Get another bucket of sand. Dump over all of your worldly possessions. Get some in your eyes.
  • Get some bottled water. Keep at 125 degrees. This is all you get to drink.
  • Personal hygiene: wet wipes--about half of however many you need. Roll around in the dust immediately afterward.
  • Park a large diesel in front of your open windows. Leave it running 8 hours a day.
  • Prepare a TV dinner--not a good one. Add 1/2 cup of dust. Dump it on the ground after two bites to simulate the wind effects.
  • Every two hours, have a senior NCO stop by and correct imaginary uniform deficiencies.
  • While sleeping, have someone fire a large-caliber rifle about 6" from your head. 6 times/night, random interval. (This simulates the mortar fire.)
  • Shave every day using bottled water and the cheapest razor you can find. You can use a mirror if you break it first.
  • Continue this routine until properly constituted authority gives you new orders.
  • Properly constituted authority does not exist. Or if it does, it doesn't know about you. Or if it does, you are an extraordinarily valuable asset right where you are.


Yeah. The FLE sucks. Military reps from two other nations in the international force came out to see about taking it over, laughed, and left again. We tore everything down when the op was over.