Monday, January 19, 2009
Back to the Sandbox
I'm sure some of you already know this, but for those who don't, in about a month I'll be returning to Iraq for what will probably be the last (or close to it) tour of Marine heavy helicopters in that area. I say last because, as again I'm sure most of you know, one of the few common themes from the presidential election was that Afghanistan needed more assets, and the Marine Corps has already begun the process of shifting its ground and air elements over there. This has already affected the last couple of 53 squadrons going through Iraq; just after I got back last May, a quarter of the helicopters from Al Asad were sent to Kandahar. This continues with our deployment, placing our squadron in the unique position of detaching a quarter of us to the next MEU, a quarter to Afghanistan, and only half back to Iraq. And the Iraq we're returning to will be, if it's even possible, quieter than the one we left less than a year ago. It was described to us during Desert Talon as a "non-kinetic" environment; this means that very little is moving, including the enemies' RPGs and bullets toward our guys. So, I expect we'll have the mundane (though still important) task of slowly retrieving our troops from their far-flung FOBs and bringing them back to Al Asad so they can go home. I mentioned on my Facebook page that we'll be closing all the doors and turning off all the lights over there, and I think that's only a small exaggeration. Thanks to the joint effort between our soldiers and the Iraqis that started during the surge, we're at the point where we can draw down our forces and give the Iraqis a chance for a bright, peaceful future, if they want it. And though our presence in Anbar might end after this tour, I'm very glad that our last hurrah there will be one of boredom, rather than a mad scramble to be the last helicopter off the roof of the embassy (as some hoped and feared it would be). You've noticed my posting has been light as of late; this will continue until we deploy, as work at the squadron has picked up the closer our deployment date gets. I'll be sure to pass the word when we're established over there; in the meantime, thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, and support, and don't forget to write (and send presents. I like presents).