AFTER A NINE-DAY TRIP—we stopped in Spain, Turkey, Qatar, and Kuwait before landing in Iraq—I’m now at Forward Operating Base ( FOB) Duke, south of Baghdad near the city of Najaf. No, it doesn’t usually take nine days to get here, but the Air Force jet we were riding on kept having maintenance problems. The flight crew told us not to worry: “We could land her with two engines if we had to.” How reassuring.
On our Kuwait stopover, I picked up my new personal gear, which is awesome: a lightweight helmet, high-speed sunglasses and goggles, boots, and heavy fleece overgarments. It sure makes life more comfortable, and I have to say that we’re clearly better resourced than when I was here the first time: In 2003 most of the soldiers in my unit didn’t have the