Tuesday, November 7, 2006

a phone call

Last evening I was home alone catching up on some reading when the phone rang. I usually don’t answer. I wasn't screening calls but I don’t answer because they are seldom for me. If people want to talk to someone who is not here, they can leave a message. That is what answering machines are for. However, last night I decided to answer.

His first words were “Hi Dad.” It was after 4 a.m. his time and he just returned from a mission. I guess the lines for the phone are shorter then. We talked for a long time. It has been weeks since we talked and it was very nice to hear him.

I spent most afternoons last week looking at videos on YouTube about Iraq. I wanted to get a visual feel for the place so when he talked I might better understand. I also have been reading soldiers’ blogs to try to understand better.

I also found a site that explained the organization of an infantry brigade combat team (BCT), the typical breakdown of battalions/squadrons, and troop strength (i.e, what the 3,200+ soldiers do). I finally have a bit of a clue of what he has been trying to tell me. Each BCT has two infantry battalions, a field artillery battalion, and a support battalion. A BCT also has a cavalry squadron for recon and surveillance. The squadron consists of two motorized troops and a dismounted troop. The motorized troops are armor guys like our 2LT, while the third troop is infantry. However, the only armor they have is on the humvees.

He is at Rustamiyah, an area in eastern Baghdad. I had read that it was between a sewage treatment plant and a garbage dump. Supposed to be pretty bad, which was confirmed last night. He said it smelled like rotten eggs but at least he usually could not it smell it indoors.

His brigade, 2ID’s 2BCT, is still transitioning with the 101st Airborne’s 4BCT. The area in which our 2LT has missions is out in the countryside, with lusher-than-expected farmland. The group our 2LT’s 3-61 CAV is replacing is its sister squadron, the 1-61 CAV. (He said that was planned!) So it seems that the 61st Cavalry Regiment will maintain a presence east of Baghdad.

Yesterday the Pentagon released the names of some soldiers killed last Thursday. Included was the deputy commander of our 2LT’s brigade, Lt. Col. Kruger, and another Lt. Col., his counterpart from the 101st. Roadside IED. Ken did not know the man.

Separated from the US part of the base, the Iraqi part includes the “West Point of Iraq,” a military college established by the Brits in 1924 and patterned after Sandhurst. I do not think he found it ironic that he was back at a West Point after only 16 months.

It was just very pleasant to talk with my son. I miss him.

I was blessed. I am blessed.

RB

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