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Posted: 5/11/2004 5:23:17 PM EDT
I am looking at a contractor job in Balad Air Base and need some info.  I already know about weaponry and my own self defense, so we'll not get into that.  I have questions like:

How do you handle finances?

What are the best hats, shirts, pants, shoes, socks, body armor, helmet (?) and so forth to get.  Please include any more info like best color (for heat resistance)?  

Anything else you can think of I will appreciate it.  I have more questions pop up every hour, so I'll be back often!


Link Posted: 5/11/2004 5:34:15 PM EDT
what kind of job?

I would say, wear a long sleeve cotton shirt, a wide brim hat, some good(wiley-x) sunglasses, and a good pair of boots.  without knowing what kind of job, its sorta hard to reccomend much other than that.  
Link Posted: 5/11/2004 6:07:41 PM EDT
E&I Engineer, so I will be outdoors a lot.  No, I am not anyones's replacement, and I WILL have Army escort (at the very least) so please sideliners, don't give me crap.  :)

BTW, this post isn't meant to be a joke, I just want to stick to the subject.  Thanks for understanding.
Link Posted: 5/11/2004 6:11:07 PM EDT
Frontsight, if you are working within the compound you will be able to us the PX.  I think you can cash checks there.  When I went over I took a lot of cash with me and once my wife sent me some travelers checks.  Unluss you are buying a lot of snacks or buying trinkets to send home you should not have a lot of need for cash while you are there.  Most contracted civilian employees that were at Camp Ironhorse in Tikrit, ate in the mess hall with the soldiers.  Many large purchases like tv's, DVD players, computers or video game players can be purchased on line.  I know of some people, when we first got over there, before the PX opened, who shopped for groceries on line.   As far as clothing goes, I would buy cotton kahki cargo pants and similar shirts.  I would not necessarily buy DCU type shirts, but they would be cotton and have long sleeves.  All of my clothes would be of a light color as they are cooler in the 130+ degree weather.   The standard boonie hat design is hard to beat.  Your hat should have a brim to protect your face, neck and ears from severe sunburn.  I would not buy army issue desert boots as the ones we had issued to us fell apart.  Bellvue (sp) boot company does make a desert type boot that has a vibram sole that some people had that seemed to hold up well.  The ones that I saw had steel toes, but they may make the same boot without the steel toe.  Do a search online for their web page.  Your socks need to be cotton with a cushion sole and be taller than your boot tops.  If the company you are going to work for does not provide a helmet and body armour then you might look at buying military issue, just make sure you get the new intercepter type of vest with plates.  Before I left I gave my wife a list of things I thought I would need on a weekly/monthly basis so that as soon as I got in theater and found out what my APO address she could get these items in the pipeline forme.  It takes about three weeks for a package to make it from the states to Iraq if convoys are allowed to run.  Sometimes packages will make it in as little as twelve days, I am still waiting for some packages to arrive and I have been home for a month.  This is about all I can think of for now. My mind and fingers are getting sore, if you have any more questions just ask and I will try to answer them for you.

Link Posted: 5/11/2004 6:23:04 PM EDT
wellco makes a nice boot too:

Link Posted: 5/11/2004 6:57:13 PM EDT
Frontsight, another item I forgot to mention.  If possible take a laptop computer with you.  They will help you occupy your time if you are working within the compound.  It should have a DVD player for movies.  It will be handy if it has the capability to burn cd's as you may not be able to hook you personal computer into the net.  This way you can burn letters on a cd and take it with you to a computer terminal and send your messages home.  Floppy disk are not reliable in that part of the world, sand and heat cause them to fail at the most inopportune time.  Another good item to have is one of the new flash drives that you can carry in your pocket and plug into a USB port.  If you think you will have a lot of time on your hands in the evenings you may want to take some video games with you, they helped me pass the time.   If I think of anything else I'll post it.

Link Posted: 5/11/2004 7:09:35 PM EDT
?  for SHOOTIST...might those itty-bitty USB memory "keys" work even better if you're transferring info? Sandisk, Dell, Amazon, and others sell/make them. If both PCs have USB ports; they're fast, not as fragile as a CD, hold 256 Meg or more,  $40-60, and can be written on over and over .   Just a thought.  Condition yellow, Frontsight ... stay safe
Link Posted: 5/11/2004 7:16:34 PM EDT
Shootist and others, I appreciate your replies so much...please keep the info coming.

question...I have a large cigar collection.  This is one thing I would not like to leave behind here in the states.  I imagine my company will provide shipment of personal items (still wading though interviews)...what is the best way to ship a large marine cooler without it being molested?  I was thinking about banding it with shipping bands.

Also, I cannot say what has been discussed with me about self defense, but I will ask this publicly...is there a way I can get a sidearm out there?  I mean shipping one from the US, not obtaining one there.

BTW, this may be on Balad AB...any local info?  Is there a BX there and do they take regular US credit cards?

As far as buying online...can a civilian get items ordered online and shipped there easily?  

Are books easy to get?

Thanks again.
Link Posted: 5/11/2004 7:58:20 PM EDT
Are you going to be working with the Army or the Air Force at Balad ? The AF will have better facilities if you can stay in there area. You will be able to get cigars at the PX or bazaar gift shop. Real cuban Monte cristos, romeo & julieta, Bolivars, upmans etc. If you go through BIAP you can get them ( and booze ) much cheaper at the duty free shop in the airport terminal.
Link Posted: 5/11/2004 8:23:48 PM EDT
My wife used to send me cigarettes and dip while I was over there, but she did not post it on the customs form as she was told that she could not ship tobacco products to Iraq.  You can check with the post office before you leave and see if in fact that is the policy.    The shipping of your personal items may be limited by the airlines, if not and your company will ship the cigars for you then that will be the way to go, they will be with you when you arrive.  You will have to check with the airline you are travelling on about shipping sidearms in your checked baggage.  Also, there may be restrictions on personal firearms if you are landing in Kuwait before you go to Iraq.  If your employer is ok with you carrying a weapon they may know what hoops you need to jump through to take one with you.  I did not know that many contractors over there, but their were some who carried firearms.  I don't think KBR allowed their standard workers to carry firearms, only security personnel.  It was hard to tell who was a civilian carrying a weapon as SF, private security personnel and many of the alphabet agency's personnel wore civillian clothes and carried firearms.  Since I was in the military personal firearms were not allowed.  

We did not have any problems buying merchandise on line, you will have give them your APO address, which your employer should be able to give you before you leave.  Use of the postal system should not be a problem as it is a United States Post Office run by the military.  I ordered some books from Amazon while I was there and it took about two weeks to get them.  There are some companies that will not ship to an APO address, Dell computers is one.  Some of our personnel ordered Dell computers and had them shipped home then their families shipped the overseas.

Use of the PX by civilians was not a problem in Tikrit, since buying on the economy is very dangerous.   There is a good PX located on Balad.  We used to have a lot of our people volunteer to convoy to Balad so they could go to the PX before we got one at Tikrit.

Balad Airbase was about two hours south of Camp Ironhorse on Route 1 and is located about in the middle of the Sunni triangle.  It can be a very dangerouse place, especially if you have to leave the compound.  Traveling on the roads will expose you to ambushes, IED (improvised explosive devices), drive by shootings and Iraqi drivers.  While in the compound you can expect the occasional RPG, mortor and rocket attack.  We used to have mortor Tuesday and RPG Fridays, these were there days off and I guess they used the time to set up their attacks.  That is not saying that was the only time they fired on us.  The temperatures during the day in the summer time will exceed 130 degrees, so if you can take a three liter Camel Back hydration system with you.  They are insulated so cold water or ice can be out in them which will keep your water cool longer.  There not much worse than drinking piss warm water, except not having any water at all.

I hope this helps, if you have any more questions feel free to ask.  If I think of any thing else I'll post it.

Link Posted: 5/12/2004 7:43:29 AM EDT
You employer will give you details about what personal items you can and cannot bring. As for weapons, it will depend on your employer, whether they authorize you to or not. If you get a wink and a nod to carry, you still have to deal with the military. They do issue an ID card that is basically a permit to carry, it will list what you can tote ie" personal arms, US issue, US and Foriegn, etc.

If you need a weapon, hook up with either contractors or SF, they wil usually have trading stock.  Make sure you get some ammo in the deal. Don't know what current prices are. Sorry.
Link Posted: 5/12/2004 1:06:32 PM EDT
Thanks again, guys!  I'll let you know if I have anymore questions!
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