Sunday, May 22, 2016

When I Was in Iraq: Part Seven

As an NSA agent in Iraq during that war, I served my country to the best of my ability, using my talents in the area of "Force Protection," meaning finding any information that implied attacks upon our War Fighters and communicating that to our Military Command.

But in the course of my time living in that country, I did one thing in particular that I am not particularly proud of. That is perhaps why it needs to be told.

I have previously described how I jealously maintained a schedule which ensured eight hours of sleep every night.

And I learned my first night sleeping at my base why that would be difficult.

Keep in mind, it's always above 100 degrees during the daytime in Iraq during the summer (it was June when I arrived). So you need to be constantly hydrating. And that means that you will invariably need to relieve yourself. I woke up in the middle of my first night on base needing to do just that. I walked the 100 or so feet to the latrine and urinated. I walked the 100 or so feet back to my little cabin...and never slept again before morning.

Houston, we have a problem.

I have a particular issue wherein, if I wake up too much in the middle of the night, I have serious difficulties in falling back asleep. Even now, when I wake up,  I do the best I can to do my business, keeping my eyes shut as much as possible.

But obviously, I could not keep my eyes shut and walk 200 feet every night.

I was describing this problem the following morning to a CIA agent at breakfast. And he told me of the solution he had already discovered. Keep several empty water bottles around. Relieve yourself into them. And empty them in the morning at the latrine. 

That night I tested the method. I awoke. I went. A minute later I was back in bed. A minute after that, I was asleep.

Thank you, CIA agent! It worked!

The following morning, on my way to brush my teeth, I took the previous night's piss bottle along, emptied it, rinsed it out, and set out into another day.

I worked that assignment for a total of 90 consecutive, eleven hour days. At some point, I decided that there was no urgent reason to bring the previous night's single piss bottle to the latrine for disposal. I could surely wait until the next day and bring two.


Piss bottles awaiting latrine delivery would be stored under my bed, which you can see in the picture to the left. That was my simple dwelling. I watched the 2004 Summer Olympics on that TV. Ah, good times...

You see where this is heading, right? I am a lifelong procrastinator. And so, in the course of time, it would not be unusual for me to be carrying four piss bottles to the latrine for disposal.  

I had agreed to three months at the assignment. My handler suddenly was asking me just a few weeks before my departure if maybe I could stay another month. I utterly refused. I was imagining surviving those three months and the attacks it included and then the potential of being killed in that final month. No way I was going to risk that. As a result of my refusal, personnel were shifted around and the man who replaced me arrived on the very plane I would fly out on. He would take over my job and my living quarters. He and I shook hands on the tarmac. I wished him well.

I was thousands of feet in the air on my way back to Baghdad, and then onward travel to Amman, Jordan, before returning home when...I realized...there were three piss bottles under my bed.

Sorry, dude. 

I'm not proud of what I just described. Forgive me. It was war.

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