Commentary: Reflections of Kuwait
August 18, 2009
The heat is usually one of the first things that come to mind when mentioning a deployment to Kuwait. Yes, it does get hot, and yes, frequent dust storms tend to take the fun out of outdoor activity.
Being a former Soldier, deployment to this area is nothing new. Since the last time I visited this little known vacation spot in '04, not much has changed.
What I didn't realize sitting back at my comfortable desk at JMC was the tasks I had thought of as mundane and sometimes pointless, had direct impact in a theater of operations thousands of miles away. Those boring VTC's and lengthy emails began to formulate the basis of supporting our military in a country in which I didn't think about.
I volunteered for six months not knowing what was in store for me mission wise, yet willing to leave my footprint in a place that sand would surely blow away.
Putting on the uniform again transformed me almost overnight into a battle hungry robot, able to work endlessly, sometimes 14 hour days, 7 days a week. Each day would pass bringing an adventure of the unknown while back at JMC; 9 hours seemed to be torture.
At the risk of sounding naAfA-ve, I was suddenly quite aware of how it all fit, how it came full circle. From the planning stages of the TA4C conference to the airlifting of much needed ammunition to the battlefield, I realized that each person at JMC had a role, even if they were unaware as I had been. In this barren wasteland of constant conflict, our soldier's needs were being met by people that they would never meet.
I am still humbled to be in the presence of such knowledgeable professionals. I had the opportunity of meeting and briefing generals; cognizant of their vision, their leadership determining courses of action with input from the men and women who knew their mission.
What was most impressive to me was the exchange of information from all the commodities on a daily basis. It stunned me that our soldiers got what they needed, to the point of using FED-EX.
We say at JMC quite often, "We get the ammunition where it needs to be when it needs to be there", well, they mean it! I felt proud of being associated with such fine Americans. My passion for the military became evermore so by seeing the care placed in their safety and welfare. Each day I worked alongside soldiers whose brethren were being put in harm's way and it was our ammunition that made them feel safe.
The daily trek to the dining facility made me more aware of all my blessings, even my laundry was done free of charge.
Going back to JMC and sitting at my desk will take some getting used to. Gone will be the long days and endless hours, the hot weather with the constant sting of sand, the fine people I have met.
Yet, what I take back is more than I could have brought with me.
I leave more humble, thankful, blessed, and many other descriptive words that could express my gratitude to the men and women who work behind the scenes. I leave knowing that what we accomplish does make a difference. Those 9 hour days won't seem quite as long, for I know of others where time has lost the sense of days and hours.
As I leave to see family and loved ones, I realize that 6 months is not enough. Those warfighters that we strongly support are deployed repeatedly, their sacrifices evident. I value the knowledge I have gained in my own field of expertise while being here and the leaders who enabled me to grow professionally.
But more than anything, I take back the feeling of pride. If asked would I volunteer again, my answer would come without hesitation, "I would be honored to", a reply that needs no explanation.
<i>Christina Wall served as a theater ammunition manager for the 401st Army Field Support Brigade at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait</i>