I spent a few days last week at Al Udeid just outside Doha, Qatar last week. I can’t believe they call this place a deployment because it is much closer to U.S. standards than the typical war zone type conditions I’ve grown accustomed to a Bagram (ie, it was nice!). I spent a fair amount of time sitting in the lobby area of the BX (which was as nice as many stateside) drinking a cup of my familiar Starbucks. The wifi was U.S. standard fast and also free (I pay $90 a month at Bagram to go turtle speed). There is also a Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Arby's, in addition of course to the Dairy Queen that is attached to an outdoor pool that rivals any pool you would see stateside. The gym was nicer than most gyms stateside, to include multiple workout areas for any purpose, large screen televisions (w/ local cable), indoor lap pool, and locker rooms.
Al Udeid will likely remain a staging base in the Middle East for many years after our exit from Iraq and Afghanistan, hence perhaps part of the reason it is so well built up. Nonetheless, the service members fortunate enough to deploy here are hopefully able to appreciate it as it’s not much different than home, other than being away from family of course, which is still a big one. I would be more than happy to host anyone at Al Udeid who doubts me on a trip to Bagram. I will even put you up in my glorious B-hut for free!:)
Although it was a great trip, it was good to get back “home” to Bagram, never mind the intermittent IDF, lots of pot holes, and a generally run down base that looks like it’s in a war zone (oh, it is!). It was a great trip though and a nice break from a few days of the “Bagram Blues”. Spring is on the way though at Bagram, and I was able to run the perimeter around the base for nice, long run (~8 miles). So, I have plenty to be thankful for so please don’t hear me complaining. In fact, service members at forward operating bases or outposts probably think Bagram is THE place to be when it’s a dump compared to Al Udeid.
The lesson for me is to redouble my efforts to always be thankful, no matter the circumstance. I should be able to smile with gratitude for the rest of my life about the smallest of life’s pleasures after my deployment. We don’t always have the little things.