Soldier's Diary: Capt. Dan's Soldiers in Iraq Prepare to Go Home

Editor's note: U.S. Army Capt. Dan Sukman is serving a one-year deployment to Iraq. For previous entries and his bio, see the Soldier's Diary archives.

19 July 2006

More and more, as each day passes by, the conversation, be it with a friend at the mess hall or in a meeting discussing the days' operations, tends to gear towards what we are doing for redeployment. The conversations with friends normally involve such fascinating topics as what brand or type of beer we are going to drink down first. You get a variety of answers, some are looking forward to Bud, and others talk about their taste for a local microbrew. I'll be searching for my favorite: free beer.

The time we take to discuss redeployment has made it near the top of our list of chief concerns. In the morning updates, we pass along information on what we're doing to prepare for the trip home. Soldiers are checking containers, inventory and clean equipment, and others are starting to mail home the DVD collections they have acquired. Other soldiers are using some of their spare time to jump onto the Internet to find apartments upon return, while still others are planning their vacation time via long conversations with their families.

All these tasks are on top of the busy day the soldiers over here already have. A fact that is easy to forget is that just because we have started to prepare for the trip home does not mean that the war is over -- far from it. If you can keep up with the daily bombings, you would have seen in the news the attack on the market in Mahamadiyah. We still have a ways to go.

One of our current priorities is to prepare for the arrival of our follow-on unit. Each section in my company has prepared pass-on books to help the transition when they arrive. The soldiers assigned HMMWVs [high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles] in conjunction with our mechanics have begun a detailed inspection and repair program so that all pieces of equipment turned over are in top shape. "Seamless" is the word most often used to describe how our unit handover should occur. To meet this goal, the soldiers over here are working as hard as ever. We passed the summer solstice almost a month ago, and there is less daylight with each passing day, but that does not mean the work hours are shortened in any way.

I see Sgt. 1st Class Massey, my former OPS NCO, working early in the morning and late into the night helping units prepare for upcoming customs inspections. This is on top of all the work he already has on his plate.

My executive officer, Lt. Hermansen, has been and continues to attend redeployment meetings with the battalion staff. The medics assigned to my company, in addition to supporting the soldiers out on patrol, are preparing soldier packets and records when they get back inside the wire. My MPs [military police] in the company, upon returning from missions, are going over load plans for their containers. Soldiers who went on the mission to recover the wreckage from the downed helicopter last week returned to the FOB [forward operating base] with a long list of tasks on their plate.

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