Wednesday, June 10, 2009

SUVs are Status Symbols Here

Most of the thousands of soldiers on Tallil Ali Air Base walk or take buses or ride in the back of 5-ton trucks to get where they are going on a post that stretches across dozens of square miles of sand and rock. A few hundred soldiers and airmen ride bicycles. Senior maintenance soldiers get 'Gators: four-wheel-drive golf carts made by John Deere and other manufacturers.

Senior officers, sergeant majors, commanders, and many garrison staff soldiers get SUVs. For Explorers, Chevy Suburbans, GMC Yukons as well as full-size crew-cab pickup trucks by the big three American automakers. The SUVs are the real status symbols around post. SUVs fill the parking lot of the DFAC for each meal near the end of the dining hours when the senior officers eat.

The SUVs are either light silver or white--colors that reflect rather than absorb the heat of the Iraq summer. Hybrids and high-mileage cars may be the cars to own back at home--at least for those of us who live in cities, but here a white or silver SUV is the vehicle to drive.

Every Week in Cold War West Germany, Gas Mask Drills

Every week during my three years in Cold War West Germany,  the Tankers of 1-70th Armor had a MOPP drill. Gene Pierce, Abel Lopez and...