The 80’s Called. They Want Thier Orange Julius Back

| February 10, 2010 | 36 Comments

This is interesting on a couple of levels and begs at least two initial questions.

1. Why does McChrystal clearly see a need to refocus the REMFs at Bagram and Kandahar?
2. What the hell was all this bullshit doing there in the first place?

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has ordered many Army and Air Force Exchange Service facilities closed as a way to focus on the war and to provide space for the U.S. troop buildup.

According to a “fragmentary order” issued earlier this month, concessions such as Burger King, Dairy Queen, Orange Julius, Pizza Hut, the Oakley stores and Military Car Sales must be closed within 60 days, with the possibility that each concession could get a 30-day extension.

“With all the resources and personnel coming in, you just don’t have the space (for the facilities that are being closed),” one U.S. military official said.

The amount of canned goods and bottled goods coming into Afghanistan as well as first-run movie showings and non-United Service Organizations shows will be scaled back as part of the order, U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Hall, the top U.S. enlisted man in Afghanistan, wrote on his blog.

“This is a war zone — not an amusement park,” Hall wrote.

The order does not require the closure of some quality of life facilities and programs, the official said. Internet access, including the ability to talk to loved ones on Skype, and library services will remain, he said.

AAFES stores will stay open along with barber and beauty shops, USO operations and services such as checking out recreation gear, movies and board games. The order also exempts Green Bean coffee shops, AT&T call centers, cell phone activation services, alterations concessions and Afghan bazaars that operate one day a week.

The major bases that will be affected by the closings will be Bagram and Kandahar air bases, Camp Phoenix and Camp Salerno, the military official said.

A lot of this kind of stuff started popping up at bases in Saudi Arabia during Desert Sheild/Storm. The problem is that the men doing the fighting never see this shit.

I know that neither Jonn nor I saw anything close to electricity or running water for seven months.

Now don’t get wrong, I’m all about doing everything that makes sense to take care of the folks “down range” but Orange Julius? Gimme a frigging break.

Category: Politics

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  1. Templar1312 says:

    Hi all, I was at FOB Lindsey, just a few miles from Kandahar Air Field (KAF). I agree with the article, I had to make several trips to KAF during my deployment and the number of shops like those mentioned in the article is unbelievable. The ‘boardwalk’ area was particularly full of these shops and no matter what time of day it was usually packed. with Soldiers milling around…..but thee are also many caolition forces there and you will never get rid of Brit, Dutch, Canadian, etc shops like these. Joe will find a place to go.

  2. Old Tanker says:

    A lot of this kind of stuff started popping up at bases in Saudi Arabia during Desert Sheild/Storm.

    Really?? I never saw this stuff, of course I was, like you, staring at camels for 7 months and got to a tent with some phones in it every 6 weeks or so. But my last few months were at Khobar Towers and I still don’t remember all that stuff….even at Aramco city…..

  3. Jonn Lilyea says:

    I saw the stuff during DS but only because I took the battalion’s vehicles to the port to return to Germany. I saw Baskin Robbins and a KFC and a camel with which you could have your picture taken. The pogues had a pool that they wouldn’t let the grunts use – actually it was a USMC WO2 stickboy who wouldn’t let us in.

    I was just happy to finally get a daily shower.

    But COB6 is right – why do the pogues need an Orange Julius and a Military Car Sales?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Incidents of pregnancy and frat and all will likely go up because of this, as will other ‘vices’ of sorts. Like is said above, Joe will find a way.

    But I agree- CLOSE THEM ALL DOWN. It just makes a drag on resourcing, and takes away from concentrating on what’s important. Now that they won’t have THIS stuff, start sending them to the bush… immediately. Build out the FOBs. I never wanted all this crappola- hell it got boring after a while. What they need is a rifle range/target area in the rear- BADLY. It was hard to prep for some missions ’cause there was no place to zero at times.

  5. Yat Yas says:

    I remember laying in a slit trench up near the Kuwait border on Valentine’s Day and hearing some dumb ass AFN DJ apologise because he couldn’t make it to both dances being held. Made me want to shove a bayonet up one of his orifices.

    When recalled in 2005 and sent to Iraq, I was amazed at some of the things they had at places like Victory and Al Asad. Camp Fallujah didn’t have those, but some of us still called it Camp Cupcake since it had a small PX and 3 DFACs. We referred to Victory as Camp Cupcake with Frosting. They actually had a Cinnabon near the main PX and required saluting.

  6. NHSparky says:

    Jeebus–and here I was thinking I was lucky to get red “bug juice”, a Familygram, and a “Hollywood Shower” more than once a Westpac.

  7. Just Plain Bob says:

    It is kind of weird. I guess because of the short duration of the deployment, none of that ever piled into Somalia. The PX at Mog was just a handful of shelves near a hanger. The Germans and Israelis and French actually ran much nicer operations.

    I would point out, however, that my experience with watching several Armies in the field is that the US Army is the only one that sends the worst food to the most forward troops, while people in the rear get to lap up the gravy. It would not surprise me to learn that a minor problem in Iraq has been trying to keep the weight off people who never left the FOB.

    But at some point in time, somehow, the mindset must have developed that not having all of those goodies in place for the troops was in someway neglecting them.

    -But all of us oldsters can sit around and breeze away like the characters in the Monty Python skit, the one where the rich guys swap lies about how tough they had it growing up.

    (“LAKE?!? You had a LAKE? We lived in a hole in the ground beside the road, woke up before we got into bed, ate a lump of steaming cold poison, went to the mill, where We PAID the mill owners to work…”)

  8. Old Tanker says:

    the one where the rich guys swap lies about how tough they had it growing up.

    The 4 Yorkshiremen……..GREAT skit!!!

    “that was loooxury!!!

  9. ponsdorf says:

    NHSparky said:Jeebus–and here I was thinking I was lucky to get red “bug juice”, a Familygram, and a “Hollywood Shower” more than once a Westpac.

    Just to toss in another bit or two of geezer perspective: I almost saw a Bob Hope Show once. Da Nang and Cam Ranh Bay had some interesting stuff just off base… and these guys don’t have an Olongapo either.

  10. CWO George Samek US Army Ret. says:

    Now I understand why I could never find a McDonalds in Saigon, seems there was a war in progress,I guess Westmorland figured that was all the anusement park we needed.

  11. CWO George Samek US Army Ret. says:

    ponsdorf Says:
    Just to toss in another bit or two of geezer perspective: I almost saw a Bob Hope Show once. Da Nang and Cam Ranh Bay had some interesting stuff just off base… and these guys don’t have an Olongapo either
    ****
    I was one of the lucky ones who sit in the rain and mud to watch the Bob Hope Christmas show at Long Bien RVN in 1968.
    41 years have passed but I still remenber Bob stood on the stage in the rain and made us smile.I will always remember Bob as he made each of us forget about the war and the mud, and for a few moments he made us all smile.

  12. AW1 Tim says:

    Heh… They had REMF in the Civil War, too…. here’s a pic of some Federal Army Clerks with a pile of hardtack boxes behind them. Check out how nice they all look. Even back then, Billy Yank despised these sorts of fellows.

    http://aw1tim.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/6a0123dde238b5860c0123dddc94e7860b.jpg

  13. Topgoz says:

    Does this mean that the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen (and now Marines too, unfortunately) will no longer be required to wear reflective belts at Bagram during hours of darkness? Is the command group finally ready to acknowledge that all of Afghanistan is a combat zone? At any rate, all those civilians working for all those vendors occupy billeting that can be used by someone who carries aweapon.

  14. Junior AG says:

    …Ummm,Gen. Mc Crystal, loose the PowerPoint briefs wiff pritty piktures, ditch the corporate “risk assesment” hokum and take a few pages from my Dad’s Battalion Commander, Hank “The Gunfighter” Emerson: http://www.military.com/Opinions/0,,Hackworth_122804,0.html

  15. JP Bob, you are right about the weight problem. It must be otherwise the Coffee joint would not be left open.

    Unless it is because some SNCOs and officers can’t command without a coffee cup slid into their G.I. Joe kung-fu grip.

  16. NHSparky says:

    BNG–close the coffee joint too–you know how many calories are in a Frappucino? And ponsdorf–after Pinatubo blew up, so did any chance of liberty in the PI. By the time I did my last one, CHINHAE, of all places, was considered a “liberty port”. Don’t even get me started on Guam.

  17. CSM245 says:

    Here’s an idea: Why stop at closing all the AAFES concessions? If we moved all the support personnel out of theater, it would be a lot less crowded on the FOBs. I don’t think the grunts would mind living in GP smalls, shitting in holes, and eating 3 MREs a day knowing that they were conforming to the theater commander’s vision of a lean, mean, fightin’ machine.

  18. bman says:

    Another old fart speaks: No Mcdonalds in Saigon, but there was a Big Boy and it was awful.

    Glad Bob Hope made you smile, many of us had the perimeter out where the mortars fired.

  19. justplainjason says:

    The last six months I was in Iraq I was at Anaconda. Compared to some of the places I had been in the states it was Paradise. When I look back on it I wish we didn’t have all the amenities that it had. All of those things made me think of home that much more. It had a way of making an abnormal situation “normal”.
    I think I was happiest at Scania. I like to call it a giant truckstop. I lived in a GP medium with my platoon. There was a little cafe that was set up by some locals which had the best Na’an and tea. The local mullah set up an awesome Hajimart. There was a small px but I never went there. I got everything I needed from the locals.

  20. Mr Chips says:

    I was in 1st Cav during Desert Shield/Storm. After getting our vehicles & eqpt out of port, I saw civilization twice: a 3 day R&R on a cruise ship anchored in Baharain (for Passover services, yes it’s fun being a Jew in Saudi) and Khobar Towers when leaving. When we went to the airfield to fly to Baharain, we wondered why walking felt funny. We realized that we hadn’t walked on anything but sand for months. The next surprise was seeing all the REMF’s wearing those cool desert boots that never seemed to make it out to those of us who lived in the sand. Ahh, good times….

  21. I made a little movie about that stuff when I took a trip to Taji. Both of my deployments I never got stationed at the big nice FOBs.

    The Deployment Game:
    http://www.vimeo.com/5067165

  22. Old Tanker says:

    Mr.Chips,
    which unit? I was 1-8 Cav. and ya, I did get my desert boots….AFTER we were out of the desert with about 2 weeks left in country….

  23. dutch508 says:

    GOD FORBID the FOBbits have to suffer just because there is a war on. TWDLTW* cannot be put upon simply because they are deployed into theater! My God, man…A twelve hour shift in the Brigade TOC is stressful!

    * TWDLTW- Those Who Don’t Leave The Wire.

  24. OldTrooper says:

    CSM245: I lived in GP mediums and GP smalls and GP tiny’s and a hammock with my poncho thrown over the top held up by parachute chord. What’s your point? A microwaved meal was taking the round out of a 20mm shell and pouring the powder into the endcap of a TOW missile tube, then setting your C-rats on top and lighting it. 10 seconds and piping hot C-rats/water for MRE’s in later days.

    Support personnel have a job to do, but they don’t need a fucking Mall of America in order to be able to do their job.

  25. Jonn Lilyea says:

    The only tents we had were tents the Iraqis left behind. The only stove we had was my Coleman white gas stove. I siphoned gas from abandoned cars and jeeps.

    I read in a month old S&S that some pogue truck driver said we were living like animals. I didn’t see it that way – he was living like a pussy.

  26. dutch508 says:

    Tuesday, December 20, 2005
    Concerning FOBbits.

    FOBbits are creatures who live in holes. These may either be physical, as in concrete bunkers, or mental, as in a total belief that every Iraqi is out to get them. Because of this second one, many of the FOBbits display DCSS, Delusional Combat Stress Syndrome.

    A FOB, of course, is a Forward Operating Base. They are what once called a firebase before that term got too politically incorrect. A FOBbit then, is one who’s entire existence is lived out in one of these politically correct firebases. (see Sea-Monkeys)

    Some will defend the FOBbit’s existence saying, “Without the support they provide we could not win the war.” This is entirely correct. I respect the poor little things whose only reason for getting up in the morning is to ensure I have bullets to blow the enemy away with. I respect them a hella lot more than some of my commanders.

    However, there is a problem sometimes with FOBbits. Sometimes they begin to believe that THEY are the sole reason for existence. They sometimes believe I support them, or worse yet, my guys are nothing more than a nuisance to their continued existence. These self-important slugs sit in their offices and e-mail out demands, work 9 to 5, can’t do anything without a signature in triplicate and generally frown when you wear muddy boots into their…clean little lives.

    BUT- for every one FOBbit whose ass graces a chair there is a Support Puke who goes out of their way to help those of us who wear muddy boots. Willy and Joe knew these guys and loved ‘em just like we do today. However, this article is concerning FOBbits…and so I’ll sweep out the good and retain the bad…for now.

    To help you understand our little group has come up with some criteria to help you spot a FOBbit:

    You may be a FOBbit if: (stolen, obviously, from an idea by Jeff Foxworthy)

    You state your weapon is only for show.
    Your weapon has either a sock in the mag well, or have a bag covering the whole damn thing.
    You care what uniform arming status is.
    You confuse thunder with incoming.
    You have your own bunker.
    Your body armor and helmet have to be dusted off before you put them on.
    You travel to the Iraqi side of base escorted by three M1114s…in full battle rattle.
    You live in your own secured compound, with private contract security guards, your own mess hall, your own laundry, your own trailers with real toilets, accessed only with a special photo ID you’ve created yourself…inside the FOB. (our higher headquarters).
    You state, “This is only the second time I’ve left the IZ”…and you are in the mess hall…on TAJI FOB.
    Someone has to show you how to clear your weapon.
    You notice the food today at the mess hall is not too bad…rather than the slutty Air Force babes at the next table.
    You rotate back to the states and no one notices…or cares.
    You fasten your seatbelt.
    You have to think about how to justify your CAB.
    ‘We got us a convoy!’ means a bunch of you are headed over to the MWR to watch a movie.
    You think a safety brief is written on the side of a pack of razors.
    All the girls at the beauty shop know your first name. (yes, Taji has a beauty shop)
    You have never violated any part of General Order # 1.
    You have never violated any part of AR 670-1.
    You salute.
    Your PT uniform is faded more than your DCUs.
    Your DCUs are starched and pressed. (MAJ Clarke)
    Those f****** advisors at the next table keep looking at you and laughing.
    You turn in any illegal weapons you find.
    You say, “Gee, I’d like to go with you on a mission sometime.”
    You have no idea what MacDonnal’s is.
    You brag about how many missions you’ve had…and it’s less than 20.
    You brag about the ONE time you were blown up by an IED.
    You think the CASH is that green crap in your wallet.
    You start any sentence with, “Well, according to the regulation…”

    Of course, there are entire organizations over here that are little colonies of FOBbits. These are have cute little names made up of letters to camouflage their FOBbitness. Let’s start at the top and work our way down, shall we?

    MNC-I = Mostly Non-Competent Idiots
    MNSTC-I = Mainly did Nothing to Support the Troops under our Command in Iraq
    CMATT = Can’t Manage Anything Today or Tomorrow
    CPATT = Can’t Possibly Attempt That Today
    IAG = It’s Anyone’s Guess
    BSU = Bull Sh*t, Usually

    …and then there are organizations with names that have a different definition than what it sounds like;

    Phoenix Academy (known to the non-FOBbits as the Emerald City) = Please don’t think we will Help you, Only thing that Exists in our minds is Not our subordinate units but If we can make our X-sistance more comfortable. Actually, C, A wall around our compound is A Demonstration that in Effect My comfort is more important than Yours.

    Dutch- out

  27. Joe says:

    Wow, I thought we were hot shit because they let some local guy sell terrible Iraqi-themed pizza behind our motor pool, bootleg DVDs and cut our hair.

  28. Just Plain Bob says:

    To cut to the chase, instead of FOBbit, I always liked the Brit Para term: PONTI’s: Persons Of No Tactical Importance.

  29. Yat Yas says:

    dutch508:
    Totally agree with your comment on Fobbits and Support Pukes or Support Pogues for Marines. In Desert Storm, I was a trigger puller, but when recalled they stuck me in a staff position. Being out the loop for 6 years and old as well as overweight, probably a good thing. Most of us wanted to do everything we could to help those doing the fighting. During the 10 months at Camp Fallujah, I did work with several that if I could have gotten them to come on a convoy, would’ve kicked them out of the vehicle in downtown Fallujah, Karmah or Ramadi.

  30. dzman3000 says:

    I realize all the old timers here think that these guys on BAF have it easy because they have the chance to take a break and grab a little taste of home. I will remind them, that they had the opportunity to take part in all kinds of vices, like drinking a beer or looking at a girly magazine, that are now forbidden. Grabbing an occaisional pizza after working a 20 shift is one of the few ways to blow off stress for a bunch of joes who, despite the vast majority of the opinions here, are doing important work to ensure the mission gets done. Are there too many people on BAF and KAF, you betcha. But cutting off one of the few ways to burn off stress, while being stuck behind the wire for a year straight is stupid. Oh yeah, and when guys way out in the hinterlands cycle through BAF and KAF, which they all do, sooner or later, its nice for them to be able to grab a taste of home as well. This just makes life a little harder in theater than it has to be. This is just a silly idea.

  31. tankerswife says:

    While I would have loved for my husband to have had access to some of these finer things in life, I have to say I would much rather make sure there’s space for vehicle repairs over a pizza joint.

    I get to see some of the effects of this very situation from the side the Gen is seeing. My parents are retired AF and my husband is retired Army. My parents still work for the government, with TRANSCOM at Scott AFB. I get to see and hear about the struggles of trying to get the necessary items, like food & water & ammo, get jostled around with pool cleaner and paper napkins in the bid for the limited space on a plane or ship or railcar. I also get a glimpse at the ungodly amount of money that is spent in getting those supplies in country. Its not easy or cheap to get anything into A-stan.

    My husband works for a defense contractor that repairs/resets equipment the Army destroys. My husband came back from another difficult trip to A-stan trying to find adequate space to set up the shops the Army wanted completely frustrated because TACOM could not find the needed space.

    I’m not surprised in the least that this decision was made. I shouldn’t be surprised at how long it took to make it though.

  32. NHSparky says:

    dzman–get some time on the fucking pond. Lemme know how much “stress” you feel after 90 days with no women, no booze, no mail, no sunlight, no fresh food, and no fucking Mall of America, and the “good deal” you’ll be getting is a 10-day turnaround in 12-on/12-off before you go out to do it again. You remind me of the PN I ran into in Long Beach right after I got off my last boat, whining because he’d just gotten done with an inspection where he had to work “10-hour days for the last two weeks,” and he couldn’t understand why I was laughing my ass off at him.

  33. Enduring Soldier says:

    Let me get this straight. All you combat arms types choose your jobs and know what you will be doing when down range right? You also mention that the “extras” located on KAF and BAF are not needed, correct?

    I work on BAF and I notice a lot of the combat arms types at the Orange Julius, Burger King, and Dairy Queen chow’n down on all the junk food. Everyone enjoys a little taste of home and I don’t degrade anyone for trying to relax a bit before heading back out to a forward base. I know you 11 Bang Bangs like to maintain your manly personas and boast about how hardcore you are but get real. We all enjoy these things but you unfortunately are not located in a base that has these amenities and the support folks are. These places keep up troop morale any way you look at it. I’m working on my 3rd deployment in 5 years and it takes its toll on both my family life and my career. So having these amenities give a soldier something to normalize there day and take the edge off of multiple deployments. I respect the Vietnam vets for their service but you had other amenities (Alcohol & Weed & Sex) that we don’t. If we had the ability to smoke pot we probably would not need Burger King, Dairy Queen, or Orange Julius. I also have respect for the Desert Storm/Shield Folks but with all due respect Burger King, Dairy Queen, or Orange Julius didn’t have time to organize in 30 days. Every situation has its own benefits and KAF & BAF have some fast food.

    Gen McCrystal spends most of his time in ISAF HQ or back in DC so I’m sure he will still be getting his treats along with the home visits thought his deployments. Sure, make the already deployment fatigued soldiers even more depressed and deprived.

    And on last thing to the soldiers who badmouth support soldiers.

    The Army is a team, we work together on a common mission. Without you we would not accomplish the mission, but with out the support you can not accomplish your mission. You could not get to where you were going, you could not use the broken equipment,you could not communicate, you could not eat, and you could not sustain your selves. So instead of taking shit about / to support soldiers try thanking them for doing their jobs and for supporting you!

  34. Enduring Soldier says:

    Dutch,

    You are not a typical grunt. You are a recipient of a GED and a go to the army or go to jail certificate. You bring no credit upon any warfighter. If your such a bad ass why dont you post your ERB.

  35. AF Loggie says:

    With all due respect, Gen McCrystal is making a stupid decision. Sure, there may be benefits of closing some facilities (less water, electricity, logistics footprint), but the tradeoff far outweighs this (troop morale, taste of home, establishing an atmosphere where you can feel human again). Sure, it’s a warzone and not an amusement park. We get it. I’m sure the daily reminders of comrades getting blown up by IEDs or shot at by snipers, coupled with the horid living conditions at the FOBs will keep everyone grounded in the fact that we’re in a war zone. McCrystal’s decision is not well thought out, and will only serve to hurt morale. They already keep us on a 1:1 dwell for my career field, and now they’ll make the time in the AOR creep by even slower.

  36. LebbenB says:

    My last tour was with 18 ABC G3, 2004-2006. I was stunned at the amount of creature comforts on Victory. I was part of the FP/AT site survey team, so it kept us out and about quite a bit. I used to load up on dip, smokes and chew whenever we were back on the FOB to hand out to the joes on some of those sites. Hell, some of those kids were lucky to see a PX truck twice a month. And then come back to Victory and have some joker in starched DCUs tell us that we can’t come in the chow hall til we go get cleaned up. Frakking surreal. It felt like Apocalypse Now, only with sand.

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