Thursday, September 21, 2006

Not Your Grandfather's War

The material wealth of the United States and the logistical capabilities of the modern military combine to create living conditions for soldiers here that would be unrecognizable to Vietnam veterans such as my father-in-law, much less World War II or Korean War vets. In the International Zone, we have a weekly Prime Rib and Lobster dinner on Sundays. Our hooches are equipped for internet connectivity, air conditioning, and cable TV. (Conditions are much sparser away from Baghdad, to be sure, but still vastly improved from the conditions endured by previous generations of American soldiers).

However, I have had to endure one hardship of late. Due to some logistical foul up, the Post Exchange (PX) has been out of shampoo, razor blades, and toothpaste for over a month now!

I know, war is hell! I've been able to survive on shampoo bottles stolen from trips abroad with the Ambassador, and I have a friend in the Embassy's Political section who was a dentist before being activated for duty in Iraq who hooked me up with free sample packets from Crest. (Tip: don't sleep on the Citrus-Flavored Whitening paste -- it is the first toothpaste I've ever tried that tasted good).

Again, in previous wars the mere presence of a PX would be an unimaginable luxury, so this is a small complaint at best. Also, we have recourse to an option that not even the soldiers from Desert Storm or the peacekeeping missions of the 1990s could avail themselves to:

As I said, this is definitely nothing like what my grandfathers' experienced in World War II.