Conflict Zone B&Bs can be Unusual

Accommodations in a conflict zone can be unusual.  Essentially they are B&Bs.

A better term may be Conflict Zone B&B&S. Bed, breakfast, & security.

14th of July Circle Baghdad

Conflict Zone B&Bs can be unusual at times.  I call them B&B&S because they provide bed, breakfast and security. In reality they provide accommodations, meals, laundry, communications, and security for residents.  In a conflict zone these things come at a high cost.  Some estimates place the cost at $7,000-12,000 per day per person.

The inserted photo is an aerial view taken from a Black Hawk helicopter over the Green Zone by one of my associates.  You will see “Gunny” later at the Al Faw Palace.  The intersection is the 14th of July Circle, named after the date of an important battle in Iraq.  On the right of the picture is one of the entrances to the Green Zone from Baghdad across the Tigris river.

Bottom left is our compound covering 3-4 acres of land.  Bottom right, a quarter of a mile away, is the huge US Embassy in Baghdad.

The compound was a combination of villas, trailers, and aluminum structures that housed all of our needs.  The villas for leadership of course and occasional business visitor.  40 foot trailers like the ones shown in a later photo for military and civilian contractors.  Aluminum buildings for meals, gym, and offices.  Can’t see it in this picture but the entire compound is surrounded by 12-18 foot high concrete barriers.  Called T-walls because of the up-side-down T appearance.  Who ever had the contract for building and placing T-walls, has to be very rich.  Every building, base, checkpoint through-out the Green Zone was protected by these walls.  Essentially, blast protection in case a rocket or other explosive was set-off near-by.  Kept out the “bad hombres” also.

The need for walls in conflict zones.

Green Zone Traffic

This photo traveling through the Green Zone the T-walls located by the side of the road.  This particular shot was next to Husaam’s former palace.

Camp Victory’s B&B.

B & B entrance

After living in the Green Zone for 6 months many of our group moved out to Camp Victory.  Camp Victory was part of a huge base complex adjoining the Baghdad International Airport.  Shown here is the front of our compound at Victory.  Note the concrete bunker to the left.  The bunker had overhead protection. This location seemed ill planned.  We had leave the protection of the tall concrete walls to go outside to the bunker during an attack.  Typical attacks were one or two rockets fired into the base.  With little warning it was over by the time one would go to the bunker.  Earlier in the conflict these attacks lasted for hours, hence the bunkers.

A rocket did hit within 100 feet of this structure.  It shook us badly and was close enough for rocks blown up by the blast to land on our tin roof.  If it had hit inside there would have been a lot of casualties.  A pick-up truck was the only casualty on that occassion.

 

Conflict Zone B&B

This is a view inside the compound.  This was considered deluxe B&B because of the wood walkway.  It does get very wet in Baghdad during the winter.  Most compounds are covered with large rock gravel which can be difficult to walk in without combat boots.

VP Biden Visits B & B

Outside the conflict zone B & B, where the rocket hit is a unique parade of visitors.  This convoy of buses, armor vehicles, and guards is when Joe Biden stopped for lunch at the Dining Facility.  This nearby facility served 7 – 10,000 military and civilians daily.  Not sure the tour and reporters was a good use of our tax dollars.  That Thanksgiving the “governator , Arnold Schwarzenegger showed up.  At least he was entertaining and all the women got hugs!

Barbecue in a Conflict Zone?

B&B Barbecue
Myself with Ron Featherson, USMC SGT Major, doing the cooking.

On holidays we often fixed our own meals just for a change.  There was a PX on adjoining Camp Liberty where we could purchase charcoal and steaks.

Morning walk in conflict zone

The best part of staying at this conflict zone B&B was morning walks.  In the summer the temperatures could reach 120 degrees F.  Even on those days, the mornings were cool and comfortable due to low humidity.  I often walked the two miles around the artificial lakes built by Saddam for his summer palaces.  Numerous villas were positioned around the lake for his leadership and visitors.

generals-office-at-victory

Most of these were taken over by US coalition forces for offices or quarters.  Some modifications are shown in this picture!

Typical bus stop in conflict zone?

Camp Victory Bus Stop
Does this bus stop remind you of one in Chicago?

We even had bus service.  Note this bus stop may be similar to ones in our inter-cities at the rate things are going.

R2D2 Protector

One of my favorites is R2D2 named after its look alike robot on Star Wars.  This one offered some serious protection.  Adapted from shipboard Phalanx system and designed to intercept incoming rockets.  The first time we heard it fire was for a test.  With advanced notice we placed ourselves in this spot hoping to get a photo.  When it did fire the surprise almost caused me to drop my camera.

The system did intercept rockets on several occasions being shot into the camp.

Check out this video to see how.

Navy’s Phalanx weapon system.

 

sadaam-sons-palace-after-smart-bomb

There was also evidence of what a smart bomb could do here at Saddam’s sons’ villa.  They didn’t survive.

Al Faw Palace

Al Faw Palace B & B

The centerpiece was Al Faw Palace.  Named after one of the only battles Iraq won against Iran in Southern Iraq.

Al Faw Palace Entrance

This is “Gunny”.  Gunny was reserve USMC Gunnery Sgt..  An engineer our of Detroit was a key player in our manufacturing equipment procurement.

Al Faw Palace Lobby

Inside the palace was used as coalition command headquarters.  Nice digs.

Sadaam's Summer Throne

Gunny sitting on Saddam’s summer throne.

No electrical standards or building codes.

Conflict Zone Wiring Standards

Conflict zone accommodations don’t have building codes.  This is a picture of electrical welding cable spliced by wrapping a plastic bag around the connection.  Designed to protect it against the rain that was falling while welders worked!!!!

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