- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 29, 2003

SOMEWHERE IN THE IRAQI DESERT In a remote part of central Iraq so barren that even camels are rare, a base camp with thousands of soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division has emerged in just a matter of days.
Soldiers endure blinding sandstorms and bone-chilling nights in Humvees and truck cabs; the rest sleep in hand-dug "shallow graves" in the sand without any covering.
The Screaming Eagles as the 101st Airborne is known have arrived in slow-moving convoys and dust-churning helicopters by the hundreds from Kuwait since Monday, adding to the bustling area within striking distance of Baghdad that will soon hold all three brigades of the 20,000-strong division.
The area is equipped with all the necessities to run a small city, like a jail and medical clinic just none of the luxuries. Getting water, food and fuel here has been a challenge. There are few latrines and no showers.
"The living conditions out here, this is probably the worst I've ever seen, and will ever see," said Spc. Albert Nadeau, 24, of McGaheysville, Va., a communications specialist standing in the desert sun. "There's nothing to look forward to. There's no privacy out here … and there's always the threat of coming under attack."
Commanders make no excuses for the living conditions. Showers, a post exchange and a dining facility were left behind in Kuwait, said Command Sgt. Maj. Iuniasolua Savusa.
"This is war," Sgt. Maj. Savusa said, from the front seat of his Humvee on a trip to visit soldiers sleeping and patrolling the perimeter. "You live with what you brought with you."
The division is resupplied by ground or air, but prefers the air trip three hours from Kuwait, compared to three days on the ground. But one day this week, a load of automotive parts hung from a Chinook helicopter was cut in transport because of dust winds.
"It's very challenging, especially in bad weather," said Capt. Sean Davis, 32, of Poolesville, Md., who oversees brigade logistics. "The pilots reserve the option of cutting sling loads en route because of being attacked, the load becomes unbalanced, or weather."
A reconnaissance team has been dispatched to tap a deep water well so troops won't have to bring in all their bottled water in containers called "water buffalos," Capt. Davis said.
Spc. Nadeau sat in his truck yesterday reading a book and listening to headphones. He said he has no complaints.
"I live in my truck. It's been all right," Spc. Nadeau said, adding that conditions weren't much different from those during his six months in Afghanistan. "We're used to being deployed. You're home after a while."

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