Where we sleep ranks right up there in topics of interest with food and toilets. And just like with my experiences with the food and the toilets, my sleeping accommodations have varied widely during my time in Afghanistan. None of them have been great, but none have been horrible either.
In order of best to worst, here is how I rate the places I’ve slept:
My best sleeping quarters were at FOB Wolverine. I had a nice little room all to myself. It was an 8×20 container, similar to a shipping connex that you see on ships/trains/trucks, but these are designed specifically for living in, either as offices or sleeping quarters. They are known as CHU (pronounced chew) = Containerized Housing Unit or RLB = Relocatable Building or Real Little Building. It had 2 sets of bunk beds, but I was alone and the heater/AC worked well. Plus I had wireless internet available! It was really a great place to spend some time.
FOB Apache: I have had the opportunity to move several times while at Apache. I arrived in mid-October and was put up in the transient quarters; one of the little wooden buildings on the old part of post that was in a state of disrepair with a grungy, lumpy mattress. Not good, it should go near the bottom of this list. After a couple weeks, I moved into a vacant space in the tents where the unit we were replacing was living. Not too bad; plywood dividers to make a fairly private room and a decently comfortable bed. After a few days I was moved to a different tent with slightly better dividers and a little more space. A week or so later I moved to an open bay in what is now our main office area so we could tear down the tents and rebuild the floors and interior walls.
My room in my tent at Apache is almost as good as the CHU at Wolverine.
FOB Viper: When I visited FOB Viper last Nov/Dec the Romanians were extremely gracious hosts and they put me up in a nice little room in a nicely heated hard building. Considering that only a few other people on Viper slept in other than a tent, it was a very generous act.
FOB Bullard: I have been to FOB Bullard a couple times. The first time I was there I slept in a drafty tent with a poorly functioning ECU (Environmental Control Unit – heat/AC) on a grungy, lumpy mattress on a bedframe that was about to collapse. This would actually go one rung below the transient quarters at Apache on the rating scale; near the bottom of the list. However, while there in February, the Romanians once again proved to be gracious hosts by giving me a private room in a hard building. The bed was comfortable, the room was nice, but the room itself didn’t have a heater, just the common area. So it stayed pretty cold in there. I would guess the temp in my room was about 50 degrees Fahrenheit at best. So despite having a decent bed, I was pretty cold the whole time. It didn’t help that we received several feet of snow, coupled with warm temperatures to make everything wet and slushy during the day. So I was not only cold, I was constantly wet. But, Bullard is still my second favorite place to be in Afghanistan.
FOB Smart: While at FOB Smart I slept in the large central building. It reminded me of an old hotel in a warm climate area. The hallways are essentially open to the outside. I shared a fairly large room with just one other guy and the bathroom and laundry room was in the same building, on the same floor. If I would have had a private room I would have rated Smart higher. But I guess I value my privacy more than my comfort…
At KAF I slept in a large building with an indoor bathroom! That is a pretty nice thing to have. However the building has several rooms & the rooms are crammed with 4 sets of bunk beds that squeak loudly if you think about moving. So you can imagine the noise when the beds are occupied by people that actually do move…not good for restful sleep. Thankfully, I have only spent 2 nights at KAF since arriving last October.
Although it is my favorite place in Afghanistan; right here at COP Mizan has been – hands down – the worst sleeping quarters. I spent some time here last December and was given a ‘bed’ in the hard building. The rooms in that building seem like medieval prison chambers with big thick walls and low, wide doors. The room I was in was no more than 8 feet wide and 10 feet long. It had 2 beds in it on the opposite walls and the space at the ends of the beds was storage space for ‘stuff’, but not my stuff. So the only room I had was the bed & the 2 foot aisle to get to the bed. The bed was too short and too narrow to fit the mattress. But it didn’t matter because the mattress was compressed to about 1/3 of it’s original thickness and looked as if it had been used on a garage floor to change oil in cars; filthy doesn’t come close to describing it.
I shared the room with another guy. But, despite the crappiness of the bed and the room, the heat worked! So honestly, I had no complaints. I would rather sleep on the floor in a heated building than a comfy mattress in an unheated tent any day. This brings us to my current visit. This time I was given a cot in a large tent with a non-functioning ECU…I arrived at approximately 0730. When I went into the tent around noon, it felt like a sauna. I talked to the DynCorp guys about getting the ECU fixed and their solution was to turn it off and disconnect it from the tent. Hmmm…so I froze my ass off that night. OK, maybe I didn’t freeze, as the temperature probably was in the 40’s-50’s, but it felt pretty cold. The next day one of the Soldiers offered to let me move into their tent as they had two empty rooms. I gladly accepted. The ECU in this one isn’t great – it does get a bit stuffy during the day and a bit cool at night, but not bad at all.
Thanks again for reading and please let me know your thoughts/questions/comments.