16 July 2014

Running on KAF

They're calling it a Super Moon out here. I've never heard it referred to as that, but it makes me feel better about my run.

Running around KAF at night causes the strangest synapses to occur. My mind races faster than my heart, which is working hard enough.

By the time I write this I remember only a fraction.

I am alone, properly donned in uniform and reflective belt, but improperly adorned with ordinary eyeglasses instead of APEL eyewear. The Authorized Protective Eyewear List is an Army's quality standard for ballistic eye protection.

It's a reasonable requirement. This place takes a rocket about once every two weeks, but life goes on. The dust is more of a nuisance than any possibility of taking rocket shrapnel. Nobody seems to worry much about the threat.

Theories of the military effectiveness of bombing civilian areas during World War II suggest that bombing campaigns are more likely to induce the desired panic when they are unexpected.

The expectancy theory would explain why I and dozens of other Soldiers jogged along the outer roads rather carefreely.

As I run I listen to House to House: An Epic Memoir of War. It's about the Second Battle of Fallujah. The author, a squad leader in the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, has the Army doing most of the clearing, though conventional tellings of it have the Marines as the conquerors. In one part, several platoons were ordered to backtrack along territory they had already moved through to meet up with the Marines, who were woefully behind schedule.

It's extremely hot and dry. I realize that we are in a combat zone. My mind goes back to running late one summer night in St. George, during another episodic drive to get into shape. The Army has motivated me, from time to time, to stay fit. Running in the heat has always made me feel like I am satisfying some minimal obligation for pain and discomfort. St. George is a pretty good analogy. If pain is some product of muscular exertion and environmental wear, then KAF is a great place to feel like I am achieving something.

I find a bit of pride in that as I run along in the moonlight.

An occasional dump truck drives by, kicking up more dust in my face, and ultimately into my lungs. Oh well. 

This place is like a city.

A small, dumpy, industrial city.

But it is safe, or at least feels so. There are thousands of insurgents who knows how far outside the wire. They'd like nothing more than to score a major attack in a big base like KAF. But it'll never happen. There are to many protection measures in place.

Two blimps float above me. They are called Aerostats, and they are equipped with high powered cameras that scan the landscape, day or night.

The sonic screams of jets erupt in the darkness, reminding me and the bad guys that they are outmatched.

I get back to my hooch exhausted, soaking, and feverish. It's too hot to be running. 


  1. Rich - This is my favorite post of yours so far. I felt it. Really nicely done. Seriously. It made me want to run, it made me read up on expectancy theory, it made me feel like I understand life at KAF a little bit better, and it made me proud of our American troops.

    My only question is: why is the moon so massive near KAF? It looks like it's about to crash into you in that picture. ;-)

    1. Morgan: I really appreciate you reading my posts, and for putting some thought into your comments. I guess I'm a bit of a slacker with responding. What is expectancy theory, and what does it have to do with running? By the time you respond, I will have looked it up, so it's kind of rhetorical.