Fobbits Feeling the Pinch


I was a Fobbit for 28 months.  Most of the head count for both OEF and OIF are Fobbits.  FOB’s are much nicer places to live and work than Combat Out Posts, Joint Security Stations, and Vehicle Patrol Bases.  Lots of amenities on a FOB.  Air conditioning, Sealy Posturepedic® matresses on steel bed frames instead of cots, flush toilets in air conditioned latrine trailers instead of one-holers over a cut-down 55-gallon oil drum baking in 120 degree heat, real showers with real shower curtains instead of home-made, kimche-rigged Rube Goldberg contraptions with no privacy whatsoever, sinks to brush your teeth in,  glass mirrors to shave in front of,  clean clothes that somebody else washed for you,  air conditioned Dining Facilities with a huge variety of good things to eat, Post Exchanges, Hajji Shops, Green Bean Coffee shops, Tim Horton’s coffee shops, Harly Davidson dealerships, gyms, weight rooms, exercise equipment, libraries, movies, dance lessons, . . .

You get the idea.  FOB’s are the garrisons that have broken out in the war zone.

Bagram Air Field  is the big city to visiting rubes from outside the wire.  But life on the FOB is not a bowl of cherries.  Most FOB’s are like aircraft carriers dead in the water, and the Fobbits are the crew.  It is not easy for many Fobbits to get outside the wire.  Their jobs require them to be where they can do them, which in most cases is at their work station, or in their shop.  Not that many Bands of Brothers on most FOB’s, either.  You can get real lonely in that crowd.  I am not ashamed of my Fobbithood.  In the hierarchy of military bad assery, civilian contractor Fobbits rate pretty low, but still higher than homesteaders in the rear who never came out at all. 

All of the above serves to introduce US Supplies Shrinking in Afghanistan. I have had that sinking feeling when empty shelves and empty coolers force me to confront just how far out on the limb I am, and how many termites are gnawing away at it.

Remnants of an Army by Elizabeth Butler, portraying William Brydon arriving at the gates of Jalalabad as the only survivor of the 16,500 strong force evacuated from Kabul in January 1842.

Remnants of an Army by Elizabeth Butler, portraying William Brydon arriving at the gates of Jalalabad as the only survivor of the 16,500 strong force evacuated from Kabul in January 1842.


UPDATES:  Nato supply line disrupted by bridge blast: Work on alternative road under way

The bridge on a culvert at Ali Masjid was built in the British days and was one of the oldest bridges on the route.

Pakistan: Trucks torched along US supply line

Attackers set fire to at least 10 trucks parked overnight near Landi Kotal

U.S. supply lines pinched in Afghanistan

Local residents cross a river after a bridge was destroyed by militants trying to squeeze U.S. military supply lines in the Pakistani tribal area of Khyber.

Local residents cross a river after a bridge was destroyed by militants trying to squeeze U.S. military supply lines in the Pakistani tribal area of Khyber.

Taliban ploy to bleed Nato becomes apparent

UPDATE: US thinks the unthinkable: asking Iran for help with supply routes

Last week a US Nato commander said that individual member countries could seek supply routes through Iran.


Filed under Logistics, Morale Operations, The Forgotten War

7 responses to “Fobbits Feeling the Pinch

  1. It would be useful to compare US logistical requirements to those of other forces and how it could be reduced as necessary to reduce the transport problem. Even in WWII and Korea, the average US division consumed supplies at a rate far in excess of other armies – with space being allocated for items considered luxuries by other nationalities.

    If we had to reduce our requirements to those supplies absolutely necessary to support mission requirements, how much could we reduce the logistical tail and the transport burden? Put another way, how much of our transport is taken up with items that we could do without if need be?

    My father (a Korean vet) told me that a Chinese soldier could fight harder on a fish head and handful of rice than an American soldier could fight on a turkey dinner. And his comment was only partly in jest.

  2. First we would have to know what the mission requirements are before we could reduce our logistics to the bare minimum to support it. Then whoever tried it would be accused of fighting the war on the cheap.

    What you’re talking about is rationing and deprivation. Little Johnny’s mama will write her congressman about that.

    Our people could be eating more locally procured food.

    If we scrimp on Clothing, individual equipment, tentage, organizational tool sets and kits, and hand tools, troops get sick in the winter and can’t do their jobs

    Our bloody great MRAPs suck down a lot of Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants, as do our helicopters and gnerators and air conditioners.

    If we scrimp on Construction materials, including installed equipment and all fortification and barrier materials we can’t protect our force or do much reconstruction.

    Gotta have bullets.

    Could do without Personal demand items (such as health and hygiene products, soaps and toothpaste, writing material, snack food, beverages, cigarettes, batteries, alcohol, and cameras. Is what we save in eliminating this class of supply worth the degradation to morale?

    Can’t fight a war without Major end items such as launchers, tanks, mobile machine shops, and vehicles.

    If we scrimp on the medical supplies casualties die that could have been saved. Who wants to defend that decision?

    Can’t keep the major end items running without repair parts.

    American armies have always eaten better than other armies, part of our agricultural heritage. Our guys humping the Hindu Kush are losing weight as it is.

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  4. Points well taken. But assuming you’re a Fed surrounded by Cornfeds in Chattanooga, how much can you do without and still carrying out the mission (assuming, of course, you even know what the mission is)? How many crackers can you do without and not make the entire force a casualty? I ask this with all due respect for the American practice of full supply and habitability – which has been in our tradition both because of humanitarian and utilitarian reasons. As we both know, you can maintain a high ops tempo if your people are fed, healthy and comfortable as possible. Adequate logistics become a human force multiplier in itself.

    But just suppose that the cracker line slows down. What do you prioritize? We’re not talking Bataan here – just a pinched hose. What could we really do without if need be and not fornicate ourselves doing it?

    In any event, it may be a moot point. I just blogged this, but check it out:

    All the way from Latvia? 20-30 trains a week all the way across Russia. Yikes.

  5. If all you want to do is hunker down behind the Hesco and wait, you can cut consumption of all classess of supply drastically for a month, maybe. Few missions are getting accomplished under such circumstances. If it lasts longer than a month people begin to realize what a trap they’re in. If we are so logistically constrained that we can’t do any good, it’s time to go, IF we can.

    Riga seems a long way. Bremerhaven was farther. Before we got kicked out of Uzbekistan we had a huge Class I yard at Karshi Khanabad full of stuff coming in by train from Germany.

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