After every Soldier was counted and every required piece of equipment was checked, the “hurry up and wait” that so many of the Red Bulls have become accustomed to began. The Soldiers hurried to load their duffel bags and ruck sacks onto the cargo truck and then waited. They hurried onto the buses that would take them from Camp Buehring to Logistical Support Area (LSA) Ali al Salim and then waited. They scrambled to load all the duffel bags and ruck sacks from the cargo truck to the pallets that would be aboard the C-130 Hercules and then waited.

As the Soldiers were beginning to get into the rhythm of waiting; as they were beginning to find the predictability in the pattern of “hurry up and wait;” as the Kuwaiti heat was beginning to increase their forbearance and slow their stride – the voice over the intercom blared across the waiting area, and the Soldiers snapped back into action. Their plane was leaving early.

The plane of Soldiers in the first main wave of Red Bulls to enter Iraq left earlier than expected because of the interesting flying conditions in the desert. Often, sandstorms are unpredictable, and because military flying operations must be conducted under a certain altitude, the Air Force asks troops being transported to remain flexible and ready. The readiness of the troops means that if other operations and weather provide an opening for a flight, then the flying mission can commence.

Once the plane was in the air, the skillful flying of the United States Air Force, which included several evasive maneuvers in order to make the plane a less-likely hit target, made for an interesting ride for the Red Bulls. One Soldier threw up.

The Arrival

Landing at Combat Operating Base (COB) Basra was somewhat monotonous for the Soldiers. Being from Minnesota, every stretch of desert the Soldiers have seen looks exactly like the last stretch.

“Time is an undifferentiated continuum here,” said Sgt. 1st Class Rick Hobus, a senior intelligence analyst from Wayzata, Minn. “There’s no way I could know if it’s spring or winter, or what season it is. There’s no concept of time out here because everything always looks the same.”

The monotony of the climate and the monotonous pattern of “hurry up and wait” brought the Soldiers to their temporary housing. They piled in with their gear and did what they could to get comfortable. Some went straight to sleep. Some roamed around the COB to get acquainted with their new home.

Those who roamed introduced themselves to the gate guards at the various checkpoints through the COB. The guards at gates gave friendly greetings to the Red Bulls.

A Red Bull Soldier walks along the T walls that protect his Containerized Housing Unit (CHU) in Basra, Iraq. The 34th Red Bull Infantry Division is currently deployed to Basra, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jamieson Pond of

Not so friendly looking were the large concrete slabs, known as T walls, which line the walkways to protect troops from incoming mortars. They serve as a reminder to everyone inside the COB that there is still work to be done before Iraq is a completely peaceful place and the Iraqis are in total control of their nation.

Continue Mission

The sites and smells on the base that the Red Bulls will call “home” for the next year drew little attention or remark from the Red Bulls. They reported to duty the next day in their various sections, and have begun learning from their counterparts in the 10th Mountain Division, the division that has operated in the southern sector of Iraq for approximately the past year.

The Red Bulls are in Basra. There is some situating still occurring to get everyone into an operable environment, but they are in their positions, they are learning them, they are working them and they are conducting their missions proudly.