Southern Swill: Dispatches from the Forgotten British Sector (1st Ed)

Bitumen Summit Hopes Coagulating

 A base in the south, Iraq Despite high hopes engendered by last month’s Bitumen Summit, progress on the Alamo Road remains caterpillian. A few tens of tons of bitumen were delivered to the job last week, and the supplier has another bunch of tons ready to truck in across the border. The construction contractor, however, has not fulfilled his promise of completing 1km of road per day, so the first shipment of bitumen still languishes, largely untouched. The tanks where the bitumen is stored awaiting use on the road remains full.

 The bitumen supplier has issued an ultimatum to the BAO office, announcing that he will keep delivering bitumen from Kuwait as per his contract, and if there are no tanks available to offload it into, it is up to those on the Iraq end to decide where he’ll dump it. Visions of endless and uselessly vast puddles of bitumen haunt Resident Engineer Mark “Wo-wo” Wospecki . “Listen – listen,” he told reporters. “The bitimmum [sic] issue is not resolved,” he stated. “It’s not resolved, but I’ll be honest with you. We’ll continue to work with these contractors, and I’m sure we can work something out. I’m sure we can get something worked out in regards to the bitimmum [sic].”

 Area Engineer Tom ‘Tommy Two-Tone’, interviewed on his way to a meeting concerning the Bestest Children’s Hospital (BCH), said mildly, “Oh yeah. Mark told me about that. Bitimmum.” He grinned.

 Two weeks ago one of the workers on the Alamo Road contract crew was killed when he was bounced out of the front bucket of a Cat, then subsequently run over by the equipment.

 An additional road project is gearing up in the hairy scary province of Maysan. The bitumen issue may expand, requiring a second round of summit meetings.


Al Sha Railroad Station Falls into Place

A base in the south, Iraq  The contract for rehabilitation of the Sha Railroad Station no longer remains as the only B South Resident Office (BSRO) contract without problems.

The contract stood out on the BS Resident Office roster not only as the single contract without schedule or construction problems, but for its low price tag, bid at approximately $27,000. Now, less than one week after the Pre-construction meeting, the Sha Railroad has fallen into place beside the other of BS Resident Office’s sixteen contracts. All sixteen are variously requiring modifications, awaiting modifications, receiving warning letters, or requiring some equivalent but more complicated remedial measure.

It seems the Scope of Work in the Sha Railroad Station contract is totally inadequate to the true amount of work that needs to be accomplished on the station. Modification calculations being made to the contract are expected to be in the neighborhood of $7.4M.

Contracting Officer’s Representative Seren Seren appeared unfazed by the latest in a series of setbacks to the contract construction projects that fall under her administration. “What-ever…” she muttered, shrugging. Resident Engineer Tom ‘Tommy Two-tone’ also appeared relatively calm upon receiving the news. On his way to a meeting regarding the Alamo Road project (BAO), he commented blandly, “Oh. Sha’s short $7.4 million? Yeah, Seren mentioned that.”


Coast Guard FOB Closed Out – Really

 A base in the south, Iraq  Final payment has been made on the Coast Guard Forward Operating Base (FOB), and a Release of Claims has finally been signed. COR designate Seren Seren smiled slightly as she emailed the final paperwork to Contracting. “Fucking Operating Base,” she muttered.

 PSD crew leader Rhys Black, a Brit wit, smiled a slightly ironic smile when he received the news. “Fob off,” he said cheerfully.

 Found on his way to a meeting about the Bestest Children’s Hospital, Tom ‘Tommy Two-tone’, Area Engineer, said, “Oh. The Coast Guard FOB? Yeah, Seren told me about that. That’s nice.”


Major Zebaroo Brighton Off to Oahu

 A base in the south, Iraq  MAJ Zebaroo Brighton was driven to the border today, on his way to Bali. He’ll meet up with his fiancée en route, and they’ll tie the knot in a beach ceremony sometime later this week.

 “It’s a good thing,” Anna Lee said, waving cheerfully as Zeb was driven off with the PSD crew. “That man needs to get laid. Maybe he’ll chill out.”

 “Whew!” Joy Maxon (Admin Asst) said smiling broadly. “The next two weeks are going to be soooo nice!”

 When LTC Baldrick was asked if he’d miss Major Brighton while he’s gone, he replied perkily and without a trace of irony, “Of course! Every person here is unique and valuable!” When asked if there would be a gap in the work flow with Maj. Brighton gone, LTC Baldrick replied, “We’ll do what we have to do. We have all the pieces. This is a very competent group of people that we have here, and I’m sure they’ll do a good job.”

 LTC Baldrick then turned to Joy and said, “What all does Zeb do, exactly?”

 “Everything you’re supposed to do,” Joy muttered disgustedly, before adding out loud, “Nothing, sir.”


Bestest Children’s Hospital to Occupy 5000 Square Feet in New BAT Camp

 A base in the south, Iraq  The still nebulously funded and occasionally cancelled Bestest Children’s Hospital (BCH) has been granted 5,000 square feet of office space at the new BAT camp by order of MAJ Zebaroo Brighton.

 “They only have three people on staff now,” the Major said rather patronizingly to critics, “but there will be thirteen people by January 2007.”

 “My ass,” BAO AO Anna Lee commented. “By January of 2008, maybe.”

 Up to sixteen people will occupy a 50 square foot office opposite the new Children’s Hospital office wing. Included are all employees of BAO, BSRO, the Oil Sector, and possibly Maysan.

 “There’s plenty of space here,” MAJ Brighton said with an irritating smile. “You can set it up any way you want it.”

 “Well, duh,” Anna Lee muttered. “It’s our fucking office.”

 BS Resident Office ConRep Seren Seren was put in charge of fitting everyone into the office in an acceptable layout and distribution. Asked if there were any special concerns she took into consideration in the planning process, she said, “Absolutely. Maysan ConRep MSG Robnoxious can’t sit by anyone – he’s too loud and too weird. And we have to put everyone through a shrink machine in order to fit into the 50 square feet of space. Finally, we have to put all the people we like near the back, by (Area Engineer) Boss Tom.’

 Asked who it was that was liked, Seren smiled ruefully. “Almost no one,” she admitted. “We’re populated with … odd people. HQ couldn’t stand them so they sent them down here: Ben the Brain, Just-Too-Jivin’ Jake, ‘Wo-wo’ Wospecki …”

 “We’re short on adults,” Seren admitted ruefully.

 Boss Tommy Two-tone, upon being presented with a preliminary office layout, said, “Oh, good. Seren put the people we like back near us.”


The Elusive Miss Clara Brand

 A base in the south, Iraq  Miss Clara Brand was due to arrive at the BAO office today, but was delayed once again. Ms. Brand’s arrival has been anticipated and variously delayed since early August. This time she made it as far as HQ, where Big Boss Johnny McAdams commandeered her for two weeks. Or possibly a month. (Although she might be here in Basrah on Monday.)

 Miss Brand has 15 boxes waiting for her arrival at the BAO offie. She mailed the boxes to herself before leaving the States. “Oh my god,” she exclaimed. “When Seren told me she only sent two or three boxes, I felt so stupid! I’m such a girl!”

 The boxes are currently stored in BAO AO Anna Lee’s truck. There is general reluctance to move them, due to the necessity of having to move them all over again this coming weekend when the office relocates to the new BAT camp.

 “What- ever,” Lee said when she heard Brand wouldn’t be around to move her own boxes. “Shit.”

 When Area Engineer Tom “Tommy Two-tone” was told that Miss Brand had been snatched up by HQ, he was uncharacteristically emotional. “You’re kidding!” he said when BS Resident Office ConRep Seren Seren told him the news.  He stared at Seren for a long moment. “Well,” he said, recovering slightly, “What’s Plan B?”

 “There’s a Plan B?” Seren asked.

Miss Brand had been slated to fill a ConRep position in BAO. Most recently employed by DOI as a GIS cartographer, she was snapped up by HQ for those particular skills. HQ has been working without maps of any kind for 3 years.


Army Commandeers Its Own Fence Fabric For Itself

 Camp Freddy, Iraq  The Army’s order of chain link fence fabric for the Camp Freddy TIF was commandeered by the Army today, leaving the TIF contractor in a tight spot near the end of construction.  

 “We were due to complete the project this week,” contractor QC Chug Bradley explained. “But now it will take at least a few more days, and possibly an extra week, putting us past the construction deadline.”

 Everyone in Iraq has had trouble getting fence fabric across the K-border lately.

 This latest blow comes close on the heels of another delivered last week, when the Army FET submitted to Bradley a 41,762 page report on how poorly his company has done as contractor on this project. The contractor has submitted weekly and monthly reports to the FET throughout the duration of the project, and has never before received any feedback or complaints of any kind.

 Caught by surprise by the ludicrously detailed and bizarrely delayed report, Bradley spent six hours on Friday morning fielding phone calls from his superiors, who were all in a tizzy. “I got my first phone call when I was working out in the gym at six o’clock this morning,” Bradley said in a disgusted voice when he was interviewed last Friday. He pointed to his sweat-stained PT clothes. “I haven’t even had time to take a shower. I’ve had to go to meetings like this.”

 “Now it’s fence fabric,” Bradley commented today, shaking his head. “I have seventeen days, and I’m done. Back to the States …” He held out both hands to the heavens. “And the Army steals the Army’s own fence fabric.”

 “There’s nothing like working in Iraq,” he concluded. “I’m living a dream.” He grimaced. “Unfortunately I think it’s somebody else’s and they’re mentally ill.”





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