Southern Swill: Dispatches from the Forgotten British Sector (Issue 3)


Logistics Labors Expand in Scope

 A base in the south, Iraq    George of the Jungle, Logistics, has been especially busy these past few days. On Saturday George contacted the Mahdi militia, demanding a full accounting of property present in the province of Basrah. Hearing the tone of George’s voice and fearing for their lives, the militia immediately began rounding up mortar rounds, laying them out in tidy rows for inspection.

 “It’s not enough anymore to complete only an inventory of the BAT camp property,” George told reporters at a recent press conference. “I have had enough of waking up with bruises on my elbows and knees from being shaken out of my bed in the middle of the night by the yo-yo’s haphazardly firing mortar rounds at the base.”

 “Enough is enough,” he said, expression set with that mad dog look so many at the BAT camp have become familiar with. “I want to know who’s got the mortars, how many they’ve got, and where they’re stored. It’s that simple.”

 Asked if the weapons had some sort of serial number or other individual identification, George glared at this reporter. “They will,” he said ominously.

 George has requested that everyone leave him the hell alone for the next week, as he’ll be very, very busy straightening out this plethora of property.

 “Some serious issues have already arisen on this assignment,” he told reporters. “We’ve got mortars here that belong to Maysan, mortars that belong in Diwaniyah, in Hilla, and a good many that belong downtown. I don’t know how they got here; I don’t know why they thought they could get away with this.”

 “It’s no wonder we’ve had more incoming again lately – these cowboys are using everyone else’s weapons. They don’t care if they waste rounds blasting the crap out of a gopher hole 700 meters from anything – it’s not on their dime.”

 Asked how long this inventory might take, George explained that the initial inventory would probably be complete within a week or so. “But there will be follow up checks,” he explained. “When we get mortared, you can bet that the next day I’ll be out there… and by the end of that day, I will know how many rounds they lobbed at us, and I will know exactly where they came from.”

 Asked if he’d be passing that information along to the Brit Mil, George became uncharacteristically cagey. “All I will say,” he said, “is that Seren Seren (BS Resident office Con Rep/Project Engineer/Resident Engineer/COR) may not have to worry about the problems at her electrical substation much longer.”

 When Seren was asked if she knew what he meant by that, she shrugged and rearranged her face into an innocent expression. “It’s a French contractor,” she said inanely, “maybe George is finding mortars that belong to Paris. The Brits might enjoy moving on that.”

 Asked if the Mahdi militia weren’t a bit intimidating to work with, George’s short laugh had an evil edge. “Intimidating?” he barked. “I’ll show them intimidating.” He held up a bar code reader for everyone to see, and shook it in the nearest reporter’s face. “I will,” he said slowly with ominous authority, lowering his voice and staring straight into the reporter’s eyes, “account for every mortar that group has in this province. I have made myself clear to the Mahdi leadership,” he stated. “I expect full cooperation – and I will get it.”

 When George has finished with the mortars, he’ll start in on the RPGs and AK-47s.

 “It’s a big job,” he said, “but it will get done. HQ thinks they can order me back to their offices in one week. I’ve got news for them – I’m not going anywhere. I’ll get this straightened out if I have to stay here at the BAT camp until February,” George concluded.


Residents Required to Perform Pushups

 A base in the south, Iraq    BAT Camp Manager Spike Abott implemented a new policy last week after Seren Seren, camp resident, locked herself out of her room twice in 15 minutes.

 “From now on,” Spike announced after the second time, “residents will be required to perform the same number of pushups as their room number.”

 When asked her room number, Seren said bleakly, “Eighty-nine.”

 “Hit the deck,” Abbott told her, “or I’ll tell Slasher about your cats.”

 “He’s a cold man,” Seren said later, still sitting outside her locked hooch. “You wouldn’t think it from looking at those eyes, but I’m telling you, he’s heartless.”

 “And they’re not MY cats,” she added forcefully. “They’re feral.”

 Seren is reportedly attempting to move to Room 1.


Fly Genocide: Admin Goes Mad

 A base in the south, Iraq Fourteen flies died yesterday in a frenzied attack perpetrated by BAO Administrative assistant Joy Maxon.

 Maxon claimed the flies were unbearably irritating, buzzing around her desk, landing on her face and arms and crawling around, completely oblivious to her discomfort.

 “I couldn’t stand it anymore,” Maxon admitted.

 BAO Area Engineer Tom ‘Tommy Two-tone’ was sympathetic. “The other morning I had the same problem,” he said. “I was busy, and they were very distracting. I had a deadline – I needed to think of an excuse to get out of the eight o’clock meeting. I didn’t have time to be fooling around with these flies.”

 Maxon certainly didn’t fool around. With a single fly swatter, she killed 14 flies within 45 seconds, probably a new record in the office.

 When asked why so many flies were found in her office, she glanced sheepishly at a plate of cookies on her desk before glaring at the front door. “I don’t know,” she replied, recovering her charming smile. “They congregate at the front door and come in with whoever steps through that door.”

 Asked if she didn’t feel a bit sorry for the small living creatures whose lives she so carelessly, heartlessly, coldly and precipitously extinguished, Maxon’s eyes got wide and she smiled incredulously.

 “They’re flies!” she said.

Major Returns Married

 A base in the south, Iraq    MAJ Zeb Brighton returned from R & R in Hawaii, where he tied the knot with Ella in a ceremony on the beach. He was picked up at the border on Friday morning after the mail run to Camp Freddy.

 “I hope he had some outstanding sex,” Admin Asst Anna Lee said grimly on the way to the border. “Maybe he’ll have relaxed a little bit.”

 “Right,” Admin Asst Joy Maxon replied sarcastically. “Like that’s enough to do it.”

 At the border pick up, Brighton looked characteristically pleased with himself, and expectant that everyone else would be equally pleased to see him. Although he received a falsely warm hello from the women, no one could have been said to be overly excited by his return.

 “Back to two lunatics in the front office,” Joy was heard to mutter, surely referring to Zeb and LTC ‘Slasher’ Baldrick.

 Asked if he enjoyed his vacation and wedding, Zeb replied, “Affirmative,” before immediately launching into a long string of questions regarding Operations at the new BAT camp.


Security Sucks

 A base in the south, Iraq    In an fascinating example of inane fear of the unknown but possible, PSD Security expert Paul, in cahoots with LTC ‘Slasher’ Baldrick, has implemented draconian security measures at the BAT camp in regards to allowing Iraqis into the camp. Rules and protocols were announced in a mandatory meeting late last week, to the surprise of BAT Camp  residents, who must now pass on the unpleasant outline to their Iraqi Engineers.

 “Security here right now,” Paul said, “sucks.”

 Iraqi engineers will now be frisked at the gate by the Ghurka guards, one by one; they are not allowed to bring any cell phones or computers into camp; they are not allowed to eat in the DFAC with the rest of the camp; they must be escorted at all times; and they must give the secret code when asked or they will be tossed 40 ft in the air and shot at as they come down.


Shots Fired on Camp Freddy Mail Run Return

 A base in the south, Iraq     Two shots were fired by PSD crew leader Rhys Black while hanging out the passenger door of the principal vehicle on the way back from the Freddy/Kuwait border run Friday.

 Two vehicles driven by Iraqi nationals pulled between the principle vehicle and the gun truck, running side by side, blocking the two PSD vehicles from each other. Rhys Black grabbed a  gun, opened the door of the speeding vehicle, and fired two shots in an effort to warn the suspicious vehicles from whatever possible mischief they may have been up to. Or to kill the occupants – whichever.

 Three of the principles, Admin Assistants Joy Maxon and Anna Lee, and BS Area Office Construction Rep/Project Engineer/Resident Engineer/COR Seren Seren, all but missed the incident, wrapped up as they were in the urgently necessary manipulation of MAJ Brighton’s picture of ‘Slasher’ Baldrick’s most unpleasant managerial fuck ups, all perpetrated during the Major’s absence.

 During and after the shots were fired, Maxon and Lee sat in the back seat looking straight ahead with expressions of deep concentration, apparently though improbably oblivious to the shots fired.

 “Sorry,” Black said politely when he’d pulled himself back into the vehicle and put away the weapon. “That developed rather quickly.”

 Seren shrugged. “No problem,” she and Brighton assured him.

 “And about wearing these uniforms in the field… “ Seren resumed, turning to Brighton ….

[Ed. note: Relax – they were flares …]


Seren Irritates the Hell Out of  Boss Tom

A base in the south, Iraq    Seren Seren, BS Resident Office Construction Rep/Project Engineer/Resident Engineer/COR has boss Tom ‘Tommy Two-tone’, BAO Area Engineer, irritated and snapping. Seren has been treating LTC ‘Slasher’ Baldrick as she would any other boss she doesn’t respect much, which turns out to be rather coldly. Tommy Two-tone, ever the Minnesotan, appears to be uncomfortable with the blatant honesty.

“We have to be on our best behavior tomorrow,” he suggested recently when Big Boss COL Jeep was scheduled for a visit. Tom looked at Seren with a dubious expression. “Do you have a best behavior?” he asked her.

Seren was recently ordered to LTC ‘Slasher’s’ office, where he asked if he’d offended her in some way.

 “I said no,” she recounted for reporters. “I just told him that his management style was that of an anal retentive twit. He asked me what he could do to change, and I told him he could start by wiping the perpetual stupid grin off his face and let us set up our own office to be functionally efficient.”

“Well,” she added, “I wasn’t going to tell him he’s a walking cluster fuck, was I? Give me some credit here.”

Two days later COL Jeep casually stopped by her office, making pointed small talk about getting along with the military. “We’re sort of a different breed,” he said, laughing.

 Seren assured him she had never had any problems getting along with the military. Seren has worked under military leadership before on three continents. She has also lived with two Airborne Special Forces career officers, and dated one Marine Lieutenant and one “enlisted asshole.”

“Not at the same time,” she added quickly.

 Boss Tom ‘Tommy Two-tone’ called Seren into his office two days after COL Jeep’s not-so-casual encounter with Seren. Ever tactful and uncomfortable with controversy, Boss Tom stated that Seren’s request to extend had come up in a meeting recently. After some hemming and hawing around, he finally asked where things stood between her and Slasher.

“Everything’s copacetic,” she replied. “I emailed COL Jeep and politely inquired about his comments to me the other day. He emailed me back politely agreeing that they weren’t at all casual comments, but that my confronting them tells him that I’ll  be straight up in dealing with problems. He says that all is well, and LTC ‘Slasher’ Baldrick reported being pleased with my performance as BS Resident Office. I said hello to LTC Slasher this morning, waiting to stick out my tongue at him until his back was turned.”

 Boss Tom rubbed his forehead and looked pained.

Boss Tom is expected to avoid Seren like the plague for a few days, then chop on her a little bit in classic passive-aggressive behavior until the whole situation blows over.



COL Corviday Returns Safely From Cowboy Country

 Maysan Province, Iraq  LTC Corbin Corviday spent five days in Maysan province last week, running around with the BritMil in unarmored vehicles, carrying a slingshot and binoculars.

 Corviday returned to the BAT camp morose and homesick.

 “What’s wrong with him?” Admin Asst Anna Lee asked after spending an entire meal with the colonel, during which he did not break out in song even once. “I feel like I don’t even know him anymore.”

 “Are you mad at me?” Seren Seren, BS Resident Office Construction Rep/Project Engineer/Resident Engineer/COR asked him.

 LTC Corviday sighed deeply, started to speak, then got up to get some dessert without answering either question. He returned with a normal portion, further worrying his friends. Corviday is known for portioning out approximately one tablespoon of dessert for himself, then eating it with great relish, using a 3mm wide white plastic spoon.

 By Saturday night Corviday seemed to be regaining lost ground, however. He and Seren were overheard “pth”-ing at each other on the back patio, laughing uproariously at some inane absurdity.

 The following evening, well on his way to a full recovery, he sang “I’m so sexy to myself” in the DFAC.


Bituminous Material Still An Issue on Alamo Road

 A base in the south, Iraq     Despite the widely hailed Bitumen Summit held weeks ago, and numerous meetings with the contractor since then, Mark ‘Wo-wo’ Wospecki remains obsessed and frustrated by the caterpillian progress of the Alamo Road project.

 Wo-wo, ostensibly Resident Office Engineer but really just Alamo Road Project Engineer, recently reported that the contractor has finished only 10cm in the past week, extending the total length of the road to approximately 962.3 meters.

 “They’re almost out of bitimum [sic] again,” Wo-wo told a group of pre-shrunk BAO employees squashed into the office conference room on Sunday afternoon, “but listen. Listen to this. Bitimmum [sic] is due in tomorrow. Maybe it will be delivered. We’ll just have to wait and see if the bitimmum [sic] is delivered.”

 “There’s good news, too,” Wo-wo told the shrunken crowd, “Listen. The good news is that there were two airplanes parked out there on Saturday. Let me tell you,” he said, holding one hand out, palm facing the crowd as if to hold them back. “Listen, you can’t really drive on this road. But it’s long enough to land a plane. Also,” he pointed out, “Also, it’s only 8cm thick. The asphalt is only about 8cm thick, so it’s not a sturdy road. But it works well for airplanes, apparently. It works as a runway.”

Asked whether an 8cm thick asphalt road was likely to last very long, particularly in the extreme heat of Southern Iraq, Area Engineer Tom ‘Tommy Two-tone’, sounding strangely cheerful or amused, said, “No! As a matter of fact, it won’t.”

 Queried as to why the road contract continues to be pushed forward by BAO if it’s unlikely to be functional for long, both men seemed at a loss for a good excuse.

 “Listen,” Wo-wo said. “This project is being pushed from above. Someone above us wants this project to be completed. We have to do as we’re told. We really have to just do as we’re told on this Alamo Road project.”

 “Yeah,” Boss Tom agreed, smiling. “Someone wants it completed … “ He shrugged. “We have the bitimmum [sic], so we might as well build the road!”

 No one could confirm whether the bituminous material was delivered on Sunday as scheduled.



Bestest Children’s Hospital Awaiting New Employee

 A base in the south, Iraq   The Bestest Children’s Hospital (BCH) team is expecting a new employee on the 23 or 24 of October.

 “We’re looking forward to meeting Mr. Socks,” BCH head honcho Commander Skip said in an interview. “We’re hoping he’s either unusually tall, or pretty fat. That way he’ll fit in with the rest of the crew.”

 CDR Skip gazed around the office at his staff for a moment.

 “As I’ve pointed out before,” Skip said, “we’re big people because we’re doing a big and important project. We have plenty of space here in our wing of this office, and we want someone who can help us fill it.”

 The BCH wing of the office occupies 5000 square feet of space to Area Office’s 50 square feet (see Southern Swill, issues 1 & 2).

 “We have to shrink ourselves a little bit to fit in the conference room on Saturdays when everyone meets with LTC Slasher,” Skip admitted. “But we don’t shrink ourselves as much as the people in the other wing do. And the way we look at it, we shouldn’t have to.”

 “When Socks arrives we may have to shrink ourselves just a little bit more, I guess,” Skip said pensively. “We’ll see.”

 He was silent for a moment, thinking. Suddenly Skip brightened up a bit and added, “Well, that would be worth it. If Socks is unusually tall or pretty fat, big enough to fill up some office space on a daily basis and fit into our tall and fat team, shrinking ourselves a little bit more on Saturdays wouldn’t really matter in the larger scheme of things. That would be well worth it,” he concluded cheerfully.



Wildman Rob Chillis Saves Taxpayers Money

 A base in the south, Iraq Oil Area Office, Iraq    Oil Office Resident Engineer ‘Wildman’ Bob Chillish told three long stories in the weekly Saturday afternoon meeting of all BAO employees, putting most residents into a waking coma, and SGM Bobnoxious into a deep if restless sleep.

 One of Wildman Rob’s stories had to do with some expensive equipment, inoperable and just sitting out in the middle of the desert, that came from the World Trade Center. Wildman Rob found this fascinating and evocative of something.

 Another story had some sort of erroneous lesson, wherein Wildman Rob concluded that GRS employees are all here in Iraq to save the taxpayers money.

 SGM Bobnoxious blessedly missed that tidbit, sparing all souls what would surely have developed into an agonizing and protracted monologue on what BAO employees are really doing here in Iraq.



Palace Visiting Scholar Ordered to Remove Boxes from Office

 A base in the south, Iraq    In an inexplicably nonsensical moment of misdirected micro-management, LTC ‘Slasher’ Baldrick ordered visiting scholar and Palace Resident Engineer Dan Driery to get rid of 16 boxes piled in his borrowed office space on Sunday.

 “They’re not my boxes,” Dan told Slasher calmly, studying him perplexedly. “I don’t work here, remember?”

 When Slasher asked him whose they were, Dan shrugged and looked across the aisle at Administrative Assistant Anna for help. When Anna shrugged, they both looked down the aisle at Resident Engineer Tom ‘Tommy Two-tone’.

 “They’re Seren’s,” Boss Tom replied, referring to Seren Seren, BS Resident Office Construction Rep/Project Engineer/Resident Engineer/COR.

 “Get them out of here,” Slasher told Driery again, “by the end of the day.”

 Seren was out of the office. When she returned, she was queried about the boxes by both Dan and Anna.

 “Ten of them belong to BS Resident Office,” she admitted. She cocked her head to look at them again. “Are they not aesthetically pleasing here?”

 Boss Tom gave her a dirty look and told her to find a conex to stash them in, but when she returned a little later to do that, Driery’s office was in use for a conference call.

 When Seren returned 2 hours after that, Driery had already moved the boxes to a conex next door to IT Mad Andy’s trailer. Ignoring more dirty looks and a brush-off from Boss Tom, Seren thanked Dan and disappeared in the direction of the conex with labels for the boxes.

 An hour later she was found sitting at the open door of the conex, watching the PSD crew members trooping in and out of their office nearby. “I think I’ll move my office out here,” she told reporters. “It will be harder to piss off the bosses being way out here, and the views are aesthetically pleasing.”



SIGR Team Sets up Shop

 A base in the south, Iraq     Two SIGR investigators showed up last week asking for temporary office space. They’ve been installed at desks right by the back door, where constant foot traffic is most likely to disturb their concentration.

 When asked what the hell they’re doing here in this office, one of the men explained that they’re looking into various projects, determining the quality of the jobs accomplished and trying to make the engineers of those projects look totally corrupt and criminal.

 “It’s a rewarding job,” said Les, the one sitting closest to the door.

 The presence of SIGR came as a complete surprise to Slasher; he found out who they were after he left for a meeting without Les, who was 46 seconds late getting out to the parking lot to meet up with the Lt Colonel.

 ‘Tommy Two-tone’ has been under unusual stress lately, irritated by BS Resident Office (every position) Seren Seren’s inconvenient and sarcastic frustration, and the LTC’s inconvenient and bizarre micro-management decisions. In addition, he’s been receiving heavy pressure to get the Palace Office paperwork in order, while Palace Office Resident Engineer Dan Driery could care less. With the SIGR here, Boss Tom has the added pressure of worry that the investigators will find out about [censored].

 “That’s all he needs right now,” Maysan Resident Engineer LTC Corviday commented sympathetically, “these yo-yo’s from SIGR.”

 “They’re very nice men, the SIGR guys,” Administrative Assistant Anna Lee told reporters.

 “I don’t know what Boss Tom is worried about,” Seren Seren said innocently. “But I’ll loan him my conex office if it gets to be too much.”




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