A Day in the Field – Month 3

October 2006

While I was conducting the final inspection a prison project prior to signing off on it as complete, a Navy lieutenant commander approached and asked what I was doing. I showed her my ID and explained that I work for the Corps. I asked what the Navy was doing at this base. She explained that some of them rotate through as prison guards, and asked what my role is with the Corps. When I told her I’m basically the contract manager for the prison project, her face got stiff and she snapped, Who designed these shelters!

The Army signed off on the designs, but I thought it might be interesting to wait a few minutes before I told her that. (I’m so bad!)

Why? I asked. Is there a problem?

There’s nothing but problems! she spat. She proceeded to drag me around the inside and outside of the huts, aggressively pointing out all the pieces that the prisoners would detach in order to make weapons: nails, screws, metal grates, plywood, concrete, wires … let’s see, that about sums up everything in the building. They use these tools to dig escape tunnels, she growled. They hurt and kill American soldiers with these weapons! The Lt Commander concluded, glaring at me.

I held up one hand as if to ward her off. I didn’t design them! I told her. The Army command may have designed them – they certainly signed off on the designs, so I guess you could take it up with command.

She opened her mouth to say something, but nothing came out. Her mouth snapped shut. She spun on a heel and strode off across the hot sand, heading toward the gate.

I’m imagining this Lt Commander’s shelters built without using nails, screws, metal grates, plywood, concrete, wires … even a square of cloth for shade would require a stick.

Sandstone igloos?

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