Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Fobbits

Joe Sucher, George Johnson, Kate Markell, Randy Kjorstad, Jim Hacker (AKA Fobbits) in FOB Orgun-E, Paktika Province
This posting is one part humor, one part truth and a pinch of terminology. Today I let you in on the infamous term, "Fobbit".  I, for all intents and purposes, am a Fobbit, and all the people I work with are Fobbits. Wikipedia defines a Fobbit as:


Fobbit

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fobbit is a derogatory term used by American military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to describe personnel whose duties are primarily within the confines of a Forward Operating Base (FOB). It is a portmanteau of FOBand hobbit, a mythical species from J. R. R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" universe. The term implies that the individual is scared to leave the relative safety of the FOB, just as Tollkien's hobbits had no inclination to leave the safety of their homeland, The Shire.
FOB Orgun-E (AKA the Shire), Paktika Province

The Fobbit is not a new creature. He/she has appeared in previous wars. In the Vietnam war they were called REMFs (Rear Echelon MotherF#@$%s). Even more derrogatory terms have been used since WWII, such as Pogue. I will remain happy with the newer, friendlier term, Fobbit.
LTC Hoeppner and MAJ Baier prepare for movie night at the "hooch"
We Fobbits are self described as friendly little, soft belly animals. We have beds, electricity, Internet, and some even have TVs with DVD players.
Orgun-E Exectutive Latrine
Fobbits rarely, if ever, stray outside our protected surroundings. And why would we? Some of us have the key to the executive latrine (note: this doesn't exist in FOB Shank... I may just have to stay here in Orgun-E).
Resupply at FOB Orgun-E, Paktika Province
Although we are in a "far foward" location and the UPS guy doesn't wear brown shorts, his "truck" is really big and it can fly.
Jordanian dining facility (DFAC) in FOB Shank, Logar Province
The DFAC doesn't have waiters, but reservations aren't necessary and you can have all you can eat. In fact, this is by far the best fed army in the history of the world. Unfortunately, its only for the Fobbits. Our combat soldiers outside the wire may only see places like this once every 2 weeks to a month. They endure miserable conditions in Combat Outposts (COPs), with little access to hot meals. They mainly subsist on MREs.
Showers in FOB Shank
Information board in FOB Shank shower area
We Fobbits are allowed to take showers everyday (supposed to limit to 5 minutes). The only concern is that you don't know what the person before you finds acceptable behavior. However, the combat soldier in the field may not see a shower for 2 or more weeks at a time.
LT Abordo, CPT Johnson, LTC Aldridge, SSG Hemerle, SPC DeLeon getting ready for their "fun run" in FOB Shank, Logar Province
Unlike the combat soldier, who must endure each day carrying loads of 30 to 80 lbs on their backs as they  move through the mountains of Afghanistan, the Fobbits must rely on their wits to stay fit. They find foolish ways to feel pain, like wearing shorts in 30 degree weather.

So, there it is. Fobbits are real. I encourage you to see a plethora of very humorous comic strips located at ROK Drop featuring "Bob on the FOB" by SGT Albert J. Merrifield. I wish I could link to the actual source, but I have been unable to find a working web page for SGT Merrifield's work.
L to R: MAJ Sucher, SGM Bartosch, MAJ Reyes
On a serious note. I plan to post more details about forward surgical teams (FSTs). My personal experience is limited by the fact so many have gone before me. I am lucky to be in mature facilities with experienced team members. FSTs have been, and currently are in much more austere surroundings. I will write about this so that you can better understand the varying conditions faced by other FSTs.