If you’ve ever surfed on my Afghanistan Pics page, you may recall me mentioning how Bagram is actually a nice little city in the midst of the Afghan mountains. It’s got all the nice amenities a little city could want. Dairy Queen, a massage parlor, a shopping center, gym … the works.
Because operations here are ongoing 24/7, the intent is that no matter what time you work (day or night shift,) you can do something you enjoy anytime you want, or eat whenever you like. Still, even with these accommodations, the “busy hours” generally follow the trend of most other cities … the daytime is busier than nighttime. So, it’s unusual to see lots of people having fun during the day … except for FOBbits.
There are two types of people who deploy. There are those who go “outside the wire,” who are usually the ones who are interacting with the local community (whether for peaceful or non-peaceful means.) These are usually the trigger pullers, the pilots, the drivers, the explosive ordinance disposal gurus, the combat cameramen, the medics who treat combat casualties, etc. You get the idea … people on the front of the “front lines.”
Then, there are the people who support the people who go outside the wire. These people are the cooks, the administration clerks, the gym attendants, pay clerks, etc. They don’t usually go outside the wire, because their services are needed to ensure the ones who DO go outside are taken care of. These people are likely to spend their entire deployment inside the confines of Bagram, never going into the community or experiencing the dangers of combat. Because they remain confined inside the forward operating base (FOB,) some people affectionately (or not) refer to them as “FOBbits” (a melding of the words “FOB” and “hobbit.”) For you older cats from the Vietnam era, “FOBbit” is the new “REMF” (Rear Echelon Mother f…)
Still not clear? At the risk of being sued by Jeff Foxworthy, I’ll provide some clarification …
You might be a FOBbit if:
1. You have time to play horseshoes at 8:53 in the morning. (People who go outside the wire are either prepping to go out again, or are otherwise engaged in work at that hour.)
2. You still find time to fix your hair in the latest fashion. (For ladies, it’s the slightly-teased-with-blonde-highlights-look, and for guys, it’s the I-purposely-put-gel-in-my-hair-to-make-it-look-like-I-just-got-out-of-bed-look.) People who go outside the wire are no longer concerned with what their hair looks like … they’re just happy to be alive when they get back to base. Women who go outside the wire usually just wear a pony tail. Guys just shave it all off, or get the usual military cut.
3. You have “days off.” FOBbits enjoy doing their favorite activity on their “day off.” (Like playing horseshoes.) People who go outside the wire don’t have days off … their military operations continue throughout the duration of their deployment.
I could go on, but I’ll stop here at the risk of appearing to be disrespecting fellow servicemembers. I’m not saying FOBbits are less tough, or less cool than people who go outside the wire. And I certainly don’t discount the services they provide.
But think about the warfighter who goes outside the wire and returns to Bagram. Think about him stumbling back to his hut after several hours of being on a mission, carrying his 60-pound rucksack, drenched in sweat, dirty from head to toe, battered and bruised, mentally shaken after the gunfight he was just in … do you know what he says when he walks by the guy with the Zac Effron hairdo? You know, the one wearing the Dolce Gabbana shades, who is holding a Dairy Queen ice cream cone in one hand while tossing horseshoes with the other? Do you know what that warfighter says?
Let me be perfectly clear! I AM NOT INSULTING FOBbits! The intent of this post is to highlight the friendly rivalry that exists between the two cultures on the base, and to provide you, the reader, with an understanding of the environment we serve in. (In fact, I would prefer to BE ONE OF THEM! FOBbits have a better chance of coming home safely and they enjoy their deployment more because they have more time to do what they enjoy. As the saying goes: Don’t hate the player, hate the game!)
I also realize that I am indeed a part-time FOBbit, because even though I go outside the wire sometimes, I still find time to routinely keep up my personal website, my Facebook page, Twitter etc. (You think an Marine Corps rifleman doing foot patrols in the Hindu Kush mountains has time to Tweet?!?!)