Monday, August 17, 2009

Death and Taxes , plus Wag Bags

Death and Taxes are the two things in life that we can be sure of, and well there is a natural third. What goes in most go out, and at FOB (Forward Operating Base), in Now Zad Afghanistan, what starts in plastic ends in plastic.

MRE rations come in brown plastic bags, with yet more plastic bags inside that then contain more plastic wrapping different items from a spoon to the salt. The thing about MRE’s is that is like grown up’s baby food, sometimes there is consistency more often not the meal resembles what’s on the label, just do not read the ingredients, to keep meals from spoiling no chemical compound is forgotten.

Eating on this trip is a challenge; not because the meals are bland and monotonous, but the heat makes your appetite just disappear. It is hard enough to keep drinking enough water to stay hydrated and alive.

But nature does take its course and in the middle of the desert with nearly 400 US marines, you simply cannot have everyone defacting wherever they wanted, as sickness would spread fast. Portaloos would be useless as they cannot be emptied and the proverbial taken away and disposed off.

Enter plastic bag Number 2 the “Wag Bag”. WAG naturally is a military acronym for “Waste Alleviating Gel”. Porcelain is a distant memory and a plastic frame greets you as you enter the little room. Open your Wag bag Kit take out of the plastic bag from inside the plastic bag and fit over the frame. Let nature take care of itself, sans fluid.

Take out the plastic WAG and seal it in another zip loc plastic bag and walk up to the drums and deposit the WAG in the drum.

Perhaps one of the least glamorous job for any Private is being assigned to burn the bags, but every evening you would see a couple of Marines pour diesel in the bins and setting fire to the Wag Bags. Not exactly back breaking hard work but a key function on the frontline.

The guys would sit there, talk and occasionally stand up grab the shit stick and poke the bags to complete the “Cycle of Plastic”.

Death and Wag Bags, two facts of life in the War on Terror in the Helmand Desert


Anonymous said...

Wonder how many bureaucrats it took to come up with this system. Whoever they are they're just full of it aren't they? What happened to the "little spades" that our military used to carry with them? You'd think our guys were living on the space station or something. Gives new meaning to the phrase. "make a small footprint". Yep, this is a heck of a way to fight a war okay.
You are a man to love Mal James. Whatever the heck that means. Thanks s.hit

Anonymous said...

Ditto a plastic bag.

Anonymous said...

Holy crap!!!
Arizona...the land of leaning outhouses

Anonymous said...

One question....where do the Afghanies go? They got some secret we don't know about?
Hints for service ....Don't drink the water and don't breath the smoke. Looks like we just work on ways to make this war more unbearable for our military. But then they're not doing so well on our health care here at home could say we are standing in deep pucky.

Anonymous said... we understand why there isn't a blade of grass anywhere over fertilizer. You could write a book on this subject Mal....The Mal James Story..."No Tree Grows In Afghanistan"....'Smoke Signals On The Horizon"
You asked for these comments, Mal.
Makes us love our Military even more...but maybe not want to hug them so much.

Anonymous said...

We have something similar in Congress, Mal. We used to call them wind bags...but come to think of it Wag Bags describes them more accurately. American History 101....The Wigs, The Tories and the Wag Bags..What do you think Mal.