Camp Udairi, 40 miles from the Iraq border, has served as the staging and training base for tens of thousands of Iraq-bound troops. Since opening in January, 2003, it has been a busy hub for Army Apache, Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The Army's permanent aviation base camp in Kuwait has been renamed in memory of an officer who died in a rocket attack at the Coalition Provisional Authority headquarters in Baghdad. In a brief ceremony attended by about 50 people on 08 May 2004, Camp Udairi was renamed Camp Buehring in honor of Lt. Col. Charles H. "Chad" Buehring, who had been the senior psychological operations officer in Iraq at the time of his death. A monument and plaque memorializing Buehring were dedicated as part of the event.
Buehring, 40, of Winter Springs, Fla., was a 1985 graduate of The Citadel and served 18 years in the Army, according to a biography posted on the Web site www.arlingtoncemetery.net. He served in the U.S. Army Special Forces and had been working with Iraqi media in Baghdad to publicize the work of coalition troops.
Buehring was killed Oct. 26, 2003, when a guerrilla's rocket struck his 11th floor room at the Al Rasheed Hotel, home to many officers and soldiers who work at CPA headquarters. He was buried three weeks later at Arlington National Cemetery in a funeral attended by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who had been staying one floor above Buehring at the hotel when the attack occurred.
Camp Buehring is a huge US Army facility set deep in the Kuwait desert that, at any one time, can have up to 14,000 soldiers passing through. Although packed with morale and recreation facilities that could rival some US bases, Camp Buehring is still a desert camp, far from home and the friends and families of the troops. A fully-stocked exchange, several phone centers, a coffee house, gym facilities, Burger King and a 24-hour Pizza Inn are just a few of the amenities here topping the "most favorites list".
However the one favorite nearly everyone agrees on is the dining facility where meals like steak and lobster are not uncommon. The chow-hall, as the soldiers call it, is one of the largest facilities on the camp and is capable of serving several thousand troops at every meal. However, the line nearly always extends several hundred feet beyond the entrance and, despite there being six food lines, there is often a long wait to eat. However, the line is still shorter than that for the PX.
But services at Camp Buehring obviously go well beyond these basics. Although involving a 2 hour wait in line, soldiers enjoy the video-chat services offered at the Internet Café. For five dollars an hour, a marine can get a computer with a high-speed connection, a webcam and headphones and then connect with a friend or loved one at home, providing they have the same capability.
A unique challenge to Camp Buehring's surge-related activities is its distinction as one of Kuwait's few enduring camps, meaning it is slated to sustain operations for many years. This forces the camp's command cell staff to continue big picture operations, such as completing important infrastructure upgrades, while still maintaining the camp's immediate role as one of Kuwait's largest transient camps. These permanent staff members are fondly refered to as 'tenants' while those passing through are 'transients'.
Heavy-equipment transporters loaded with M1-A1 Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles are often seen sat in about a dozen single-file lines on a sandy staging area at Camp Buehring. Soldiers are not idle either; while at the camp they use their time to conduct briefings about upcoming missions in Iraq, conduct training, and stock up on stores and ammo.
Most Soldiers with the 256th, a brigade made up of various Louisiana National Guard units and select Guard units from New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota and other places, were probably unaware of the problems with past OIF rotations. They weren't around for the long lines, broken cots and other inconveniences that plagued the troops who came before them. They were, however, the first beneficiaries of a number of improvements affecting troops making the transition from Kuwait to Iraq.
The soldiers lauded the camp's air-conditioned billets and generous portions of food served up at the dining facility - three 'hots' a day. Staff Sgt. Stanley Shavers Jr., a 256th tank commander, even joked that the unit's time in Kuwait has been a little too easy. However, there are still many soldiers who have to make do with big cloth tents, known as 'fest' or 'temper' tents, with plywood flooring.
Hull Technicians from USS Emory S. Land (AS 39 ) joined forces with their Army counterparts in Kuwait to up-armor combat vehicles in January 2005. The 15 Sailors volunteered to assist the Army in the pre-cutting of ballistic steel sheets fashioned into doors and panels and other parts to up-armor vehicles, primarily High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs).
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