Best Regards from Baghdad

My One Year in Iraq

Arriving via Amman

If you don't want to wade through all the verbage on my trips in and out, here is a "down and dirty" guide of what to expect when you transit Amman if you are with DOS:

1.  When you get off the plane, IF YOU HAVE REQUESTED IT, you will be met at the airport by an exeditor hired by the Iraq Support Unit (ISU) in Amman.  Usually the guys are standing right in front of Immigration with your name on a sign.  They will help you get through Immigration, pick up your luggage and then get you through Customs and turn you over to your driver.

2.  The driver will be standing outside of Customs, again with your name on a sign.  He will take you to your hotel.  Be sure to ask him what time you are being picked up the next day.  If he doesn't know, he can call their dispatcher.  If you don't verify, you will have to call to find out "show time" and then try to guess what time the driver will be there.  So verify this before you get out of the car.

NOTE:  I suggest that you pack the shampoo, conditioner and/or bath gel from the hotel and bring it with you to Baghdad, as you can use them when you depart post if you overnight at Sully Compound.

3.  The next morning, your driver will pick you up at the hotel and take you to Marka Airport, which is NOT the Commercial International Airport.  Be prepared to wait and there is no food service.  So bring books, DVD player, whatever, and something to munch on. 

4.  First thing is to get through the security check, then get in line and check into the flight.  You will give up your luggage and not see it again until you get to Baghdad; you may have one carry-on, so pack what you need for the trip. 

5.  Find the sign for paying the departure fee and pay it.  Then, as soon as you see the Immigration people head into their booth, go through Immigration and then wait.  The people from ISU Amman will show up and call out instructions.  Then you will board a bus which will take you to the plane.  Put in your earplugs and enjoy the ride!

6.  When you arrive in at BIAP (Baghdad International Airport), follow the group, check in with the military using your CAC card and then someone will guide you through picking up your luggage, getting your PPE at Sully, getting you onto the Rhino, etc.  Also, there are always some "old hands" who will help guide you through.  Find someone who's been in Baghdad and just hope they adopt you.

7.  If you are a helo ride confirmed or would like to try to go space available ("space-A") and have less than 50 pounds of luggage, go to Tent 4 and talk to the military officials sitting at the desk on the right hand side as you enter the tent.  They will confirm your ride and "show time" and/or tell you whether you can get on Space-A.  Otherwise, it's the Rhino Ride for you! 

8.  If this is your first time in, hopefully you have corresponded with your office and verified your arrival, so your sponsor can meet you either at the helo or at the Rhino and take you to your accomodations.  If you haven't corresponded directly with your office, don't be surprised if no one is there to meet you.  You must be proactive in this.


Departing via Amman

So, you're finally getting ready for your first R&R, or maybe you're just heading home after a TDY.  Here's what to expect if you're a DOS employee:

1.  Follow all the instructions that are available so you have your country clearance from Jordan, your orders (make 3-4 copies) and your reservations through ISU Amman.  Also, make your reservations to get to the airport (either Rhino or helo) and at Sully Compound so you have a place to stay overnight.  Normally people leave the Palace Compound the evening before their C-130 to flight to Amman.  Currently the flights leave on Thursdays and Sundays, so you need to have reservation at Sully for Wednesday or Saturday night.  Be sure to request hotel reservations while in Amman if you are not leaving the same night.

2.  Remember those little bottles of shampoo, conditioner and bath gel I told you to pick up at your hotel in Amman?  Take them with you to Sully, as while they provide nice, fluffy towels and sheets (with palm trees printed on them!) and a nice big bed, they don't provide soap, shampoo, etc. for the shower.

3.  When you get to BIAP (via helo or Rhino), go right away to Tent number 4 and do your Civilian Check-in at the desk on the left-hand side.  They will want to see your passport, CAC card, your country clearance and your orders.  They will keep a copy of your orders, to be prepared to give one up. 

4.  Check in at Sully, get yourself settled in and enjoy the evening.  Drop off your PPE, which you will pick up when you return to post (assuming you're returning).  They will tell you showtime for the following day.

5.  The next day, you have to check out of Sully and then check in at Tent 4 again.  But since you already had your documents  checked the night before, it should be quick and simple.  Then go have breakfast at the new DFACm which is very nice).  Be sure to return to the waiting area at the time you've been told to show up.  You do not want to be left behind.

6.  The waiting area in BIAP is outside, but there are bathrooms nearby, so settle in and enjoy your wait!

7.  Eventually someone will come out and make an announcement about what time you will be leaving; they will round up everyone up and show you where to leave your luggage, where it will be put on a pallet.  Again, take one carry-on that you are willing to keep on your lap during the ride, which should contain everything you need for the trip to Amman.

8.  Once the plane is arriving, you will be called to line up and get on the plane.  Again, wear the earplugs and enjoy the ride.  FAREWELL FROM IRAQ!!!

9.  When you arrive in Amman, you will be met by the ISU Amman staff.  They will give you your onward tickets and immigration forms.  Fill our the immigration form and go through Immigration.  Then go to the baggage area, pick up your bags and head out.

10.  If you are staying overnight in Amman and IF YOU HAVE REQUESTED IT, your driver will be waiting for you on the other side of Customs.  He will take you to your hotel; again, verify with him the time that he (or someone else) will pick you up the next day.  You know your flight time and can work this out with them.  If you are leaving the same day/evening and going directly to the Commercial International Airport, your driver should take you there right away.

11.  The next morning, your driver will pick you up at the hotel and take you to the Commercial International Airport, where you will be met by another expeditor (IF YOU HAVE REQUESTED THIS).  Check in just like a normal airline trip, go through Immigration and wait for your flight. 

FAREWELL FOR NOW!!!  Enjoy your trip.