Having been stuck on an Air Base in Kuwait for almost a week now, I have been contemplating the expense behind this production. The base I am staying on has one purpose, to move people in and out of Iraq as they go on R&R (it also serves as a point for troops replacing unit here on the ground). A complete base that does nothing but move people in and out of Iraq. Soldiers deployed to Iraq receive a free trip home during their tour to spend 2 weeks of freedom back in the States. I am going to use some rough approximates here to figure the cost. Do not take this as an attack on R&R, I enjoyed the trip home, but instead think of why we do this half way through a tour when it might be easier for everyone if we just did 6 month tours to Iraq….like the Air Force, Navy and Marines. Oh and in case you are wondering, I have been told by Air Force personnel they get to come home once in their 6 month tour….wow, must be nice.
My flight cost roughly $500 from Dallas to Colorado. There were roughly 100 people on my flight (there are usually at least 2 of these flights going to the US a day to various ports of call). I am using my flight as average because there were people on my flight going to Hawaii, Alaska and other destinations that I am sure cost way more. All told that is roughly HALF A MILLION DOLLARS a day spent on flying soldiers (on 1 of 3 flights per day from Kuwait) to secondary destinations. All told this cost is probably closer to $1.5million per day for these secondary flights. This does not even include the cost of the main flight, a chartered jet (737) from Kuwait! just for these secondary flights, I calculate it costs roughly $547,500,000 per year! Add to this the cost of the main chartered jet, probablt 3 to 5 jets per day as there are flights going TO AND FROM three locations in the world each day performing this service. I am guessing my estimations here are on the very low end of what it really costs to fly. Plus, I have no idea what the contract to fly the charter jets costs…must be staggering.
Add to this, the cost of running the base here in Kuwait while we transition from Iraq, to US, and back again. There are roughly housing here for about 3000 soldiers residng in a temporary status, plus a DFAC, MWR, and a few businesses such as KFC, McDonalds, and a PX here. The logistics of running this base, essentially hidden somewhere out in the middle of the sand in Kuwait, are staggering. Just bringing in the water must be huge.
In addition, I have been stuck her almost a week past the day I arrived, meaning completely wasted man hours that I could be in Iraq working. Instead of pass my day (and collect my paycheck) for sitting here surfing the net, watching movies, reading books, eating food, and generally wishing I was anywhere but here. I mean, don’t get me wrong, getting paid for doing nothing is cool for a day or so, but it gets old fast.
More and more, I see the need to remove our troops from around the world and bring them home, even from places like South Korea, Germany, Italy, and Japan.