By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Killeen Daily Herald
Living conditions were once again a hot topic at the 1st Cavalry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team town hall.
Col. Philip Battaglia and Command Sgt. Maj. Edwin Rodriguez appeared live Thursday from Camp Adder, Iraq, where the "Long Knife Brigade" is based.
The soldiers deployed to an area of Iraq that hadn't seen coalition forces in nearly two years.
The last troops to work in the area were from Great Britain. Because of that, living conditions and services were basic, though the soldiers worked to quickly improve upon them.
Rodriguez said during the town hall that some of the combat outposts and joint security stations the soldiers developed were reminiscent of early rotations when little was available.
A private first class from Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, said the new features at Joint Security Station Jenkins included an Internet cafe with six computers, three telephones and wireless Internet throughout the building.
The joint security station also has a gym and a projection screen so the soldiers can watch movies and shower with hot water.
The soldiers are looking forward to the arrival of cooks in a few days, said the private, who was brought on camera to speak to family members. The cooks will provide two hot meals a day – breakfast and dinner. Lunch is a meal, ready-to-eat (MRE).
A family member posed a question about whether all the combat outposts would get dining facilities with hot meals. That will not happen, Battaglia said, because there just aren't enough soldiers or equipment to reach all the locations in the brigade's area of operations.
"We might get there eventually, but it's going to take a little time," Rodriguez said.
Two of the larger forward operating bases, Garry Owen and Hunter, have dining facilities, as do two combat outposts occupied by the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment and a few other company-sized areas, Battaglia said.
The soldiers rotate among the larger forward operating bases and remote outposts so they can get fresh food and hot meals, Battaglia said.
During a town hall in late August, Battaglia said that Garry Owen and Hunter were in the beginning stages of development. When it was first established, soldiers lived in tents with no air conditioning and had no shower facilities, Battaglia said in August. Hunter was the brigade's newest forward operating base in August.
A 24-hour coffee shop opened Wednesday at Adder and a shoppette with toiletries, drinks and snacks opened Sunday at Garry Owen, according to reports from the brigade's public affairs office.
Before Sunday, the only way soldiers at Garry Owen could get those items was by mail or from a store on Adder, which is more than 120 miles away.
For more on the 4th Brigade's town hall, read Wednesday's Fort Hood Herald.
Capt. Kevin Wolf of 4th Brigade Combat Team public affairs contributed to this story.