Thread: Iraq, Just the facts
02-11-2006, 05:21 PM #1
Iraq, Just the facts
This is for the short, hopefully not even past 1 page with the facts, just the facts, thank you ma'am.
I was deployed April 10, 2006. The information provided is from others that are here or from my experiences. Remember that every senior site leader is different and runs their show a little different. I have had good experiences and times when I wonder why I left the comfort of my old crew but here I am and I am planning on staying. Note that my name and affiliations are listed at the bottom of my first post. Whatever I say is mine and mine alone, others have their opinions, I respect those. I will not bad mouth or trash anyone and ask that if that is what you are here to do, please do it on the Info on Iraq thread. Thank you
Last edited by trooperthorn; 04-28-2006 at 07:26 AM.Rescue Chief Timothy Hugh Gibson, CFI
VMSC of Lansdale, Division of Heavy/Technical Rescue
Founder Emerald Society of Bucks and Montgomery Counties (www.buxmontemeraldsociety.org)
02-11-2006, 05:32 PM #2
How to get stuff sent over
They say not to take anything you don't want to carry. A backpack full of supplies I hope to dig up and post next is all you should take, per the guys already there. Some have taken a laptop with them, claim easier to use, less selection in PX, and already loaded with the software that you want.
Thanks to FIREKEITH, here is a link to the USPS that you can get boxes from that you can pack and have shipped to you by a friend or family once you get your assignment. Some have complained that whatever they took and tried shipping ahead from Victory never got there, so consider having it shipped direct once you get your assignment and settle in.
Here is the site for shipping boxes to yourself for Priority mail. Its all free. Shipping priority is faster and saves BIG money. Ship some to yourself in States for later packages. Some Boxes have one price shipping with unlimited wieght. IF you use your own box and send priority it could cost much more. It takes about 1 to 2 weeks to get boxes to you.
02-11-2006, 05:49 PM #3
Submit your info to WSI either by fax or mail. One of the wonderful ladies in DC will call you and set up a time to interview with Tom Keller. There are two application packages that you will need to complete. Some have gotten the first, the actual application, before others after the interview. The second packet is your physical and medical stuff. After all is completed you will be ready to fly. They will send you a ticket just prior to deployment to Texas. you will spend one week, depending on what you need in Texas and then wheels up to Baghdad. Not direct to baghdad, but close enough. You will get your flak vest and pagst helmet in baghdad and some initial briefings. From there you will be sent to your assignment. Bunker gear will be given to you there, when it is available. No you may not bring your own A. you won't want to carry it the entire time, B. it is considered a safety risk.
02-11-2006, 06:08 PM #4
Contact info thanks to weulz1936
You asked for it.
2001 pennsylvania avenue, nw, Washington, DC 20006
t: 202-557-3680 f: 202-557-3660 web: http://www.wackenhut.com
Wackenhut Services, LLC. is currently accepting applications for professional fire fighters (ranks of Fire Fighter, Lieutenant, Captain, and Training Officer) for immediate employment in Iraq. Primary duty will be on secure military bases. Minimum one year contract. You must be U.S. citizen. Annual salaries starting at $90,000. Excellent benefits include medical, vision and dental, plus life insurance. Complete uniform and full turn out gear issued. You will be working and living on a US military base and will not be going out to the local communities or training local firefighters.
The approximate salaries vary by position. A Firefighter salary begins at $90,000 and salaries increase by rank. The IRS has a tax guideline that stipulates that if you work outside of the United States for 330 days out of a year then you will qualify for the $80,000 tax free credit. This figure includes plus-ups:
o Hazardous Duty pay;
o Foreign Service bonus; and
o Work Area Differential
Please let me know if you would like the salary of a particular position. You will get paid every two (2) weeks by direct deposit and the work week will consist of 12 hour shifts--7 days a week.
Food and housing in-country, on a military base, will be provided and you will have a total of three 10-day R&R’s:
o 120 days;
o 240 days; and
o at the end of the year.
For the first two R&Rs we give you an additional $860 to go towards a ticket to a destination of your choice and for the third R&R we fly you back to your point of origin (home).
You are also allotted an additional $2.56/hour to be applied to a benefits program, consisting of health, dental and vision insurance, for you and your dependents. (Approximately $443 per month).
Minimum requirements for all Positions:
DOD, IFSAC or NFPA certification at:
Fire Fighter Level I and Level II
EMT Certification or Medical First Responder Training
Hazardous Materials Technician Certification (awareness or ops is also acceptable)
Minimum 1 - 3 years fire fighting experience (career or voluntary)
Former Military Fire Fighters
Additional Requirements: Valid driver's license and a
valid passport by scheduled departure date.
Background investigation, pre-employment drug screening, and physical agility tests are conducted. Applicants will be subject to post offer physicals and respiratory use approval.
Firefighter Job Description:
The firefighters will be responsible for the delivery of the fire department emergency response services to the base assigned. Their duties will also include community [base] fire education, fire prevention inspections, fire code enforcement, facility support and pre-fire planning.
The firefighters will be responsible to insure that all of their training requirements are up to date, that they follow all of the rules, regulations and orders of the [base] fire department and that they complete all work assignments as assigned by their company officer.
Please let me know if you have any questions or would like additional information. Please email a copy of your resume to email@example.com
Certification needs to be IFSAC or PROBOARD, if you aren't sure, it probably is not. On my signature above on the first post is a link to Bucks.edu or you can go to www.mfri.org. They can help you with transfering your certs or challenging the cert. When I get more options I will List them
02-11-2006, 06:33 PM #5
Medical and passport
Many debates follow this, some took their paperwork in and were forced to pay for xrays and EKG's others did a simple physical and were done. This may depend on Age and of course your doc. Others could not afford or would not get the shots. One option for vaccines was http://www.passporthealthusa.com/ they seem to be at quite a few locations.
Speaking of Passports. Apply for yours early. The later you wait the more it will cost to expedite. I got mine at the post office for $100. Others reported it cost more, I guess depended on location, I am just outside of Philadelphia, PA.
02-11-2006, 06:38 PM #6
Advice I feel is useful from CAPO
A few pointers. Put your last name and last 4 #'s of your SSN on any clothing items that you want back. Laundry service here is great, but they have been known to put the wrong clothes in the wrong bag(s). Having your name and last 4 will help them return it to you.
Bring or buy an MP3 player, iPod, etc....This is especially nice for the long plane rides over and down time between arrivals at different destinations. If you don't have one and can't get one before arriving here at F-2, don't worry, they sell them here, but it will be a quiet ride over for you.
Unless you desperately NEED a pillow on your way over, don't bring one. You can buy one here. It just takes up alot of room that you can use for other things. You will be in hotel rooms that will provide one for you, then when you get here, you can get one. This goes for towels as well (I might bring 1 instead of the recommended 2 though and then buy another here).
Bring a change of clothes with you in your carry on luggage on the way over from Houston. It is a long flight, and you never know what might happen.
Be open minded. Don't have any preconceived ideas or expectations about what it is like here. Things change daily, hourly sometimes. If you are open minded and flexible, you will be fine. If you are not, you might have some problems. Don't become fixated on being sent to a certain base or site. You will be given the opportunity to REQUEST an assignment, but you will be sent wherever you are needed most. The only expectations that you should have, is that you will get paid, fed, and will be in a war zone. Things aren't that bad here. People take out of this what they put into it.
Open a savings account or CDs, and SAVE your money. Obviously we all have bills and responsibilities back home, but you need to walk away from this year with something to show for it. To many people think "I will not be able to spend money, I am going to be in Iraq for a year" WRONG!!!!! There are plenty of things to spend money on over here, and for those of you who doubt this, I have three words for you: IN-TER-NET.
Have a good time in Houston and Dubai/Sharjah. This is your last taste of the "real" world. Go to a baseball game, movie, club, etc...Kris will give you a few ideas. Above all else though, be on time, be where you are told to be, and be cooperative. The last thing you need/want is to get as far as you have and then get sent home.
02-11-2006, 06:42 PM #7
Pay rate info from CAPO
WSI FF - $90k/year +
WSI LT - $99k/year =
WSI CAPt - $109k/year +
WSI TO & A/C - $119k/year +
WSI Chief $129k/year
Going home on your first R&R.......priceless.
These figures are based on 84hrs a week with the first 40hrs being @ 1.55 x your base hourly rate. The last 44 is at your regular base rate. All employees are getting 84hrs a week, except those on R&R, End of Contract, etc....Those in the field, specifically FFs, Lts, and Capts are doing (usually) around 96 hrs a week. THIS IS NOT GUARANTEED!!!!!! I repeat, THIS IS NOT GUARANTEED!!!!! 96 hrs/week is reached by the employee working 6 - 16 hrs shifts a week with one day off. You are on the clock from 0700 to 2300, you get paid extra time for emergency calls after 2300 and before 0700. You also get paid extra time during that time span for "bunker time". As the contract reads, each employee is only guaranteed 40hrs per week. This however is NOT a reasonable or expected weekly accumulation of hours based on staffing levels. If employees were only getting 40, there would be less than 50% staffing on a daily basis, that is why all employees are getting their 84 + hours a week, and then some. This brings the staffing levels to 100% and makes you $90k/year + The FF in Kuwait that you were talking to probably works for KBR or some other contract company.
02-11-2006, 06:58 PM #8
physical agility from Capo168
2 mins push ups. 2 mins sit ups. 4 x 25 yd dash. 50 yd fireman's carry. There are no minimums, but he will expect to see your full blown hardest effort.
02-11-2006, 07:14 PM #9
Sage advice from Valtfire
I have been in Theatre for 17 months. Yes i signed on for a second year. I didn't do it because i like WSI but i did for the money. For all you new firefighter's comming over to the Sand Box here are some hints.
1. You don't get paid for being in Houston for the week of training.
2. You do attend classes with KBR folks and they are all not firefighter's they are all KBR contractor's and alot of them have attitude problem's since most are in Houston for over a week w/o pay. You can take a pay advance for $300.00 but it will defently come out of your first check.
3. During WMD/NBC training you will have the chance to go buy razors to shave any facial hair you have or you won't advance on.
4. There is a great place to drink across from the hotel called RIC's and the girls will take great care of you and your money. Just tell them your heading to IRAQ and that's all she wrote.
5. WSI will send you a list to bring over, just FYI don't take it all. It all gets heavy especially when you get your Flacks. You can buy it all atthe PX and Camp Liberty (old Camp Victory) has it all.
6. Once in country WSI will give you orders to send home incase your family need to do any paper work for you.
7. The flights over are long so be prepared.
8. It's not as bad as June 2004 when i first went over so it has got alot better.
9. Watch what you take because CUSTOMS esp. in IRAQ will take what they like and you have no say.
10. You can take a laptop but protect it. The sand will ruin it and carry it everywhere you go until you get to your base. There are no locks on tents but some bases here have LSA's which are small trailers that are matchboxes.
11. Make sure you mark all your clothing. The TCN's like to keep some things esp. nice clothes.
12. Take calling cards. buy them at Walmart and Sams Club since they are so much cheaper then over here.
13. Make sure you have your IFSAC certs so you wont be stuck at base camp (liberty) for a extended time.
14. Like i said it has gotton alot better since June 04. We were getting mortar's everyday. 10-18 times a day. Just keep an eye out.
15. FYI they (WSI) do take out health insurance if you elect it. and they do take out Federal Taxes and Social Security.
ANY QUESTIONS JUST ASK
02-11-2006, 07:22 PM #10
packing list from Trooperthorn 4/10/06
for those of you that having been asking what to pack here you go.
Recommended Packing List for Overseas Deployment
Please call 202-276-9351 with any additional questions.
1. 4 pairs of BDU pants will be issued in Houston
2. 5 grey T's will be issued
3. 5 polos will be issued
4. 2 pair of Bates boots will be issued (I preferred the ones below)
5. 1 Field jacket will be issued
6. 2 job shirts will be issued
7. 2 flight suits will be issued
2 boonie hats will be issued
8. at least 8 prs socks
9. 8 prs underwear
10. 1 pr sneakers for PT
11. 2 pair shorts
12. 1 pair sweat or wind pants
13. 2 sets of civilian clothes for travel in and out of country
14. 2 towels
15. 1 wash cloth or loufa
16. Liquid soap
17. Shaving gear to last 1 month
18. Toothbrush toothpaste etc.
20. 2 Laundry bags (If you want to separate colors, if not 1 is fine)
21. Gold bond (green bottle works great)(TT exp. buy it in country it is bound to explode in your bag and leave you crap white)
22. Foot spray
24. 4 regular t-shirts or FD tees to wear off duty and to workout
25. Gerber or leatherman / bucknife
26. Flashlight (just a small one will do no need for a six cell mag light)
27. Pens, Notebook
29. Alarm clock (wind up or battery)
31. Wrap around sunglasses
32. OTC cough medicine and a decongestant
33. Cold weather jacket
Issue is contingent on supply, this is not always possible. When we in processed they were short 3 hats, that was all. NBC gear will be issued in Houston as well bringing you to two bags. Then in Baghdad you will be issued Bunkers, yes we all got them (add that correctly comes to three bags. All of which you will be responsible for carrying. For those going to Chartered bases you will carry all that have. Those that go to sites requiring armored convoys or helo's you will not be permitted to carry all of it and have to mail some of it ahead from Baghdad. Mailing is free in country, but then you are w/o until it arrives. For me, I went 1 week with only 4 sets of clothes and was loathing my Bunker gear. The guys at the BTC tried very hard to help us out, sometimes when working with the gov and anywhere in IRAQ, things are subject to change. You will here that so much you will be saying it in your sleep.
Recommended boots from those in country:
Before someone ask again here is the link to Khaki pants from BDU. However I do suggest you look at this link and the new style tactical pants. The are identical to the 5.11 Tactical Pants and only cost $30.. vs. 5.11 Price of around $45. On my 11th month here I would strongly suggest purchasing the Tactical Style. They are much more comfortable, do not shrink and fade as fast as the BDU style, cooler in summer and warmer in these winter months in my opinion. Just some food for thought!
Last edited by trooperthorn; 04-28-2006 at 07:41 AM.
02-12-2006, 02:34 PM #11
- Join Date
- Dec 2005
??? and some info.
not sure i understand this. so once you get your assignement, you have your boxes in U.S. sent direct to your base? so you don't have anything sent to Houston then they send it out to your base, right?
also, your post about customs. i am a little concerned about them taking my laptop or camera. is this a possibility?
thanks for starting this thread. very informative.
also, i posted this awhile back. wanted to know about any life/disability insurance options available? haven't heard or read anything about this. i probably wouldn't insure us either, but if there is some info regarding this that you've heard of that would be great.
i'll be in houston on march 20th so maybe we'll catch each other when your about to head out. thanks again
some info for people. galls is having a sale on there 5.11 tactical pants, nylon canvas desert for $49.
also there is a company called Exfficio. they sell light weight clothing that would be ideal for the sandbox, particularly underwear. they have briefs that aren't as sexy as the boxer briefs but are a little cheaper. nice thing about these guys is that they wash easy and dry in 2-3 hrs. probably faster being in the desert. very comfortable, wick away moistier very well.
socks: patagonia makes an ankle sock that is high quality and also quick drying with superior wicking. its there capilene silkweight ankle sock.
socks for your boots:
once on site, click on Ingenius link, go to products tab, then sports tab. then look up rebel crew sock. super comfortable, lined sock that wicks away moistier and super toughl.
also for towels:
most of this stuff you can get at an outdoor store cheaper than direct from company. i do a lot of backpacking and have found these things to be helpful, high quality gear that should work well for what we will be getting into. hope this helps some of you looking for light, funcitonal gear.
Originally Posted by trooperthorn
02-12-2006, 04:12 PM #12
I posted the names of those that I plagerized, I would recommend going to the other thread and ask those that originally posted this info direct. I posted this info here from the other link to cut down on the amount of searching others had to do to get ther info they sought, not bother those agitated by multiple questions, and keep the topic. Questions related to the info on this thread would be better answered by those that know first hand.
I have read several replies relating to overseas inspectors taking liberties with others valuables, only one was from actual members currently deployed. Others that posted were from "whisper down the lane" type posts. I have tried to sort through and keep track of who had dates, were claiming to be deployed and had valuable info that others agreed with to cut down on speculative posts. Again though I remind everyone that reads, I am not deployed and am only trying to help with this thread.
For those that read the last post only, this thread is for facts only, see info on Iraq to discuss issues and greet others that you want to keep in touch with. Thank you ROP for the links.
02-13-2006, 02:09 PM #13
- Join Date
- May 2005
There is a company there at the mall in Houston where you go through NBC training that will sell you Life Insurance in blocks of 25k I believe. There is a maximum of 100-150k. It's been a while, but it seems like they can set it up to auto-deduct the premiums from your check, but I am not sure on that.
Kluzinski would be a good point of contact on that. Please verify they are still doing this...don't assume.
I tried to get Life Insurance for the times I was home on R&R or EOC and got turned down...go figure
02-14-2006, 03:36 PM #14
02-23-2006, 08:37 PM #15
I hope this is being helpful to all that have looked so far
02-26-2006, 05:53 PM #16
March 20th is coming quick, with it I leave for the sandbox. Once I am in country I can better tell how much of this info is accurate. A buddy of mine just returned from 2 years in Balad and said that most of it is accurate, says you should cut the list to what you know you will need and can buy the rest once in country. I have known him for 15 yrs and trust him. But I catch from all theses guys is you just do what you feel is right, that way you can't blame anyone else. Like my father used to say, excuses are like bungholes, everyone has one, and no one wants to hear them.
02-26-2006, 06:44 PM #17
- Join Date
- Dec 2004
So what does your buddy say we can get now and wait to get in country?
02-28-2006, 06:42 PM #18
He was a LT, spent two years in Iraq after some time in Saudi. He cut the undergarments in half, and left the drugs and such home. He says many of the Px's have what you will need and readily available, just not worth carrying it. The gold bond, foot spray and nondaily items were picked up in country.
03-01-2006, 08:25 PM #19
- Join Date
- Dec 2005
was just reading one of your posts. i guess i'll see you on March 20th. David here by the way. if you want shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
03-02-2006, 05:16 PM #20
- Join Date
- Feb 2006
I just did my interview with Astrid. She told me that they give life insurance to be paid to your dependents listed on your previous tax return, of 2/3 of your yearly rate, for life, if you have 2 dependents, or 50% if you have one dependent. They also provide a standard 50K policy to go to anyone you name on the policy.
03-03-2006, 12:27 PM #21
- Join Date
- Dec 2005
- Damascus, Maryland, USA
The PX at Victory has all the basic items you will need. Go light on the packing since you will obtain even more issued clothing from Houston. Plan on having a loved one ship out some rubber boots for the rainy season. Since it will rain the mud looks like cake batter. But that should not be needed again till the end of the year. I hauled my laptop over with me and since I am using it for work typing up the fire inspections and such I'll write it off. The CPA I am using deals allot with Expat's his web link is http://www.palazzocpa.com
Also before you head out contact a financial planner but you have to meet them before you head out. Personal contact is required before they can help you with any plans for the income. I came from Maryland and will use one in Northern Virginia if you wish contact me off line and I'll be happy to provide his web link.
Last but not least work out while your here it's free and it helps make the time go by a lot quicker. I have started and with the exception of my week on dispatch I have done it every day like we are supposed too.
03-03-2006, 03:54 PM #22
- Join Date
- Nov 2005
I know I asked this in the Info about Iraq thread, but if anyone has any pictures you have taken while on base and in iraq, would you mind sharing them with me? I want to see what the bases look like and stuff. I'm still riding the fence on going. I sent my resume and i have my first app. filled out but its not sent yet. Just want to make sure this is something for me.
03-03-2006, 06:05 PM #23
- Join Date
- Apr 2004
trooper any suggestions on what type of luggage, duffle to take??
03-03-2006, 10:13 PM #24
- Join Date
- Mar 2006
PAY OverseasOriginally Posted by trooperthorn
03-04-2006, 02:23 PM #25
The contract that I have says, 17.45 an hour. Many are working 96 hours the last I heard so figure take home from that. It will also depend on what you accountant can do for you.
I was told to pack my gear in a back pack, That way you can carry it easier, but try to stay away from military looking gear, It will attract some unwanted attention in foreign airports.
Sorry so slow on return emails, finishing up Fire Inspector III before I leave and have been busy with homework.
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