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'Head Fobbit' Works for Quality of Life at Forward Operating Base

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq, Dec. 16, 2005 – Life on the FOB is a little bit different from life in your typical neighborhood.

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A swimming pool, started during Saddam Hussein's regime and finished after his overthrow, provides a respite from the desert heat for servicemembers at Forward Operating Base Loyalty, Iraq. Photo by Jim Garamone
  

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A FOB is a forward operating base. These are interspersed throughout Iraq, and are the bases that coalition soldiers use as home during their year-long deployments to the country.

The "mayor" of FOB Loyalty is Army Capt. Melissa Ringhisen. "Anything that has to do with feeding, bunking or caring for the troops comes under my office," she said. "We try very hard to make it a good place to work out of."

Servicemembers on the base patrol areas of East Baghdad, including Sadr City. Going off the FOB can be uncertain. Improvised explosive devices, car bombs, suicide bombers and mortar and rocket attacks are the main threats.

Those who don't leave the base are called "fobbits." Going "back to the FOB" means going back to safety. And being "the head fobbit" means being the mayor - a term Ringhisen enjoys.

FOB Loyalty is located in what was Saddam Hussein's directorate of internal security. There are a couple of monuments to U.S. Air Force accuracy on the grounds of the FOB. The main building took three or four precision-guided bombs, and another precision bomb wiped out the house Saddam used when he visited the base.

Contractor Kellogg Brown & Root runs the dining facility, or DFAC. The chow is excellent, with a wide variety of choices and even ice cream. Each week features a steak and seafood night. It's tough having to eat crab legs in Iraq.

All that good food means that there needs to be a way to work it off. The gym on the FOB has weight machines and free weights. There are treadmills for those who don't care to run in 120-degree heat in the summer. There is even a roofed pool started by Saddam's men and completed by KBR for the soldiers, Marines and airmen to use.

At the POB laundry, "if you drop off your clothes before 9 a.m., you can get them back that afternoon," Ringhisen said. A dayroom open around the clock has a large-screen television, two pool tables, pingpong and a library of books donated by Americans from all over the United States.

The FOB is not large enough for Army and Air Force Exchange Service store, but the mayor has a store stocked with sundry things servicemembers need on a daily basis. "We make a bulk order with AAFES weekly," the captain said. "There is always the AAFES catalogue, and we can pick up special orders if needed."

It's not home, but Ringhisen and her "head fobbit" counterparts throughout Iraq do everything they can to make life on the FOB as comfortable as possible for servicemembers.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA volleyball court awaits a game at Forward Operating Base Loyalty, Iraq. Photo by Jim Garamone  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageSoldiers at Forward Operating Base Loyalty, Iraq, enjoy the base's weight room. Photo by Jim Garamone  
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