Well it has been somewhat confirmed we might be leaving early. I am skeptical, but we'll know for sure soon. Looks like they want us out of here before 1 December so they don't have to give us tax free and benefits for December. Anyway, thought I would write a little bit about the missions here (unclassified of course). Typical mission to get mail, Class I (food, drinks), and laundry goes a little like this. A Patrol Leader (PL) is named, they figure out which trucks and crews are going. We are assigned by truck crews so we nearly always travel with the same gunner, truck commander (TC) and driver. I have been driving mostly, but early on I was a gunner. Once the PL is assigned and truck crews are named, we have a patrol brief. About 15 minutes long, it details threats along the route, assigns missions to crews once on the FOB (Forward Operating Base), and just details the route and anything we need to know. We prep trucks about 30-45 minutes prior to leaving, then gear up and get in and head out. Once out the gate, we turn our counter IED devices on and load our guns (red status). We stay together and keep a good space between us but do not let vehicles get in between vehicles. Most places here can be reached in about 30-45 minutes. We follow our designated route making calls to battlespace owners informing them or our travel through their space and what our mission is (ie going to FOB Falcon). They let us know if anything is going on that we need to avoid, closed roads, incidents, etc. Once we reach our destination, we unload and turn off our crew devices. Once inside the FOB, we go to clearing barrels and clear our personal weapons (M9 and M4). Some de-gear at this point also. After our mission is complete, we turn around and do it again.
Also don't forget a couple things, it's 120 degrees, your are in a vehicle with crappy AC and a big hole in the roof (where the gunner is), you are wearing boots, pants, long sleeve shirt and oh yeah, about 45 pounds of gear. The IOTV (Improved Outer Tactical Vest) is lighter, easier to put on (goes over top of your head), and doesn't weigh on the shoulders as much. But with 6 loaded M4 magazines (30 rounds of 5.56 ammo each), and 3 M9 (15 rounds of 9mm each), bullet proof plates (1 front, 1 back, and 2 smaller side plates) it weighs you down. Sitting in the truck not so bad, but it doesn't breathe and you sweat really bad underneath (at least I do). Also note the UAH (up armored HMMWV) wasn't designed for people over 6 feet (I'm 6'4") nor is it designed for comfort. You are crammed in there on cheap foam seats that after about 30 minutes really don't do any good and you are pressing on the metal seat frame. Side to side the HMMWV is really wide but the seats are about as roomy as a Kia Rio. Oh, and somehow you have to squeeze your M4 in somewhere next to you along with your M9 that is strapped to your leg.
Well, they always say war is hell, and just driving around is a challenge. They drive the wrong way all the time (we call it counter-flow), don't really pay attention and generally are horrible drivers. There is no requirement to drive here except you have enough to buy a car.
Hope this enlightens you a little, I shall write more later.