Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Don't Forget to Write

I just learned that the Army is prohibiting soldiers from using blogs while in theatre. So, I'll likely be resorting to newsletter distributions. It'll be a lengthy distribution list.

In all the preparation, mentally, physically and logistically, I've been spending more time trying to figure an effective communication strategy with friends/family back home.

Sat phone
As a typical urban dweller, I'm used to good cell phone coverage and have never had reason to learn about satellite phones. I guess if I lived in Alaska, I might have used satellite phones as my primary communication link. Satellite phones look like cell phones of ten years ago, but cost about 10 times as much as ordinary cell phones. And you can't go down to a local mall and pick up a satellite phone. You need to go contact a very limited number of regional dealers, and make arrangements with companies you've never heard of. Don't know if I'm buying a phone or a ham radio. Choosing a satellite carrier is an adventure, since you need to know where the satellites are positions in earth's atmosphere. I'm told that GlobalStar and Thuraya are good and that Iridium unreliable.

And the tolls/usage costs are about as much $1.50 vs $2.00/minute to call the US from Iraq, ouch. But, I'm told that receiving calls on a satellite phone are free. Can that be true?

By the way, if you do call me, Baghdad, Iraq is 8 hours ahead of the East Coast.

U.S. Mail
My mailing address will be coming to you via a brief e-mail, shortly. I remember sending mail to soldiers in Iraq takes about 3 weeks. That will makes for some very old pound cake.

By the way, here's a link to an Army web site that describes, in general terms, my unit's civil affairs mission:

I'm bringing by blackberry, but I'm not sure that AT&T is handling data cell transmissions in Iraq. I'll find out when I get there. I'll surely be checking my e-mail accounts whenever I have a chance. How often I have network access is another question.

Anyway, I've tried to build some redundancy into my communication links, so it remains to be seen which works best.