The Pleasures of Military Air

More

*Passenger terminal, an air base in Kuwait* - I wrote earlier about how all big military bases [resemble each other](http://correspondents.theatlantic.com/graeme_wood/2009/06/into_the_sandbox.html) somewhat. What makes Kuwait distinctive is its volume of traffic. At any given time it hosts an enormous transient population of contractors and servicemen. Outside its passenger terminal, blue signs indicate where to line up for destinations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those destinations -- a couple dozen in all -- are the sites of this war and the temporary homes of tens of thousands of U.S. military personnel.

Not long ago I was in a Dulles airport [Potbelly](http://www.potbelly.com), waiting in a long line of contractors for my chance at a sandwich. I ate the sandwich in a chair that was a distant cousin of the [iron maiden](http://www.thedollworks.net/drilldown.asp?ig=%7B7E42B5BC-C869-47AD-BF40-000809B163AE%7D), designed not for comfort but to keep its unwilling occupant cramped enough to prevent sleep. Inside the Kuwait terminal, in an area the size of a small gymnasium, are rows and rows of black leather easy-chairs where soldiers can nap or watch DVDs while waiting to be called to fly. I'm sitting in one of those easy-chairs now, surrounded by half a dozen jetlagged young soldiers who have leaned back and begun snoring in tune with the air-conditioning. When they get hungry or thirsty, they can go to a counter and get a packed Jimmy Dean snack lunch, or just a bottle of water and packet of potato chips. If I could travel mil-air everywhere, I would.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Graeme Wood is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. His personal site is gcaw.net.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Global

Just In