One on hand, it has a swimming pool, access to travel and “you get three beers a day.” On the other, mold cakes the walls, showers and air conditioning filters; bugs nest in food and urine and feces flow out of broken bathroom facilities.
It’s the tale of two Al Udeids, a base in Doha, Qatar, home to over 9,000 service members and civilians working in support of U.S. and allied operations in the Middle East.
And airmen have a lot to say about it. Not much of it is complimentary.
Responding to an earlier Air Force Times article, “Just how bad are living conditions at Al Udeid?,” airmen past and present sent in uncomfortable stories, but also pointed the finger at an alternative culprit: themselves.
The area within Doha has been used since the 1990s. Service members for about 10 years used to hunker down in tents (some readers even say this was a better model than what is now there). Fast forward to 2003, when groundwork began for the first permanent facilities at Al Udeid.
Between 2003 and 2007, Congress appropriated and approved about $126 million (in 2015-16 inflation standards, that would be roughly $165 million). Since then, the Air Force has requested millions more to build on to the facilities.
For living quarters, the base looked to turn over to the Blatchford-Preston complex dormitories in 2008, commonly known as BPC (Better People Complex, nicknamed for the people eligible to live there). The goal under the five-year construction plan has been to move airmen from the older Coalition Compound complex, or CC, quarters to the newer BPC, which is now in its fourth phase of construction.
The base expects 20 new lodging facilities with integrated, quality bathrooms in the summer of 2016, Maj. Angela Webb, spokeswoman for the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, told Air Force Times on Feb. 18.
The bathroom units, dubbed “Cadillacs,” are the facilities airmen who live in the CC use day-to-day. They are a continuous work in progress.