Soldiers from Company A, 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment take aim at militimen from the roof of their outpost during a firefight in early May.

Soldiers from Company A, 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment take aim at militimen from the roof of their outpost during a firefight in early May. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army)

BAGHDAD — The lights flicker off, the computers go down, and none of the soldiers in the middle of their instant message conversations or e-mails home even bother to complain. They just get up and leave.

This is part of life at Joint Security Station Oubaidy in eastern Baghdad. With only a small generator to power critical equipment, the soldiers are left to rely on city power. And city power in eastern Baghdad, they’ve discovered, isn’t all that reliable.

By most measures, in fact, the Spartans of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, have earned their company nickname over the past two months here.

They don’t get hot food. They don’t have showers. They often go a month or more between trips back to Forward Operating Base Loyalty — not exactly a resort, by the way.

They do have portable toilets, but most of the soldiers came to prefer using bags after the blue toilet stalls seemed to become a favorite target for enemy mortars.

What they have had plenty of at Oubaidy is fighting.

"The best part of life here? Being face to face with Sadr City," says Staff Sgt. Rene Corella, 29, of Nogales, Ariz. "The worst part? Being face to face with Sadr City."

Soldiers still bang the walls of their rooms as a joke, and soldiers on the other side still pause at what sounds like incoming fire.

One of the company’s platoons occupied this JSS, a former government building just outside Sadr City, at the end of January. The plan was to truck out and set up the fixings — shower and latrine trailers, a field kitchen, a larger generator — within a few weeks. But then fighting started on March 25, and creature comforts took a back seat.

Roads suddenly bristling with explosively former penetrators, or EFPs, made getting even basic supplies to Oubaidy a challenge.

"The main route here is next to a large, hostile area," says Capt. Frank Adkinson, Company A’s commander. "We’ve done some resupplies, but unfortunately there were casualties every time."

Fortunately, none of the company’s soldiers have been killed.

"We’ve been really lucky," says Spc. Christian Teuta, knocking on wood, though not hard enough to startle his neighbor.

Company A, part of the 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, is based at Fort Polk, La., a post generally referred to by soldiers as "the armpit of the Army." There are forward operating bases in Iraq nicer than Fort Polk, so the soldiers’ current situation is not suffering too much by comparison.

Otherwise, though, the bright side can look a little sparse.

"The good part is that we get to do our jobs," says Pfc. Jeff Pisonero. "The worst part is the food. And the [toilets]. The constant details. No showers. No more resupply."

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