Sep 10, 2009

Marine Attitude!! Anderson Cooper with 1st Bn, 5th Marines

Life At Patrol Base Jaker
AC 360 DEGREES (CNN), 10:00 PM
September 9, 2009

ANDERSON COOPER: Driving anywhere in Helmand province these days is a painstakingly slow process. The Taliban may not be openly fighting the Marines right now, but they're still here, and they're still planting deadly IEDs. We're returning to base after a long patrol, along the same road that we came down. So any Taliban who have been watching us know that we're going to be using this road. So we have to be very careful.

We're in the lead vehicle of a multi-vehicle convoy, driving very slowly down this road, scanning the road ahead for anything that looks unusual.

That was the end of our patrol earlier in the day. You know, it looks so calm around here. And then all of a sudden, you realize, you know, the road that we had just gone down, an IED was exploded on it a short time later. An area that we passed through, which seemed calm, a few hours later there was small arms fire, Taliban entering the town.

We head home in a couple of days. The same, of course, cannot be said of the Marines who are stationed here at Patrol Base Jaker. It's a small forward outpost in Helmand province. It's their home for the last two months or so. It's going to be some time to come before they actually get home.

We wanted to kind of show you behind the scenes. We've been showing you a lot the last couple days about what it's like out on patrol, outside the wire. We want to show you what it's like in this camp living here under very difficult conditions. Take a look.

COOPER: Patrol Base Jaker may not be much to look at, but for the Marines of the 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment, it's become a home.

You may have heard stories of U.S. forces living overseas on huge bases that have all the comforts of home: movie theaters, convenience stores, fast-food restaurants. Patrol Base Jaker is nothing like that.

There are about 50 Marines here at any given time, and the conditions they face are extremely difficult.

Temperatures here can reach 120 degrees, but there's no air conditioning in tents, no respite from the heat and dust.

First thing you notice when you get into Camp Jaker is this dust. The Marines call it moon dust. It's a fine powder that coats everything and gets everywhere: into weapons, in clothing, even food. There's nothing you can do about it.

How do you deal with the dust?

MARINE SGT. SABORSKI: It is what it is, I think. You can't beat it, so you just go with it.

COOPER: You give into it.

SABORSKI: Yes, you surrender.

COOPER: Nothing seems to bother Sergeant Riley Saborski (ph). He's had to deal with a lot more than just dust.

You've been hit by two IEDs?


COOPER: Does that make you very lucky or very unlucky?

SABORSKI: I'd go with lucky.

COOPER: Lance Corporal James Steven wasn't feeling quite so lucky. When we met him, he was burning excrement, a dreaded assignment, especially in the heat.
Of all the jobs, this is probably the worst job here?


COOPER: The smell is...

STEVEN: It stinks.

COOPER: Did you -- did you anger somebody and they assigned you this? Or...

STEVEN: No. I was just coming over...

COOPER: You were at the wrong place at the wrong time?

STEVEN: Yes, wrong place, the wrong time.

COOPER: Around the clock, patrols come in and out. Marines move supplies. There's constant movement at Jaker.

SABORSKI: It's do your work and that's it. Do your job, that's it. Go to bed, wake up, do your job.

COOPER: That's what it's like, 24 hours a day, seven days a week?

SABORSKI: Yes, no Burger King.

COOPER: There is food, of course. But it's all prepackaged, meals ready to eat.
As for leisure activities, a few old weights and a sledge hammer is the gym. For golfers, the whole place is a sand trap.

There is no privacy here, no place to simply take a break.

The bathroom facilities here are primitive to say the least. There are pipes in the ground which are -- well, it's obvious what the pipes are for. And the toilets, there's four of them. They're communal.

Up in the guard tower, Tim Myers admits he often gets frustrated. But being here, being a Marine, is a dream come true.

MARINE TIM MYERS: I just wanted to do it since I was a little kid.

COOPER: Do you feel like you're doing some good here?


COOPER: Despite all the hardships of life on a small combat outpost, there is a feeling of accomplishment, and the bonds of brotherhood.

UNIDENTIFIED MARINE: As weird as it sounds, this place is actually a nice home.

COOPER: All the Marines we've met are an incredibly impressive group. It's really been a privilege to be here at Camp Jaker the last couple days.

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