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173rd Brigade turns a muddy landscape into a small tent city

BASHUR AIR BASE, Northern Iraq—In little more than a week since parachuting on to the muddy fields here, the 173rd Airborne Brigade's base of operations has blossomed into a small, bustling tent city.

In the four nights after the March 26 drop, the Air Force's 86th Contingency Response Group brought in 1 million pounds per night of people, vehicles and equipment. Now, there are sandbags, bunkers and concertina wire everywhere. There's a surgical tent. Backhoes are digging trenches. Generators power lights and, for certain key personnel, Internet access.

Best of all, there are toilet seats over the pits used for bathrooms, and temporary showers have been sighted.

What's missing? Mail, telephones and hot food, among other things.


(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.