BAGHDAD – The American military needed buildings in a hurry, and it shows six years after the invasion of Iraq. Desks are often made of unfinished plywood. The walls are corrugated iron. The closest thing to plumbing is the portable toilet outside.
And then there’s the al Faw palace. I Corps’ new home is stunningly ornate. The walls, ceilings and floors are marble. An enormous chandelier hangs from the roof. The bathrooms boast gold-plated fixtures. One of Saddam’s thrones is still there.
I met Brig. Gen. Peter Bayer for an interview on the palace’s third floor. The windows of the conference room looked out on smaller buildings on a sparkling lake that surrounds the building.
It’s almost surreal after months of covering the joes working at dusty FOBs. The American military has installed cubicles — Scott Adams of Dilbert fame could have a field day with this — and if you keep your head straight, it looks like any other office. Look up, and you see ornate pink, blue and white marble carvings.
Not a bad place to spend a deployment.