Another one of those “blinding flash of the obvious” items in a deployment setting is laundry. No one has their own home – or washers and dryers. Certainly, it would be close to insane to set up enough launderettes to accommodate 30,000 people. (Well, ok, the number of AD, Civilians, and US origin contractors is a bit less than that). Thus we go to alternative solution, the Centralized laundry facility.

Back in the Cold War era, there were bath/laundry units in the Army with the responsibility of providing not just clean clothes, but hot showers for field units. In fact, I can remember activating one of those back in 1990 when I was the Division Surgeon for 10th Mountain. Like the traditions with cooks and mechanics – not always the sharpest crayons in the box.

With the modernization and downsizing, almost if not all of the units have left the inventory. In the field, that means another solution has to be found. Centralized laundry under contract seems to be the method of preference on most of the bases and FOBs (forward operating bases).

When I was at Blue Factory, the laundry was contracted by the Norwegians. The laundry provided mesh bags which you had to use and turn around was usually 3 days. I strongly suscept that the reason for the mesh was in order to be able to “wash in the bag” making effective use of the machines.

I never learned much about the central laundry on Doha since, as permanent party, we had a laundry trailer in our housing area. The biggest challenge was to chase out all the temp people and prevent idiots from washing TA-50 in the machines and ruining them. MAJ G – the DPW (Director of Public Works) said the life expectancy of those washers/dryers was about 7 months because they effectively were running 24/7.

Here there is a central laundry with multiple pick-up points. I am familiar with two of them. Albert is on the office side of Disney about half-way back to the PAX Terminal. Dragon is located right in my B-Hut area and certainly convenient. Last night I went to pick up laundry dropped off on the 12th. Turnaround has been running 4-6 days.

After inventorying and dropping off a new bag of laundry, I move to the pick-up line. The LN (local national) dudes behind the counter bring me a bag – not mine. They look for some more, then start trying to explain about the 15th and 16th. One of the guys who was with me at CRC walks in the door. They can’t find his bag either, but hand him one that he dropped off two days ago.

We look at each other, and the penny drops. Apparently whoever is running the laundry mistakenly got all the inventory in the wrong order. The more recently dropped off bags were done before the earlier. All the laundry dropped off on the 15th and 16th is done and back. That which dates from the 12th, 13th and 14th is still in the que.

And here I am, plenty of socks, t-shirts and underwear but out of PTs.

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