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On most of the FOBs and COBs (Forward Operating Bases and Contingency Operations Bases) spread across far flung areas of Iraq and Afghanistan, sanitation is a paramount concern often worsened by hazardous waste disposal methods. The trash that units accumulate each day is put into a burn pit, most often a 50-gallon drum, liberally sprinkled with gasoline, and incinerated. On cold mornings, groups of soldiers, marines, other service-members and local allies can be found huddled around the burn pit seeking warmth and camaraderie. Although the health risks associated with such behavior are only now fully being recognized, troops have long suspected this was not an entirely healthy endeavor.
But, most were willing to join their brethren for the heat, the conversation and the feeling of belonging to something bigger than themselves. For the brave men and women who face death each day against extremists at the sharp end of our war, potential long-term hazards take a back seat to enjoying each day.
The American Legion Burn Pit is no different: slightly irreverent, fluid, fast moving, and meant to inspire the sort of “water cooler discussions” which the burn pits on COBs and FOBs foster. Here, we will discuss issues of importance to veterans, service-members, military family members, and those of the general populace who wish to learn about these issues and discuss them with others.
Although maintained by Legionnaires, the Burn Pit does not officially represent the views of the Legion. The opinions contained herein are those of the authors, many of them long-standing Legion members who have served in official capacities.
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