Nature on Joint Base Balad

JBB is not a beautiful place. It is completely flat, and lies a mile west of the Tigris river. JBB mostly consists of the gigantic airfield, large equipment and supply storage yards and warehouses, and a great many buildings and the gravel surfaced areas outside the buildings. T-walls are everywhere, and the most common color is dust-brown. The brown color is caused by the plentiful dust that gets blown everywhere. I just read a very interesting story regarding the dust, which is here:,0,3137832.story

 It hasn’t rained here for many months, and a few minutes of rain would be most welcome just to reduce the dust problem. It is very hot here, but actually I am getting used to the heat. 110 degrees (43 C) during the day is normal, but in the early morning it is only perhaps 80 (27 C) and not humid, so it isn’t that bad. It’s a bit worse than Oklahoma or Texas, but the most annoying part of the weather is the dust.

 There are few things of natural beauty here, so some try to create it. Here is an enterprising CHU-owner who decided to plant a garden in his front yard:

 JBB Garden 1

Garden 2

These photos were taken in May 2009. I go by this garden every day on my way home from breakfast. Apparently the owner moved away, because all the plants have died, and last week they were all cut down by the plant control workers. I tried to keep it going, but couldn’t devote the time needed to water all these plants.

There is some small wildlife on JBB. Every night when I walk to the restroom trailers, I see dozens of lizards. Here is a small one that I photographed right outside the door to my CHU:


There are also a great many birds on this base. I like to throw a cookie or piece of bread to them after lunch. Here is a group of birds benefiting from my generosity:


We also have a great many bats. These come out at night and eat the pesky bugs, so I consider the bats to be my friends. They live in the roofs of many of the older buildings on post, and even inside the movie theater! During several recent movies, I’ve seen a bat or two flying across the movie screen.

 Balad Bats

The Iraqi switch grass and the native trees survive just fine in the hot, dry climate. That makes sense. These native plants have been here forever, while the English Garden shown above was destined to die out very quickly without getting lots of water and shade, and plenty of constant care. One of my favorite parts of the base is the T-walls outside the H-6 Recreation Center. I walk past this every day, and am always glad to see this patch of grass living amid the sterile concrete and gravel environment of Joint Base Balad:

Grass in T Walls


4 Responses

  1. I just want to tell you ‘thank you’ – from a stranger – for the pictures you’ve posted . You see my son is stationed there at JBB also, for the second time, as an Air Traffic Controller. I just happened to stumbled across your blog (from my “google” alerts) and looked through the pictures – it helps me to connect with what he see’s on a day to day basis. I know he misses the big garden I have at home (Utah) and watching his daughter eat strawberries and play on the lawn. It helps to remind me that the little things in life are so missed and appreciated. God Bless all of you serving – and a heart felt ‘thank you’ for your sacrifice.

  2. I also want to thank you for your website! My husband is scheduled to start his tour at this base early next year. It was nice to see where he will be and what it will be like for him.
    I wish you and your family the best of luck in the future!
    Thank you also for your serice to this country!

  3. i wanted to say this is exactly how i remember it from last year… i guess it really doesnt change much

  4. just want to say thank you for the pictures on your site my son is going to be there in Feb and it helps to see where he will be Thank you and all your buddies for your sacrifice may God bless and keep you safe and come home soon.

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