Not knowing for certain the security aspects of it all, I'll leave the names out of this. But here is the text of a letter I just wrote. I know that many people have loved ones in combat in Iraq, so I thought this might turn out to be something of an encouragement to someone else if I were to share it.
Besides, if I've forgotten something major since my introduction to Biblical Backgrounds nearly two decades ago, it will doubtless give someone great pleasure to point out my archaeological ignorance!
FOB Kalsu lies just south of a canal, if Google Earth is correct, not far southeast of Al-Iskandariyah. It is a very historic place that you occupy.
Somewhere nearby, perhaps under your very feet (for the site has never been excavated or even located yet), is Agade, the great city of Sargon the Great, ruler of Akkad, conqueror of the Sumerians and eventually many others. As far as we know, Sargon was among the very first persons in human history to build anything resembling an empire. He reigned the territory from as far as Turkey to Oman. He lived and reigned sometime around 2300 BC. So, for at least 3,000 years the soldiers of great empires have stood where you stand and have carried some sort of a weapon.
A mere eighteen miles south of you is ancient Babylon. This was the civilization that built old Babylon and Ur. Long afterwards the Neo-Babylonian Empire under the capable hand of Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in 587 BC and carried away men like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Ezekiel into captivity.
Somewhere in your vicinity is the likely location of the Plain of Dura, where the three resolute young men refused to bow to the great statue and found themselves in a fiery furnace, yet very much alive. You may find yourself wondering whether the furnace is still burning when the Summer comes in full force. I hear that the sand in Iskandariyah is fine enough to make most barriers permeable to it and coarse enough to make any garment uncomfortable.
Approximately twenty miles north of you was the Nahr Malcha (if its ancient location is that described by Xenophon in the Anabasis), Nebuchadnezzar's great canal between the Tigris and the Euphrates. Many scholars believe that this was the body of water identified by Ezekiel as the "River Chebar" where he saw a vision of God in his great battle chariot and received a great many revelations from God.
So, ___________, although you will likely feel very far from home at some point before this thing is concluded, you actually stand in a spot that is the home of much of your faith—the ancestral lands of your spiritual family long-long ago. My prayer for you is that you will know the supernatural protection of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; the dogged commitment to your faith in a foreign land of Daniel; and the bewildering and awe-inspiring encounters of Ezekiel with a very real God. He can find you there; He knows the area well.
Love in Christ,