The GWOT Theme Park Experience

This is brought to you by the author having been subjected to two World War II airborne “experiences” in this year alone, which made them wonder if someone would ever try to encapsulate and commercialize the GWOT experience. This is a work of snark and should not be interpreted seriously. However, if someone does actually build this, the author gets 25% of all profits.

Hello, and welcome to the Global War on Terror Theme Park Experience! Let me walk you through some of your options during your visit here today to this incredible facility dedicated to the men and women of the GWOT generation.

You can choose from three levels of experience: you have the Combat Outpost option, our basic experience which comes with the Key Leader Engagement, as well as the Indirect Fire Bunker and everyone’s favorite, the Latrine Experience! Next there’s the Forward Operating Base, which will get you the Chow Hall Experience and the Route Clearance Patrol in addition to everything named before. Our comprehensive tour package is the Super FOB, which includes everything listed but also has the Airfield Sleep Challenge and fun injects like the Senior Leader Visit! Let me run you through each of these exciting packages, which offer something for the whole family to enjoy!

Before you head out, you’ll be issued a dummy M-16A1, which you won’t be allowed to fire unless we specifically tell you, and a few bags of very realistic looking cash for winning some hearts and minds and injecting freedom into the local economy.

The kids will have a great time at the Key Leader Engagement, where you’ll have a long discussion with someone who speaks no English as you drink some tea with your sugar and eat something that is possibly goat and also possibly a dog! [FDA approved, of course] The kids can practice their facial expressions and pointing at things while speaking in ever higher volumes of English – if they reach a certain decibel level, they get promoted to major [rank purchased in the gift shop for $19.99, sponsored by Lockheed-Martin]! Don’t upset the elder or your whole experience will be cut short due to an ambush on your way to your next stop! This is also a good time to use some of your stacks of money – it looks so real, too, doesn’t it? Don’t worry about accounting for it, that’s someone else’s job.

From here, you might go to the latrine, but we have this fun part of the experience where the indirect fire alarm can go off at any minute! There might be indirect, or there might be a passing bird, who knows! But no matter what, you have to stop what you’re doing and run to the bunker where you will crouch down with a bunch of other strangers in our realistic bunker that smells of cat urine, even though you haven’t seen a single cat around. Watch out for those used condoms in the mud, your kids might want to take them home as balloons! And look how lifelike those scorpions and camel spiders look, you’d almost think they were real! Maybe they are, who knows?

When you finally hear the all clear sound – which might be after an hour or two – you’ll probably need to go to the bathroom. Head on over to our Latrine Experience, which is just a few porta-johns in a 115 degree room that smells of diesel fuel. You’ll get the authentic experience of trying to find some clean space to go to the bathroom over the mountain of fecal matter and toilet paper piled up in the toilet while trying to ignore the sounds of vigorous self-love emanating from the porta-john next door. While there, admire our selection of the finest latrine graffiti from twenty years of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan! Sure, most of it is content that is 18+, but there are some incredibly moving artistic depictions of phalluses – as well as sexual scenes that were heretofore unimaginable until you see them! If you don’t want to pay for the full experience, that’s okay, you can just urinate into a pipe in the floor that has zero outlet. Watch out for your shoes! For a small additional fee, you can even burn your own feces in a barrel!

Ok, warrior, time to kit up – don some body armor and a helmet that haven’t been washed since the Surge and hop into your first mounted patrol! Sure, the HMMWV smells like a homeless family of racoons that live primarily on dip and coffee have been living in here – they have, in fact – but that’s your way of getting into the fight. Hop in the back seat and enjoy the realistic feel of the A/C unit that doesn’t work while your seat grows more and more uncomfortably warm under you. Oh no! Contact! Your gunner is engaging, but what’s this? They’re out of ammo! Quick, help them do a reload! But first, you have to figure out which ammo can holds linked 7.62mm ammo and which one is filled with fecal matter from the last patrol – and you have to do it blindfolded! You may or may not hit an IED or get hit with a rocket-propelled grenade, depending on how your Key Leader Engagement went, but rest assured that role players will be trying to steal things off your vehicle the whole time. Once you’ve completed the, “Hold the empty water bottle for the gunner to pee in” challenge, you can then throw that bottle at the kids who are simply trying to survive in a war-torn country – fun for the whole family! Otis Spunkmeyer muffins also make good projectiles in this teambuilding experience [commemorative bottles and muffins available in the gift shop for $9.99, sponsored by Halliburton].

Bet you’ve worked up quite an appetite – head on over to the Chow Hall, where a retired E-9 is going to berate you for showing up without a reflective belt even though you just came from a firefight. Sorry, no food for you today. Instead, you’ll do the Rip-It Challenge! How many Rip-Its can you drink in one minute? This is especially great for kids, who won’t suffer any harmful effects from these sugar-caffeine bombs whatsoever [Rip-Its available in the gift shop for $5.99 each, sponsored by Blackwater]!

Time to burn off that energy with a Route Clearance Patrol. Take those shaking hands and stuff yourself into a metal compartment the size of a cardboard box that smells mostly like farts and disappointment. You’ll sit in this for about 2-3 hours listening to random beeps from your sensors until you’ll hit an IED and your metal box will get thrown across the room. It’s ok, the waiver you signed at the beginning of this ensures that we’re safe from any lawsuits concerning any traumatic brain injury!

Oh, what’s this? It looks like a Senior Leader Visit! Quick, run to the Briefing Tent where you and your family will have ten minutes to create a PowerPoint Storyboard that shows the Senior Leader how you’re winning the War on Terror! Be sure to include as many random metrics as possible, and make it utterly impenetrable to the common human mind. Maybe recommend spending a few bags of cash on some more munitions for the Air Force. If the Senior Leader likes it, you’ll earn the Bronze Star Medal [which you can purchase at the giftshop for $29.99, sponsored by General Dynamics]!

With all this action, you must be tired. Time to head over for the Airfield Sleep Challenge. Go ahead and flop down on this bunk – don’t worry about the very realistic looking mattress stains – and take a doze. Well, if you can, because we’ve fired up the F-16 afterburner simulators and the C-RAM also just went off. Oh, and there’s that indirect fire alarm again, better run to the bunkers! What a great bonus experience!

Well, thanks so much for coming! Be sure to stop by our gift shop [sponsored by Raytheon] and pick up some great gifts like commemorative Fallujah tote bags, a monographed reflective belt, or an “I got exposed to a burn pit but all I got was this lousy T-shirt!” commemorative sand-colored tee. We can’t wait to see you again, and thank you for remembering our brave men and women who fought for liberty and freedom!

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Views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not reflect those of the U.S. Army or Department of Defense.

Cover image courtesy NARA and DVIDS.

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