The Convertable War Board





Introduction: The Convertable War Board

About: "Black socks and Birkenstocks do not maketh the geek. I would argue that the essence of geekitude comes from within. To the true geek, it's not enough that things work. He or she must know how things work. A...

For those of you not in the military, when a base commander tells you to do something, you DO IT!!  While I was stationed at Camp Bucca, the FOB commander, a great guy, asked me to make him a “War Board.”  He wanted a bulletin board that he could have a normal display of routine paperwork, but when we had an emergency (either a detainees escape, IDF (indirect fire on the FOB), or a riot at the detention facility), he wanted it to be able to flip over, and opened up so there would already be all the base maps and SOPs for the event.  It needed to be lockable so people couldn’t see it normally.

So this is what I came up with. It’s inspired by the old time chalk boards in school.  There were a few challenges in building it.  One was that I need to scrounge all the materials.  I was lucky to get the two main pieces of plywood for it.  The hinges are made from heavy duty tent spikes that I cut down.  The locking mechanism came from a broken wall locker.  (I had to re-key it to work with a key I found as I didn’t have the original key for it.)  In fact, this entire stand was made with items found in the metal scrap yard.  (Yes, all the wood was in there as well.)  Talk about re-purposing!

One of the messy parts was painting it.  Iraqi paint is garbage.  It’s meant to be cut down with diesel fuel!  What a mess, and talk about a nasty smell.  I had to paint it indoors and I thought I was going to die by the time I was done!

I wish I would have thought to take pictures of it while I was building it, but I didn’t know about ‘ilbes back then!

Note, I was inspired to post this (and other) slideshow as a result of Frosty865’s question.  Here is a link to it…

And here is a link to my current blog as I’m deployed in Afghanistan.

Also, feel free to PM me if you have any questions on it!



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    23 Discussions

    Hey, all ~ I've been wanting to build this for over a year (bookmarked) but can't seem to find steps, and cannot access the external blog (p/w protected). Any help would be much appreciated. And Inchman, hope you're safe & sound somewhere!

     They are really easy to build. In fact, if you are near NJ, I'll build you one for material cost.  8>)

    Thanks for the offer ;-D ... it's very kind of you but I'm a bit far away from NJ, in fact from the US.

    Great job!
    When I served in Germany (UK Royal Signals), we had a plexiglass sheet, lit from one end with a fluro tube, in our mobile command centres.
    We wrote on it using "chinagraph" pencils...also known as grease or wax pencils.  These work good, even on damp surfaces.
    The best part was, as the sheet was lit, the chinagraph 'glowed'...which meant it could be used and viewed under "red-light" conditions.
    Maybe a good 'enhancement', for your boss, if you can scrounge the bits!

    As others have said in this comment string....come home safe.

    1 reply

    I've used these in the past.  The reason It wouldn't work here is that most of the information was printed documents.  These boards work great for hand written stuff.  But we had detailed maps, multi paged SOPs and unit roosters and personnel lists.

    I've always wanted to find a grease pencil that would be invisible on a Plexiglas board until it was lit.  That would be cool!

    Thanks for the well wishes.  Every little bit helps!  8>)

    Very Very Very nice!

    And I know what you mean about the paint.

    Come home safe!

    I'd want you on my team, you scrounger! Wait. You are on my team. Go US of A!

    cool. I remember ages ago sketching an Architect's drawing board that would do similar things. I wanted all my large format paper on rolls that would roll out across the surface, measure against one of those fixed measuring sticks that they have in shops that sell textiles, and a guillotine to trim it to size.

     Good old Camp Bucca.  My unit stopped there for about 2 weeks at the start of the war.  Got the dreaded Buccabonic Plague.  LOL.  I've heard they recently shut it down.  I doubt I'd recognize it any more.  Was the huge radio tower still there when you left?

    Good design for the board by the way.

    1 reply

    The radio tower was removed back in 2007.  It was the 6th largest city in Iraq and the largest prison in it's heyday. 

    Right now, the prison is closed, and it's a skeleton base for redeployment efforts.

    Think OPSEC, someone is unswirling your data on the board.  You are supposed to attach a roller window shade with some other picture on it at the top and pull it down whenever someone is coming by...the good old days.

    Nice job, especially scrounging around and making use of the firewood pile.

    3 replies

    8>)  I thought of that.  In fact, the posters aren't sensitive at all.  I just swirled them to see if anyone would unswirl them!  8>)

    The shade wouldn't have met the "commander's intent."  He wanted lockable storage, with a whiteboard, postings and other items. 


    Ah, the I know that you don't think I know but do know that you might know so I know so you don't know but think you know.

    Very well then. ;-)

    Quite good idea

    Very nice I've been thing of doing something like this for my kids. I think if I put Plexiglas over the ply board I can use like a dry erase board it will be perfect. Maybe put some locking casters on it to so it can be wheeled around.
    Nice job.

    1 reply

    This could very easily convert into a great learning and playing center for kids.  If you have any questions of details let me know.  I'll post them here so everyone can see them.

    Great Job on the project (I hope that your CO was pleased with the results) this is a nice project to be made with new materials even better being made with the materials you had to work with.
    Good luck and thank you for your service to the freedom of our country

    1 reply

    Actually, that was a problem.  Once I made mine, of course the CO wanted one, then the Base commander, then the CSM, then...

    UGH!!  I had to make so many of them (but mine was the only one with a lockable bottom.

    When I was redeploying, I held a contest for the incoming unit to see who would "win" my stand.  It was humorous!