Dispatch From Downrange



Dispatch From Downrange –IRAQ

Clearly I did not take this picture but it is representative of the goings on.  The Iraqis sell everything. This is all our stuff that has been "aquired" and then offered for sale in the local bazaar.


Only in Iraq


We got the news that one of the masters insurgent bomb makers blew himself up along with 25 other “students” as he was demonstrating how to use an explosive-laden belt.  Yep, that about sounds right. 

Unless you were here, you just could not believe the stuff that goes on.  It is comical and just ignorant. The complacency, laziness, and just plain stupidity of the “fighters,” regardless of which side, is amazing. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why the country is falling apart.  Let’s take this bomb maker for example.  Now don’t  get me wrong, he took out 25 of his own insurgents, wounded 15 others and caused the capture of 8 that were trying to skirt away. The Iraqi army came in to clean it up and found a cache of heavy weapons and explosives that would have been aimed at them and probably us as well. Maybe if the insurgents’ employ one of this guy’s apprentices, he will repeat the performance and do more to defeat themselves than the Iraqi government is doing.

On the other hand, I mentioned complacency.  Won’t say where this was but we showed up at an Iraqi checkpoint and wandered around looking for someone to open the gate and let us in.  After about 5 minutes we opened it ourselves, not wanting to hang around stationary outside the perimeter, and the assigned guards showed up. They were ALL having tea in one of the buildings and didn’t think a thing about leaving the gate unattended. (wow, just WOW!)  We were offered tea and bread to smooth things over by the checkpoint commander.  We thanked him and drove on in.  I can tell you it did NOT smooth things over at all. We made a pretty big stink about it when we got to a place where we could make it known to someone other than ourselves.

Then there is the constant vigilance and strict adherence to safety rules. Like the HUMMV that came driving past us the other day while we were headed to a call to search a truck. This HUMMV had two fully armed soldiers sitting on the roof with their feet hanging in front of the windshield as the driver was headed at a good clip the opposite direction we were traveling.  As he approached our little convoy, I guess he thought the road was too tight for both of us (it wasn’t) so he hit the brakes to slow down and dumped his roof surfing passengers right into the street in front of him. They sprawled on the dirt with all their gear.  When they picked up their stuff and themselves, an argument ensued  between them and the driver. I would have loved to have been able to understand what they were saying, but the message came through loud and clear anyway.  We laughed so hard I thought we would wreck ourselves.  Strict adherence to safety all right.

Last night a mortar came in and shook the whole living area.  I happened to be outside with my dog, Mad, when the thing exploded.  It was really loud and probably the closest one to us so far.  I could feel the concussion on my chest from the blast.  This morning we found our little outdoor gym was off limits. The mortar hit right by it, and there were rocks and dirt all over our equipment. So we suffered a disruption, or maybe I should say, we lost a place of distraction from the reality of what we are all in the middle of.  We will get it cleaned up as that little collection of used and broken down gym equipment gets used all the time.

By the way, all the new and shiny exercise equipment is locked away in a building in the Iraqi sector.  It seems one of their officers is having a sale, so he just collected what he wanted and claimed it as his own. I’m positive all the appropriate payouts will be made up the Iraqi chain of command. Yep, business as usual.

From Anbar province in Iraq

I’m Jon Harris, and this is another

Dispatch from Downrange-Iraq