Dispatch From Downrange
Dispatch From Downrange ĖIRAQ
Happy New Year and Good Morning Iraq!
06:00 here - I just took Mad, my dog, out. Like you, we have a morning routine.
Arriving at the DFAC, I can get a delicious plate of almost warm powdered scrambled eggs, limp bacon, and a McDonald's type hash brown patty that needed a few more minutes in the fryer. I top that with a bagel and cream cheese (Iíll eat that later so it's wrapped in paper napkins and slipped in my coat) and as many diet cokes as I can get in my pockets. We are limited at two, but no one counts. I take my tray and mechanically eat my food. I generally sit at the table when I'm done for a little while if I'm not on the morning shift, and mentally get ready for the day. I throw the leftovers away and give my tray to one of the many local Iraqis working at the dishwashing station. All he washes are the trays as everything else is disposable. I head back out into the cold and walk the quarter mile back to the room.
Finished with the browsing on the internet, I kick off my
shoes and lay back down for a little while. Mad is quiet until I lay down.
That is his cue for more playtime, so the barking, moaning and banging on the
kennel door starts. I can only take a very short time of this, he has me
trained well, and I let him out. He grabs his squeaky ball, immediately jumps
on the bed, and proceeds to shove it in my face.
Today Iíll be searching vehicles coming into the base at the two entry gates. There is a series of things the incoming vehicles have to do to get to me before I search them that I canít explain due to operation security, (OPSEC) but the dog teams are pretty far out front. My partner team and I take turns searching. One of us acts as security over-watch as the other searches. We are not alone in this as there is other security with the vehicles as well. The very first search this morning really set the day up. As we were searching, and just about when we were on the last vehicle, a very loud boom went off. We all, including or dogs, ducked a little. You could feel the concussion. It sounded like it was at the checkpoint just before us. Everyoneís situational awareness (SA) went right to the top of the scale. All were scanning the area to see what would happen next. Weapons ready, but no targets, nothing.
The vehicle drivers and their passengers wanted out of the area badly; we wanted out of the area too as we are exposed when we search so we finished quickly and everyone, including us, moved inside the perimeter. I found out a little later that another Iraqi checkpoint, this one on the opposite side of the base from where we were, was also hit. In that case, the guards were killed, and the attackers stole their fully marked and loaded High Utility Mobile Mechanized Vehicle, you know it as an HUMMV. One no doubt we gave the Iraqi Army when we pulled out.
Two days earlier, one of our PSD teams was ambushed at an Iraqi checkpoint just outside Taji, the last post I was at. The team leader, the apparent target, took three rounds to the chest. They all hit his body armor, thank goodness, and being the type of guy that works here, he got back in his vehicle and continued on with his mission of delivering one of our handlers to the airport in Baghdad. BTW-- this is the same PSD team that brought me in from Baghdad, and the ambush was on the same route. When the wounded PSD operator finished the escort, he wanted to just come back to base like nothing happened. Just another day at the office to him, but he was forced by procedure to go to the doctor and be checked out. A quick medevac to the hospital in Jordon revealed two broken ribs. He will be back in a couple weeks.
Yes, it is shaping up to be an exciting time here,
Happy New Year!
Iím Jon Harris, and this has been another
Dispatch from Downrange- Iraq