Random thoughts and pictures at the 6 month mark

November 30, 2008 at 6:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

June 19, 2008

That’s right Six Months down Six Months to go, or as we give our Marine Augments hard time, that’s one Marine deployment down and one Marine deployment left go to go. The Marines with us will fire back with “But yeah this is my third deployment”, but when you make them add up their total months in either Iraq or Afghanistan, most of them are still under the total of 18 months I’ve spent in Iraq since 2003, and none of them can hold a candle to our Team NCOIC who is on his 4th deployment to either Iraq or Afghanistan for a total of about 39 months. And you all thought I had been gone a long time.

The above picture of me is sitting on the rear steps of our MRAP enjoying a Diet Pepsi with ice in it. We do have a refrigerator that allows our soda’s, Gatorades, and waters to get cold but they never get ICE COLD, so when we get ice that is suitable for consumption it is a special treat to put ice in a cup and pour a Diet Pepsi over it. Notice the field expedient cup, it’s actually a bowl of Frosted Flakes, that I had ate all of the cereal out of and then wiped clean. Speaking of ice that is suitable for consumption the above picture is ice for sale in a local market. This is how an Iraqi will keep their water cool, normally a family will buy one of these blocks of ice which goes for about 2000-5000 dinars or $2-$5 and put them in a large coleman type cooler and then fill the cooler with water and that is their cold water for the day or maybe two, depending upon how long the ice lasts.
This picture shows our Brigade Commander Staff Brigadier General Sabah (that’s him with the sunglasses on) interacting with the local media at the rocket launch site that I posted pictures of last week. The Brigade Commander has done a good job in the last few months and has demonstrated that he has the basics of the counterinsurgency fight down pat to include the employment of the media. His speech went along the lines of “Our brave Soldiers responded to this area as soon as they heard the launch of the rockets, their quick reactions scared the insurgents off and despite the soldiers best efforts at pursuit the outlaws eluded them, the people of the local population must not harbor and hide these criminals, they are not just attacking Coalition and Iraqi forces but through their actions they hurt the local civilians, some of the rockets fired from this site went only a short distance and landed in an open area, what if they had landed on the houses of innocent civilians and harmed young children? Do not harbor the terrorist!” A pretty good way to turn around the fact that a few rockets had misfired or failed to function properly and did not reach their intended target.
On the other hand we joke that the Brigade Comander is turning himself into a local Warlord. He spends a lot of time engaging and entertaining the local Sheiks and has a habit of going out at night with the MiTT team in tow and “holding court” at a local Chai House or Kaboob shop. While doing this he will often subsequently visit a local’s house and we will inevitably be out until almost midnight or later. Alone these are all good things to do, it allows him to be seen in public and makes him seem approachable by both the Sheikhs and the common citizen and it allows him and us to gauge the attitudes of the local populations and get a good first hand look at living conditions. But the part that causes the local Warlord joke is that he is actively politicking with the Commander of the Basrah Operations Center to either leave his Brigade in Basrah indefinitely or to give him a job in either the Basrah Operations Center or one of the Iraqi Army Division that is permanently stationed in Basrah. Also he wants to move his family to Basrah permanently; this will get them to a safer area than Baghdad, but also allows him to more actively pursue his Warlord career. In actuality all of the above is just how business is done in Iraq. Politicking with the Basrah Operations Center Commander allows him to build a relationship with his nominal higher headquarters and allows that Commander to trust him and not doubt his methods or actions, it also allows the Basrah Operations Commander to know that he will not surrender his Brigade and tell them to turn over their weapons and equipment to the Mehdi Army like a locally stationed brigade did when trouble flared up here earlier this spring. Also bringing his family down here allows him to see his family without taking the normal 9 days of leave every 18 days, which allows him to focus on Brigade Operations.

Speaking of Brigade Operations, this picture shows a recent cache find by one of the battalions. Lots of 82mm mortars, RPG warheads, a few 120mm mortars and wire, some of the mortar rounds have been rigged to act as IEDs, which would be detonated by the wire. Yes the munitions look rusty and unserviceable but that is only because they were stored in a sewage pond, a little bit of clean water and most of them look as good as new and will function just as good.

This is a picture of an IED that was found in a cache site. This one that we call “A Really Bad Day IED” It is two Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFP) coated with spray Styrofoam. EFPs are what cause the majority of casualties from IEDs right now (Hence the Really Bad Day) and many people think that the majority of them come in from Iran although that may not always be the case. Anyway we got this one before it could be used on us.

Finally the a picture of a goat eating garbage. It really does happen. That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed. I’m working on an upcoming blog that talks all about the food I eat. Look for it in the next couple of weeks, in the meantime if there is anything that anyone wants me to blog about write a comment and I’ll try to get pictures and put together a little story about it.
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