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A Soldier's Thoughts on Iraq...

Discussion in 'Veteran's Forum' started by RussP, Mar 31, 2005.

  1. RussP

    RussP Moderator

    Jan 23, 2003
    Central Virginia
    So, Jefe asks me, (and I paraphrase) “What’s your take on what it’s really like there? Do they hate us or love us?” Well, they love us, of course! Just in our AO (area of operations) we have a least 6 U.S. funded schools being built. We go out on “MEDCAP” missions where our doctors and medics treat the locals. Our battalion is currently working on a way to build a natural water filter so we can teach the locals how to build one so they can drink cleaner water. Our soldiers are also giving hundreds, if not thousands, of U.S dollars a day to the local “Haji-marts” and roadside peddlers to purchase rugs, Cuban cigars, cheap cigarettes, pirated movies and music, knives, souvenirs and even Viagra. We are also rebuilding the main road from Kuwait to Baghdad into a 4-lane highway and employing hundreds of locals for construction projects both on and off post. We hire interpreters who get payed if we have something for them to do or not and pay local merchants ridiculous amounts of money to run up to Baghdad and buy us printer cartridges. Hundreds of generous people from the U.S. are sending us shoes, medicine, toys, coloring books, crayons, pencils, markers and clothes for the local kids.

    So, why wouldn’t they love us? Right?

    Well, O.K., maybe they don’t ALL love us, but here are some more interesting things.

    We’re down south. It’s mostly Shia Muslim. The Shia were the prosecuted majority that suffered under Saddam.

    It’s mostly rural down here. The country folks aren’t big politicians, especially the poor ones.

    The insurgents like the bigger cities where they can hide and feed off the black markets.

    Also, the terrain is fairly wide open down here. Not a lot of places to stage an attack from.

    So, you may be able to see why this part of the country hasn’t seen much action. Matter of fact, the insurgency leaders have been disappointed in the lack of activity down here. Of course, that’s not a good sign for us, but it’s not looking good for the insurgents down here either. From what I can tell, the locals like the relationship they have with the coalition soldiers. As an example, there’s a small town just outside one of our bases that likes doing business with the base. They like it so much, the insurgents can’t get close. If the locals see any strangers in town, they report it. The townfolk know that if the base gets hit, we will shut down the Haji-mart (a small market just outside of the base), which provides income and jobs for many townfolk.

    Now, I don’t mean to say that everyone around here likes us. There’s actually a town just to the Northwest that we are not allowed to drive thru. Last time I drove thru the outskirts of the town, nobody waved, nobody smiled at us. We held our weapons at the ready and kept an extra eye out. I’m not sure why it’s like that, but it is.

    Of course, it’s much different up North. All of our injuries and attacks have occurred on convoys that were driving north to the Baghdad area.
    My friends up north tell me of daily attacks and the constant cat and mouse games with the insurgent. Some of my crews who have gone up north describe the hate-filled looks they get from some men on the streets. Others describe a trip that’s as non-eventful as a drive between Houston and El Paso.

    So, I guess it’s as the real estate agents say, “Location, location, location”. You can go find the people who like us and you can go find the ones that don’t, just by taking a day’s drive. But all that doesn’t matter anyway. We’re here and we’re going to put Iraq back on its feet. Sure, the U.S. will pull the strings for a while, but if Iraq plays this global chess game correctly, they can grow up to be a self governing country that can tell us to blow-off every once in a while, just like Japan does. As far as I’m concerned, it’s really not about winning the hearts and minds anymore. It’s now about being a cordial and helpful visitor, teaching Iraqis to take care of their own house and going the hell home. As far as I’m concerned, the sooner we are able to hand this back to the politicians who screwed it up in the first place, the better-off Iraq is going to be (hmmm, that doesn’t fill me with confidence). I just hope the Iraqis can hold their own so I don’t have to come back.
    This source is credible....
  2. WIG19

    WIG19 Light left on

    Oct 27, 2003
    Renegade State
    I believe it. Thanks for posting that.

  3. Black Tiger

    Black Tiger

    Mar 4, 2004
    Leesburg, FL
    I agree with you; I served in Iraq from April to November of 2003; and out AO was a small fuel depot known as CSC Scania; a virtual "Truck Stop" on MSR Tampa's "14 South" marker, between Kisch and Al-Diwaniyah (I'm not sure of the exact location).

    The area is mostly populated by Shia Muslim farmers and they were very friendly to us because of the same reasdons you mentioned on your post; we employed locals to build our base camp, alongside KBR contractors, who ran the maintenance of the base camp. Our mission was mainly Area Security, Law Enforcement Ops and Convoy Security to the hundreds of convoys that ran up and down MSR Tampa every day.

    We basically were like State Troopers; keeping tabs on local activity on and around our stretch of MSR Tampa; I think the most we did was scare away the local kids when we caught them either trying to steal stuff out of convoy trucks or trying to sell trinkets for a few dollars to soldiers.

    I have had a few times, where I was running up and down on foot trying to grab one of these kids; can't help to feel sorry for these poor kids, but you have to put the foot down sometimes, otherwise, they'll steal you pants off you if they could get money out of it.

    All funny things aside; the job had a lot of dangers that do underscore the fact that we were in a combat zone; mortar attacks on Camp Kelso, about 30 miles up the road from Scania; vehicle stops that would test both your nerves and your self-restraint, the sight of convoys limping to our AO with trucks that look like they went through hell and the ever present thought that your next mission might be your last.

    After all is said and done, I truly believe that we are making a big difference in Iraq, much like we did in Afghanistan. Our mission in Iraq - despite the shortcomings, despite the loss of life, despite the efforts by the media to label the war as a "Quagmire"; we are making a big difference and hopefully, the mission will be completed and our guys and gals in uniform can come back home to the respect of a grateful nation.
  4. RussP

    RussP Moderator

    Jan 23, 2003
    Central Virginia
    Black Tiger, I sent your response to my son...

    Thank you...;)
  5. RussP

    RussP Moderator

    Jan 23, 2003
    Central Virginia
    Black Tiger, from my son in response to your words...

    Thanks for helping out!!:) :)