Monday, March 29, 2004

Saddam City

There is a very run-down part of town in Baghdad which the military calls Saddam City. At the moment, many locals now refer to it as Sadr, named after a very popular Muqtada al-Sadr in that area. The military still refers to it as Saddam City though, the name just kind of stuck. It is where the most resistance can be find in Baghdad. In fact, the military pulled out of that area awhile ago because of the attacks. It is considered to be even alittle more dangerous than Fallujah, but Fallujah is a big city, and Saddam City is a neighborhood. I had to be on a QRF (Quick Reaction Force) to quickly respond to a small American convoy that was attacked there. The convoy was made up of 2 Bradleys, one at each end of the small column and a few Hmmwv's. It came under attack from RPGs and the attackers quicker ran into the side streets and got away. It was VERY frustrating because the NCO (Non-commissioned Officer) didn't have a handle on the situation or seem to know what he was even doing. Plus, the Bradley's hadn't even attempted to strike back at the attackers. In the Infantry, we believe you need to be tough and firm and willing to use force or the enemy will use that as a weakness and attack you. That is why they attack in neighborhoods, to exploit it for that very reason. It was also very frustrating to see all the Iraqis just walking around like nothing had happened at all. Guys were still selling goods in their carts right by the roads, they totally seemed oblivious. One of the hit Hmmwvs didn't look anything like a vehicle, just a hunk of burning and smoking rubble. I can never forget the pieces of brain matter that was on the ground and people were unintentionally stepping on. It was very frustrating for me and my friends. We wanted to go after those responsible. They didn't even kill any military personal, they were Civil Affairs. Luckily only 1 died, the loses are always small. We fight a group that claims to be brave and fighting for Iraqis, and yet, in alot of their own ambushes they set up against military convoys they kill more of their own and seem to think of it as acceptable. However, if we get into a fire fight and some Iraqi bystander dumb enough to watch gets wounded, we are murders. Their logic just doesn't seem right most of the time. Alot of people you talk to who are not Iraqi and have been to Iraq talk about how frustrating their people's logic is.

Yesterday I had a bad dream about being back in Iraq. I dreamt I was in a big open field with mountains in the background. Me and my buddies were behind a bunch of small dirt mounds and somewhat dug in. While the Iraqis were dug in their own small mounds and trenches. Both sides in a line and about 200 meters apart. I was assigned to an m240 Bravo machine gun. We got into a fierce fire fight. The Iraqis kept bringing in more and more reinforcements. As a bunch of them came in a group, I quickly mowed down a bunch of them with the weapon before they hit the ground and took cover. We were losing alot of our own guys. However, it seemed like we were winning. Until, I looked and say Iraqis drag up 120mm and 81mm mortars to their front position. They started firing rounds through the tubes and started killing ALOT of us. For reasons I wont say, this is really strange because it is not in American military docterine to put mortars at the front in a fire fight. A few guys shouted mortars and pointed towards the mortars, and themselves got blown up. Until me and few guys sprayed in that direction and finally killed them. Once that happened, they all started to retreat. I noticed this and quickly shouted "they're retreating!" and for no reason at all a high ranking sergeant yelled at me "it's not called retreating it's called breaking contact!" A much of them gathered up in a group while running away, I took quick advantage of this and shot and killed many of them until they loaded up into their trucks and drove off. Right then, I woke up from that. Aside from that, during a ceremony where the rest of our Company finally came back from Iraq. They had the division band there and all. They were practicing until one of the drummers with the really big drum, I don't know what it's called. He beat it, and it sounded just like an explosion from an RPG, the way it echoed inside the building. I and a few others jumped and thought for a second we were under attack. Funny how none of the explosions that happened around us when I was in Iraq never really bothered me, I could even ignore them. I even slept through the Al-Rasheed hotel attack incident that happened about a mile away and shook the place. I didn't think it would really have any effect on me.

Sunday, March 21, 2004


It is pretty obvious the attackers are shifting their targets from military to civilians targets. Obviously, the reason is, the only thing suicide bombers have been successful at when attacking a military compound is resulting in a loud bang and a few innocent bystanders dead and no damage done to the compound. This is due to the American military being very efficient at keeping bad guys out of their compounds. So, the next best thing is to blow up a hotel full of completely innocent people. I for one, wish they would continue to attack us. Then we could eliminate this much sooner. I can't for the life of me, see how killing innocent people is glorious and will put you in heaven with 72 virgins. I don't see these suicide bombers as anything less then deranged serial killers. Even those incidents where car bombs go off remotely, they are just as bad. I know the majority of Iraqis want peace and are getting sick of all the killing, but from here it looks like they are doing nothing. I know if in New York or anywhere else in the USA, once suicide bombings started, I KNOW for a fact the American people would demand that it be stopped, and that it wouldn't take long to solve the problem. While in Iraq, we would get all kinds of Iraqis turning in their brothers or good friends who were Ba'athists carrying out attacks. We asked them if they were doing it for their money, they would shake their head and sometimes say "I am doing it for my Iraq." There are many who are helping to fight this, but it just seems sometimes it will never end. But, I have to be strong and so does everyone else. All Spain accomplished by saying they are going to pull out, was giving the terrorists a glimmer of hope that maybe they are chipping away at our resolve. This is going to make things even harder to cool down. One of the reasons why I like Bush is his take-no-crap policy. It's about time the USA grabbed it's balls and instead of trying to please everyone else, is doing what she needs to defend herself. I don't necessarily agree with how the country is doing, but I do strongly agree we must defend ourselves. Nothing was done about the many terrorist attacks that had happened in the past. Except with Libya, and when we responded to them, the problems stopped. The War on Terror isn't about Bush and Blair. It's about the world making a stand against terrorism. It's about sacrifice to a cause that is greater than yourself. People have already forgotten the painful lessons of 9/11.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Human Shields

The human shields that went to Iraq kinda of upset me. So, I think I will give an idea on how us soldiers felt about the whole anti-war campaign that was going on before the war.

First and foremost, this is not a political web page. Also, the military is an apolitical organization. So, I will not discuss wether I believe the war was the right thing to do or not. I remember before the war started, I remember watching TV with people in buses going to Baghdad and being interviewed by reporters. They were human shields. This really got my confused because it amazed me how someone would try to defend a terrible man like Saddam. Then what really amused me was when the reporter went up to a human shield and asked if he was really actually willing to die. His reaction was that of, as if he didn't think about getting killed at all. He seemed like all of a sudden he realized he could die and maybe it was something he didn't want to do. He paused a few seconds and unconvincingly said he was committed. He also had a real feminine voice which also made me kind of laugh. I would watch MTV, and it would make my blood boil. They kept running ad after ad after ad about innocent people dieing. This infuriates me, because it felt like a personal attack. It also sickened my friends who were watching it and got so upset they turned they tv off. The reason why I and probably the others get so offended is it feels like a personal attack on me when they talk about innocent civilians killed. It feels like they are saying I have no morals and that I would deliberately target unarmed people in a fire fight. There will always be innocent people who accedently end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. War is a messy and ugly business, but you have to consider sometimes how many other people might die if not have going to war. I wish there could be no war, but reality is, it has been with us since our beginning and will be there at our end. The famous quote from Apollo "Only the dead have seen the end of war." It pissed me off royally when I saw on MTV, a teenage guy that was being interviewed on one of the anti-war ads that his mom would send him to Canada if there was ever a war. I couldn't believe someone would be so selfish about themselves. We also kept getting frustrated with Saddam stone walling. If he had nothing to hide, why was he doing it? People say we were invading their privacy. I think that is a load of crap. I don't think Americans would have minded if UN inspectors went into the White house, US Capital Building, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and any other government buildings or factories to make sure we weren't making bio weapons. We were also upset about the fact that when there is a world crises, everyone in the world begs the USA to come to the rescue. When they USA does not come and "save the day" we are accused of standing by and letting bad things happen when we had the power to stop them, and when we do something like this, we are just as bad as Hitler and our military forces are evil and the US Army is a bunch of killers like the Waffen SS. I wish the world could stop being hypocrites.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Unefficiant Attacks.

I have decided to write a post on some of the funny attacks the Fedayeen and terrorists would carry out. People may think that my website covers most of the my time and experiences in Iraq, however that is not the case. I started blogging near the end of my time there. So, there are many untold stories that I have locked away in my head.

The insurgence has become ingenious with making their own tools for war. We have recovered home made rocket launchers and of course IEDs. The Al-Rasheed hotel attack that took place several months ago would have been worse. It was reported that 8 rockets hit the hotel. What people don't know is, there were about 20 rockets total. Only 8 of 20 rockets fired. The guy who created the launch system had wired the rockets wrong. So, when the rockets fired, it burned the wires connecting to the other rockets. So, there were 12 unexpended rockets. The attack took place only between a mile and 2 miles from us, and my friends told me it shook the house. I slept through it, and only heard about it when I saw the news and my friends laughed that I slept through it. It is more common then it is made out in the news. Maybe due to the publicity the attacks made. There has now been dozens of rocket systems much the same that have been found. I don't know if they were ever used, some of them probably were, but they all get the same problem with not all the rockets firing like they are supposed to.

One incident that also happened in the heart of the city. My friends stayed at a different compound and told me about this time when these Iraqis had also made up home made shoulder fired rocket launchers. The only problem was, they used rockets a helicopter would fire. So, once the rockets came out of the tube, immediately it would fly out only about 20 feet and hit the ground and explode. The one guy who fired it hurt pretty bad from the shrapnel, but was in good enough condition to talk. He completely denied it, which seemed really typical, that if you caught them red handed they would always deny it. His friends ran away, and you could hear them laughing about their poor friends misfortune. The thing is, the rocket fires out of the tube in a helicopter, then a second later, it ignites. This is very unsafe to use as a shoulder fired rocket. In another case, they tried to do the SAME thing again, only from a bridge on the river next to their compound. The rockets also fell into the water. The would be attackers were never caught.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Final post

My time in Iraq has finally come to a close. I am finally back in the nation I was representing half way around the world. My mood on returning home was very excited and happy. Though, I didn't really feel any fear from it, I sometimes didn't think I would return home. We all learn to brush those things aside in my mind so we can do our mission. Yet, despite the excitement I had of coming back. For some unexplainable reason, I feel like I left a part of me back in Iraq. I feel almost like it is my second home. It is a feeling I can't describe, except that I both love and hate Iraq. I'm not some propagandist pretending that the US Army soldiers all love Iraq and want to help. For alot of soldiers it is just a job they have to do. It is hard to be an American soldier and not trust any Iraqis and seeing them all as the enemy. However, most soldiers I've talked to know the insurgence is separate from the population.

My opinion of why Iraq is in shambles now is lack of the military commanders being willing stick out their neck and kick some ass. In the Infantry, we are all firm believers in firepower. Other MOSs have different views about this, but for the most part, Infantrymen for the most part believe in being heavy handed. I know this will get me in trouble with the peace mongers who believe war is never necessary. I don't really care, this is how I feel. For example, before Christmas, many military compounds throughout the city of Iraq would be attacked on a nightly basis. Days before Christmas came, a big pre-emptive artillery and mortar attacks began on known positions insurgence would attack from. The show of force immediately quelled the attacks. While on leave, I talked to an MP who had been in the center of Baghdad where they would get hit by IEDs and mortars all the time. After these counter-attacks, all the anti-coalition attacks came to a screeching halt. For about a month after the counter-attacks, they still weren't attacked. Until the insurgence finally understood it was over and started to come out and attack again. Right after the war, there were no attacks on us at all. Any insurgence would not dare attack Americans. But, that was of course after the war when you could use all the firepower you needed to overcome the enemy. Now, alot of patrols are reduced to having to do patrols in m249 SAWs which fire a caliber of 5.56mm. I think the SAW is a good infantry weapon, but I still think if many more patrols had .50 caliber machine guns, the insurgence would think twice about attacking. When I went on patrols, and always we had .50 caliber machine guns mounted on the vehicles, no one messed with us. All the grenade attacks and such used against military vehicles were because the hmmwv didn't even have a turret for someone. I firmly believe you should have at LEAST a m240 Bravo machine gun which is 7.62mm on a patrol. In the Infantry, we all firmly believe if you get attacked, you want to bring to bear as much firepower as you can as quickly as you can. In other instances where the the Army took crap from no one, when 3rd Infantry Division went to Fallujah and replaced the green 4th Infantry Division. My friends in Fallujah at the time said 3rd Infantry Division stopped most of the violence and didn't have any casualties for awhile. That is why I think it is necessary to be heavy handed in places like Tikrit and Fallujah, it is a matter of life or death. Plus, we've had many Iraqis come to our own commanders and tell us the American forces are being too nice to Iraqis, and the insurgence is taking advantage of it and using those opportunities to attack.

As for how do I feel about Iraq. I've seen a few towns that looked just like Somalia. When I got into Iraq, I didn't like Iraqis, and to me seemed all like the enemy. Until, I got put in a neighborhood which is one of the best in Baghdad with highly educated and rich Iraqis. We would talk about politics alot while I was on watch. They all were thankful for the fall of the Regime. In the beginning, they told me a pessimistic picture of how the Iraqi public felt. Since they owned alot of businesses and interacted with Iraqis. My friend Zeyad despaired alot for the Iraqi people. He told me how frustrated he was with the military being unable to restore all the social services and utilities. He told me he feared it would lead to another event like Somalia with people all over shooting at Americans. He also expressed his frustration with the Iraqi people being so impatient with the US military. Saying he wished they weren't so stupid. It was a feeling of being let down. That most of the civilians believed America would come and everything would instantly get better. In Iraq, and probably all over the middle east, the USA is seen as a god-like entity that can fix anything overnight. In the early months after the war ended, he told me alot of the attacks were by hungry and confused people. Alot of them starving, and so that effected their thinking and made them desperate. He and many other Iraqis said this and said once all the people started to get alot more food to eat, the attacks would stop. Zeyad found out he had a distant relative he never heard of after the UN building bombing. One of his relatives was in the building and was injured in the explosion. A few months before I left to a different compound, he expressed a big change in the way Iraqis were thinking. He told me of many times he was in taxi cabs with other Iraqis and they were all starting to be more optimistic and looking forward to the future and a better Iraq. I learned alot from him, I in fact plan to eventually go back to Iraq and see him again. I could write for hours about what he told me and what I have witnessed. In all, my feelings about Iraq was a roller coaster ride. Sometimes I would despair for Iraq, and other times I believed it will get better. Other times, when I heard about an American dieing, I would be so furious with Iraqis and wanted to crush Iraq with all our fire power. I on many occasions hated and cared for Iraq.

It was frustrating for me to go home and listen to some people who didn't believe in what was happening in Iraq. Though, almost all of the people I talked to said they didn't believe the picture the media was drawing of Iraq. Not one person didn't show their support for the American soldier. All of the people I talked to said the American soldier is really the only hero we have left, because of all the so called heroes in sports being caught with drugs. Even though it was not an attack on the US military and it's persons, it still felt like a very personal attack sometimes. Do I believe the war in Iraq is the war on terror? I think it is. It is better in my opinion to be taking the fight to them, rather than having to fight it on our own soil. I wish people could move on from the argument about Iraq never being a threat. What's done is done, we need to move on. We all need to stand strong and stay the course in Iraq. Someday, the Iraqis will learn how to deal with the terrorists, and in a couple years I think the violence will stop for the most part. It is sad how much of a heavy price they are paying in the war against the terrorists. Yet, it humbles me to see them wanting to step up to the plate and fight even harder against the terrorists. In past times, where 200+ IP and civilians were killed in car bombings. I talked to an IP who came to our compound all the time. I expressed my sympathy for the people. He seemed totally undeterred by the incidents. Also that the people wanting to be IP and help out was growing, not shrinking. I've said it in the past, but I really see the IP, ICDC and Iraqi Army as brave as our own fire fighters were on 9/11.

I believe Iraq will someday be a beacon of light for freedom. All the evidence of how the Iraqis feel about democracy and just how they act proves they want this and are determined to achieve it. I look forward to the future to one day see this come true.

Back Home

Well, sorry I have not been able to get on and blog recently. I'm sure many of you readers must be worried about me. However, I am doing pretty good right now. So, I am going to make one more blog post. That last post I will do, I will summerize my experiances in Iraq and how I feel about them.