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Greetings from the lovely International Zone in Baghdad

dmp

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A colleague at work was recently sent to Iraq; below you'll read portions of an email he sent. I'm sure some will find it pretty interesting. I've cut out anything I felt may be sensitive, or identifying.


Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

Greetings from the lovely International Zone in Baghdad. As I go about my duties in this second tour in Iraq and sit in amazement at the level of violence that still permeates this country, I wanted to send a message out to my co-workers, friends and fellow officers on what I am doing and what it is like to serve here in the Baghdad.
Me and one other guy split one trailer. 4 guys including myself share one connected bathroom between 2 trailers. The trailers have Satellite TV and Internet hookups. I certainly can't complain and have lived in much worse conditions.
I'm past the 3 month mark on this tour and have been on about 40 "combat patrols" outside of the IZ (everything is a combat movement when you go outside of the Green Zone) and about 6 visits to other provinces throughout Iraq. Truth be told, life inside the IZ or any Coalition FOB such as Victory Base is bearable and measurably safer than transiting between Coalition Forward Operating Bases or driving to Iraqi bases in the "Red Zones." My hat's off to the service members who actually live with Iraqis on their bases, who travel the roads with greater frequency and who stand out at TCPs or access control points in the blistering heat all day long. They are truly the heroes of the Coalition and endure the constant stress of potential IEDs, VBIEDs and suicide bombers

This is serious business and the pucker factor is even higher whenever you're outside the relative safe confines of the Coalition T-Walls. Even within the FOBs, mortars and rockets are still known to occur. We had a rocket attack several weeks ago in the Embassy Complex that penetrated 2 living trailers but didn't explode.

We are expected to work every day but are allowed Friday mornings off to take care of "personal" business such as laundry, post office, PX, sleeping in, letter writing, etc. The Iraqis take Friday off so that is generally a slow day anyway. Sundays have a laid back atmosphere but we are expected to work all day. Time is given for Chapel Services in the afternoon for people who wish to attend. Rest of the week is 12-14 hour days at a minimum.
There is no such thing as a 3-4 day weekend or even getting the actual Federal Holiday off. I worked the 4th of July. It was a busy day and the Iraqis really didn't care that it was an American holiday.
Bummer. Thank God for R&R Leave and, if you're one of the lucky ones, the occasional R&R Pass opportunity.

This tour is very different from my last in that there is daily contact and challenges with Iraqi counterparts. My team and I interact with the National Police HQ. They do things v e r y s l o w l y and despite being fielded with some high tech C2 wizardry still gravitate toward doing business through face-to-face contact, old fashioned hard copy memoranda, etc. The National Police have dependency on the Coalition for Life Support and are in the early stages of developing their own logistical systems and structure. Sometimes the tough love approach and threatening to wean them off, much like sending the high school grad out of the parents home, is the only method to make them wake up and realize they have to learn to do it without US-backed assistance.

The Iraqi National Police are not very National and not very Police . . .
yet. They number about 25,000 and their units are primarily Baghdad-centric and focused on improving security in the Baghdad area through counter-insurgency operations [COIN] in coordination with the Iraqi Army forces. They are in the beginning phases of a regional basing initiative designed to expand their scope outside of Baghdad and put national-level law enforcement forces in a better position to quickly respond to COIN and civil law enforcement contingency operations at the request of the MOI or the Provincial Governors.

The NP have a bad reputation and I think it stems from their resistance to accept more of a civil law enforcement role as opposed to being military-like in nature. They are designed to be more like an FBI or Carabinieri-type force as opposed to local police on one end of the spectrum or the Army on the other end of the spectrum. Most come from a military background and hence their desire to be more Army-like instead of community oriented. They are also asked to help fight the counter-insurgency fight and their missions are more military-oriented because of the level of violence around here. There are also some pretty significant sectarian issues (Shia vs. Sunni) in the NP and a culture of doing things the way they were done under the old regime. Lots of human rights and detainee issues. Let me just leave it at that.

Before this email gets too long, I just wanted to also say that I would love to hear from you and how things are going in your corner of the world.
I often wonder what the latest goings on with my friends around the US. I thank all of you who have supported my family while I'm deployed and appreciate the phone calls and emails. And a very special thanks to those who sent care packages. I've included some of my recent pictures and apologize if any of you have seen some of these before.

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Iraqi Style Lunch: Yum Yum. Undercooked lamb with fruit and vegetables on a bed of rice. Welcome to the world of collective finger feeding and nightly doses of Imodium AD.

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Hilla Pics: Pictures from a patrol to Hilla. Hilla is in Babil Province.
The "Say Hello To My Little Friend" picture is classic soldier humor.


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SECDEF: Secretary Rumsfeld came to visit yesterday and I was lucky to get a picture with him. An extremely patient man when it came to posing for pictures with the troops.

Take care and send me a note if you have a chance.

-R

Folks Pray for, and be Proud of our troops and their sacrifices and service.
 

GotZoom

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Every single one of those men and women who step foot over there are heroes.

:rock: :salute: :clap:
 

Annie

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:salute: I'm with Zoom, heroes all!
 

Nienna

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Thanks for sharing that, D.
 

CSM

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It neve ceases to amaze me when I get letters like that from my own friends. Those guys and gals are just great.
 

T-Bor

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We are proud. We just think the person that sent them there is a complete and total moron. Our soldiers are just pawns in this race for oil.


dmp said:
A colleague at work was recently sent to Iraq; below you'll read portions of an email he sent. I'm sure some will find it pretty interesting. I've cut out anything I felt may be sensitive, or identifying.




Folks Pray for, and be Proud of our troops and their sacrifices and service.
 

dilloduck

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T-Bor said:
We are proud. We just think the person that sent them there is a complete and total moron. Our soldiers are just pawns in this race for oil.

Well ignore who sent them and cheer for our troops.
 

Otter_Creek

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DMP,Please let your friend know he and all our troops are in our prayers daily.
Let him know we also appreciate his service and sacrifice.
 

trobinett

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One more, in a l-o-n-g line of American hero's.:usa:
 

Avatar4321

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T-Bor said:
We are proud. We just think the person that sent them there is a complete and total moron. Our soldiers are just pawns in this race for oil.


I cant help but point out that if this was all four oil, gasoline wouldnt be over 3 dollars a gallon.

I almost wish it was for oil. Cause then i wouldnt have such a problem witht he gas prices.
 

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