February 08, 2008
Posting date: 2/8/08
Stationed in: Iraq
Hometown: Clarkston, Washington
Milblog: The Angry American
The last couple of days have found us pretty busy. Today we were able to take a break and tend to maintenance with the vehicles and other annoying shitty admin things that have to be taken care of. The Iraqis are celebrating Ashura right now. I don't know if "celebrating" is the right term, maybe "mourning" the Ashura. Essentially the Ashura is "a major festival, the tazia (ta'ziyah). It commemorates the death of Husayn (also spelled Hussein), son of Imam 'Ali and grandson of Muhammad, on the 10th of Muharram, AH 61 (October 10, 680), in Karbala, Iraq. The event led to the split between the Sunni and Shia sects of Islam, and it is of central importance in Shia Islam." Like on any Iraqi holiday the streets and Mosques are decorated with the colors of Islam: Green is Islam, Red is Sacrifice, White is Purity, and Black is for Martyrdom.
Our balls-to-the-wallage began with going out and taking pictures of billboards, to make sure that there were not any anti-ISF, or anti-coalition sayings on them. This kinda prompted me to start taking more pictures of billboards, but that is for another post. The downside to this was driving up and down the main roads, which in recent days became a hotbed for EFPs. It snowed and hajj got all nutty and broke out the EFPs he had in the shed or something.
After we drove around taking pictures of signs we went and investigated some houses next to where an IED was found. The houses were just squatter shacks, built of mud bricks. I met some kids there who were actually not that annoying, and very lovable. I seldom feel this way but I really wanted to take them home. Maybe it was because they were about my daughters' ages.
Damn the Groundhog Dayness of this place, because I know we did some other shit, but since I didn't write it down I can't even remember what. We did go out and try to give money out to local businesses, and engage the population, and hand out tip cards. We secured an area and waited forever for someone to come out and do a meet-and-greet, but lo and behold, said someone was running late, so we waited an hour for nuthin. But I got to meet the dude with the coolest mustache in all Iraq. I had seen him walking as we drove by about a month ago, and I was totally stoked by his muchacho mustache, a mustache that screams "I'm a fucking bad ass." After talking to him in minced English and Arabic, this guy ended up being a pretty bad ass dude, in a good way.
Ah, now I remember what we did. We went and looked for supposed militia members renting out supposed houses, and my guys came across some old-school jet fighter helmets and flight suits in one house. It turned out the guy that lived there was once a fighter pilot in Saddam's army, back in the day.
Lately the militia has been threatening the locals, and people who are actually trying to help Iraq and make it better. We went to investigate this on the day before Ashura. People had the decorations up and the neighborhood was friendly enough. Our mission was to get out and talk to the people. You can always tell when you're in a militia-rich environment because the people will tell you, "No meester, no militia here, this is a good area." They will also tell you, "Everything is fine, I cannot talk to you." After they tell us repeatedly at every house on the block that there is no militia, you see these:
The people are either affiliated with the militia in some form or another, or scared to death of them. You won't ever really find a guy willing to rat out the militia, because they know that if they are caught they are going to end up in some remote location with their head missing.
Muqtada called for a ceasefire among the Jaysh Al Mahdi, to "clean house" as some have put it. Other news sources report that he is trying to get on board and make positive changes in Iraq. Hey, I'm all for it. It's been quiet for the most part. It's frustrating because the militia is the major problem we have in our area. Some will tell us "Fuck the Mahdi!", or spit at the name of Muqtada, but you can't always tell if they mean it or if they are hiding something. Maybe they are part of a militia splinter cell and just don't like Muqtada for trying to make Iraq a better place.
One thing for sure is that the Iraqi people fear the militia, and if they would just take a stand against it and help us maybe we could make bigger gains in defeating them. Shit, the Sicilians are starting to unite against the Costra Nostra. From what I understand the Jaysh Al Mahdi was formed in order to protect the Shiia from Sunni violence, but what it boils down to is that they actually bully and terrify their own people. I hope that one day we can just work together for the common good of Iraq, because I think that it has every possibility of being a great nation.
That's about it, other than receiving a lil' info about a possible IED and going to investigate it as if we were some form of EOD*. I hate that shit: "Um, ya we have a possible IED at such and such grid and we are going to investigate it." Does it say EOD on my fucking shoulder patch? No. Why don't you have the experts look for that shit. The only time I seem to find the damn things is after they blow up on my fucking truck.
No, it's not that I'm not looking, cuz I am. I look so hard that when I redeploy it will be months before I'm driving down the interstate not looking for them. It's that they hide the fucking things real good, not to mention that in my mind everything is a possible IED because it doesn't look right, and if it were up to me I'd make EOD clear every five feet of road in front of me and we would never make it anywhere on fucking time...
* EOD: Explosive Ordnance Disposal