The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.


February 22, 2008

Name: Gruntshit
Posting date: 2/22/08
Stationed in
: Iraq
Hometown: Clarkston, Washington
Milblog: The Angry American

I found this posted in the area and had to put it up because it's true of going out and talking to the Iraqi people. Some of it I think is that maybe our conversations get lost in translation between the Iraqi and the Interpreter, but it happens so often; like after an RPG was fired at our COP, no one in the area had heard the rocket launched.

This is a no bullshit conversation between a Platoon Leader (PL) from one of our sister platoons, and a Local National (LN):

PL: Good afternoon.

LN: Hello hello.

PL: Do you mind if I ask you some questions about the mosque?

LN: Yes, yes there are a lot of people who go there to pray.

PL: Thanks, does this mosque broadcast a message to the area on Fridays?

LN: Yes it does, it is Shiia mosque so every Friday around 12:15.

PL: It's 12:30, did it broadcast a message today?

LN: Umm no, but it should soon.

PL: Ok, thanks, so last week it gave a message?

LN: No, I don't think this mosque gives messages.

PL: But I thought you just told me it should broadcast a message soon?

LN: What? NO. What mosque I don't know of any mosque around here.

PL: (Pointing to the mosque 100ft away) That mosque right there.

LN: I don't see a mosque.

PL: Is this guy serious?

RTO: I don't know?

PL: Sir, do you see that building, it has a dome and two huge blue and purple towers right in front of you... That MOSQUE?

LN: Oh wow, I've never seen that before, it must be new.

PL: So....

LN: I mean I'm new to the area I don't know anybody.

PL: You just told me a lot of people go to that mosque.

LN: What mosque?

PL: Okay, thanks for the help, I'll see you later.

We don't make this shit up. Seriously. Thank you to the PL from the sister platoon for relaying the info.


Ha! No no that is too funny sad absurd Mind blowing.
Thanks for that! I can totally picture the scene and I totally feel like laughing and crying all at once.

its mad tv. it's snl. it's tuesday afternoon in iraq

This really is funny and typical of cross-cultural communication in which one party is trying to passive-aggressively undermine the other! Poor guy doesn't want to have his disembodied head show up outside the local mosque next week!
I've often probably unintentionally made similar conversation when trying to engage in conversational Spanish.

Yeah, that hearts and minds stuff sure has unintended consequences.

So, Who's on first?

You don't need culture clash for this. Asking some of my junior personnel about maintenance projects yields a similar conversation. This Navy Squid feels your pain.

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