Ma Deuce Gunner

Ma Deuce Gunner


Saturday, April 30, 2005

On The Media

I was recently interviewed by NPR's On The Media. They were interested in doing a story about milbloggers. I at first was skeptical, due to the leftwards slant that NPR has a reputation for, but I listened to other excerpts of their program and decided that they took a pretty objective look at how the media covers issues.

I was afraid that they would take my words out of context and distort them. They did not do this. They were extremely honest and objective. It was a welcome surprise to see something so objectively reported.

They talked to me about this blog, and why I write what I do. They asked me about my commanders opinion... You know what... just go listen. It is a 21mb MP3. Check it out.

They also talked to an ARMY TIMES reporter about regulations and standards governing milbloggers.

They then interviewed Jason Hartley, who writes I hope you would go to... yup... here's the link again, find the April 29th show, and listen. The segment on milbloggers led off. When I can find a way to host it here, I will.

My only real heartburn, is that they put the wrong URL to my site on theirs. Hopefully they can change it soon.



Friday, April 29, 2005

The Straight Word...Straight from an Iraqi Citizen (PART 2)

This is a continuation of the interview of one of my interpreters, "Steve." Another interpreter, "Jim," joined in also.

I then asked, "How is the current government structure accepted by the country on the whole, and if you could choose a group, who was the most dissatisfied. Is the country on the whole happy with the balance of power?"

Steve answered again about the Sunni population: "The Sunni are most dissatisfied." He reiterated to me that the Sunni were primarily Ba'athist, the party of Saddam, so they continue to fight. "The Sryians are also Ba'ath, so there is a lot of influence from them. Other than the Sunni, everyone is pretty happy."

Jim chimed in at this point, talking about the TV show here in Iraq, the one where they question captured insurgents. "They mostly all say that Syrian intelligence hired them or sent them here to fight the Americans."

Jim also added, "The insurgency is not really a Muslim fight. I do not see in the Koran where we are told to fight and bring terror on our people. I am Muslim, and I do not believe what the extremists believe."

My next question was this: "What is your impression of the ISF ability to conduct their own security missions in Iraq?"

Jim spoke first. "They cannot do it. Not yet. One of the biggest problems is family loyalty. If a cousin of an IP is in a house that gets raided, for instance, that IP will try and protect his cousin and proclaim his innocence based purely on family ties. Whether he is guilty or not, he will try and protect him. They are scared for retribution within their families and friends."

Steve mentioned a problem with nepotism (favoritism based on kinship). "The Police chief may hire his nephews and brothers to be in positions of responsibility, even though there are more qualified individuals who are not related. Until this stops, and we have the best people to do the job, rather than a guy's nephew, it will be hard for them to secure Iraq for themselves. If we hire and train the police and army, then assign them somewhere else in the country, outside of their hometowns, it will be better. No more, how do you say, interest conflict."

(You can read my previous post about my personal observations of the ISF here.)

My next question was this: "What opportunities have been opened to the Iraqi people since we liberated the country?"

"The biggest opportunity that has been afforded our people is education," said Steve. "The school system has improved so much. American soldiers help re-build schools, renovate buildings, and ensure the city is safe to go to school in. American aid organizations have donated so much, from basic school supplies, such as pens and pencils, book-bags, paper, and stuff like that."

Jim added, "I agree. It (the education system) is very good right now. The children are the future of Iraq, and you have given the opportunity to learn, to grow, to succeed. Teacher salaries have been raised, facilities have improved very much. Most of the schools have been renovated, and girls are getting an education now. This is good!"

Here ends PART 2. In the coming days, I will conclude this short series with my personal observations, and this question to the terps: "What would you like to impress most on anyone who is an outside observer?"



Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Read This... it deserves to be read

I have Blogrolled a teenage girl from Nebraska who posts under the name "thepatriot14." Her name is Jennifer. If you click on the link that says "An American Youth with Her Head on Straight" you can read her blog.

I really enjoyed this post about "Why We are at War." I can't believe she is 14. (I think she is 14, just a guess, from her screen name.) Her writing is good, and her ability to elucidate her thoughts belies her age. I am VERY impressed with her blog. It is one of my daily reads.



Old Lady Time (a guest post)

MDG of my medics asked me if he could use my blog to post a story about an old woman in town...and I believe it deserves to be read. So, I am happy to introduce PFC Christy.

My name is PFC Christy and I am a medic in the Scout Platoon. I have been in Iraq for some months. In the amount of time I have been here, I have come across some extrordinary people. I know you all have heard about some of the guys that work with us directly and the tremendous amount of efforts and help they have been. I know you have also heard of some of the heroic stories about the Iraqi Army and Police as well, doing what they can to make their city of Kirkuk a better place. Well, there is one woman's story that I felt was the most deserved of praise and recognition. I will not give out her nickname or where she lives. To those who have been in combat know why and to the others who may wonder, it's for her safety. I will call her "Old Lady Time."

Old Lady Time is in her middle ages, I would say roughly fifty or sixty years old. Her hands and feet are stained with the dirt of the earth. Her hair is thin and matted and her clothes are loose fitting and cover her in layers. She moved to Kirkuk from down south some time ago. I apologize for not knowing where she moved from down south, or when she arrived in Kirkuk. She moved here after her husband passed away. She has no other family, and had no other means of survival where she came from.

We came across her path one night when out on a partrol. And this is where the bond and relationship formed. She helps us by keeping an eye out where she lives for any activity or vehicles or people that shouldn't be in the area or look suspicious. There are times when we have woken her, but she chimes right in talking to us, giving us information on the happenings of the night, and then thanking us for anything that we might do for her. When we leave she kisses her hands, raises them in the air, and brings them down out in front of her. It's almost like she is praising us. In all due actuality, we should be the ones praising her.

So often we hear of men and women in the city telling us where "ali baba" may be or where a rocket attack may have come from. And I know we appreciate all that help. The only difference is the people have homes, jobs, families, cars, the things that make our lives a little easier. But Old Lady Time to me has given the biggest help and sacrafice of all. She has no home, no family, no car, anything. but she helps us out anyway she can. And for that she deserves the highest praise of all. So even though it's not much, this poem is dedicated to her.

"Old Lady Time"

Old Lady Time, covered in
your black dress
Come down to my rivers
and lay your head to rest
In the desert sands where
kings of cobras roam
One-holed bathroom
now your only home
Whisper in my ears the
tales of your bones
Come dance with me
in places where the sun has never shone
Pray for a rain that will
never fall
A will divided by
the berlin wall
Old lady time let your
wrinkles fade away
Your mind may be gone,
but please for me
let your soul stay.

I hope this has shed some light on the character of the Iraqi people. They want their country to be prosperous and peaceful. They want it to be safe for their familes and jobs and children. And with people like Old Lady Time, and the countless others who fight for their rights and help us, someday they will have their wish. Thanks for reading this.

PFC. Christy

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Hate Comments

Ok, I really don't care who is posting the hate mail, under "Anonymous" and "Hammer". Know this:

You will not stop me from writing.

I know where it is coming from. Because of the ambiguity of our server, I cannot pinpoint the exact user, but I know where it is coming from. I have the ability to look up the ISP of my visitors.

I know you live in the same building with me. Be a MAN and talk to me face to face, rather than hide behind an "anonymous" tag. You call me a coward and a sissy, but you can't even talk to me in person. That sounds like the pot calling the kettle black.

Also, my young child relatives read this site, so I would appreciate it if you would refrain from swearing.

And make sure that you can understand what I write before you criticize. Read, assimilate the info, then comment. You have really made yourself look like an idiot by making the comments you do. Attention to detail.

Oh, and if you want to be a leader, your actions and words show your immaturity. If you do not have the gumption to let yourself be known to me, you are the one who does not have what it takes.

I do not proclaim to be the hero. I do not proclaim to be a super-soldier. I am not SF, I am no Ranger, and I know it. Do not confuse yourself.


The Straight Word....Straight from an Iraqi Citizen (PART 1)

Yesterday, I took some time to sit down with one of our interpreters and ask his some questions about the US impact on Iraq in the last 2 years. While the following account of my interview is not direct quotes, be sure that there has been no "journalistic license" nor any additions to thoughts conveyed to me by the interpreter.

First off, let's call him "Steve". Steve possesses a very high level of education.

My first question to Steve was this: "Can you tell me three things that have gotten better since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime??"

He then told me that people are making more money since the fall of Saddam. The average salary, he says, was $1 a month, and that's not a typo. There was very widespread poverty, because there was simply not a lot of money circulating in the economy.

He also said that there were no workers rights. No overtime pay, no re-employment rights, nothing of the sort. He mentioned the salaries again, saying that if you made $3 a month, you were doing well.

The third thing he mentioned was that the economy has stabilized in the last two years. He said "You could go to the market one week and pay 15 dinar for an item. The next week, they might have none at all. The next week, the item might be 170 dinar. You never knew if they were gonna have what you wanted, or if they did, you never knew if you were gonna be able to afford it. That made it very hard to feed your family." He also said there was so many more things than three improvements... that it would be impossible to talk about them all.

My next question was about the elections. I asked about his voting experience.

"When Saddam held elections, when we went to the ballot box, a security man from Saddam was at the ballot box. He would say, "Give it to me," and he would make a mark for you on the paper and put it in the box. So we know that this was a lie, but we could not speak about it, because we were scared that he (Saddam) would kill us."

"My mother said "We must go to the polls!" My whole family went to vote. My brother was an interpreter with the Marines in Fallujah, and he could not vote on that day because he was working, but they made sure that he was given a time and place to cast his vote."

"We cried when we saw the voting. My mother cried tears of joy when we saw the voting. We were so happy that the American forces were here to let us vote. We saw the soldiers and the helicopters keeping us safe. We were so grateful for the Coalition Forces."

I piped in and mentioned to him that we only secured the cities and routes; the IA and IP secured the polling sites, in order to maintain the integrity of the process. To this he replied: "We are sure of the purity of the elections. We have no doubts."

I then asked "How important is it that there be a balanced, fair, and multi-lateral government?"

He replied, "Very important. The Shia and Kurd did not have rights since 1920, when Iraq gained its independence from the British. The minority Sunni ruled this country for 83 years, using fear as its main weapon. That is the only way a minority can rule, by using fear and cruelty. You must have equal rights." He also mentioned that "this is a good start."

My next question was this: "How is the current leadership accepted by the general population. Is the country happy witht the balance of power?"

He said that the Sunnis believe that the US put the Kurds in too powerful of a position. They erroneously believe that we put them there. "That is why the mujaheddin still fight their Jihad." But the rest of the population, he says, is making a concerted effort to accept a mulit-lateral balance of power.

This is the first part of two or possibly three posts about the same interview... stay tuned, folks.



Saturday, April 23, 2005

Are we winning? Yup.

I hate to send my readers to such horse-puckey, but this guy has to be read to believe that some people actually think this way.


Thursday, April 21, 2005


So I got to have a little fun last night. A convoy heading to my base got hit by an IED yesterday. No one was hurt, and there was slight vehicle damage, but other than that, it was a negligible occurence. I was on QRF (Quick Response Force) yesterday. So, when they got hit, they also spotted multiple other devices in the same area. It had been set up to be a compound, complex IED strike. Luckily, no more went off. As part of our taskings, QRF can be launched to escort and provide security to the Air Force EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal, aka the "Bomb Squad") to disarm and collect or neutralize the IEDs. So we hopped in our trucks and sped out to the scene. Most of what we did out there, I cannot divulge, due to Operational Security (OPSEC) concerns, but we were able to clear the road of dangerous devices.

The EOD guys have this cool remote controlled robot that has some cameras and a robotic arm that can be used to manipulate the IEDs or place explosives. This robot saves lives, for the fact is we can send a machine to a potentially dangerous place and not risk human life. Below is a photo of me with the robot. The others in the photo did not wish to be identified.

So we set up and began clearing the IEDs from the road. Our main job was security for EOD, but we had a quick second for the picture. Anyhoo...

There were four devices we had to neutralize. They blew the first two, and moved on to the second two. The third and fourth were close enough that the robot was able to pick up one of the devices and co-locate it with the fourth. When we got the charge set, the EOD Team Chief asked if I would like to be the one to set-off the charge by radio-control. I was like... HELL YEAH!!

So we all hunker down behind the EOD HMMWV. He showed me how to use the firing device, and I got ready to shoot the charge off. Oh, it was 5lbs of C4. These guys were not messing around. They have a bumper sticker that says, "EXPLOSIVES: If they don't solve your problem, you aren't using enough."

So I holler out "FIRE IN THE HOLE, FIRE IN THE HOLE, FIRE IN THE HOLE!!!!!!!!!!" (I have always wanted to yell that) and press the button. Silence. So, I press again. Nothing. And once more. Bolo. So the EOD guy says to me, "You know that if there's a mis-fire, you owe us a case of near-beer," and I said "Ya'll are just scamming me, you try it!" So I hand him back the detonator. He presses the appropriate buttons. Nada. So the Team Chief stands up , scratches his head, and goes, "Oh Yeah, the W-----K is on. (Not swear words there, just a name of an Electronic Warfare system that we have... that's all I will say about that.)

"Try it again," he says, handing me the detonator. "FIRE IN THE HOLE!!!" and mash the buttons down again. A millisecond pause, and I am thinking, "Oh great, not again!!" but then there was a bright flash and then a thunderous KA-DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM!!! Mission Accomplished. There was a mini-mushroom cloud of black smoke, and a big hole in the side of the road. Sweet. I love stuff that goes BOOM.

So, I ended up not having to buy them a case of near-beer. I think they should owe me, cuz they forgot to turn the doo-hickey off.

Well, that was my cool story for the day. I went to sleep knowing two things....and both made me smile.

1. I got to blow something up. Explosions are cool.

2. Another day gone, another day closer to being with my wife. I love you, Baby.



Wednesday, April 20, 2005


I feel I need to talk about the elections that were held here at the end of January.

Here goes...

My unit was attached to 82nd ENG BN, 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, at FOB Gabe, located in Baqubah, Iraq. Our mission was route security, AIF interdiction, and physical security of the tallest structure in Iraq, the Diyala Radio tower and Diyala Media Center. This was a very important site to secure, due to the fact that the tower broadcasts across the nation, and it was being used to broadcast campaign material and encourage voters to go to the polls. The terrorists would have liked no better than to destroy the tower and stop the spread of information. It is 1300ft high. I climbed it. It took a long time. A loooooooong time. I kinda wished I had a G.I. Joe with a homemade parachute, like I used to make when I was a kid. But I digress...

For the actual election, our tasking was two-fold. First, we ensured that the ISF [Iraqi Security Forces (IA and IP)], had enough ammunition, food, supplies, barrier material, and communication to guard their own polling sites (PS). Secondly, our job was to patrol the sector and be able to react to any threats or attacks that might have taken place that day. This included enforcing the no vehicle curfew in place to guard against VBIEDs and drive-by shootings, clearing main routes in and around the city of Kana'an, about 12 miles NE of Baqubah, and generally projecting a presence to assure the constituency that it was safe to go to the polls.

The ISF secured their own polling sites. This was to ensure no one pointed the finger and accused the coalition forces of tampering with the balloting material. We provided armed escort to the balloting material to the PS, but after the ballots were inside the PS, no Coalition Forces entered the buildings.

There were 7 polling sites in our sector. Three were within a 5 mile or so radius, the rest were out in the boondocks. Our job the day prior to the elections was to patrol from PS to PS, delivering MREs, water, ammo and anything else the ISF needed to ensure security. We also made sure that the routes were clear of IEDs, which on one of the routes in the area, they were copious. Bombs everywhere. Luckily, we found some, but a few were detonated on Charlie Company, the company we were attached to.

(A quick word about C Co, 82nd Engineers. These guys were awesome. They treated us like family, from the first day we arrived to the day we left to rejoin our parent unit. To them, we were't "those NG guys;" we were team members, no matter what component. That is a rare attitude to find in the Regular Army, and we sure did appreciate it. I will never again make fun of the little castles the engineers always build out in front of their battalion areas. CHARLIE ROCK!!!!!!!!)

We conducted a 10 hour patrol the morning before the elections, from 0300 until 1300. We were able to get a hot meal and refit for the next mission, which kicked off at 2200 the night before the elections. We patrolled contiuously from 2200 until 0600 the morning of the elections. We then staged our patrol at IA HQ in Kana'an, as a pre-positioned Quick Reaction Force. We tried to catch a little combat nap, as the site we were at was somewhat secure. I emphasize "SOMEWHAT." No sooner had I laid down on the roof of my HMMWV, curled up in the fetal position under my space blanket in my little turret -- no way was I going more than 2 feet from MaDeuce that day -- that some jerk decided to blow up an IED 100m behind the wall of the IA HQ we were stationed at. How rude of an awakening that was. So we of course jump into action and speed to the site and cordon off the area, making sure that there were no secondary devices. We shot a suspicious box with MaDeuce, and it turned out to be just a box and did not explode. Oh, well, I am always happy to burn a little gunpowder and make some noise.

The rest of the day had nothing to do with rest. There were reported IEDs all over the city. Most of them were very small, man-portable devices, due to the vehicle restriction being heavily enforced. Basically, if you were foolish enough to drive on those two days;

1. You were going to the hospital and you reaaaaaaallly needed to go, or

2. You got the scare of your life when four or more armored HMMWVs chased you down, put guns in your mug, and gave you their best angry face. Ever seen a felony stop on the TV show "COPS"? Like that, but with lots more cold steel.

When you look at the M2 .50cal MG, with a hole in the end of it most people can stick their index finger in, people tend to get the message. Drivers were detained unless they had valid ISF identification or were in dire need of medical care. I heard about a woman giving birth in a vehicle over the radio, and she got an escort to the hospital with a US Medic. That was cool to hear about: Born on the day freedom came to Iraq.

One of the team leaders in my platoon, SGT. SRA (Shall Remain Anonymous), made one of the most amazing shots I have ever witnessed. A 60mm mortar with a timed detonator was wrapped in a pink plastic bag and placed along a trail to one of the PS. Somehow, the device was bumped and it was exposed what the bag held. We responded and cordoned off the area. We had no idea how much time was left on the timer, and EOD was at least an hour away. SGT SRA moved to a position where he could safely engage the device with his M4 carbine. Using only iron sights, SGT SRA shot the detonator clean off of the mortar round. First shot. There was not a scratch on the mortar round itself. After about 30 hours without sleep and continuous patrolling, he was able to make this amazing shot first try. Then we were able to babysit the mortar until EOD arrived to pick it up.

There were a couple more IEDs that we dealt with that day, but none too exciting.

After the polls closed, we posted to different PS to ensure that they were not attacked after dark. Luckily, this did not happen. We then escorted the ballots to the main FOB (Forward Operating Base) in the area.

This concluded election day for me. We conducted 40 hours of missions in 48 hours. It was a very long day, but I am glad to say I played a part in ensuring the safety of the populace and planting the seeds of freedom in Iraq.



Friday, April 15, 2005

Rangers vs Special Forces

My buddy Pete has a great post up... I'm still laughing... Rangers vs SF. Enjoy.

MDG ......OUT!

Busy Week

I must apologize for my lack of updates here lately. It has been a busy week. It has been an especially bad week to be an Iraqi Policeman in Kirkuk. One of their police stations got hit twice yesterday. Five IPs were killed in the first attack. Another got killed later that afternoon in a drive-by shooting. The day before yesterday, twelve IPs were killed attempting to defuse an IED. I responded to that incident, and it was horrible. They were all standing around the device when it exploded. Humpty-Dumpty comes to mind: "All the King's horses and all the King's men..."

Here is a link to the claim of responsibility to those two attacks.

The insurgency seems to be going on the offensive. The AIF (Anti-Iraqi Forces) seem to have renewed vigor as of late, turning a normally peaceful Kirkuk into a city of gunfire, smoke and debris. We have been running all over God's green earth, all day long.

Sorry again that I have been lacking in the posting arena, but duty calls.

And to those who have sent donations to Omar, they have begun to arrive, and he is overwhelmed with gratitude. He asked that I thank you from the bottom of his heart.

Oh, and if anyone knows of a place for me to host video for this blog, lemme know.
I got some cool sequences of us driving down the road and the kids flooding the sidewalks waving and screaming happily.

Scouts Out!!


Monday, April 11, 2005

Update, and a sad one at that...

I am sorry to report the soldier who I posted that was injured died of his wounds. I do not know his name, but I know he was a soldier from 1-163 INF, 116th BCT, Montana Army National Guard. Please pray for his family and his fellow men. God Bless, Joe.


Saturday, April 09, 2005

Kirkuk, Party Town of N. Iraq

Ok, first I must apologize for the lack of posting lately. My internet connection had to be shut down for a few days. Unfortunately, someone in my brigade was injured, and all stateside communication is cut off until their family can be notified. This is to alleviate families from finding out their loved one has been hurt through the rumor mill. Ok, enough about that.

Wow, this place was CRAZY on Wednesday. I mean Kirkuk was a serious party spot. The annunciation of Jalil Talibani as Interim President of Iraq was VERY well recieved here. Kirkuk is a predominately ethnic Kurdish city, in a predominately Kurdish region of the country. So, when the populace here, which was persecuted and genocided by Saddam, finally saw that they had a Kurd in a powerful position in the New Iraqi Government, they went BONZOS!!!!! In a good way, except for all the airborne lead. It is tradition here to shoot into the sky in celebration. Well, to say the least, there were LOTS of celebratory fire. LOTS! I mean there were tracers racing skyward every way you turned. People were speeding throughout the city, honking their car horns, flashing their lights, and streaming Kurdish flags out the window. My favorite one I saw was a little Toyota 1/4 ton pickup with (and I am not making this up) 14 people in the back, cheering, singing, and yelling, and they had an 8x10 Kurdish flag on a big pole, and they were racing around the city.

We all saw the photos in the news after the elections, of the people who had the ink-stained index finger as a sign of them voting. You know, kinda like the little American flags that say "I Voted" on them. That was a momentus day. Democracy's seed was planted that day. On Wednesday, the first leaves pushed through the hard Iraqi soil and opened, showing that, indeed, democracy has put down roots and is well on its way to flourishing.

I wrote earlier about heroes and patriots. In that post, I talked about how Iraq would only survive if ethnic and religious differences were set aside. Look at the composition on the leadership of the interim government. There is a Shiite Prime Minister. There is a Kurdish president. I am not sure on this one, but I believe the VP is Sunni.

So the Left and the MSM claim President Bush lied. That is not of issue. What is at issue is this: Democracy has found fertile ground in Iraq. People are seeing that acceptance and willingness to work with people of different ethnicities and religious beliefs is a good way to go about governing a country. I tell you what... the folks around here are happy. I like it when the people I pass on the street while on patrol are happy. Less high-speed pointy stuff.

Scouts Out.


Thursday, April 07, 2005


HMMWV's are really fun to drive. They will go just about anywhere. Except for here.....

This was a tough one to get unstuck. If that was my driver.........

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Ask Mustang23, with a little help from MDG

Mustang23 asked me to help him answer some questions that were posed to him by Adam and class.

"How is the city life in Iraq? What type of tranportation do you use to get around in Iraq?"

Q. "How is the city life in Iraq?"

A. City life (at least in Kirkuk) in Iraq is a bit different. You do not see the expansive shopping centers, the huge billboards, or very many traffic lights. I can only recall seeing one, and it was inoperative. You also see a lot of livestock in the city. It is normal to see a car dealership or a small grocery store and be able to see livestock, like cows or sheep, in the heart of the city. They bring sheep ANYWHERE. The roads are in generally poor condition, and potholes abound. I mean they are everywhere, and they are BIG.

A City Streeet in Kirkuk

The markets in the city are bustling. There are hundreds of carts and tables, piled high with colorful vegetables, fresh baked bread, kebob and falafel stands, shoes and sandals, tobacco products, and a myriad of other wares. Cash is the name of the game. Most all trade in the markets is with cash.

Housing is also different. The city itself is one big suburb. There does not seem to be any set boundaries for industrial, agricultural, business, or retail areas. Markets, shops, restaurants, small garage bakeries, and businesses are interspersed throughout the city. It seems like there is always a place to buy bread or a small candy shop everywhere. You can also find all type of buildings in close proximity of each other. You can see mud huts next to cinderblock houses with beautiful tiling on the exterior.

There is no sewage system in place here. You will see puddles of BLACK mud. It is raw sewage in the streets. So, along with the ever-present livestock, it makes for a very pungent odor that covers the city. I am not sure about how many of the houses have running water. Wild dogs run rampant throughout the countryside. I mean that there are dogs everywhere. Everywhere.

Q. What type of tranportation do you use to get around in Iraq?

A. Well, if you can think it, it is used here. Many people have cars here. You see a lot of old cars, like 80's model years. Opel is a popular make. Nissan Patrols (similar to the Pathfinder) are all over. There are numerous small trucks. Nissan, Toyota, and Mitsubishi are popular. There are thousands of taxis around. You identify taxis by their paint jobs. Most taxis are white with orange wheel wells. If you look closely at the photo below, you can see 2 taxis parked in front of the mosque.

You will see buses, cars, tractors, trucks, donkey carts, bikes, mopeds, motorcycles, and good ol' LPCs (Leather Personnel Carriers, or... shoes). I even saw a guy riding a cow. There are a lot of buses. There seem to be no restrictions like seatbelts or riding on a vehicle that is not designed to transport people. You see people sitting on the back of dump-trucks, tractors, or wherever they can fit and have something to hold on to. It is ridiculous.

You do not need a license to drive here in Iraq. If you have a car, you can drive. So, that makes for some hectic navigation around the city. If someone is stopped, they just go wherever the vehicle will fit. If there is too much traffic on the side of the road they are driving on, they jump the median and go the wrong way. It is ridiculous. People just drive wherever they want.

Now, if the question about transportation was about what the US uses for transportation, the workhorse is the M1114 Up-Armored HMMWV (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle). For pictures or specifications click either of these links. The M1114 is the best vehicle for the job, due to its weapons capability, flexibility, maneuverability in urban settings, speed in wide-open areas, and level of protection afforded the crew.

I hope this answers your question adequately. Feel free to ask anything you wish to know.

Scouts Out.


Monday, April 04, 2005

Iraqi Security Forces

Yarbz, from, asked me to talk about the IP (Iraqi Police) and IA (Iraqi Army). I guess they are portrayed as incompetent, lazy and rife with turncoats by the MSM. So, here goes...

The IPs that we deal with here in our area are very well trained, motivated, and dedicated as a whole. The photo above is me (kneeling, left) and some other squadmembers at Kirkuk IP HQ. This group of guys were very professional. They carried themselves and their weapons with confidence. The IP here seem to be very well equipped, with Glock pistols, AK-47 rifles, and body armor. Their uniforms are mostly standardized, with the exception of their footwear. Their footwear ranges from American desert boots (no doubt given to them by soldiers trying to lighten their load on the way back to the land of the big PX) to simple leather shoes, and everything in between. They are constantly conducting mounted patrols around the city, and manning traffic checkpoints everywhere.

Here in Kirkuk, the IP have an ESU, or Emergency Services Unit. This is the IP SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team. In our effort to transfer power to the new Iraqi government, we are transitioning responsibilities to them for different missions. I cannot divulge which missions we now allow them to take over, nor can I expound on what role we play with them. I can say this: These guys have their stuff wired tight. They are tactically sound and technically proficient.

As to the issue of them being full of turncoats and traitors, or of them being infiltrated with AIF (anti-Iraqi forces), I cannot speak to that with any authority. I have no doubts that that problem exists, but to its spread and depth within the rank and file of the IP, I cannot say.

I have not really had as much contact with the IA as I have had with the IP. In my less numerous dealings with the IA, I have noticed that they are green, very green. Green, in and of itself, is not a bad thing, but they need to grow. They need time to train, time to sweat it out in the field, to make mistakes and learn from them. The problem is that they do not have time to train, and they make mistakes in live combat, where the smell of cordite burns the air (I really LOVE that smell), the bullets crack as they pass you, you get showered with the dirt and the hot embers and the shrapnel of the explosions of RPGs and IEDs. They have not been afforded the opportunity to learn any other way except for men dying.

The IA need to select and train a strong NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) corps; corporals and sergeants, with authority to give orders and maintain discipline. Discipline is another thing the IA lacks. Their basic line soldiers seem to non-chalantly go about their missions, with no hurry or fear of consequence. A lot of these soldiers could use, and learn a lot from, a good smoking (remedial PT), some extra duty, and some developmental counseling from their senior leadership.

So, this question is posed in the media all the time: "Is Iraq ready to govern and secure itself?" NO. Not yet. But they are getting there. I do not believe it is possible to man, equip and train an army and a national police force to a self-sufficient level in less than 2 years. But I tell you what, they have a good start.

Oh, and Mustang 23, I haven't forgotten about you. Just gathering some information from Omar, so as to be as factually correct as possible.

Michael, another milblogger, at A Day In Iraq has a good blog up. Check it out. Plus, his he is a new father, so go there and have a cigar with him. I believe the brand he is smoking is "ItsaBoy".

That is all for today, folks.......Scouts Out.


Sunday, April 03, 2005

Tea Time

Me (on the left, the dummy with his hand in front of his face) and some members of my squad enjoy tea, brought to us by the Iraqi Police, while visiting one of their stations.

Hey Mrs. Rene.....did we do the pinky thingy right??

Friday, April 01, 2005

Opinion Inc.

Hey Ya'll....sorry for the lack of new information, but things have been quiet lately... don't get me wrong; quiet is good. I was alerted to this blog by The Huntress. It is another Milblogger, in a situation very similar to mine: Opinion Inc.

That is all for now....

Oh, BTW, I have another feel-good story in the works.