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.