Ma Deuce Gunner

Ma Deuce Gunner


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Not Re-Inventing the Wheel...Just Fixing It

Sol was still fairly low in the eastern sky, its scorching rays tempered still, by a thin layer of clouds, yet to be burned off by the heat from the sun, and from the dust that rose into the air, kicked up from the convoy. We bump and bounce along a dirt road, tall reeds run the length of the rutted path, seperating the route from the irrigation canal on our left.

As my rippled soles of my boots hit the crust, I look around and survey my surroundings. The ground, baked hard from eons of desert sun, is sprinkled, seemingly uniformly, with black pellets. Sheep and goat turds litter the ground, and they are to be seen everywhere, almost as if they were spread, in feeble attempt to fertilize the hard ground. They crunch underfoot, moisture robbed by the parched air, as I move toward the link-up point. The days mission is a "Knock and Greet", a PC term for "Cordon and Search", and we are working in coordination with the Iraqi Army. This hamlet, barely large enough to be mentioned on the most detailed map, matches the earth it has been scratched from and formed out of. Thatched roofs dominate the 'skyline', if you can call it that. Chickens, Turkeys, sheep and dogs run about the villiage. A huge pile of sunflowers is to my left,

The particular IA fire team my squad was working with was standing around the back of the "bongo"; as we Americans call it, a brown Isuzu truck, with a long bed, the vehicle they rode to the target village in.

Our four are a motley crew. They were aged from early twenties to mid-thirties, near as I could guess. Their uniforms were dirty, ill fitting, but of uniform pattern. They all were copies of the old US Army "chocolate chip" Desert Camo design, reminiscent of the first Gulf War. It is odd to think about, soldiers of a new army, wearing the same, albeit old and discarded, style uniform of the force that repulsed their predecessors from Kuwait over a dozen years ago. Almost symblolic, if you ask me. A new, free army, wearing the clothing of a force that restored the sovreignty of a nation from the rule of their former dictator.

Two of them were wearing a flimsy imitation of a modern tactical vest, with cheap fastners and pattern mocking the American Woodland camo. Another is wearing a rugged canvas chest bandolier, with large black buttons, but faded from years of use. A brown blotch is splashed on the right shoulder, possibly bloodstains from another conflict, another time. The last one, the youngest, and probably the least ranking of them, has no vest, just bare body armor, AK mags jammed is his pockets, and a cheap, dollar-store-variety flashlight in his hand. Three had kevlar helmets, two with camo covers, one bare, a 'turtle shell", as it would be referred to in the US Army. Again, the youngest appears to have been shafted on the equipment, for he only has an old Iraqi Army style helmet, a steel pot, with a tattered and severely weathered leather chinstrap hanging unbuckled.

Their AK's were different, also. One had a brown plastic stock kit, one with a wood stock kit. Another had a skeletonized folding stock and black plastic furniture on the forend. The last one carried an AK with no stock, a thick piece of twine serving as his makeshift sling.

The only thing they all had was the yellow-papered French Galuoise cigarettes that dangled from each soldiers lip, or burned in their thick, dirty fingers. These soldiers are eager to get to work, though, enthusiastic to be on a mission. I see hope in them, hope that they might make a difference, hope they might make their country safer, hope that they might keep their children from being murdered in the streets by radical factions. Enthusiasim they have, training and equipment they are recieving, and more often than not, a baptism by fire for a new army they have had, for they fall under attack far more than the Coalition forces.

We canvass the village, the IA soldiers as the main searchers, stacking and restacking sacks of grain in storehouses, opening cabinets, overturning mattresses, combing through closets and exploring dark corners of sheds and homes. A barn, mud, with a thin sheet-metal door, no doubt its frame shoved into still wet mud, is secured with a rope. Our mission is to seal off this small burg, allowing no ingress or egress of the indigenous population, and search every structure, well, haystack and vehicle for contraband.

I open the barn, and the stark scent of urine immediately offends my nostrils. It is dark inside, for the entrance was on the west side of the hut, its solid mud windowless walls allow no light to enter. The roof is heavily thatched. The SureFire weaponlight on my rifle made short work of the darkness, obliterating the inky blackness, revealing a mainly empty space. The thick layer of loose dirt, still littered with goat turds, is decorated only with a large, bald flat tire, on a hopelessly dented and heavily rusted rim, never to roll correctly again. I think about a television series I saw, about a wheelwright in the early 1800s. The visual comes to me, as the show portrayed them crafting a wooden wheel with a metal rim, how perfectly round it was, made with rudimentary tools, unaided by computer balance machines and laser alignment devices. Our mission here in Iraq is similar to the weelwright of old. Build a device, or country, in this case, that spins well, balanced and straight. The former regime flattened the tire on the wheels of this country, bashed and mangled the rims on a hard stone or curb, and was content to let the country rust away in a dark, dank place.

Iraq is a new place, believe me. We are providing tools and training to this fledgeling country to flourish. Opportunity they have, paid for by men and women, not unlike myself, who gave all to secure and defend freedom, and who hail from many nations. Experience they need, and they get it on almost a daliy basis. Zeal and dedication they possess. These components are what is required to form a country that can move forward, in a balanced and straight path, guided by multi-lateral leadership under a new era of democracy. I hope that we will be successful, and they ride this vehicle we are building well, and that the wheels don't come off when they start to pick up steam.




At 11:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been looking at your blog from time to time, your getting better about opsec. for a time you were on the verge of telling to much. unless you were there which I was, you would have no idea. As for the previous posts where m9 gunner and ten driver put there input on it is comical. I have watched this plt come apart at the seams over the last 18months. Especialy here in kirkuk. That whole brother in arms comment, well when a group of guys live in these cont...

At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

continued. conditions people start getting on each others nerves. Everyone has traits that others dont like, but that is what makes each person different. To me reading these post is more entertaining than your blog, reason is it's a typical family squable between brothers.IE "dad he's touching me, dad he's making those faces again." Just an obervation, it's not a good thing to throw rank around because he put a bad post on your site, now if it is when on missions or

At 12:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

when told to do something then yes. As for ten driver well it's probably a good thing I dont know who you are, because I would have a field day ribbing you about your name! As for m9 gunner well theres another one that would be fun, and duecejr? Well like I said when I need a good laugh I read your posts, because it all is childish banter and just think when we finally get to leave this place I like to call hell! You probably wont ever see each other again, and what a way to remember our time here together!

At 12:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yea one last thing duece you said you can find out who writes these posts well fine by me if you have any questions why I put it on look me up, I jsut wanted to put my two bits worth in!

At 12:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You are full of hot air! You lack focus on your mission and your tired and blatant arrogance stinks. You need to have your ibventory of crass thinking cleaned up. You lack so much in your character that it is really seething with digust. Instead, you should care and show kindness for your fellow soldiers and the people of Iraq that need so much of our gracious help to start a new chapter of liberty for them. Your condescending attitude is going to get your fellow soldiers and your unit hurt.

I hope that your commanding officer sees this tirade that you exhibit. You definitely have taken yourself out as an effective witness for freedeom towards the Iraq people.

At 9:22 PM, Anonymous MDG's Wife said...

This was a great post (It was refreshing to read something besides unintelligent comments coming from over there!). I love hearing about the things you are doing.
The media makes this war out to be a waste of time and its nice to be reminded that its not. Hang in there guys, you're almost home!

At 4:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know I wish you could find the guy posting the hideous comments that he does and smack him around a bit. I bet if he had 1 or 2 of you guys up in his face this would stop immediately. I am glad for one that you are posting the way that you are. It gives me an idea about what my husband and the rest of you are going through. I cannot tell you enough how brave I think that you all are.
Keep safe MDG. We will be seeing you all shortly :).
I can't wait to see you all stepping off of the plane and being back on our own soil.

At 6:41 AM, Blogger thepatriot15 said...

Great post! And guess what? I'm here not to debate, but to simply ENCOURAGE! Imagine that anonymous! *Sigh.* Some people...

Stay encouraged MDG: we are all praying for your safety.

At 6:57 AM, Blogger GunnNutt said...

I gotta agree w/thepatriot15, I just want to say Great Post!

At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Don Cox said...

I thought that was a well written post with real thought behind it. It's a pleasure to read good writing. Thanks.

At 9:02 PM, Blogger Edward said...


Thanks for your posts. We appreciate them over here, for they give us information that is not carried by the exempt media.

Thank you all for your service, and helping to put Iraq back together again with a civil society, and HOPE for the future.

At 6:34 AM, Blogger John Schroeder said...

Great Stuff! I've linked here

At 6:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm on the same FOB as MDG and my unit conducts the same cordon and searches as described in his post. I found MDG's descriptions of the IA soldiers to be demeaning. Yes, their equipment is not as good as ours is, but they are doing the best they can with what they have. They have improved dramatically since we first arrived at the beginning of the year. Stick to facts and cut out all the useless adjectives. See you at the Clamtina, Bulldog out.

At 7:45 AM, Blogger Michael said...

I meant not to demean their equipment. I know there is a need for better stuff. I was attempting to describe the situation as I saw it. Yes, they are doing the best they can with what they have.

The analogy of the wheelwright of old...they were still able to construct a working device with rudimentary equipment. I am not making fun of them. I have much respect for them.

At 10:54 AM, Blogger GunnNutt said...

MDG, I think your description of the IA is sympathetic rather than demeaning. It reminds me of our own ragtag bunch that spent the winter at Valley Forge oh so long ago.

At 11:02 AM, Anonymous streeter said...

MDG, Anon is correct, if you leave out all those pesky adjectives you would have so much more free time around the FOB.
i.e. We went on patrol with four IA soldiers and searched a village. I looked in a barn and saw a tire on a wheel. Beer call!

At 3:11 PM, Blogger Sirc_Valence said...

MDG, how's your Arabic?

I recently sent something out to Camp Falcon. You or someone here might want to check this out.

At 9:07 PM, Anonymous streeter said...

MDG, I feel like an idiot but I've got to make sure you know that my above post was a crack on anon, not you. The point was, without the descriptives there is no essay. Great work under your conditions.
Anon- You are a Blue Falcon.

At 11:04 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Streeter...Got it...I figured that a much. Thanks.

At 4:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'm on the same FOB as MDG and my unit conducts the same cordon and searches as described in his post. I found MDG's descriptions of the IA soldiers to be demeaning." - Anonymous

I didn't take it that way at all, but I am surprised they are not better equipped. Why are their AK's in bad shape? Didn't we confiscate thousands of new AK's in their boxes right after the war started? Are all the guns, rpg's, etc. that we find destroyed? Can't they be given out for use by the IA?

With all the military hardware in the country, you would think there would be enough to equip several armies.

At 12:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you think that what you are doing is worth the deaths of 25,000 Iraqis and 2,000 US soldiers, or, is this going to be like Vietnam - a completely pointless exercise?
The reason I ask is that it seems that we are helping to install an Islamic government with strong ties to Iran, which will lead to the enslavement of women.
Must make you wonder what you are fighting for!

At 12:32 AM, Anonymous Horrabin's Mistakes said...

Say what @ the latest Anon?
There's a country on earth that didn't decree as SOP Saddam's or the Taliban's atrocities that DIDN'T practice enslavement of women? Give up your stash of Afghani hash, drop Mao's Little Red Book, and back away from them slowly. The Medics will be right here soon to help you.
When I left the military in 1974 we had the Viet Cong. Same atrocities, different "religion" (if Communism could be considered a religion. Same fervor. But the VC didn't care about the sex of the fighters).
You might have noticed that women are not slaves anymore in places we've been lately. They'd be more than willing to stick their purple fingers up your nether region, and not for an examination either.
Makes me wonder what YOU would fight for, had you a clear head. Oh, and the 2000 were all volunteers, like the famous Casey, who KNEW what they were in for and went anyway. Some things are bigger than any individual. Get back to us if you need help routing Al'Quaida from your local courthouse someday.

At 10:12 AM, Blogger Smith said...

Too bad there are so many jackasses' with internet access.

I feel for ya MDG.

I thought your descriptions of the IA's (which I spent 6 months training) were right on the money! That's how they fight! They are still memebers of a third world Army. They are not going to step from the ruins of this country and resemble the British SAS. That's preposterious.
Besides, most of the good equipment goes to the problem citys first: Mosul, Baghdad, Basra, ect. Although recently we handed out NVG's to our IA's. So, the situation is improving.

Enough of that. Good job MDG. Keep up the good writing, and listen to no one but yourself.

Peace from the middle east

At 2:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Soldier I read a few comments threw out your blog. These men that are in your platoon that down talk you dont seem to know the definitions ofHonor,Commitment,Pride,and Loyalty to their fellow soldiers.
I have been a soldier for ten years of my life and cant and wont live any other life.I think that maybe they are at time gealous or mad becuase of the Honor which you hold for your commitment to your career and our way of life.Hold fast and keep up the good work and take that initative. Your a young man and have so much more to learn as a NCO but you are on your way dont try to find it just let it happen because it will. They will be gone in a few months getting out of the Guard because they cant hack it or they cant find pride in their life and you will be living your family life and being a citizen soldier. Let them go they will go be civilan because this is not for them. Good better for us because we dont need people like this in our system.


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