08 February, 2006

In perspective

Brigadier General K____, the Iraqi general in charge of the base we are now at welcomed our team officially this past week. Let me paraphrase something from his speech via interpreter.

“Today, I took four different cabs to get to work. I did this so the evil men would not know where I was going. My wife and children left my house at the same time and took several cabs as well to get to her father’s house for the week I will be gone. It would not be safe for her to stay alone.”

“Most of the men you will work with can not tell their families what they do because they would draw attention to themselves and risk harm to their families.”

“We can not make recall rosters or phone lists because the enemy might find them and kill those or the families of those on such a list.”

“Everyday we have to pray we make it to base alive because of the IED that wait for us.”

“Things are better now then before when Saddam Hussein ruled.”

“I can own a cell phone, I can talk to whom I wish, I can do what I wish and I can leave if I wish.”

“Here is a story from before Saddam was defeated. An Army officer told his wife he had had a dream that Saddam had died and that he became president of Iraq. A silly dream and something you would just laugh at. His wife made the mistake of telling a friend. The next day the officer was seized and executed on his door step. His crime was to have dreamed.”

“I can now dream.”

On a much more serious note:

During his speech one of General K___’s staff officers’ cell phone rang. The officer stood up and went to the back of the room and tried to talk quietly but we could all hear him. Without pausing in his speech the general pointed to one of his body guards packing an AK-47. It wasn’t even a point just a flick of the hand. The guard walked to the back of the room. We couldn’t see what was happening of course but the talking stopped, instantly.

I think we can learn something from General K___.

Things continue here. We are flying less as we get the Iraqi’s to do more and more of the mission. Now we get to teach them the bureaucratic part of being a westernized squadron. I fail to see the value in this and I think somebody made a mistake in sending me since I have a well deserved reputation of saying, “Report? What report?”


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