Saturday, August 06, 2005
Update - 06 Aug 05
Since the last update, we did indeed swap companies to Ramadi, so Gy Ellis and SSgt Walsh are back with us and SSgt Decamillo and Gy Roche are over in Ramadi for a few days. I went with the convoy up and back when the swap occurred; pretty interesting. Nothing like being the lead vehicle behind an M1A1 main battle tank on a convoy at 0430; that thing at night all blacked out screaming down the highway has GOT to scare the crap out of the bad guys. Believe me.
Been busy this week with local patrols and other operations. Got the team out to the machine gun range to just practice a bit. Firing machine guns and traveling with them safely is just not something we are all expert at yet. An M4 rifle or M9 pistol is easy: magazine in, round chambered, on or off safe, etc. But the care and feeding of a .50 cal, M240G, or M249 can be potentially more hazardous. I will include a couple of pictures from our time on the range.
Hmmmmm, other news… Believe it or not, the chow hall at TQ has steak and lobster once a month, so three of us made the 4.2 mile drive last night to attend. I had just finished up walking on a patrol with Top Radke through Civil Camp, felt like I was going to drop from heat exhaustion, drove the HUMMV with the two other Marines game for the trip, and was eating steak and fried shrimp an hour later. This is one strange deployment, my friends.
I have been negligent in keeping up with my Absurd Moment of the Day. Here is one from the other day. I was in the office of an Iraqi officer talking to he and some other officers about an upcoming operation. Behind the other officers, playing on DVD on a television, was an old World Wrestling Foundation match with Hulk Hogan and Rowdy Roddy Piper, volume off. Trust me, very distracting when trying to listen to an interpreter. Just s-t-r-a-n-g-e.
Just for S.A. (situational awareness), SSgt Walsh is still easily leading the team in terms of mail received. By a long shot. Exponentially. Both in letters and packages. Just thought I’d mention it.
Will write more soon. Again, let me know if you have any things you would like me to expound on.
P.S. Just learned from my father-in-law that he has half of Ocala, FL “tuned in” here. Guess I better get serious about updating this thing. Again, I invite suggestions for subject matter. There is only so many ways I can say, “I’m hot, the jundee did something off the wall again, and my back hurts”!
Sunday, July 31, 2005
A shot of a house from yesterday's patrol. If an earthquake ever hits this place, every home would go down like a house of cards. Stacked cinderblock with a really poor mortar job, and I GUARANTEE no rebar or reinforcement of any kind.
They do, however, have a satellite dish. Who knows what it is hooked up to.
Man, you would not believe the biggest issues we seem to have these days. Right now it is air conditioning; who has it, and who doesn’t. Who takes matters into their own hands and removes swamp coolers from other buildings to “install” as wall units into their rooms. Who threatens Neville the A/C repair guy with cutting the power cords of all the a/c units if Neville doesn’t fix his room NOW (and this guy's a/c hasn’t worked since we got here). It has honestly been one of those days where I spent about 15 minutes on actual tactical issues and 12 hours on the most ridiculous, non-tactical, sanity-draining issues you have ever seen. Iraqi interpreters who don’t like Jordanian interpreters; Iraqi soldiers who bust the locks on two empty rooms (signed for by Marines) and take the bunkbeds out across the parking lot in broad daylight. It IS the Twilight Zone. The nickname for Iraq is “the IZ” for some reason. I think I will start calling it “the TZ”.
Working with the Iraqis is kind of like playing poker. We have our cards (gear, assets, money, knowledge); they have theirs (native personnel, speak Arabic, have ALL of the “boots on the ground”). Each day, each conversation, each operation is exactly like playing another poker hand. There are days when it feels like playing five games of multi-dimensional poker. Luckily, our guys are pretty good poker players, but it can get tiring. As Marines, we’re used to making the plan, executing the plan, giving orders, following orders, etc. These guys are not as… exact. You have to see the consequences, the give-and-take, over the LONG run. If I win this hand, what will the cost be tomorrow. If I shame them into going to Ramadi on schedule, what will they NOT do for me next week. This is the Land of Unintended Consequences.
Other news: the new battalion which took over from 1/506th is the 1/110th, a Pennsylvania National Guard outfit. They are a good unit, and I think that we and they will have a great working relationship. Their CO is a former Marine, and since half of our team is from Pennsylvania, we have started off on great terms with them. We all have a really good impression of these guys.
I’m off for now. Hey, if there are any specific questions that anyone has out there, about the camp, about the area, about the equipment we have, please let me know. I feel like I am just rambling sometimes, and would be glad to address questions and comments from the peanut gallery.