Monday, August 22, 2005

Two more stories

Two things I forgot from yesterday. First, you have to be careful of what you say around the Iraqi, because many of them do speak at least some english. Gy Ellis was frustrated after this cluster of a raid we had about a week ago. We always try to get a digital picture of a detainee at the point of detention, with all evidence around him and the grid location written on the blindfold. A picture is worth a thousand words, especially to the Iraqi court system. Anyway, the Iraqis Gy Ellis had been with had NOT gotten a picture, and Gy was annoyed. At the brig here on base, the jailer asked for the picture. Gy says, with the Iraqi Lt right net to him, "They didn't bother to get one," or something like that. The Iraqi stops whatever he is doing and says in heavily accented english, "If you give to me the cammm-e-rrra, I will take the picture!" The only thing missing was the "wah wah wah wahhhhhh" and a sitcom laugh track. He and I still crack each other up by just saying "cammmm-e-rrrra" now. Hilarious!

Second, believe it or not, the heat wave has started to break, and it is now cool in the mornings and evenings. Still hot at noon, but not nearly as bad as even a week ago. Fall is around the corner, thank God. Our sense of scale is off, though. Anything below 90 and we feel like putting on an extra layer.

Gotta run.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Team update - 21 Aug 05

Dogs, Shoes, and “Nothing New Here”

A quick update. It’s just after 1200, and most of the team is just getting up. We had an op last night which didn’t step off until 0200, and most everyone didn’t get to bed until about 0430 or 0500. A pretty good op, though. Mostly Iraqi, with everyone out but Master Guns Traylor and myself at Drifter Base (Drifter is our radio call sign, inherited from the old team). Along with our team and the Iraqis, about eight SEALs joined the party. Netted three by-name targets, which sounds small, but by the today’s standards, for this size op, that is a pretty good night’s work.

A couple of observations that keep crossing my mind while out on patrol. First, dogs. This place is overrun with stray, feral dogs. Packs of them. Look for the most part like any mutt you’d see back home, but all are strays. I am a dog guy and it really drives me crazy. The Iraqis do not like dogs at all, and will refuse to allow one into their homes (which is actually quite funny considering that their sense of cleanliness is not so great (ref. my pictures of a couple of weeks ago)). While I have seen some cats, it seems to be mostly dogs. Some are pets (I guess), which makes life entertaining when you are doing a cordon and search in a neighborhood, knocking on doors and searching houses, but most run free in acks, even here on base. Top Radke and I were on a patrol yesterday and we were stopped on one street / alley while the Iraqis spoke to some locals. One street up, there was a puppy, maybe a year old, and that was HIS STREET. Three Iraqi girls, probably teenagers, come walking towards us from a couple of blocks away. This dog was OK with us (we weren’t trying to go down his street, but they were). The girls got about halfway and that dog just lit after them, barking his head off. The girls all screamed and ran – and I mean full on ran – back down away from us. Top and I thought this was hilarious; this puppy was clearly all bark no bite, but the girls didn’t seem to know that. I hope that he had a home on that street; he looked like a good dog.

Shoes. There is so much trash and debris just covering this country, but what amazes me is the discarded shoes. Everywhere. I think I see them because they aren’t something you usually see, like water bottles or kitchen food containers or any one of the innumerable trash items I’ve seen just thrown into the street here. Shoes stand out (no pun intended), maybe because they are more personal than just everyday trash, but they are just everywhere. Most are worn out sandals, with some old kids shoes in for good measure. Very strange.

“Nothing New Here.” This may sound strange, but everything here – even new things – look weathered and old. Everything. A new car will have dent in it; a new A/C will look like it was dropped a few times. New clothes look dirty; a new house will look shoddy and poorly built (even the nicer ones). You’ll see a “new” house going up next to a cinderblock and mud house with barnyard animals grazing the front yard. There is no such thing as central air conditioning, and all electrical work looks like a fire hazard from installation. It is truly a phenomenon: everything is old, right out of the box.

Well, my time is up. Gotta go get ready for the rest of the day. I will start working on a glossary of sorts, but some words or phrases may be so second nature to me that I don’t think of it, so let me know if there is anything in specific you need defined. Mrs. Radke (I think) mentioned that other folks could help out if I am too slow on this end, which I think is great. Community involvement on the blog would be a fine thing indeed. Means I can spend more time typing away about dogs and shoes.
Talk to you all soon.