The days are already above eighty degrees and the rainy season is coming to a majestic end as it dumps more rain than the city has seen in the last six months, or can handle. The rain turns everything to mud; even the streets have enough dirt and dust on them to become a slick brown river. And yes, the Bob Dylan song echoes in my head as electoral politics has dominated every aspect of the nation’s leaders. Their security decisions, internal social programs, and external negotiations are all designed to promote or hinder a specific notable on the list of candidates. The obviousness of these politically motivated decisions is incredible. We have always asked for a transparency in the United States of our own politicians, only to see them clouded with clever announcements, and sharp diplomatic speak, hiding intentions that would be unpalatable to the populous at large. Here it is not the case, they do not care how it is perceived, they know that their actions will have impact, no matter how obvious it is. Their tactics will achieve the desired results with little affect on their position.
The war is over, I will say this again, the war is over. By no means am I saying that violence does not exist in the country, it does. And in fact, they are unable to secure their own border, nor can they move their army and support it logistically. Yes, we have done our job, they are trained and some of their units are excellent and comparable to American capabilities at the tactical level. This does nothing to help you understand at the utter incompetence from which their higher-level systems and processes function. Nor does it allow you to digest the level of influence that Iran has on this upcoming election, nor the ease upon which Iran filters in both lethal and non-lethal aid into this country.
More shocking than anything that I have just written is the intense ability of the senior leaders to only see half of the picture. They miss that fact that the television interviews of the ERB are just as politically motivated as the arrest warrant for a prominent Sunni leader who is a candidate. They will not allow me to move and detain the warranted Sunni leader because of its political impact, yet will allow me to help the ERB show off skills that it does not have, with equipment that they cannot use. The leadership cannot seem to grasp that those interviews and demonstrations are just as important politically as the detention of the candidate. Without getting into details, the level of frustration has risen well past the point of concern, and has slipped down the other side to pure compliance. “I do what I am told,” this statement is the hallmark of those that have given up any responsibility for the actions that they take. (Yes this is how I feel, but do not confuse this with the overall principles from which my team and I operate, to do no unnecessary harm is a line of conviction that will keep me ethically in check.) (I will steal a quote “ I have a limited morality, but my ethics are strong.”)
Another key aspect of this whole process, now that I have made mention of certain blindness that exists that the lower levels, I will now look towards our operational commanders. They have been told that the Army is leaving and the Americans are withdrawing, turn over your responsibilities to the host nation. Yet, every chance they get they fight for their jobs. They are unable to let go, they cannot accept that their mission is to leave, and every day they go out of their way to ‘pressure the system,’ to create targets, and to push agendas that are American designed and based. It is incredible to me that a full bird colonel will call down to me and ask for the interrogation reports of a low-end thug. Alternatively, that the same commander will call down to me and ask me why I could not execute a specific target. They will not let go. As the operational tempo has slowed down to a halt, the senior American leaders have found every work around possible to speed up the Iraqi system to ensure that their specific units have targets and operations. There are not enough serious bad guys in the country for the level of forces that are trying to operate and each leader exerts as much pressure as he can to get his units to be actively engaged in combined offensive operations. You would think that they would be ok with an operation tempo that shows that we are unnecessary, or be more willing to accept unilateral Iraqi operations. However, this is just not the case.
I have a trouble remembering what I wrote last time I sat down to send an update. So I am not sure if I have followed my normal style or content, though I feel that this rant might give some of you who are curious an insight to the situation here. As for me, I am fine, I have no complaints, and the scotch still burns when I sip it from a plastic cut-off water bottle. My team is getting short tempered as our time here comes to an end. We are less than thirty days from returning to the snows of Colorado, and it cannot come soon enough. This will be the first time that I am actually excited about returning home. I remember last time dreading to come home, and begging to be allowed to stay. In the end home is where I needed to go and the jobs they offered me where not worth sticking around for. Now the jobs that I want are either in Afghanistan or in Africa. Tom, I have taken your statements to heart and am enjoying to the best of my ability the job I have and will relax to see what comes down the line next for my team and me. I am scheduled to be on this team for the next two and half years, plenty of time for me to find the trouble that I need. On a more humorous note, 97% selection rate to Major means in another two years, I should be promoted.
I am trying to think of other humorous events or moments to share, and am coming up dry. I spend a few hours each week with General No’man, the ERB commander. This is a man that has fought in every war Iraq has had in the last thirty years. Some of you (and I can guess who) are instantly thinking holy shit. And you would be correct; he was a rifle platoon leader in 1982, a Major in 1991 and a Colonel in 2003. He has slung bullets at Iranians, Kurds, Shia revolutionaries (he is Shia himself,) and Americans (twice.) He is alive to tell about these stories, and of course, you must take them with a grain of salt and wash it down with the sand of the desert to get an accurate account of his actions. He has lost more than a handful of men to the onslaught of the American War machine, and was able to survive. He went into hiding during the rise of the sectarian wars and then joined up with Hilla SWAT and USSF. Thus the start of his current illustrious career as a counter terrorist commando extraordinaire. Iraqi officer and politicos from around the country know him only as ‘The Bear.’ So, for the humor part; he is pissed that I cannot go with him to pick up the Sunni Politician. Tonight as the rain was falling hard, I went to see him to ask why he had a company on standby. When I entered his office, his intelligence officer and his operations officer were discussing a deployment. I asked him where he was going, with a huge smile he looked at me and said “I go to attack the IZ (the IZ is the green zone and the seat of power,) will you come with me!” True to my form, I said, “Good for you, and go with god, and tomorrow I will come and take pictures with you in the Prime Minister’s Office.” His response was “bull shit, why would I want to take pictures with the man that wouldn’t help me!”
Anyways, he was kidding, or so I think, please don’t share this last bit of information, for I am sure that it constitutes treason on some level. On a more personal note, ****, an old girlfriend from school is still hanging around in Baghdad, and I spend one night a week with her, watching movies and giving her shit. Those of you who remember this relationship can only guess at the mountain that I am trying to land my jet on. I am sure that I will have to bail out sooner rather than later only to feel all of her wrath at once, thank god for planes to Colorado. Also, for those on this distro that did not know, MAJ ***** ***** is now LTC ***** ****** and my dream of GEN ****** is another rank closer. When I call his office I always ask for General ******, sometimes they find this funny other times some poor Air Force Tech Sergeant is running around trying to figure out who the hell is General ******.
I am thinking I will be in DC in the end of April, and Florida in May, so please let me know if you will be around, I will try and link up with those that are around.
PS attached is a picture of my Team Sergeant and I, rare cause we are in uniform and clean cut… ***** he still makes fun of you sometimes, i think i am going to head your way in two years, also i owe you some stuff…