SITREP DAY 90+
Hello from beautiful FOB Danger in beautiful downtown Takrit. Well, itís been a busy time over here, barely had time to sleep between missions, much less write my report. I have been doing so much I donít know where to start. So, I will try to give it to you in sections.
The trip over was uneventful. We flew on a chartered commercial flight over here. We landed in Kuwait and were transported by C-130 to Iraq.
FOB Danger is located at the palace complex in Takrit. I can tell you first hand that Saddam really knows how to build palaces. As you can see by the pictures I have posted he spared no expense when it came to luxury.
I work on the Civil Affairs Public Works Team. Our job is to help the government rebuild the water (sewage and potable) and electrical infrastructure. A challenging task, considering that 20 years ago, this place was cutting edge with ample power and water production to meet their needs. Saddamís regime created a system of cronyism and waste that allowed the systems to fall into disrepair. In many towns, raw sewage flows into the streets. Electric power is in short supply thus limiting some areas to only 8 hours of electricity a day.
Our job is to manage the water and power projects in our area of responsibility. Our area of responsibility covers four provinces. Most of the hot spots you here in the news are located in these areas, Kirkuk, Takrit, Samarra, Balad, Baqubah so you get picture.
The good news is that we are making good progress with the rebuilding. Power in some areas is now fully restored and new generating plants are being constructed. Wells are being drilled to bring the people more water and the sewage systems are being repaired.
I deal with everybody from the ministers in Baghdad all the way down to the common folks. I can tell you that from the ministers on down to the common folks they are nice and appreciate what we are doing for them. They are apprehensive of course that if we leave that it will turn into another Saddam regime or worse. They donít want us to leave till the place is stable and they feel secure with their new government. But overall, they are looking to the future and glad that Saddam is gone. If I could only video or tape record every testimonial I have heard telling us how much they appreciate us and what we are doing it would amaze you. I would say about 80 percent of the people support our efforts. There are of course the hard core elements, The Bathistís, that want this to go back to a Saddam like state or the religious fanatics that want this to be another Iran.
THE BIG LIE
I know back home all you hear about is how the people hate us and how many guys are getting killed over here. Well, people are getting killed over here but the part about them hating us or us not doing anything to benefit them is all false. Iím sure you all read or heard about the big operation in Samara where they got rid of all the ďinsurgentsĒ.
Well I donít know if they told you this or not, but out of the 120 insurgents killed in the fighting, 70 were from other countries such as Jordan, Iran, Syria ECT. Thus the big lie that the insurgents are all disgruntled Iraqiís is all wrong. I get a chance to watch Al-Jazera all the time over here. I was watching a news report about the bombings in Baghdad and they were interviewing a guy about the bombing. He was saying; ďwhy are they doing this to us?Ē ďWe are all Iraqiís!Ē This was translated to me by our interpreter. He went on to say how they injured some old man living next door and other stuff. Now you know all our media has access to this stuff, but if they showed what was really happening over here, it would blow their anti war message. All over the country things are being improved to benefit the Iraqi people. I know you probably donít see much of this on the news back home but, if you could see the before and after as I have, you know we are doing well. If I could have a picture every wave, every smile as we travel and deal with these people you would see the big lie is just that.
Iím sure you have all seen the movie Mad Max. Well driving in Iraq is just like a mad max movie. These people drive like nuts. Let me give you some examples; your Joe camel and the traffic is moving slowly. What do you do? Simple, drive across the median and up the opposing lanes of traffic to pass! Or your Joe camel and the traffic signal just turned red. What do you do? Simple, just run it! Pass on a blind curve? No problem! License? Who needs a stinking license! Itís true! Mad Max would be proud.
Well needless to say this place is dangerous. A good day is coming home from a mission without getting shot at. Most days are good and some days are bad. Itís like a game of 21, sometimes you beat the house, sometimes the house beats you, and sometimes you break even. You really donít sweat the small arms fire as the up-armored M114ís protect you pretty well. Itís the IED threat that makes you sweat. The up-armors handle those ok but, you never know when they will hit you with the big one.
The newest threat is VBIEDís or suicide car bombers. They pack a lot more wallop that can defeat the up-armor. The up-armors are pretty scarce around here, we are fortunate enough to have some. Our original vehicle is still down for repairs from a previous attack. This brings up another problem, getting replacement parts for the up-armors. As these things go down, the system is slow in getting the replacement parts. Having to go out and face those threats in anything other than an up-armor is pretty dangerous. Many units still have to do with the add-on armor kits. I guess itís still better than nothing but they need more up-armors over here.
In one of the Armyís great brain farts, they figured they would replace all the M-60ís in the CA and Psyop units with SAWís. While the SAW is probably a boon to Joe infantry guy as he doesnít have to lug the beast around with him, it just doesnít have the knock down power like the M-60. With the new vehicle threats, the SAW is pretty ineffective, and as you would guess, the army just canít supply the units with enough M-240ís, the replacement for the M-60. So somewhere in a warehouse in Kansas there are a bunch of M-60ís rusting away that need to be sent over here. We do have access to, and do carry AT-4ís with us, but it takes to long to employ one in a hurry.
CIVIL AFFAIRS IN ACTION
You usually donít see CA units participating in combat actions, but yours truly and the Public Works team kicked off Operation Baton Rouge by turning the lights off to Samarra at the sub station and holding the sub station during the operation. We did this for three nights in a row. The first night was pretty uneventful as they were to busy getting spanked, though the fireworks show was great. The second night we took sporadic fire as they figured out what was going on and the third night it was on. Fortunately for us, the division engineers who were supporting us brought some nice toys to play with, two 50 cals. and a Mark 19. So along with our pea shooter SAW, we were able to hold the sub station with no problem.
P.S. Talk about job security, we now have a CA project to repair the ďdamagedĒ sub station.
Well, thatís it for now. Sorry itís taken so long to write but when your hard working like we are here, sometimes you get a little behind on the paperwork. I have posted a lot of pictures on WWW.SFACHAPTER23.COM Go to the GALLERY. Till the next time,