Waving Friendlies, or Not?

Being in a war zone is a strange experience. As you can’t see from the pictures I haven’t posted yet, the camp is right at next to the town. It’s more accurate to say the camp is in an area that was formerly part of the town. It’s obviously more difficult to protect an area without a good dead zone.

So anyways, there we were (no shit, this really happened) in the connex pulling some stuff out. I heard somebody yelling outside. I looked out and saw these people on the roof, waving their arms. Maybe they were just waving in a friendly manner, but maybe they were dropping mortar rounds into the tube and turning away. I wasn’t real sure, so I shot them all anyway just in case. *

It’s interesting how being in a war zone changes your thinking. Anybody outside the wire could be a bad guy, but it’s likely that only a few are. It’s obvious that some are, or there wouldn’t be so many of those intrusive loud noises. I’m not referring of course to the call to prayer at 4AM and 10PM. That just makes them Muslims, not bad guys. I know there are quite a few who think there is no difference, however I suspect they don’t know too many of either type. It’s easy to make blanket pronouncements from the comfort of your own chair. It’s also usually prone to error and oversimplification.

There are people who are losing their nerve, but you can’t blame them. Those of us who are not forced to be here all have separate tolerances for what we will put up with. For some people, simple fear is enough. For others, hearing about someone who got shot up or filled with shrapnel is enough. Some will find that seeing this happen is enough. Some will leave due to pressure from worried people back home. Others will just find that the money isn’t worth their peace of mind. I can’t answer the question of is it safe, or is it dangerous. Clearly there are unusual and specific dangers here. At the same time there are ways to mitigate the risk. There are certain areas the bad guys seem to have an affinity for, and areas they don’t. If you stay away from those areas, it’s safer. You may not have the choice. There is always the inescapable sheer random factor as well, but hey, that’s unavoidable. People forget that bad things happen at home, too. Obviously, I’m speaking of this specific situation, and circumstances may change, making it overall more dangerous or safe. If the bad guys get too cranky, it may become more dangerous here. Things may calm down, making this not really any more dangerous than an unpleasant neighborhood at home. The biggest danger for those of us here, and not convoying to places, is primarily mental. You can worry too much about things. “What was that noise? Was it a mortar, or did someone slam a door?” It’s easy to be paranoid and work yourself into a frenzy, but it doesn’t do any good. Excessive worrying about a situation usually works out to be worse than the situation that you will find yourself in. At least that’s my experience in this life.

So far.

*No I didn’t.

2 Responses to “Waving Friendlies, or Not?”

  1. Robert Says:

    Heh. For a while there they were celebrating the end of prayer (1st and last) by sending us presents, but they have calmed down. Nothing since a fairly loud IED somewhere in town yesterday morning. I have no issue with their newfound lack of celebration, maybe it’ll stick.

  2. Imported Comments Says:

    From Eagl:

    I hope it doesn’t get too bad for you.

    The call to prayer becomes almost comforting after a while, as it signifies that life continues at a “normal” pace regardless of whatever else is going on. You can’t quite set your watch by it, but it does mark the passage of time regularly enough that you will find yourself expecting it, being suprised by it when you’ve lost track of time, or missing it when you are not within hearing distance of a speaker or tower and suddenly realise that you’ve been waiting for something to happen, and it didn’t.

    It’s sort of like how people at home watch the news every day at the same time after work, or do any one of a number of other daily rituals. It is nothing more than a sense of living and breathing stability, but anchored by the church instead of news channel 4 or the simpsons.

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