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Waving Friendlies, or Not?

Monday, June 21st, 2004

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.

Ok, I’m Finally In Mosul

Wednesday, June 16th, 2004

But in a few days I am going down the road to the Mosul Palace instead. It’s about 15 minutes away I think. Flying milair up here was interesting, because while we pulled a heck of a lot more g’s (pos and neg) than we ever would in the Uzbekistan prop planes, I never at all felt like maybe the pilot didn’t know exactly what he was doing, or where exactly the airport was at.

Apparently there are only 30 people / 20 computers down at the Palace so I will prolly be asleep most of the time.

Westward Bound

Tuesday, June 8th, 2004

Looks like I am on track to get out of here. Heading to Tashkent Thursday, and Saturday I fly to Frankfurt and then on to Kuwait City. I’m not sure if we just MILAIR out of there or there are intermediate steps. I’ll be going to work up in northern Iraq, at the Mosul airbase. I will document as I can, but it may take time to get anything written up and posted, much less any pics.

Headed Out to Thailand

Sunday, April 25th, 2004

You may have noticed an increase in posting. I was motivated by imminent departure on Tuesday to finish them all out. Very Happy I’m heading to Bangkok for 4 days, then down to Phuket for 12ish, before heading back to Bangkok for 2 days and then leaving. I am going to lay on the beach, burn my whiteboy body, do a lot of diving, and generally hang out in the water. I’m going to party some, and laze around like a shiftless loser even more. I’m very, very tired.

Soon after I come back, or possibly even before, I will be working on transferring out of here. I’ve had about enough. It’s more an issue of the endless silly bullshit without breaks. I can’t really complain about the work, it’s very easy. Management treats us like a bunch of children. We’ve lost so many “release valves” over the course of time I wonder if he wants to encourage turnover. They certainly don’t do anything to encourage people to stay. I think I am going to check with a friend in Mosul about moving there. That’s up in Kurd country and is reasonably safe. Will be able to get more time off, and some more cash too. Even if it’s just enough to cover the cost of traveling and such on that extra time off, it’s worth it for me. It’s not as it I am a truck driver out on the road everyday. Anyways, I am pursuing other opportunities too, since prison camp life is only so interesting, but I will not say too much about them yet.


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