Thursday, May 11, 2006

Breaking Down Walls

I found another quite interesting post.
This one is courtesy of Tim at t.f. boggs .
He has given me permission to repost it and share it with you all. The following goes into detail about some of his personal experiences while deployed in Iraq, including showing the reader a glimpse of what it has been like working alongside some Iraqi Army soldiers. My thanks to Tim for sharing this with me.

"The past week I have been surrounded by 18-50 year old Sunni Iraqis and have lived to tell about it. In this racially profiling type of world that we live in these men are terrorists hell bent on the destruction of the Western world, but in my new world I have a different view of these guys. Who are these Iraqis you may be asking? My new best friends.

I changed jobs last week after my previous mission was handed over to civilians. I am currently working guarding my base and am surprisingly enjoying myself. I work with 3 other American soldiers and a handful of Iraqi army soldiers (IA). Part of my day is spent controlling the flow of traffic in and out of the base and the rest of it is spent hanging out with the Iraqi soldiers learning Arabic, drinking tea, and smoking hookahs. I joke around with the IA saying that we should call it school instead of work since we spend the majority of our day learning from each other.

I am not a big fan of my new job but the interaction with the IA and local Iraqis more then make up for the dullness of the work. I have met numerous local civilians in my area who are more concerned with getting rid of the terrorists in their neighborhoods then they are with their own safety. Each time they give us information to the whereabouts and activities of terrorists in our area they risk not only their lives but also the lives of their family. I work in an area where the IA are locally born and raised and the civilians do what they can to help the Americans root out the bad guys, and all of this in a Sunni town.

I know a lot of people would caution me not to put my complete trust in my new friends, and while I believe they are somewhat right, I would say that they would have to come to Iraq and see these guys for themselves. I have only been around the soldiers for a week and already I have wrestled with them in a guard shack, been beaten in an arm wrestling contest, shared food off the same plate, and smoked out of the same pipe with them. I joke around with them in Arabic and call them my brothers and they always reply in English with a resounding “Yes, very good.”

Because of the obvious language barrier with some of the IA our conversations are limited until one of the interpreters has time to translate for us. Most of the time the soldiers want to know if we have wives and children back home. When I tell them I don’t they want to know why and then question me about my age. I explain to them that if I didn’t spend the better part of the last 4 years in Iraq then I might have a better chance at finding a “Madame” as they say. They find it fascinating that we are able to date for long periods of time and can have more then one girlfriend before getting married. I guess I better get started finding a wife and having kids because if I come back here then I will be better able to relate. “Yes we don’t make enough, and yes my baby needs food too, and yes the wife wants new shoes and a purse too. Life is tough but we do what we can right?”

They are just as eager to bring me anything that I might need as I am to do the same for them. One soldier even invited me to dinner with his family and I look forward to going as soon as I am able to. They have the same gripes and complaints that American soldiers do: they are underpaid, underappreciated, and definitely know how to do things better then their commanders do. They complain about their food, clothes, and rules they have to follow. All soldiers are the same apparently.

Not everything about the IA in my area is hunky dory though. Most of the soldiers don’t like the Kurds or Shiites. They think the Kurds should leave Iraq and get their own country and are wary of the Shiites because they remember the long war against Iran that their fathers fought. They are extremely nationalistic and tend to look down upon foreigners in their country. However, I do encourage them by making fun of the Turkish workers here who can’t seem to fix things properly the first time and have to keep coming back again and again for the same problems.

Overall I enjoy spending my time learning about the Iraqi soldiers’ culture and lives. I enjoy their acceptance of my soldiers and I and am thankful that I am able to see them with my own eyes as people with cares and needs. They aren’t crazed terrorists like the media would have you believe. They want to make the most of the opportunity that they have right now. They realize that now is the time for them to decided their own fate and they are acting accordingly by showing bravery and courage in the face of certain danger. They are our allies and although they don’t agree with us on everything they do agree with us on one key point; freedom is the best answer and if Iraq is ever going to be truly free then they have to get rid of the terrorists in their towns and make a stand while they still can. Their future is in their own hands and from what I have seen so far I would say that their future looks bright."
(as posted by
T. F. Boggs)


Anonymous said...

While not wanting to burst your bubble-- I would suggest you not completely trust your new friends -- remember that complacency kills...

Anonymous said...

Thank you and T.F. Boggs for this interesting post.