Monday, February 18, 2008

Road tripping in Iraq



Hello Everyone,
I know I said I would update the BLOG about every two weeks and it has been more like a month, that is probably going to be par for the course. Sometimes there will be two updates in the month and sometimes there will only be one. No excuses sometimes I just don't get around to it as often as I want to.

I'm not going to talk a whole lot about my work with the Iraqis this last month. Let's just say that it is frustrating. You start to get the relationship with your counterpart built and to the point where you can start getting some things done that you want to do and then poof! They are off on leave for 9 days and you can't get anything done because his assistant doesn't want to make a decision in fear of making his boss mad. AAAGH! My fine young Marine assistant Cpl Mafou has made some strides in the last week getting one of the Mulazeem's (Lieutenant) in HSC to help put the Iraqi jinood (soldiers) where they are supposed to be slotted and that's what I'll be going over the next week or so while my counterpart is on leave.

Now on to more interesting things. Road tripping Iraq. One of the reasons that there are not as many IED attacks on Coalition soldiers in areas outside of Baghdad or other cities is that you fly on helicopters to go from city to city. Gone are the days of the Mad Max runs we used to do in 2003-2004 when it was pedal to the metal, Taji to Tikrit or wherever we were going, changing lanes frequently to avoid being along one median for too long. Those of you who have been here know what I'm talking about. Instead, as I said you fly everywhere. That makes for some interesting travel stories, none of which have happened yet to me of course, but my boss has been a victim twice. My team leader has had to attend a meeting at Al Asad which is about 2 hours away by HMMWV and he has also tried to do a recon of our future battlespace out by Rutbah, which required him to stop and change helicopters at Al Asad. Both times he was delayed by weather (dust storms, rain, snow) and even bumped by a Marine general whose entourage took up both helicopters in the flight. He has spent almost as much time at Al Asad the month of February as he has at Ramadi. So even though it is safer it makes for a lot of wasted time if the pilots decide not to fly because of "crappy" weather, causing my boss to not to want to fly anywhere.

While the team leader was stuck in Al Asad I did get to do a little HMMWV road tripping in the Ramadi area. The pictures are from that road trip. I was taking our Iraqi Brigade Commander Staff Brigadier General Sabah to do a recon of a combat outpost he was told to put our 2nd Battalion in when they returned from a 4 month mission in Diwanyiah, somehow we got diverted due to a misunderstanding over who controled the battlespace (that's an interesting story, just not for a blog), needless to say the confusion involved individuals who outrank me and I got caught in the backlash. What happened though is we never got to our original destination and ended up crossing the Euphrates on a ferry made from a span of a pontoon bridge. That's what the first picture is from. Pretty interesting experience.

The last two pictures are of Iraqi Police F350s that they use to patrol the roads with. It's very interesting to see a 1-ton American truck come barreling down the road weaving in and out of all of these little Bongo trucks (bongo truck can be seen just to the left of the F350 in the second picture, notice the size difference). Not only are these trucks bigger than anything else on the road but they are typically driving like a maniac with some guy holding on for dear life to the machine gun that is mounted in the bed, head scarf flying in the wind (The last picture illustrates this a little bit from the stationary position, they drive so fast I can never get an action picture). At times it kind of reminds of Missouri during deer season, without the fully automatic machine guns of course. Although I do know some people who would hunt deer with machine guns if they could. You know who you are, admit it!

OK that's enough for now. I hope everyone enjoys this.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentines Day




Macen got his first real Valentine and he loved it. He puts everything in his mouth but he just carried the Valentine around for about 20 mins and didn't even attempt to mouth it. He was so proud!
We love you Macen!

Standing in rocking chair

He's too young for this already! But he listens well ;)


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Friday, February 8, 2008

More walking

Its short but full body walking. He can now make it all the way across the living room, turn around and head back to his next destination before falling or bending for a toy.


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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Walking

Here is Macen walking last night. It's short so I will try to get another video with feet included shortly.




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