Tag Archives: war

A fellow Tumblr blogger, Logically Positive, suggested that I write my recollection of Iraq. I suggested that I would begin by republishing some of my firsthand accounts while I was deployed there. Below is a compilation of blogs I posted while stationed at Combat Outpost Rawah in the Al Anbar province in Iraq.

Happy Birthday, Dear Aheram

March 15, 2007

I had the night post last night with Patrick (my model-in-training). We were talking candidly about “girls with huge knockers.” (For someone that has been in service for a while, in fact, a combat veteran from OIF II, Patrick’s discourse is devoid of the regular profanities and vulgar language that are the characteristic of a Marine’s.) I checked the time and became silent as the minutes ticked closer to midnight.

He noticed my sudden silence and turned on his flashlight. As my face was illuminated, he asked, “What is wrong?” I muttered, “It is almost midnight. I will be 23 soon…” He seemed to note the sadness in both my face and my voice. “I have always celebrated my birthday, you know,” I informed him.

I went down from the post to relieve myself, but when I returned, he had placed a matchstick from an MRE (Meals Ready-to-Eat) into an Otis-Spunkmeyer cupcake (double chocolate chip). He grinned as he lit the match and started to sing: “Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday to you…” Once he was done singing, I blew out the flame from the burning matchstick and we split the cupcake between us. He turned off his flashlight and we ate in the dark.

It was the best birthday party I ever had.

The next morning: I spent the entire day being with just myself and I enjoyed it somewhat. Only two other people on this base were aware that it was my birthday. One is Patrick and the other is Nicholas, both exceptional people. I talked to my sister on AIM during one of my 30-minute internet sessions (there is a 30-minute limit for each session; no limits on how many sessions) and she asked me how I was going to spend my day. “Work,” I told her and then my session ended.

A fellow Tumblr blogger, Logically Positive, suggested that I write my recollection of Iraq. I suggested that I would begin by republishing some of my firsthand accounts while I was deployed there. Below is one of the emails I sent to my stepfather while stationed at Combat Outpost Rawah in the Al Anbar province in Iraq. This is the fourth and last email published here.

Photographs by Jayel Aheram.

The White Fluffy Dog, Mortars, and Rain

October 13, 2006

Butts the Mangy Mutt was the unfortunate victim of a pack wild dogs that roam the open desert around this base. At night, I could hear them howl and bay at the moon and sometimes laugh and cackle like hyenas. And while I was on post during the night, I would see their silhouettes against the night as they slink in and out of the shadows. But I have never really seen what they looked like until today. One of them, a very white and fluffy mongrel with a medium upturned and curled tail, seems to be the leader of his pack. He somehow led his pack through the wires undetected into a fairly large water retention pool for a little bit of dip (in the entire history of this base thus far, his pack would be the only locals that managed to repeatedly enter the base unauthorized and undetected). His pack consists of a gangly-looking Dalmatian, a very agitated brown dog, and a rather menacing looking giant rat (at least, I am ready to be convinced that it was a rat for it certainly looked like it). I am assuming that this is just a small part of his pack, unless there are other packs of wild dogs. Anyway, his pack is known to occassionally venture at night to feast on the MRE trash left unattended by Marines at the base of the guard towers. But at this moment, they were happily drinking and splashing in the water of the retention pool. Of course, being the leader, White Fluffy Dog did not take part in the canine merriment, but instead posted himself guard on top of a sand dune overlooking the retention pool. I stared at him and he stared right back. And then I realized what these filthy mutts were doing. “Great,” I sighed, “they are splashing around in what will be my shower water.”

Mortars, while not hitting the base, are a daily life here in this base. Everytime I am on post, I would not fail to hear the Marine manning the radar station screaming “COUNTERFIRE! COUNTERFIRE!” from the radio. If this does not happen at least three times in that eight-hour post, it is a slow day for insurgency. Nearly most of the time, however, the mortars are aimed at targets within the city. While regular, mortar attacks aimed at the base are infrequent. Also, a few of the mortars are duds. They would fall harmlessly into the desert sand and not explode. These we would find during our patrols (we actually found one yesterday) which we would contact EOD (explosives ordnance department/division) about. They would come in and cart it off somewhere for a controlled explosion. The only problem with EOD is that they are lax about notifying our company about these controlled explosions and when they do a controlled explosion, many of us invariably swamp COC (command operating center) with excited reports about an explosion.

It has been raining here for a while. And apparently, when it rains in the desert, it pours. There had been reports of flash floods occuring around and about. And the “empty river beds” that crisscross the desert around the base are no longer empty and are happily gurgling along towards the Euphrates.

A fellow Tumblr blogger, Logically Positive, suggested that I write my recollection of Iraq. I suggested that I would begin by republishing some of my firsthand accounts while I was deployed there. Below is one of the emails I sent to my stepfather while stationed at Combat Outpost Rawah in the Al Anbar province in Iraq. This is the third one published here.

Iraqi Soldier, Food, and Sunset

October 10, 2006

“Post 1” in this base is an access control point between the Iraqi Army compound and the rest of the American-military controlled compound. SOP (standard operating procedures) of this post is to make sure that no Iraqi Army personnel leaves their compound unless accompanied by an American military personnel. This, of course, excludes the IA officers who are authorized to come and go at whim without an American escort. Opposite of Post 1, about 50 feet away, is the Iraqi Army’s control point, which is manned by usually sleeping Iraqi soldiers (if manned at all). They probably realize the redundancy of their post and realize that Post 1 is the one that really matters. Now, about these Iraqi soldiers. They are generally cordial and when they are passing through my control point, they make a point to wave and smile at me. But when they are not passing through my control point, they are all business. Because, apparently, Guard Post 1 is known to the Iraqi soldiers in this base as Trading Post 1. When they are not sleeping in their post, Iraqi soldiers in their spare time operate a booming black market business with the Marines that often guard or pass through Post 1. DVD players for 150 dollars? No problem. Bring dollars tomorrow. Want some cigarettes? What brand? No problem. 12 dollars for a carton. You need not to trade for money either. They are willing to part with their cartons of cigarette for good ol’ American pornography. A magazine filled with dirty photos of American blonde infidels with artificial breasts is worth about five packs of cigarettes. If you have the movie in DVD, even better! I have heard that one Marine managed to part with his “MOTO” for a couple of cartons.

But once in a while, they will surprise you with their generosity. One night while I was manning Post 1, an Iraqi soldier came to my post bearing three platters filled with local food. It looked pretty good, too.

More about Butts the Mangy Mutt. I learned that she is a veteran in patrolling the dangerous streets of the city near this base. She often accompanies Marines when they are on foot patrol and was credited in saving many a Marine’s life when she alerted them to mines, IEDs, and a few snakes. And she had been a casualty of war as well! One time, she was hit by a shrapnel from an exploded IED. This bitch has seen more action than most of the Marines in this base it seems.

Last night, I had the pleasure of watching the most amazing sunset I have ever witnessed in my whole life. The combination of clouds, desert dust, and smoke billowing from the city conspired that day to create a sunset that is meant to awe and inspire. Hues of purple, blood red sun, streaks of orange in the sky. I joked to my post buddy that we might have very well caught a glimpse of the face of God in that sunset. He joked back that while we were watching the sunset, five insurgents might have crept in.

When you have eight hours to kill and nothing to do but talk to each other, Marines end up talking about the weirdest of things.

A fellow Tumblr blogger, Logically Positive, suggested that I write my recollection of Iraq. I suggested that I would begin by republishing some of my firsthand accounts while I was deployed there. Below is one of the emails I sent to my stepfather while stationed at Combat Outpost Rawah in the Al Anbar province in Iraq. This is the second one published here.

Butts the Mangy Mutt

October 6, 2006

Before actually experiencing it first-hand, I too had this same question in my mind: how do you go about sending a company of armed Marines (sometimes dual-armed with both the M16A4 service rifle and the M9 pistol) into a combat zone? Well, it starts with a long bus ride.

Then a very long 28-hour plane ride (chartered from the nice folks of RyanAir) with fuel-stops in Indiana, Iceland, Germany (I asked a German lady if she calls “German Pretzels” just “pretzels”), before ending up in Kuwait. In Kuwait, a very tense bus ride from the airport to an Army base with a chow hall better than any the Marine Corps has to offer. We stayed there for a few days before making yet another tense bus ride back to the airport. From there, a C-130 rolled down the strip with Marines onboard. It ended up in Al-Asad, yet another awesome Army base with a chow hall three times better than the one in Kuwait. It also has a Burger King and a Pizza Hut and a place that sells stereos for your car. Yes, car stereos in Iraq. You might be dodging IEDs, but at least you will be pimping with the latest in audio technology. All of these places staffed by smiling Iraqi nationals (but then you wonder if they are really fantasizing about slitting your throat as they serve you yet another serving of filthy, unclean pork). But we were only there for a few days before we finally shuffled, Marine Corps shuffled, into a large helicopter and landed in our area of operations. The helicopter ride was surprisingly… smooth. I thought I was going to feel every bob and dip, but I did not even feel the take-off! Next thing I knew, we were in the air. I fell asleep instantly… That is how smooth it was.

I have heard of Butts even before I met her. She had the reputation of being equally the most ugliest and the most sweetest dog you will ever meet. She came to the Marines and sailors on this base at her most pitiful. There are wild dogs that roam the desert around this base and apparently, she had an unfortunate encounter with a few of them. The Marines and sailors on this base pampered her and nursed her back to health. They gave her the name “Butts” for her tendency to snack on cigarette butts left around by the nicotine-addicted Marines on their very frequent and unhealthy cigarette breaks. I finally met Butts the first time I was posted guard in Post 1, which was located between the Iraqi Army compound and the main American military compound. She had the mangiest fur I have ever seen on a dog. Post 1 was a bit different from the other posts in such that it was only manned by a single Marine. That night, I volunteered for that post, thinking I will have the chance to practice my Arabic. It was silly, of course. There would not be many chances for me to “practice my Arabic” as I had hoped in the 2100 to 0500 shift that I had. Being alone, it was a struggle to keep awake, but fortunately I had Butts to help me along. She sat next to me or near me the entire time I was on post. I would scratch her behind the ears or rub her tummy. As post companion, she was perfect. She remained vigilant, if not a bit too enthusiastic in her role as guard. She would occassionally cross the wire and harass the Iraqi soldiers by barking at them if they get too close to my post.

We moved in to a new tent since the unit we were relieving just left. I was fortunate enough to have snagged extremely prime cot space. I have two sides of a wall, a mattress on my cot, and it is right next to an air-conditioner in an extremely hot tent. My cot space is equivalent to a penthouse, basically. The better tents were taken by the NCOs and staff NCOs (they have working air-conditioners, TVs, refrigerator). I suppose since they spend most of their times in these tents anyway, better to let them have it.

A fellow Tumblr blogger, Logically Positive, suggested that I write my recollection of Iraq. I suggested that I would begin by republishing some of my firsthand accounts while I was deployed there. Below is one of the emails I sent to my stepfather while stationed at Combat Outpost Rawah in the Al Anbar province in Iraq. And yes, I am aware it is filled with various typographical errors.

Musings from the Desert

October 4, 2006

I am not really sure what the date is today. I think it is the 4th of October and Wednesday, but I could be wrong.

You might have questions what is it I am currently doing in Iraq. Well, my unit is in charge of this base’s security. We man the defensive positions around the base’s perimeter as well as go on frequent patrols to make sure that the enemy is not setting up positions amid the many sand dunes and hills that surround this miniscule base. Dangers to this base is limited, but of course not exclusive, to infrequent mortar and RPG attacks. Infrequent, because patrols done by previous units in charge of security have done a successful job of neutralizing enemy positions that do crop up around the base. It is now up to my unit to keep that up.

Now, for the area itself. The base is located a few miles south of a city of 30,000 people near the Euphrates river. This is a true desert if I ever seen one. I thought the Mojave Desert is a desert, but they are nothing compared to this. The Mojave Desert at least is teeming with life. Joshua trees, bushes, cactuses, and wildlife of all kinds. This desert seems to be a barren wasteland, devoid of life. Just sand and bare rock as far as the eyes can see…

But I was wrong. While it is not as blatantly obvious as it is in the Mojave Desert, life does survive in spite of the harshness of this clime. When we went on patrol yesterday, we were to familiarize ourselves to the terrain. That means I have to observe everything, to take in the details, to learn what is “normal” in this terrain. That is when I discovered that this desert was not in fact a barren wasteland that I thought and heard it was, but rather the opposite of that. Everywhere I looked where signs of life succeeding amid the shifting sands. The most inspiring of which was a bird with a plume of shocking red feathers. I will admit, it was a bit unnerving to see such a defiant display of color in the middle of this apparent wasteland. It was the opposite of what I was doing. Me, in my desert digital, my tactical tan gear. I was trying to be part of the desert, to blend, to disappear into the endless desert background. But here is a native to this land who, instead of going with its life quietly, invisibly, chose to shatter the eerie silence of the desert with its song; and with its bright red plume, defy the overwhelming conformity the desert seems to demand (and got from me).

I do not yet hate this place. The conditions we are living under, while not desperate (we do have three meals a day, a place to sleep under, a cot to sleep on, things to entertain us, showers, Internet, free laundry service, 80-dollar Army whore…), have made a great many to despise the desert and everything and everyone in it. I do not know if it is possible for me to hate a place where the stars are allowed to shine.

The end of the Afghanistan War?

Reuters has an exclusive about the Obama administration’s efforts in Afghanistan:

After 10 months of secret dialogue with Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgents, senior U.S. officials say the talks have reached a critical juncture and they will soon know whether a breakthrough is possible, leading to peace talks whose ultimate goal is to end the Afghan war.

[…]

It has asked representatives of the Taliban to match that confidence-building measure with some of their own. Those could include a denunciation of international terrorism and a public willingness to enter formal political talks with the government headed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

If these diplomatic efforts prove to be fruitful, it would go a long way in ushering the end of the United States’ longest war. In the meantime, the plan is for the military to stay indefinitely according to this report from USA Today:

Marine Gen. John Allen, the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said the Taliban and other forces in the region need to know the U.S. military will make sure the Afghans can handle the job.

“If you been waiting for us to go, we’re not leaving,” he said.

NATO forces agreed last year to set a deadline of the end of 2014 for turning over security to Afghan forces and ending combat operations.

The troubling thing about this approach is that it ignores the peril of our continued involvement there. The United States’ quest for stability in Afghanistan would require re-empowering the Taliban, the very organization it just spent 10 years attempting to dismantle. Any agreement with the Taliban, or its elusive leader Mullah Omar, would potentially enable that organization access to the billions of dollars of foreign aid that President Hamid Karzai’s notoriously corrupt government would be receiving as well open doors for possible power-sharing arrangement with the Afghan central government. Access to these funds (along with the millions of bribes they are already receiving, according to the Daily Mail) would potentially bring about the re-emergence of a politically and structurally significant Taliban. The political implication of this diplomatic effort notwithstanding (just imagine the outrage from neo-conservatives and families of dead soldiers this “capitulation” will generate), is it realistic to expect the various tribal groups already hostile to the central government to accept this new agreement?

It is well-known that Karzai lacks credibility as he seen as “weak” and “corrupt” by his own people; a charge that is not necessarily untrue according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks. It remains to be seen if Karzai can amass the clout necessary to unite the country without the stabilizing influence of a foreign military occupation. Any reconciliation effort might require Karzai to step away from the top position, but his intention to cling to power after a U.S. withdrawal would likely hinder talks. Who is to say that the United States and NATO’s plan to train nearly 400,000 police and soldiers under the command of Karzai’s government, or the billions of dollars of aid Afghanistan will be receiving, or a potentially more powerful central government would not serve as incentives for him to stay?

But the real barrier to peace in Afghanistan is not Karzai, or the Taliban, or even key regional player Pakistan, but the United States government itself. No amount of self-governance will legitimize the Afghan government in the eyes of its people if the United States continues to spend money propping up Karzai’s corrupt regime. Furthermore, it is a given that the Obama administration will force Afghanistan to adopt a government that will be acceptable to the United States and its allies; an action that would, rightly or wrongly, give credence to the charge that the United States intends a puppet government in Afghanistan.

Regardless what happens to the peace talks, there is that unavoidable reality that innocent Afghan civilians will continue to suffer death and destruction under American bombs as the United States unceasingly wages its futile war on terror in the Middle East.

This article appears in Young Americans for Liberty.

I ask again, “What ‘post-war’ period?”

When it was announced that the United States will be withdrawing from Iraq by the end of Dec. 31, commentators began propagating the disgusting meme that this is the beginning of a “post-war” period for both Americans and Iraqis.

In response, I asked “What ‘post-war’ period?”

This “post-war period” is a disgusting meme that will gain traction after Dec. 31 when the United States will withdraw its combat troops from Iraq (and leave behind thousands of private military thugs to continue the violence there). It must be noted that these departing American troops will not enjoy a “post-war period.” They will be redeployed into new theaters of combat to die in any one of our dozens of senseless wars in Afghanistan, Uganda, or the Philippines.

Not to mention Iraq itself, which will experience years of violence regardless of American presence. The bombings, the checkpoints, the sectarian strife, all of these will continue after “withdrawal.” There will be no “post-war period” for Iraqis.

That the end of Iraq War will bring about a “post-war period” is a nice fantasy, but it is an outright lie.

And about it gaining traction? A quick scan of headlines after the withdrawal announcement reveal that this meme is now the standard corporate media narrative.

From Politico:

Then last week at Huffington Post:

Then as recently as today from the Washington Post:

This is all part of a broader campaign strategy on the part of Obama reelection campaign to spread the lie that his wars are ending. And it is working.

Forgotten in the inevitable media corporate media circlejerk are the Iraqis who will continue to die while war profiteers continue to profit. How about American military personnel? The troops are not coming home anytime soon.

That our involvement in Iraq is drastically being reduced (involuntarily, by the way) is a great thing. However, it is not enough to pull combat troops out; Americans must press its government to also eliminate the State Department’s growing private army.

And there are these words of wisdom from the president himself in the Associated Press:

Speaking after a morning of meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Obama said other nations must not interfere with Iraq’s sovereignty. While he stopped short of mentioning any countries by name, U.S. officials are closely watching how neighboring Iran may seek to influence Baghdad after U.S. troops withdraw.

President Obama will do well do heed his own advice.

Predator drones used against civilians in America

The United States turns its weapons of war against its own citizens:

Janke knew the gunmen could be anywhere on the 3,000-acre spread in eastern North Dakota. Fearful of an armed standoff, he called in reinforcements from the state Highway Patrol, a regional SWAT team, a bomb squad, ambulances and deputy sheriffs from three other counties.

He also called in a Predator B drone.

As the unmanned aircraft circled 2 miles overhead the next morning, sophisticated sensors under the nose helped pinpoint the three suspects and showed they were unarmed. Police rushed in and made the first known arrests of U.S. citizens with help from a Predator, the spy drone that has helped revolutionize modern warfare.

Is it really that much of a surprise?

Up next, illegal assassinations coming to a town near you!

Americans force innocent civilians into a gruesome Afghan Death March

NPR is reporting that U.S. and Afghan soldiers have allegedly forced innocent villagers into a gruesome Death March:

Villagers from a violent part of southern Afghanistan say that Afghan troops, along with several American mentors, forced civilians to march ahead of soldiers on roads where the Taliban were believed to have planted bombs and landmines.

John Glaser from Antiwar.com has more:

Last month, scores of villagers came to the district meeting hall along with their village elders, and all told the local authorities similar story. They said American and Afghan soldiers pulled them out of their homes one evening in early September.

According to Faizal Mahmud, the deputy head of Panjwai’s council of elders, the villagers claimed the soldiers arbitrarily detained them, lined them up, and forced them to walk in front of the soldiers for over a mile, through roads believed to be packed with explosives by the Taliban.

Glaser added that if the allegations were true, it would be “a serious violation of domestic and international law. “

The last time American soldiers were involved in a Death March, they were the ones marching. The Bataan Death March was rightfully condemned as a war crime and the people responsible were prosecuted for it, so must this be if it turns out these stories are true. However, if Dick Cheney’s gleeful boast of torture or President Barack Obama’s wanton killing of Americans are of any indication, there will be no justice meted.

What “post-war period?”

Bernie Quigley, in an op-ed piece for The Hill about the current crop of GOP candidates, said this:

Three of the Republican candidates for president, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman, are of the highest caliber, on a level we have barely seen in the post-war period.

What struck me as odd was not his analysis of these candidates (he is repeating the same tired line that Mitt Romney, Rick Perry are the only serious candidates and poor Obama appointee Jon Huntsman just cannot get any love from the media), but the fact he referred to a “post-war period.”

I really hope he was referring to the period after World War II, because if not, I must ask: what “post-war period?”

This “post-war period” is a disgusting meme that will gain traction after Dec. 31 when the United States will withdraw its combat troops from Iraq (and leave behind thousands of private military thugs to continue the violence there). It must be noted that these departing American troops will not enjoy a “post-war period.” They will be redeployed into new theaters of combat to die in any one of our dozens of senseless wars in Afghanistan, Uganda, or the Philippines.

Not to mention Iraq itself, which will experience years of violence regardless of American presence. The bombings, the checkpoints, the sectarian strife, all of these will continue after “withdrawal.” There will be no “post-war period” for Iraqis.

That the end of Iraq War will bring about a “post-war period” is a nice fantasy, but it is an outright lie.

Why Uganda? Same reason why Iraq or Libya. Oil.

John Glaser on the most likely reason why there is a sudden interest in Uganda:

As for those “national security interests”…Obama couched them in terms of humanitarian intervention. But something tells me this, instead, isn’t so irrelevant (a report from back in July):

‘Uganda’s Oil Potential Arouses International Interest’

Recent discoveries of vast oil reserves, particularly the oil rich Albertine Graben, with estimated reserves of at least 2.5 billion barrels of oil, mean Uganda is set to become a key oil producer on a part with other African oil producing nations, such as neighboring Sudan, Angola, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea. Some estimate place the Albertine Graben reserve as high as six billion barrels of recoverable oil.

On the basis of such reserves, government analysts estimate that Uganda will be able to support production of over 100,000 barrels of oil per day for the next two decades.