Sent: Saturday, October 11, 2003 9:28 PM
Not much to say about Iraq. Its still hot here even thought the heat has dropped to 102 degrees. The missions have not changed very much. The main difference is that we are doing more convoy security missions. I sleep in a different base every other day and I have had the opportunity to see a lot of this country.
I’ve had the opportunity to see many ancient ruins as well as many of the war torn areas of this land as a result of the last hundred decades of fighting. I saw the ancient city of Babylon and had a chance to tour some of the ruins. Its amazing that this region is the supposed birthplace of civilization and its strange to see it in such shocking conditions.
The unit found out a couple of weeks ago that we will be deployed for 365 days in country and that would mean that I would be here until late May. A week after that I found out that the Army is thinking of keeping Military Police deployed for up to 24 months. OUCH! Like everything else in the Army nothing is set in stone. The idea of staying for 365 days doesn’t rest well and the idea of being active for 2 years just isn’t cool. But I understood the risk when I took the oath. The idea of combating terrorism on a world scale is exciting and I am proud of my involvement. People are taking leave now. Most are going home for the 2 weeks they’re allowed and some are going to Germany for a vacation. Our company is trying to work out the details for us, but it looks like we will be able to leave between October through March.
Being a team leader has had its many obstacles. Both of my guys have only been in the reserve system for a little more than two years a piece. I’ve had to play mentor, dictator and parental figure to both of them. Both have totally different personalities and I’ve had to adjust my behavior to each of them. Deployments are not easy on anyone but I think that for the younger guys, it’s a little more difficult. Between the military lifestyle and the long stressful days this is more than most thought it would be. Being that this is my second deployment overseas, I pretty much new what to expect. Not to say that being a team leader hasn’t had its upsides. We have become pretty close. There isn’t any other choice since we eat, sleep and work within 10 feet of each other. Its interesting to share my experiences with them and hear about theirs. They have pretty large goals for themselves and the Army has made them modify there plans. That’s the way the ball bounces sometimes. At least we know that this IS temporary and eventually we all be back home and this will be a memory.
I guess that most of this has been in the local news but recently there have been assassinations on counsel members that are helping rebuild the government. There are still explosives placed in the roads. I had to shut down both lanes of traffic on the main freeway the Army uses in our area because some outstanding citizen decided to place 7 rockets across the roadway. We called in the report and EOD was too busy at the store or something that they couldn’t come out. I was given explicit instructions not to move the ordinance or let any vehicles pass. Sometimes the Iraqis will booby trap the explosives but usually they aren’t that smart and they just hope that a truck will run them over and explode them. For three hours convoys backed up along the road and our HQ said that EOD hadn’t left the base yet. After that splendid piece of information another MP and I started picking up the rockets and moving them off the road. HQ wasn’t too pleased with that but there was a greater security risk with 2 hundred trucks at a complete stand still after nightfall than attempting to move the rockets. Then just the other day I saw a tanker truck filled with fuel explode 200 feet ahead of the convoy I was leading north. The tanker was part of another convoy that I was passing. The MPs had to do some quick traffic control to make sure a chain reaction didn’t start with the rest of the tankers in the convoy. Traffic was diverted to the south bound lane to bypass the enormous fire. I’ve learned to trust instincts I never knew I had to avert many dangerous conditions that I’ve come across. I guess the Army has taught me a few things!
I’m still living in a tent. Its working out fine. Most of us have used blankets to section off makeshift rooms for ourselves. I’m worried about the rainy season to start. (Yes there is a rainy season) I guess that we should expect flash floods and our tents to leak. YEAH!!! There are 10 squad members in the tent and we all get along for the most part. Whenever you put a group of people together under these circumstances you should expect some friction. The Army has a three year plan to get barracks built on the base. That doesn’t do our unit any good but some soldiers will enjoy them.
I will continue to keep all of you updated on my daily adventures. Thanks for all of the letters and care packages. I’ll write again soon. Take care.