View Full Version : A Second Iraqi Summer

06-17-04, 07:22 AM

Iraq Dispatches (3): A Second Iraqi Summer

By Wayne Hommer

After three months in Iraq, our days have become pretty redundant. We continue to improve our position. Our soldiers have quickly mastered the techniques to successful operations here in Baghdad. The news media has finally moved off Abu Ghraib prison, and it looks like the new Iraqi government has a good chance of succeeding.

The summer has really taken hold here in Baghdad. You have to experience the heat here to really appreciate it. It’s easy to say how hot 120 degrees is, but that’s just where our temperature gauge pegs outs. The heat here is absolutely oppressive.

The heat has really forced us to focus our field operations around dusk and dawn. Our mechanics work from 0630 to around 1100, when they cease maintenance operations until 1700. We’ve found that it’s absolutely impossible to lie on the ground under a vehicle, so our motor sergeant secured a dozen aluminum Air Force pallets for our mechanics to work on.

By placing two pallets together, you can create enough floor space to park a Humvee on. This allows the mechanic to work off the ground, on a surface that doesn’t ever seem to get too hot.

The Humvees have held up fairly well for the most part. Motor pool sergeants will want to order every rubber component they can for their motor fleet in advance of their arrival here. Supplies are rolling in, but at times the flow in exceeds the capacity of the forward support battalions to receive it. This is a situation complicated by the continued presence of the 1st AD. Because the Army logistics system hadn’t anticipated two-thirds of the 1st AD remaining in theater, shipments between the two divisions are regularly misrouted.

While both divisions have outstanding logisticians working on the problems, they

have caused some delays. The unit that comes prepared will be able to conduct operations much more efficiently than one that has blind faith in the system.

The continuing construction both on and off Camp Victory has been incredible. Everywhere you look are signs of construction. Off the FOB, construction is focused on rebuilding the Iraqi infrastructure. For the most part, every Iraqi home has electricity, a statement that could not have been made under Saddam’s regime.

More striking are the numerous satellite receivers popping up on the skyline. It seems as though every Iraqi family now has access to satellite television. Access to world news could have a dramatic impact on the political situation here, which is one of the reasons that reporting by the Al Jazeera network is causing so much concern.

The news media has long since discarded any sort of moral standard in its reporting, and agencies such as Al Jazeera do a particularly poor job of representing the ground

truth here in Iraq. You certainly won’t hear about all the improvements here in Iraq from any of the major American media outlets. Nor will you hear about the daily acts of compassion and restraint demonstrated by coalition forces.

Last month, a convoy was moving through Baghdad. Due to the IED threat, our convoys move at a very high rate of speed, often in excess of 70 mph. There is no doubt who has the right of way when traveling down the road in Iraq.

Apparently, one of the PLS in the convoy sideswiped a local national’s car. I don’t imagine that the PLS driver was even aware that he had hit another vehicle, not that he would have stopped even if he had known. To stop would have only exposed the entire convoy to the very real threat of a mortar attack or worse.

In an act of Iraqi road rage, the local national pursued the convoy. As he approached the rear truck in the convoy, an up-armored Humvee with a .50 caliber M2 mounted and manned, he was waved off by the M2’s gunner. The driver ignored the warning and increased speed in order to ram the Humvee.

We had been experiencing an increase in vehicle-borne IEDs, and this situation met all of the signs of a VBIED attack. The gunner, however, apparently didn’t feel that the local was a suicide bomber, and despite being fully justified in doing so, did not

open fire. The Iraqi vehicle sped up again, and again rammed the Humvee. In fact, the Iraqi vehicle rammed the Humvee three times. As its engine wound up to ram them for a fourth time, the gunner opened fire.

Executing a remarkable degree of restraint, the gunner fired three rounds, placing

all three rounds in the engine of the hostile vehicle, neutralizing the threat. The gunner could certainly have placed through three rounds into the chest of the Iraqi driver, but demonstrating an unheard of level of discipline, the gunner took the situation in stride, and did the right thing. He protected his team without providing the media another incident of American hostility towards the Iraqi people.

That gunner certainly stands out as one of the heroes of our fight here in Iraq.

The new Iraqi government has been met with significantly more support from the Iraqi people than might have been expected. Despite numerous challenges facing it in the months to come, it initial efforts have for the most part been successful. In an effort to establish the conditions for Iraqi success, coalition forces have stepped up the operational tempo in an attempt to reduce the criminal and militant threat to the new government.

Insurgents like Al-Sadr are less and less of a threat as the followers that are left after almost two months of operations desert, are captured, or are killed by coalition forces. The Iraqi people have really begun to see the insurgents for what they are, and are less and less tolerant of them.

A few weeks ago, an insurgent ran through a crowd with an RPG and attacked a

passing American convoy. Before U.S. forces could engage him, the crowd had descended upon him. Ultimately U.S. Forces had to rescue him from the crowd, who would certainly have killed him.

Everyday the situation here in Iraq improves, but Iraq is still a dangerous place. We continue to get mortared and shot at on a daily basis, but there is an air of hope among the Iraqi people that wasn’t there even a month ago.

Our soldiers are doing an incredible job here. Despite austere conditions, supply shortages, and an innovative and dangerous enemy, our soldiers continue to persevere. I have no doubt that in 60 years those soldiers who are serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom will be held in as high of esteem as those who stormed the beaches of Normandy so many years ago.

Editor’s Note: Also see previous installments of “Iraqi Dispatches”:

“Iraq Dispatches (2): Boots, Helmets and Morale,” DefenseWatch, May 3, 2004

“Iraq Dispatches: The Road to Baghdad,” DefenseWatch, Apr. 20, 2004.

Capt. Wayne Hommer USA is the pen name of a U.S. Army officer serving on active duty in Iraq. He can be reached by sending emails to dweditor@yahoo.com for forwarding to him in Iraq. Send Feedback responses to dwfeedback@yahoo.com.





06-17-04, 08:19 AM
It is nice to see positive things about our boys over there for a change.