On the Road in Baghdad

By Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, April 21, 2008

BAGHDAD, IRAQ--"Getting there is half the fun" doesn't necessarily apply when you're trying to get to Baghdad on an embed with American forces. Due to odd bureaucratic processes in Kuwait, jumping off point for those on their way here, it is easy to lose a day on either end of the embed.

Further, while you can luck out and catch a ride on a spacious USAF C-17 jet transport, you can also get fragged on a C-130 Hercules, a intage stalwart with four propeller engines. The Herky-bird ride is hot, cramped and sweaty as passengers ride on aluminum-frame, nylon seats dressed in body armor with rucksacks on their lap.

On the final approach to Baghdad International Airport (BIAP in military acronym jargon) the pilot makes some evasive maneuvers designed to thwart terrorists armed with heat-seeking missiles. Upon arrival at BIAP the next challenge is getting transportation to the International or Green Zone where the media people will take charge of you. That can entail either an overland ride on a RHINO armored vehicle or on a Blackhawk helicopter.

Having had all that fun I'm here – sponsored graciously by the David Horowitz Freedom Center. Today I began interviews and research for what will be a series of articles in FrontPageMag.com and, in time, perhaps a book.

My focus for the next month will be on U.S. Military Police units. In a few days after finishing here in the Green Zone I expect to be embedded with the 18th MP Brigade. This will give me the opportunity to watch first hand the interaction among various elements of the Iraqi Security Forces and U.S. soldiers.

In today's interviews – interrupted four times by calls to "gear up" as incoming terrorist rockets slammed in the four-mile square Green Zone – I was able to gain interesting perspectives on the challenges facing the MPs as they work to help stand up a 300,000-plus police force while dealing with major human and resource shortages.

Over the next few weeks I'll address these topics. If anyone has particular questions or suggestions, log them in the comments section of the article. I will be able to access those and will attempt to address them.
Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu has been an Army Green Beret lieutenant colonel, as well as a writer, popular speaker, business executive and farmer. His most recent book is Separated at Birth, about North and South Korea.