Thursday, April 19, 2007


22 Mar 07
Adnan decided I needed to learn more Arabic. Today we covered the Arabic alphabet and I learned to write my name. Dhiaa came to the same conclusion and decided he was going to give me 20 words per week to memorize. I can think of at least one Spanish teacher and a high school chemistry teacher who would tell them they’d have better luck teaching a rock!

I was watching the news tonight with Dhiaa in the restaurant. He interprets for me. You may have seen the video of the new UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, visiting Baghdad. He was sitting next to PM Noori Al Maliki when a car bomb exploded outside their conference. The Secretary General ducked down and you could tell he wanted to crawl out of the room. Everyone in the room just looked at him and all cameras zoomed in on him. The fear was evident and his look said “aren’t you going to hit the floor.” The guys in the restaurant thought it was hilarious. Dhiaa said, “What? He is scared? This is every day in Iraq.”

Balad Air Base was dubbed “Mortaritaville” in the press because they get hit with so many mortars and rockets. Basrah AS trails Balad by only one or two rockets per month. However, I’m told Balad is about 5 times bigger than Basrah so the insurgents are firing a lot more rockets into a smaller area at catching fish in a barrel. Despite that fact, we’ve been lucky—there have only been two injuries from rocket/mortar attacks in the last 6 months and both of them were minor injuries. A couple of weeks ago one of the British camps (Allenby Lines) took a direct hit. The rocket hit the sunshades that cover all the hooches and exploded into the hooches below spraying them with shrapnel. Fortunately, the residents of the hooches were night shifters and not a soul was around. Events like that are enough to keep us scrambling for our gear whenever we hear the incoming alarm.

The Iraqis react much differently during an attack. For years they were violently oppressed by the regime. Additionally, we bombed them heavily during the GW1 and periodically bombed them throughout the years up to 2003. Since 2003 the bombings have been endless. All of this contributes to their “en’sha Allah” (“God Willing”) attitude. If God wills it, they will die in/survive the attack so they stand put and count the explosions. Whenever an Iraqi joins us in the bunker it is only their leadership.

Dhiaa graduated from the Iraqi Air Force Academy in 1989. He was in pilot training in 1990 and 1991. In the days prior to the start of GW1 all of the student pilots were sent home and told to wait for the war to end. He told his commander, “Thank you!” and promptly went home.

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