Thursday, April 19, 2007


4 Mar 07
Night flying tonight.

Adnan was telling me about his aunt’s family who lives out on the marsh. They built a home on poles above the water. They have strung net pens around the house and eat fish from the nets for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

In the early 80’s Basrah flooded. They built sandbag levies around the city but the desert became an ocean. Adnan and his father went to the flood plain on his father’s bicycle with their cast net and caught hundreds of fish and gave them to everyone around. They had so many fish they flopped out the box on the back of the bike and left a trail of fish behind them.

He commented that Basrah used to be a lot of fun until the Americans came in and brought to power the religious groups. They closed all the bars, started forcing everyone to prayers, etc. He said the religious groups are too stringent and he can’t understand why we aligned ourselves with them.

I mentioned that I am part of the 9-man Coalition Air Force Transition Team (CAFTT) here at Basrah. Everyone knows we’ve been rebuilding their army and police force—the Iraqi Army is at some 130,000 members now. However, there hasn’t been a big priority place on the Iraqi Air Force before now. The Iraqi Air Force is only 1,000-ish strong and they have only 3 C-130s and a small number of very, very light acft. The CAFTT is here to help rebuild the Iraqi Air Force to an end state of some 4,000. There is a much larger team in Taji helping to build the entire AF “pipeline” from entering the AF, attending basic military trng, technical trng/pilot trng, and fielding trained forces to operational units like Basrah. We were briefed that the mission is so important that Central Air Forces Commander, Lt General North made it the number one U.S. Air Force priority in the theater. I’m not certain how true that is but it certainly motivated the team.

Attacked 2 times today…once at 1400 then 8 rockets at around 1900; all in quick succession.

Contrary to the common myth that most Arabs how multiple wives and dozens of kids, only one of the maintenance technicians has two wives. The pilots explained that for most men, one wife with whom he is committed should be enough for a man. Furthermore most of them only have 3 or 4 kids. For example, tonight we were talking about how many kids we have tonight and Capt Ali said he had many kids. I thought 10 or 12 but it was only 5. Senior Master Sergeant Mike commented that one of his brothers has 12 kids. Mohsim said, “I think he is Iraqi.” Mike said his aunt had 23 kids…without ever cracking a smile, Asaad said “I think she is cat!” That cracked me up.

Went indij again…don’t know what it was, but it was good.

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