What is Iraq like?
Nathaniel Brooks For The New York Times
The New York State Millitary Museum in Saratoga
Springs, with a video of First Sgt. Kevin Lyons, part
of the museum's oral history project.
What Is the Iraq War Really Like? The Veterans Tell Their Stories
Sgt. Howard Heard, 130th Engineer Brigade, 10th Mountain Division
THREE WAYS YOU COMING BACK
They had snipers there, oh yeah. I remember we invaded Falluja and we were stretched pretty thin then. Matter of fact, we had one guy just two weeks out of training at Fort Hood, Texas. He was here one week and he got killed; a sniper shot him underneath the armpit. He bled to death. I mean, we lost 3 guys out of 700. They told us we’d lose 30 before we left Fort Drum. So we lost three guys too many, but three’s not bad. ... People say, “Well what do you think?” I say, “Well, you coming back, you just don’t know how.” There’s only three ways you coming back. You can come back in a box. You can come back missing a limb. Or you can come back with everything you left with. And that’s my theory on that.
I told my guys: “Don’t slack off. You got two weeks left. Let’s keep it going.” We had one guy there, the day before he went home he got mortared at the PX. And he got killed — supposed to go home the next day. That’s why I told the guys, “See what happens? You never know.” You can’t let your hair down. You got to stay focused. Just stay focused.
Maj. David C. Feeley, Second Brigade, First Infantry Division
There were several Shiite religious parties in Samarra. We had the Badr Corps, which was the armed wing of Sciri [the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq]. We had some Al Qaeda operatives that were operating in the town. And given the proximity to the air base and the proximity to Baghdad, we had former high-ranking members of the Baath Party. On a couple of raids we executed we found drugs, large footlockers filled with Parkinson’s disease medication that was apparently being distributed as a cheap drug for people who were addicted and because it suppressed the fear response in the people making attacks on us. Small town, a lot going on.
SPRAY AND PRAY
I would not classify anything I saw in Iraq as sniper fire. I would classify a lot of it as inaccurate rifle fire. Someone who is on drugs and randomly shooting an AK-47 is not a sniper. We did capture a Russian sniper rifle at least once in our area, but as far as accurate, precision rifle fire, that was not what we typically encountered. What we typically encountered was spray and pray on the part of the Iraqis.
Maj. Gen. Joseph J. Taluto, 42nd Infantry Division, New York National Guard
INHIBITED BY SECURITY PROBLEMS
At the leader level, we had wonderful relationships with the Iraqis. We worked together, we socialized together, we talked. Our units worked together. I had wonderful relationships with the governors of each province. I had good relationships with many of the tribal leaders in central Iraq, the sheiks. Our relationships down into the community, though, were inhibited by security problems, the fact that some of the people felt threatened hanging out with U.S. forces. ... Our impression was they wanted to embrace us. And they did embrace us at those levels I described, but it wasn’t like you could go down into the community and in amongst the common, ordinary, nongovernmental, nonmilitary leaders and break bread.
posted by Steve @ 1:10:00 AM