Friday, March 18, 2005

News from Iraq

I can understand the frustration the troops often feel when confronting Iraqis. They have worn out their patience; and often they had little patience to begin with. Still many do not understand the threat the local population can be under and that they feel helpless to protect themselves. One of my teams was ambushed coming into Baghdad one day while part of a convoy of three SUVs. Their vehicle was an armored SUV and they were protected from the small arms fire until they lost a tire. While attempting to maintain control they lost another tire and the car flipped. The three guys inside were all severly injured but were foot mobile. They exited the vehicle and shot their way free of the kill zone, crossed the highway and ran into a housing area. When they entered the housing area a woman came out and urged them into her house. Once inside the women dressed the wounds and hid the men. They sent the oldest son out to keep watch.When the Iraqi police and US military arrived on the scene they informed my guys who linked up with the friendly forces and were evacuated to a hospital. Later we wanted to go and tell the family thank you and see if there was anything we could do for them, but we did no because our presence would draw attention to the home and make them into targets. I had one interpreter that shot a would be assasin in a short range gun fight. The attacker was a childhood friend and if we had not trained the interpreter well he would have been the one shot. One employee reported his brother had to quit university because he was a christian and related to a man that worked with Americans; we sent two employees to school in Jordan for two months after they and their family were threatened, and I relocated another employee to work in Jordan full time due to credible death threats he received that included him and his father. He will not be able to go home for an indetermined time. Individuals have no one to protect them or their families from the organized killers. Often they distrust the local police due to past experience. They feel helpless and these feelings merely reflect the realities of the situation. We do not have to like the situation but it does not hurt to be aware of the purgatory so many Iraqi citizens live in. many would be more helpful but fear can make them stay silent. There was a book written about Vietnam titled, "Silence Was a Weapon". The premise of that book has held true in conflict after conflict and is true in Iraq today.

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