Baghdad December 2008 Retrospective

Well Good Morning to the fanbase!  This’s a email I sent out shortly after getting Back To The Saddam-a-Go-Go (love that name!)  Some of the readers noticed that I had referenced a job in Yokohama Japan. 

The whole ugly story there is a shitfest of epic proportions in and among itself.  It really deserves its own I.R. report.  The short of it:  I got a job in Yokohama Japan in later 07.  It was dependent on contract award… They got the contract.  My employer at the time, whether willfully or accidentally did the “monkey fuck” and screwed up the “Get the fuck out of Kuwait” thing… Visas (not the charge card) Cancelling Civil IDs allllll sorts of shit to leave country legally.  And because of the timeline fuckup, I lost the gig…  like I said, more to follow.  A WHOLE lot more… as well as the “How to put together the Flammenwerfer.

Anyways, for your enjoyment,

Been a few weeks
since I last posted, but what the hell, it’s been a busy few weeks.  Work
continues with me putting in about 14 hours a day (I contracted 40 a week) but
shit, I’m supporting Joe, and because of that I’m good.  I mean it’s not always
about the money.  (waitaminute, did I say that? There goes my ‘mercenary
street cred!’)  Currently, my gig is doing the logistical side (mainly
tracking and issue) of the new VSAT terminals the Military has bought.  It’s
something that the Army needs, and if my small contribution helps to keep the
mission up, and people alive, then hell, I can’t ask for better than
that.  Most of the guys that we are dealing with are people who are far
out on the edge of nowheresville.  Essentially the idea is that we’re
providing Sat Equipment that allows them to communicate with higher. 
Any more info would be dangerous, so I’ll leave it as that… Needless to
say The Old IR of Note and Fame is digging being back in the thick of things, and
proud of being able to help out the Joes and Joe-ettes who are on the tip of
the spear.
And as I have found,
that spear here is dull.  Not in a bad way, but sort of from ‘high use’ as
one would say.  Meaning that I either very foolishly or very bravely (your
pick here, as I know what my Mom would say) decided the other day to take a
trip outside the wire.  Now mind you, the areas I went to are very
familiar to me, as ‘back in the day’ of 04 and 05 I used to roll through there
regularly.  Also, when me and Lil Country rolled, we’d be up armored
wearing our shit, minus helmet, and carrying a vast array of insane weapons to
‘repel boarders.’
Now… sheeeeeeeet…
not so much.  I went out, with some trepidation mind you, without so much
as a sidearm or automatic weapon, and my body armor and helmet have been living
on a rack in my house since I got here, despite the ONE time I >might<
have needed it.  Yeah… As they said in “Full Metal Jacket”
something about the “Crazy Brave” or some such shit.  Anyways, I
digress…  Yeah I rolled out ECP 5 (entry control point) and went out
into the “wilds” of Route Irish.  Route Irish back in 04 and 05
was so bad that the exact quote in Newsweek Magazine was “…the most
dangerous section of highway in the known universe.” 
Now, not so
much.  The Iraqis have replanted all of the trees in the middle center
between the highway that were uprooted after the Dirty Haj had used them to
hide IEDS.  The road was littered with Billboards advertising I
have-no-fucking-clue what as they are all in Arabic, but the fact that every
500 meters or so a billboard was present, whereas back in the day, they would
NOT have been there.  It’s like the country has come back to life. 
The walls that Saddam put up around what’s now called Camp Slayer are decorated
with MAD paintings showing what appears to be the past, present and future of
Iraq by the artists point of view.  The thing that cracks me up the most
is that in the ‘future paintings’ is they show a monorail like you’d see in
Disney as part of the future… Wishful thinking I know, but still it
shows the hope these jokers have.   I’ll stop next time as I now know
I won’t get killed out there and I’ll post the pics of the paintings, provided
I can… as I never know when the Dirty Haj may appear, and I’d probably feel
better once I get a ‘Roscoe’ or two on hand… never get complacent, and as my
Dad and Robert Heinlein would say “Watch out for Stobor!”
But on this trip, I
rolled to BIAP.  The Baghdad International Airport is now a major hub of
travel here.  More people coming in than going, which is a major
change.  Lots of ‘returnees’ as they call them at the guard post.  My
Ugandan isn’t too good, but the guards english was good enough, and he told me
that more and more they see the Iraqis coming back from their self imposed
exile.  Good on them if they can manage. 
I also found the ONE
bar thats around here.  The “Sinbad Bar and Grill” where,
contrary to General Order #1, a dude can find Heineken one liters for $6 bux
USD.  God Bless Consumer Demand!!!!  They also have all sorts of
booze, from Johnny Blue to Red, and Jack and Beam as well, and a goodly
assortment of rums and even Dom if you got the geld for it.  I was madly
impressed.  The place is vaguely reminiscent of a John LeCarr Novel, what
with the CIA-NSA-CID and other types of Personal Security Detachment types
roaming through, and it’s located at the Baghdad International Airport Hotel
and Convention center.  (Please ensure you check your weapons with the
concierge as no guns are allowed in the bar.)  I thought the sign was a
nice touch.  Me, I had a beer… Only because I was driving, but
DAYYYYYUM if’n that wasn’t a premium beer!!!  The Hotel is supposedly
doubling as a whorehouse, but I didn’t bother to check that side of
things.  I figure Mama got enough for me when I get home, and why tempt
So anyways, I then
rolled into Baghdad Proper.  Up Route Irish, and I saw a couple of convoys
doing the ‘daily-daily’ run in and around.  My biggest problem cruising
the neighborhoods was I didn’t have anything to throw to the kids… kids kept
running up truck EXPECTING goodies.. I ended up throwing Life Savers Big Mints
and then when those ran out, cigarettes and receiving big smiles… It was so
nice to see it like that… back in 04-05 they would have thrown rocks, or
grenades even.  Now, it’s back to the “Capture of Baghdad Mode”
again, and we’re better for it.
Then, after, back to
base, where I was welcomed to the air raid sirens.  Nothing like the sound
of the air raid sirens going off to pucker one’s bunghole tight.  Turns
out “THIS IS A TEST”… wish they’d announce that BEFORE they run the
siren up… instead I find myself scrambling for the armor and helmet (amazing
how quick one can don 75 pounds of BS when one needs to?) only to have the All
clear test message sound.  Really nice of them to run it first, thereby
inducing heart attack #3…
Things here besides
the Army scaring the living shit out of me are good.  I’m in a groove and
digging it.  Living in my old house has been somewhat of a nice thing, as
it’s not on any known trajectories for incoming (The Haj usually launch from
the same areas… part of the reason we haven’t had any real incoming with the
exception of that one) and I’m comfortable.  Rest assured, the
Intrepid Reporter is NOT complacent by any means however, case in point
the scramble for the body armor.  Nice to have the ‘good stuff’ with me
this time and having all my own gear is also a smiley face.  Happiness
would truly be achieved if I had my Trusty Roscoe on the nightstand, but eh,
who needs it?  Not like The Haj are coming ’round here anymore… Hell,
the Iraqi Army LIVES in my neighborhood… how the world changes eh?
But for now, after
having made it back, I stil have more work do to, so I gotta cut it short, so
Look for me later.  Until then I remain, The Intrepid Report, Big Country

By BigCountryExpat

Fuck you if you can't take a joke. No one gets out alive so eat me.

1 comment

  1. Would that VSAT be a trailer with the 2.4 M dish on it?

    In '08 and '09 I was upgrading the DKeT Earth Stations increasing their capacity all over Iraq, UAE, Qatar, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait, and Djibouti.

    We would cut through Slayer from Liberty to get to the civilian side of the airport to eat at the restaurant and drink at the bar. I had the rear window of my F250 shout out on Route Irish while making a trip to the "Ice Cream" store (Liquor store that also sold ice cream bars). We would buy a box of ice cream bars and give them gate guards and they would wave us through.

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