- A letter home to marine life in a frank description "Dante hell" traveled by generals folders for "incoming". We publish it with permission of the author.
The material is not "roast meat." No images of bloodied people. There are only a view of a particular person for a particular situation. Materials - a year.
This unvarnished report about life in Iraq has been written in the past month, Marines and was originally intended to a narrow circle of relatives and friends. This honest, but an ironic story, unusually frank talk about what is happening is very different from the picture that in the debate about the war in Iraq draw both sides - and the Pentagon PR specialists and their relentless criticism. So it is natural and perhaps inevitable that the "Letter from Iraq" quickly went beyond a small group of friends and got to the retired generals, officers, and to the Pentagon to Capitol Hill staffers to congressional committees.
Employee TIME Sally Donnelly got it the first time three weeks ago, but only this week was able to track down the author and verify the authenticity of the document. The author wished to remain anonymous, but allowed to publish his text with small denominations.
All: I have not written very much from Iraq. There's really nothing in general writing. More precisely, I am a little about what I write, because almost everything that I do, read or hear is classified military information or acts so depressing that I prefer to immediately forget about it, and certainly not to describe.
The gaps are filled with pure boredom of everyday life in the military camp. So you have to strain to think of anything to write, to a letter worth reading. The worst thing that this place just sucks you in. I work for 18-20 hours a day, every day. Attempts to draw a clear picture of what conceive rebels continue indefinitely. Problems and conflicts arise faster than solutions are. Each new challenge need to look for the answer. And so every day. Before I am aware of this report, I have everything starts to float before my eyes, because now 4:00 am and I was working 20 hours in a row, once again somehow missing dinner. And again, I will not write. And four hours later it all starts over again. It is not very much like "Groundhog Day" - rather, the next circle of Dante's hell.
Instead of trying to sum up the past seven months, I thought it best to tell you about the most striking moments of 2006 in Iraq. Here are the events and experiences I remember best.
Worst case of "deja vu". I thought it was a feeling of "deja vu" is familiar to me until I came back here in Fallujah in February. At the moment I stepped off the helicopter, in the first minutes of the dawn, the camp and saw exactly the same as it was ten months before - that it was now "deja vu." Pretty annoying. As if I did not leave. The same job, the same broken desk, same chair, the same computer, same room, same creaky furniture, and the same ... everything. All the same, just a different year. It was some kind of parallel universe. The house was not for 10 thousand. Miles away, it was all in the other life.
The most surreal moment. When I looked at the Marines arrived to my point of detention and unload the truck as much as Lilliputians in handcuffs. 26 people, to be exact. On the morning of the day we told Marines in Fallujah that are looking for a "bad guy" that is, the descriptions are very short. I do not know that lives in Fallujah whole colony dwarfs are held together because they are considered social outcasts. Marines in a hurry to get back to the colony and bring the rest of the suspects, but I canceled the operation, determined that "the bad guy" for a long time escaped on short legs, seeing their comrades surrounded by giant infidel.
Most thoughtful people in Iraq. Unknown farmer in a very remote area, which is when the Marines scout asked him whether he had seen in the area what some foreign fighters, he replied: "Yes, you."
The worst city in the province of Al-Anbar. It's easy - Ramadi. The provincial capital with a population of 400 thousand. Man. Many, many rebels have been killed here since we arrived here in February. Every day there is bad shootout. They kill us with the help of huge bombs on the road, using snipers, mortars and small arms. We kill them with tanks, attack helicopters, artillery, killing with the help of our snipers (who shoot better than them) and any weapon that an infantryman can carry. And so every day. Incredible, but I rarely see Ramadi in the news. For us here in the west, attacked no less than in Baghdad. Yes, in Baghdad, 7 million population, and we've got only 1, 2 million. In per capita terms, Al-Anbar - a place of fierce violence in Iraq that transcends other places on the basis of several orders of magnitude. I think it is no coincidence they sent the Marines in 2003, it is here.
The bravest man in the al-Anbar province. Any technician unexploded ordnance. How do you like the job of work that requires you to defuse a bomb hole in the road, which is quite possibly mined or wiring associated with the "bad guy" who is just waiting when you come closer to the bomb to push the detonator? And so every day. Vacuum trucks in New York pay more than these guys. That say afterwards of the courage and dedication.
Second bravest man in the al-Anbar province. The prize will receive 20 thousand. Marines and soldiers who every day go on the road and in the city of Al-Anbar, without knowing whether that day be their last. For one or two of them it still will last.
The worst e-mail. "Mobile Blood Bank needs blood group II, Rh-positive." I always go down to the operating unit when receiving such a letter, but the blood never rent - always there, day and night, is already waiting in line about 80 Marines.
The biggest surprise. Iraqi police. All local guys. I never imagined that we would get the police action in Al Anbar. I thought that the rebels would kill himself, and that first scare everyone else. Well, the rebels killed the first really brave, but people continued to be recorded in the cops. Insurgents continue to kill police officers, killing them in their homes and on the streets, but the cops do not give up. Absolutely fantastic durability. The rebels knew that the police were able to find them much better than we do, and really finds. If only we were able to wean from the habit of beating their prisoners to a state of mashed potatoes ...
The biggest satisfaction. Arm yourself with a monstrous amount of Diet Coke from the army canteen, despite the disdain of my people to such skopidomstvu, shortly before the 122-millimeter rocket exploded near a giant shipping container, where the entire soda for dining. Yes, the experience does not spend on drink.
The biggest mystery. How do some people manage to get fat here. I've shrunk to 165 pounds (about 75 kg. - Note. Trans.). Who has time to eat?
The second biggest mystery. If there are no atheists in foxholes, then why in the Sunday service so few people?
Favorite TV show Iraqis. Oprah. I do not know why. They have all the satellite channels.
The most daring act of the rebels. They stole almost $ 7 million from the central bank in Ramadi in broad daylight, and went out from there, waved handle Marines at a roadblock next to the bank; Marines had no idea what was going on, and waved back. Amazing.
The most memorable scene. In the middle of the night on a dusty airfield I watched most of the battalion of marines, who gathered their belongings and were ready to go home after six months in al-Anbar; relief on the faces of their young to read, even in the moonlight. And then I saw the same Marines exchanged glances with the same number disembarking infantry - with his change. Nothing was said. Nothing did not need to speak.
The unit with the highest level of renewal of contracts. Any part, which recently visited Iraq. All hazards, all the hardships, all the time spent away from home, all the horror and all the disappointment here is a struggle - all this turns out to be powerless against the desire of young people to be part of a brotherhood where everyone is ready to die for each other. They have found here what you were looking for, going into the army after school. They are now more combat experience than any other Marines in our troops.
The most amazing thing that I did not miss. Beer. Maybe a slight intoxication, caused by lack of sleep compensates its absence.
The most terrible smell. Mobile toilets in the 120-degree heat. This 120-degree [Fahrenheit; this is equal to 48, 9 degrees Celsius] outside the toilet.
The highest temperature. I do not know what, but inside the toilet stalls. I had to drink after each trip to the point.
The biggest hemorrhoids. High-ranking visitors. More than interfere with, what rocket attack. VIP-persons call for comment, and trips to the "fighting places" (we carry them in the quiet areas of Fallujah, which is already scares them to death). Our explanations and comments seem to have no effect on their preconceived notions of what is happening in Iraq. These trips allow them to say that they were in Fallujah, so that they, unfortunately, receive undeserved credibility and could endlessly taldychit their fantasies about the local insurgency.
Most galling. Almost all of that "talking heads" on television talking about the war in Iraq, and this despite the fact that I do not often watch TV. Their opinions differ constantly while monstrous oversimplification and political bias. The most egregious example - Bill O'Reilly.
The biggest success of exploration. When they found the kidnappers of Jim Carroll - all. I was terribly proud of my guys that day. I thought that after that we all receive a free visit Christian Science Monitor, but so far no one has announced.
The saddest moment. When the commander of the infantry battalion gave me tokens of one of my Marines who had just been killed during the quest. It came from a 60-millimeter mortar. He was a great Marine. I have long felt then crushed. His portrait now hangs at the entrance to our block. We'll take him with us when we leave in February.
The most striking episode a la Chuck Norris. may 13. The "bad guys" were in the administrative center of the small town to kidnap the mayor, because they do not tolerate any form of government that does not include regular and beheading women in a burqa. There were seven. When they brought the mayor, intending to shove him into the truck and drive somewhere to cut off the head (as usual, under the record on video), one of the "bad guys" put his gun to tie the hands of the mayor. The Mayor took the opportunity to grab the machine and sew five bad guys. The other two escaped. One of those killed was in our top twenty most wanted. That says that the city council does not povoyuesh.
The most awful sound. Distant crackle and boom, meaning that just exploded an improvised explosive device or mine. You ask yourself, to anybody, and you hope that it's still been close, but misses rather than a direct hit. I hear the sound almost every day.
Second most awful sound. When our artillery fired without warning. Our howitzers located quite close to the place where I work. Believe me, flying away shells sounded very much like arriving when our gun hit right above our heads. The feeling is that you fly from teeth fillings.
The only thing that Iraq is better than in the US. Sunsets. Awesome. This is because of the huge amount of dust in the air.
The moment that I'm most proud of. They happen every day, when I see how our Marines get phenomenal intelligence, which to a large extent disrupted the operation of "bad guys" in Al-Anbar. Every night, Marines and soldiers open the door and grab the "bad guys" on the basis of intelligence received by our guys. We rarely lose our people during these raids, because they are well aware of the task at hand. Just a handful of children from school may not work so well, but they do it.
The happiest moment. Well, it was not in Iraq. There's no truly happy moments. It was in California when I was able to once again embrace his family while on vacation in July.
The most common thought. On the house. Constantly I think of home, of my wonderful wife and children. I think, how are all the others. I regret that little writing. In general, always think of home.
I hope you have everything in order. If you want to change something, kiss a cop, flush the toilet and drink beer. I'll try to write more soon - I promise.