A View From the Frontline in Iraq

It's the near future and a dark cloud has descended upon the land. The constitution has been overthrown; freedom is reduced to a mere slogan used by the governing wing of the Party which has been running the country for several years. The Party controls everything from cigarettes to candy bars; you cannot own a house, buy a car or drive across a bridge without offering tribute to Party functionaries.

Citizens are terrorized by multiple branches of the secret police who send out jack-booted hit squads in the night, wearing masks and carrying automatic weapons, to target “offenders.”

In this bleak future (?) more people are incarcerated than in the entire rest of the world combined. Most of your paycheck goes to the Party; for those lucky enough to have a job.

Babies conceived by native-born citizens are murdered at the rate of thousands of a day while ever larger numbers of foreigners are brought in daily to provide a more malleable populace. Sexual deviates cavort in the streets, and the church of God is mocked and scorned

Now word has come that another country, mouthing high ideals and speaking the magic words of freedom and liberation, has announced that it is coming to break those chains. They expect to be embraced gladly and welcomed with flowers. They will confiscate all the guns and bring peace and an end to oppression to the land.

What do we do?

I'll tell you what we do. We grab those guns we've managed to retain or dig up those guns we buried in the back yard, form citizen's militias and make life hell for the “liberators!'

And that is exactly what has happened in Iraq. The brutal dictator deposed by American bayonets was widely hated and his Baathest party held in great contempt. But the foreigners came and they stayed.

No man can tolerate that.

So that's my point of view. Let's look at it from another perspective – live from the “sandbox.”

I asked a friend of mine, another old-timer like me, what the heck he was doing in an elite unit in Iraq. He replied that he was an old soldier and felt it his duty to be there to take care of the youngsters, many of whom are his son's age. He is against this war, as I am, and feels we were lied into it and are being consistently lied to about how it is going down. He wonders why the loud talkers from the neo-conservative camp are not to be found wearing the uniform and I wonder about that too. We correspond regularly and what he tells me is not what you'd call encouraging. He does not claim that all our soldiers feel like him but notes that:

“…Every unit over here has a neo-con or two in it, usually they have just arrived in country and are as numerous and as annoying as that familiar, belligerent idiot at the bar loudly spouting his bumper sticker ideology. In other words, there are still people who believe that Saddam was behind the WTC bombing and that there still are WMD's to be found.”

I'll let him tell you in his own words about his place in the scheme of things:

…I'm not some Rear Echelon soldier. …As a member of the Special Operations Community, I've probably got more time in a parachute harness than most of these fine young soldiers I am serving with. I know for a fact that I have more time in uniform and combat than all the gasbag neo-con war cheerleaders that are notably absent from this little “adventure” of theirs.

I live outside the wire in a small compound formerly the headquarters of one of Saddam's brutal government agencies. There are meat hooks and torture cells in one of the remaining buildings, just the sort of thing one expects from a socialist-oriented dictatorship. We refer to our base as “Fort Apache” because it's right in the middle of Indian country.

My compound has firefights or gunfights or rocket attacks outside it every night, sometimes the shooting is celebratory and other times it is angry such as when some young soldier, thanks to the ineptitude of his battalion command and other staff leaders, needlessly kills an innocent Iraqi citizen or provokes the locals into revenge for any number of reasons. There is a lovely gun-grab policy in effect now, effectively disarming the law abiding and somehow missing the terrorists.

So my pal, who we'll refer to as “Big Sarge” is right in the middle of things.

Notice his reference to the “gun grab” policy. Does it make you wonder, that the lovely new constitution we've cooked up for the Iraqis does not include a right to own firearms? How then can we call this country liberated? Is a man free who cannot own a weapon? Even Saddam did not dare to try and disarm the Iraqis.

And what does that tell us about the commitment of our leaders to our own constitutional right to bear arms?

I asked Big Sarge how the game is playing out in truth compared to what we're hearing back here in the “world.”

Everything you have heard about the war should be viewed with the greatest of suspicion, “consider the source” as we always say. For instance, while training stateside, we were briefed extensively about this war, the conduct of the war and the situation we would encounter. This orientation coincidentally sounded identical to the political drivel being dished out by our politicians. Remember, hundreds of Bush and Cheney cronies are counting on you to keep those war bucks flowing into their bank accounts!

The first five minutes here in country we learned that truth, and what we were told, are two totally different things. For starters, things are not getting better every day, they are getting worse. The bad guys are becoming more sophisticated and, sadly, thanks to our illustrious “leadership” at command level, we are becoming more stupid.

For example, during WWII it was discovered that a pathetically low number of soldiers were actually shooting at the enemy. Aggressive training helped up that number during Korea and Vietnam but now we've gone quite over the top. Today, everybody wants to shoot (except old war horses like me who have the crazy idea that we ought to make sure it's an enemy we are shooting).

So what exactly doe that mean? We're told we're fighting for “heart and minds” and our troops are actually in danger because of the imposed restraints and the need to limit “collateral” casualties.

Many commanders are playing cowboy over here, they are showing up with their own agenda and running your taxpayer-funded army units staffed with your children like their own personal fiefdoms. I thought that George S. Patton was the worst egomaniac to command US troops in modern times but he was a mere piker compared to some of the Lieutenant Colonels and above over here.

For example, one battalion commander (who was thankfully relieved stateside) had his own policy for dealing with Iraqi's loitering on top of overpasses.

Loitering is sort of a national pastime, either because so many are out of work or perhaps because it gives the locals a chance to socialize. The battalion commander in question had a simple policy for clearing out these Iraqi citizens… machine gun them off the bridge. Thankfully his personal opinions on how to wage war were discovered by one of the few remaining people in our military command with a lick of sense and he was relieved.

A few days ago, one of the infantry units here that spend most of their time sitting behind the wire on their FOB, had an IED attack. When the bomb went off, an Iraqi family that was near the blast became terrified and ran away (as anyone would naturally do). The American GI's successfully massacred the mother, the father, the grandmother and one of the two teenage girls. The surviving child was lucky to escape with only having both legs blown off.

I might note that the soldiers in a counterinsurgency operation tend to get spooked so it always degenerates into “shoot first, ask questions later.” The results of the decisions those young soldiers make, will remain with them the rest of their lives. I speak from experience…

So how are you spending your time at this point Big Sarge, I asked?

I spend most of my time outside the wire, flying down city streets like a madman with my troops in tow, speeds exceeding 90mph in our SUV. My primary duty during any engagement is to tell my men to hold their fire and be certain of what they are shooting. Hajii likes to take a potshot and disappear back into the crowd, hoping and praying that you will open fire indiscriminately. Every innocent person we kill nets Hajii handfuls of able bodied, red hot, angry and ready to seek revenge recruits.

Now Big Sarge knows as well as I do that we as patriotic Americans are supposed to support “the lesser of two evils.” He shares my view on that:

Sadly, it isn't the leadership that is being killed or having parts of their bodies blown off permanently, it's young kids and lots of u2018em. I wonder how quickly support for this needless war would dwindle if we started seeing the shattered lives and bodies that our new neo-con “tough guy” policy is wreaking.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for a strong foreign policy, one that is based upon free trade with all and alliances with none. When we are personally and deliberately threatened by some external threat, we need to take the reasonable, measured and well prepared measures necessary to ensure that our Constitutional Republic is defended. Men like me are in uniform under arms to do just that.

Short of that kind that of threat we must realize that enemies are expensive and that the neo-cons are writing checks with the bodies and lives of our children, checks that they personally can't and won't ever cover personally because of their cowardice and frankly, because we are letting them get away with it. In the next election, if you are forced to choose between the lesser of two evils, choose neither.

He's right. The American people could vote the Party out of office in a single day in November. But that would mean not voting for a democrat or a republican and that seems to be just too big a leap for most folks.

Like Big Sarge, I'm quite prepared to defend my country. However, I'm never prepared to wage aggressive war against a country that has not attacked us and I find it immoral and unfair to our troops that they have been put in this situation. The American people have been asleep at the wheel on this one and our soldiers are paying the price for it.

In any war, it is unfair to ask soldiers to fight and die unless their sacrifice is for something worthwhile. In this ludicrous struggle the very act of fighting is counter productive!

Getting out of the “Sandbox” will be a lot harder than getting in was. We've allowed ourselves to be put in a box; where there were no American targets there are now many. Every shot we fire creates more enemies. Any hope of a successful flag-raising op is gone – our real enemies are rubbing their hands together with glee.

That does not mean of course, that no threat exists. Bin Laden is still wondering why we lost interest in him. Real terrorists do exist and they can and do enter this country readily – the Border Patrol reports a frightening proportion of border jumpers are now of Arabic origin. So there is a definite need for Big Sarge and his boys right here in the United States. Doing what our damned useless leaders refuse to do which is to defend the borders of this country!

A final note: Big Sarge is on operations now but I imagine we'll be talking again. Stay tuned.

April 13, 2004