Fear and Loathing in Iraq: November 17, 20 04

MP Jeep

Hello all,

Sorry I am so late this week but things are really crazy here—again. Gosh, where should I begin? With the packing? The attacks? The controversy? Let’s start with the packing.

As you know we have begun to pack but now we have begun to ship. It started on Monday when we had a formation at 0600 (which is fucking early in normal time), and we proceeded to take all the boxes and packages we spent so much time packing away and laid them all on the ground to be inspected. Every box, bag, crate, and container had to be opened and left exposed so the dumbass MPs could walk by and root through everything looking for contraband like guns, grenades and Iraqi skulls. It took us a couple of hours to unload all the ISUs and connexes but we eventually had everything lined up in neat, orderly rows the way the Army loves so much. We then sat and waited for the dumbass MPs. At about 0900 (three hours later than fucking early) the dumbass MPs show up and walk around with their chests stuck out trying to look police like and powerful.

As you may be able tell I hate the MPs and I made it clear to them from the moment they came near my area. I have hated the MPs since they came to Balad and were pulling people over for speeding and issuing tickets for soldiers who didn’t lock their steering wheels when at the dining facility. Here we are in Balad — which gets rocketed, mortared and car bombed all day every damn day — and these fucking chimpanzees are handing out parking tickets and yelling at people because they didn’t put a drip pan under their trucks! Well we now have MPs here on Speicher and I can’t stand them. They set up check points and check vehicles for the proper paperwork and ask for your military driver license. They drive me insane and we get tickets and pulled over all the time. The commander doesn’t care because he gets tickets too, so we just laugh at the pigs and give them a hard time.

So when these dumbass MPs came to my area I yelled, “Hey keep down guys, the luggage sniffers are here!” They gave me a dirty look but I didn’t care. I probably got a more thorough inspection but I had to let them know I didn’t care for them. We drive on the roads every day outside the wire and these fuckers have no other mission than to drive around post annoying hardworking soldiers in a combat zone. Well these MPs were — as expected — assholes and all over the yard they were making people clean this and wipe that and open this and show them that. It was insane! I was furious.

Some sergeant came up to me and said we needed to get the dust off the heaters and generators. I told him they had never been out of the connex all year and that the dust was from Germany. He didn’t care, dust was dust and it had to come off. So I made a huge fuss and yelled why we didn’t have to wash the dust off the cardboard boxes. They were all on the ground and covered in dust, but they were checked and put into the connexes. I asked him why and he replied that the dust had to come off the metal. So I yelled again: “Oh, I see, you’re saying that dust on metal is dangerous, but dust on cardboard is not. I see now, it all makes sense! This is so fucking dumb! Why are we doing this?” He was not happy and walked off.

I really was furious, it made no sense. We had huge rolls of packing foam and they wanted to have them hosed off, but the items that were wrapped in foam sitting on the ground were OK to be put away! I wanted to scream. I had reached my absolute peak of hatred for being in the Army. I knew the rules and people in the Army are dumb as boxes of shit, but this was just too much. I eventually fired up the pressure washer and began to hose down the equipment, but not without yelling “Why don’t we wash the bottoms of our boots? They have dust! What about our teeth, we have dust there! Shit, the fucking trucks that are going to drive this stuff to Kuwait are covered in dust and everything here is going to get dusty on the journey, so should we ride along in the back of the truck and hose them off as we go?”

It was just so damn stupid that we are in a desert full of dust and the MPs are telling us to get rid of dust. Only in the Army! And these MPs were really taking themselves seriously. It was comical. At one point they were going through my personal boxes and the dumbass MP asked why I have three trunks filled with books? I told him because I was the only motherfucker in the Army who knew how to read, and that is was none of his fucking business. He may be a cop, but he was still a private. Later on, while we were putting things away, I noticed the MPs began to play with a Frisbee that was lying around, and there was something about the scene that just pissed me off. These jag offs just stand there and make us clean sand off of sand and they want play Frisbee! So I told one to throw the Frisbee over here and he did. I then took the Frisbee and cut it in half with, threw it on the ground, and then went back to helping load stuff. They were not happy. Like I cared.

This bullshit took 10 hours and we were all exhausted by the end. We had put everything put back into the connexes and blocked and braced everything. The dumbass MPs checked the paperwork and then finally put metal seals on all the locks, which officially made the boxes secured and ready for travel. Everyone took off to shower and take naps, but I had to go to work. All this was done in the morning and early afternoon and my shift started at 3, so my day was not over until midnight. It was a rotten day.

The next day the first couple of trucks came and hauled away our 5 ton trucks, and today our three 2.5 ton trucks were taken away. Tomorrow we get rid of all our trailers and then we finally get rid of all out connexes and ISUs. We are really feeling like the end is near when you see the equipment on trucks going home — it means we are not far behind!

Watching the equipment go home is very stressful because we all know we are going home soon as well, so tensions are high because all we can think about is Germany, and safety. We are focused less on here and more on there. But with time being short many people are having trouble on convoys. You see, when you know you could be going home in a matter of weeks, you don’t want anything to jeopardize it. You are terrified that something will happen to you so close to leaving here. So we are all walking on eggshells and hoping our name doesn’t come up on the board for a convoy. The general attitude is the irony of it all: “Wouldn’t it be just so horrible if I were to die or have a leg blown off one week before we stop doing convoys?”

This is basic Short Timers syndrome and it has hit us all hard. I have to admit, even I am nervous of getting hurt so close to escaping from here. And now I just got the word that I will be escorting the sensitive items connex all the way to Kuwait. I will have to drive from here all the way to the port in Kuwait, some 600 miles. I will have to go through Samarra, Balad, and Baghdad, all the hot spots; Talk about Irony. While everyone is flying to Kuwait, I have to fucking drive there! Now if something happens — which through 600 miles there is an extremely high chance something will — I will be really pissed off because I am so, so close. Imagine if I get killed or have my legs blown off or something and I was one day from Kuwait, or 10 miles from the border. The thought has been keeping me up at night.

With packing aside, the paperwork is terrible right now and I am swamped with work. Finishing my class is tough as well and I have little free time. I have been giving PT tests, trying to get rid of ammo, equipment, packing my stuff and getting ready to move into the tents. My room looks empty. There is nothing there but some clothes and a book or two. By next week most everything will be gone, and we will be a little bored. There will be nothing to do but convoys. The new group is supposed to arrive here mid December, I think, and we are still scheduled to transfer over on Christmas day, but we will see. They are trying to get us out early so everyone can spend the holidays with their families. I hope it works; it will be nice for everyone.

Here on Speicher, with Ramadan gone for a couple of days now, things are crazy as hell! I thought things would calm down but they have picked up! We are getting rocketed 3-4 times a day now. Yesterday one came really close and shook us all out of bed. What a wake up call. I later drove to the sight of the impact and we ogled at the crater. Juts a few hundred meters east and it would have hit the dining facility! Creepy.

But the roads are the worst by far. The car bombing, IEDs and suicide bombers are at an all time high, even after Ramadan! The 25th trans company lost a guy yesterday, and our guys were on the second serial. You see, we make sure we put our ambulances on the second serial (the second batch of trucks to leave, usually 15-20 minutes after the 1st serial) and that reduces our chances of getting hit, but either way it is very dangerous right now. The insurgents have taken over most of the police stations in Mosul and so we cannot tell if an Iraqi policeman is real or not, so they are getting shot all over the place by nervous, trigger-happy soldiers.

Many are bad guys, but some are good, and now the good guys are quitting for fear of getting shot! It is just insanity out there. I have to go to Mosul next week, and I hate to say it, but if an Iraqi ICDC cop even looks at me the wrong way, I am going to shoot his ass. I don’t know who to trust! I hate this! What the hell are we supposed to do when we go through the Iraqi checkpoints and have no idea if they are real cops or not? There have been more than a few dead soldiers now killed by fake cops, and dozens injured. I am going to be one nervous, trigger happy soldier next week, because I am going home! You know, I don’t think we could have fucked this country up any more if we had elected Ariel Sharon as president and made all the soldiers here wear yarmulkes!

So now on to the controversy. Remember that hellacious bitch SGT Hernandez I complained about once, well she left Iraq in quite a hurry. It seems she has gotten pregnant and the father may be our company commander! HAHAHA I was laughing my ass of when I heard this. When the CO went on R&R a few weeks ago he came home, told his wife to pack her bags, take the kids and get out. It was later we found out SGT Hernandez was pregnant. So some of us signed sworn statements of all the evil and back-handed shit Hernandez has pulled and sent it off to the Battalion Sergeant Major in the Germany. She is now furious and has started an investigation of a bunch of people in the company. I always told these people that eventually if you are an asshole it will come full circle and bite you in the ass. I hope I get to see Hernandez in Germany so I can laugh in her face, and if it is true that the commander is the daddy, well I hope he loses his command. Hee hee hee.

Well I am going to take off, much work to do. I miss you all, take care and thanks for reading.

--Chris Sachs