something a little lighter about iraq

  1. 4,217 Posts.
    An Aussie working in Baghdad recently sent this e-mail to friends back home. Reader Marc K. passes it on:

    Just to break up the monotony (is there such a thing in a war zone?) today I ventured outside of the Workshop compound to do an emergency house call at the Australian Embassy. One of the armoured Toyota Landcruisers that they use for transporting staff had developed a gremlin in the immobiliser system rendering the vehicle unusable. Towing the vehicle was not possible as our tow-truck driver was recovering after being shot in leg doing a pickup job a couple of days ago and was not expected to be back to work (in the words of his son) till the end of the week.

    This meant transiting out of the relative safety of the Green Zone and into the Red. Red and Green denotes at what state of readiness soldiers have their weapons set - green being unloaded and the magazines removed with red meaning loaded, safety catch on and plenty more spares close at hand. Unfortunately as a measure of how badly the situation has deteriorated, the miniscule little green zones on the map of Iraq are lost amongst the huge swathes of red that dominates the country.

    So in the same way as mechanics world wide, preparing for a call-out job, I grabbed a set of jumper leads, a selection of spare parts, my tool kit, flak jacket, Kevlar helmet, passport, GPS, credit cards and a 1000 Dollars in cash. My transport consisted of a convoy of Australian LAV's (Light Armoured Vehicle) for the short trip to the Embassy. Travel time is less than 5 minutes, but it's a tense 5 minutes - the close proximity of the Embassy to the Green Zone means that there are only a couple of routes that these convoys can take, and as such are relatively predictable, a fact the bad guys exploited only 2 weeks ago when a VBIED (Vehicle borne Improvised Explosive Device) was detonated as an Australian convoy was passing by. We drove by the site where the attack took place, and it was a rather sobering experience as the wreckage and damage to the surrounding buildings is still plainly visible. Thankfully the one Aussie soldier that was badly injured in the face is expected to make a full recovery and is now back home. The locals were not so lucky, 3 Iraqi civilians were killed outright and several more were seriously injured.

    Construction is underway on a brand new Embassy building within the Green Zone and is scheduled to be finished in the next few months, but until then they have to make do with the current location. Despite the incidents of the last month around the Embassy, it's still one of the safer areas of Baghdad and is another suburb that has been turned into a mini fortified city by the local residents and the Australian Soldiers. Locals man the outer ring of checkpoints and are the first line of defence against intruders. Back home residents band together to form action groups to complain about the pesky dog down the road, or an awful exterior paintjob on a house, but as a measure of how serious the situation is here, the locals manning the checkpoints will open fire on any strange vehicle that passes the same place more than twice.

    The local residents really like having the Australians around, not just because of the security they provide, but because they appreciate the professional and courteous nature of the troops who patrol the area. Many of the houses on the street that the embassy is located have intricately trimmed hedges shaped like chickens, and I finally got around to asking why that is the case - only to be told that they are actually kangaroos

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