Simi Valley Sophist

The Simi Valley Sophist ruminates on all manner of topics from the micro to the macro. SVS travels whatever path strikes his fancy. Encyclopedia Britannica: Sophist "Any of certain Greek lecturers, writers, and teachers in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, most of whom travelled about the Greek-speaking world giving instruction in a wide range of subjects in return ..."

Location: California, United States

Retired: 30years law enforcement-last 20 years Criminal Intelligence Detective.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

In the Thick of It in Iraq

I’m feeling a little melancholy tonight as I write and sip a glass of cabernet sauvignon by Catacula Lake Winery. This bottle is special as it was a gift from Jay and Di on the occasion of my last birthday. Jay and Di find that wine to be a favorite, and a fine wine it is. That was a day of surprises as my wife pulled-off a surprise birthday party, and friend’s gathered to help celebrate. Jay could not be here, of course, because he is deployed in Iraq. You may recall that I wrote about Jay in pieces entitled, “Thanks to Those Who Carry Our Water,” and “Iraqi Soldiers Standing Up.” Anyway, I got another surprise when Jay called from Iraq and wished me a happy birthday. That was great, but I sure wish he had been here instead.

It is extremely important that the American people get the straight information from Iraq. There are no better sources of true information than from the boots on the ground. I asked Jay to write about his experiences in order that we can all be better informed. Enclosed below is a letter from Jay. He asked me to edit his work for him, and I have done so sparingly. I’ve added a comma here, a period there, and an occasional word for clarity, but nothing substantial, except as noted in the text. Here’s Jay’s letter:

Hi All,
I am sorry that I am worse at this e-mail writing than letter writing. So, I hope no one takes offense to my writing a "to all" email to bring everyone up to date. Busy is an understatement for this place. The AlAnbar (SVS-the largest province in Iraq and due west of Baghdad and Fallajuah) is the hot spot these days. But, at least the time flies when were busy. A few incidents induced me to write and let you know what's really going on.
We have been out of the wire almost every day, and we had a big op that was a success. But, success has a weird definition here. We established a new COP (Combat Out Post) in the north of AlAnbar/Jeezera, which gives us a presence in the bad guys back yard. They are not real happy to have us there. The elevated danger comes from the COP being so far away from re-enforcements. So of ourse, we were attacked and mortared. Regrettably we had 16 WIA and one KIA. Two guys from our team were medically evacuated back to the states with shrapnel wounds. They won't be coming back. Things have calmed down a little since we got some positive payback on the insurgent mortar crew. Just getting through each day is a victory here in Habbaniyah (SVS-city in AlAnbar.) Most days we just have "close calls" including mortar and small arms fire. It’s getting really old, and thankfully most of us have been unharmed. Good thing the insurgents are lousy shots (knock on wood,) and of course we are better at tactics. It's the damn IED's that take the toll on our teams. They are really hard to counter, and detection usually depends on luck or a local telling us about them. The locals are more afraid of the insurgents then they are of us. So, getting information from them is hard for us and dangerous for them.

Our Hummers can take most of the hits from the IED's. It's the walking patrols where we get hammered by those damn things. My team (at HQ) has it better off than some. We have three teams in the field every day, and my team only has to go out about 4 or 5 days a week. As for our mission (??) of being advisers, we usually do that while on patrol. I keep telling them that I'm a truck driver, but no one listens.The living conditions here are getting better everyday. We have pretty good power from a huge generator, and enough water for showers at least twice a week. The food is good, thanks to the Army, and we get over to their chow hall a few times a week. Most meals are Iraqi chicken and rice lamb stew (?) and flat bread. Chow is not an issue. We have a microwave. Life is good! All the care packages keep me well stocked with everything I need and more. Thank you all. I am just sorry I can't reciprocate as I would like.

It really sounds worse than it is, but everyone over here is in danger. I just want you to know what's going on because you just never know what can happen. We all are well trained at what we are doing. So, just wish us luck, and I will see you in 8 short months. Hey, we are already 1/3 of the way through this deployment. I will get a couple weeks leave this summer, but I'm not sure when.

I will attempt to update everyone more often, and feel free to forward my emails if I leave someone out. I worry about telling some people things they don't want to hear. So, I hope this e-mail finds all of you in good health and spirits. All is well here, and I will try to keep in touch more often. But, as you all know by now, I'm not very good at keeping in touch. I will try harder. Again, thank you to everyone for the cards letters and emails. It's what keeps us going over here. We all share everything from candy to love letters.

So, hopefully this will bring you up to date. I will avoid telling you all the drama and bad news in future emails. I'm sure you don't want to hear it anyway.
I will talk to you soon.

Thanks. Hugs and Love to all.
Thank you, Jay. But, please leave the drama and bad stuff in your e-mails. We need to hear the good, the bad, and the indifferent. Here’s to you, Jay. Mighty fine wine.