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Posted: 6/16/2007 6:35:53 AM EST
[Last Edit: 6/16/2007 6:36:41 AM EST by krpind]
First thanks for your service.

Did you meet any good people who were natives?

If so tell us about any friends you made, or good people you met in Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East.

Link Posted: 6/16/2007 7:06:32 AM EST
Well I think I had a pretty unique experience on my 2nd deployment. I wasnt stationed at one of the large fobs like a lot of people are. Instead we were on an Iraqi FOB in NW Baghdad. We had a small American sector within that FOB. I was part of the security detail for our little inner FOB and I also worked at the Iraqi interogation facility outside of our area but still within the Iraqi FOB. I also did some outside the wire stuff but that wasnt too often. So I ended up working with more Iraqis than Americans, and that was good and bad. Many of our interpreters lived with us inside our area for fear of being killed if they left. The insurgents have people watching who comes and goes from the FOB, and they didnt want to be put on a hit list. Infact one of the guys who owned one of the small shops in our area was murdered for his involvement with us. Our interpreters were all good guys with one exception. We had one guy who was passing information to the insurgents for whatever reason. He had asked me some questions he didnt need to be asking and about stuff that was classified as top secret. I worked with the few MI guys we had there and he was put in the jail we worked at a short time after I left. Aside from that fuck our guys were awesome. We trusted them enough they would bring us food pretty often, I drove around by myself with one of them, and hell they lived right there with us. Quite a few were very emotional when it was time for my unit to go home.

At the interogation facility we were just there as observers and to offer advice to the IA that worked and ran the place. We reported directly to an American major. The IA there were also quite good, did there job well, and we both enjoyed each other. We used to sit around when there wasnt anything going on and drink chai together and talk as best we could with us not speaking Arabic and them speaking little to no english. We had a terp there as well which made things easier.

We also had a small contingent of laborers who did various tasks around the FOB. We had to rely on them because we were so small we didnt have the support the larger fobs do. These guys kept us running, improved things around the FOB for all of us, and were generally a big help.

We worked the ECP, and everyday over a hundred Iraqis would come and go. Many of them worked at a contractor ran facility attached to our FOB doing what Im not allowed to say, but these people were 99% of the time a pleasure to deal with. We knew a lot of them and suffice to say I think they mostly liked having us there.

From what I gathered during my time there I think most Iraqis are just run of the mill people, and just want peace. You read how many of them want us to leave, but Ill go so far as to say more of them want the insurgents to leave than they want us gone. They just want to go to the market without fear they are going to get blown up by a car bomb. They want to go to work not wondering if some death squad is going to kidnap them. A lot of the insurgent activity targets everyday Iraqi people, and they blame us for it since we invaded their country and the end result is the insurgency.

Probably the funniest thing that happened there was this one guy who was an electrician. For months he would come up to the gate saying prayers for us. He never spoke english even though we'd speak about him right infront of him because we thought he didnt understand it. About a couple weeks before we left one day he comes in for work, and starts speaking the most natural english any of us had ever heard an Iraqi speak. Barely even an accent. Just one of the weird things during a war I guess....

I actually do miss that place quite a bit and wish to go back there when I get deployed again and do the same thing. I know it wont happen but I did like my time there, and Im glad to have been able to experience that. Its something most American soldiers over there wont get to do, and for anyone it would be an eye opener into that part of Iraq and its people.

Link Posted: 6/16/2007 9:13:15 AM EST

Originally Posted By Belmont31R:

Cool story thanks for posting it.

Anybody else have any positive stories.
Link Posted: 6/16/2007 9:44:43 AM EST
I was in Bahrain working at the Naval Support Activity for a while. Most the individials I met, both Shiite and Sunni were very friendly, nice people. Of course, Americans pump a lot of money into the economy there so it could all be a front. The only thing Bahrainis were pissed off at us about was Michael Jackson was living there at the time.

Bahrain is where Saudis go to party so I met a lot of them as well, I would say most younger Saudis didn't like us very much but they wouldn't cause any problems, just shoot us ugly looks from across the room. Most of the older Saudis I met were generous and friendly because at one point or another had lived in Texas while working for the petroleum industry and wanted to talk about Texas.

Link Posted: 6/16/2007 9:54:50 AM EST
[Last Edit: 6/16/2007 9:57:53 AM EST by tyman]
I wouldnt say "made friends" but met a few Iraqi's that were pretty cool.

One was around 20, had just voted the day before and still had the purple on his finger. So I walk up to him and was like, "So you voted eh, good for you! "...

Him = "Oh yes sir, I vote. But it not matter."
Me = "Wait....what do you mean??"
H: "Well you see, it does not matter who is elected. They dont care about us, they dont live without water/electricity, they only care about getting elected. We are the ones who live without these things. So you see, even though we vote, it does not matter to us."
M: "Wow. "

Then another guy we talked to who worked in the Green Zone/IZ in a rug shop and had some rugs with Jesus Christ on them...

My buddy: "Whats going on chief?"
Him: "Oh, not much sir, how are you?"
MB: "Doing purdy good...."

*sees the Jesus rugs*

MB: "You a Christian?????"
Him: "Oh no sir, I am Muslim"
MB: "Then why you got all these JC rugs?"
Him: "Well sir, you see, even though I am Muslim, I dont see what everyone is fighting about. All these Ali Baba's (insurgents/bad guys) fight in the name of Allah but I think there is just but one God. Allah, Jesus, Buddha, I believe it is all the same and all of this fighting in nonsense. There should be no insurgency in the name of a "God".....sir."
MB and me: " Wow..."

There was one day we were on one of our Rumsfeld missions and were waiting at the CSH in the IZ while they're inside and we're just chilling outside. Sitting on one of the park benches with his friends, there was a young kid probably 12-14 who was horribly burned/disfigured from what I guess would either be a fire or an IED/bomb strike? I wanted to do/say something but what can you say? Esp. if it had been done by the Coalition? Even though I had no idea what caused it, I never felt so bad while being over there knowing it possibly could have been caused by us.
Link Posted: 6/16/2007 10:04:28 AM EST
I was about 20 miles outside Khanagin manning a retrans site for most of my deployment. We had ING/ICDC with us most of the time. They were all Kurds, and while there were some bad apples, most of them were pretty good guys. Some of the older ones had some crazy stories about the Iran-Iraq war, and they had pretty bad feelings about "Ali Baba", ie. the Arabs. Khanagin is majority Kurdish, but didn't fall within the no-fly zones up north, so you could imagine how shitty it was there between GW1 and GW2.

There was one guy that stood out, because he spoke decent English and we let him hang out in our hooch. His name was Wajde, and if I saw him in the States today I'd do anything in my power to help him get settled. Before we left for home we piled him up with so much gear, food, etc he could hardly get his loaner jalopy off the mountain. He was one of us, but we couldn't bring him with us. He had one sister that made it to Europe, so maybe he can make it to the US.

One night we were getting probed, and me and Wajde were down the mountain a little ways, laying in an old fighting position, scanning the night. Wajde looked over and said, "I fucking hate my country." It almost brought tears to my eyes.

So no matter how hard things get, "kill 'em all" will never be an arguement that I'll advocate.
Link Posted: 6/16/2007 10:15:23 AM EST
[Last Edit: 6/16/2007 10:17:32 AM EST by Chairborne]
Of course. I spend more time with the Iraqis I train and advise than I do with Americans. Most of them are good guys, and I have pretty strong friendships with some of them. The most important things to my guys are their families, and thus safety. That's the word you hear the most from them, we have no safety right now, downtown is very bad, I can't go home to my family because there is no safety, if I tell them I work in the military they kill me and my family, etc. etc. etc.

Despite working under such conditions they show remarkable fortitude IMO. I know I would have a hard time coming back to work if my family were threatened at gunpoint but these guys do. They live in crappy conditions, their chow is disgusting and not very nourishing, they don't always have power or water, they are jam packed into small rooms, yet they still come to work. They don't even have enough water to drink sometimes. They work for inept leaders they can't trust, who look out only for themselves, their pay is inconsistent and isn't always the same amount, etc.

When it all comes down to it, they are no different than us, they have different backgrounds and values, but want most of the same things. A decent house, a car (any old car will do, nothing flashy, just a car), a TV, maybe a few other luxuries like a microwave or coffee pot or laptop. They want to provide well for their wives and kids, and raise them to be more successful than their parents, just as most of us do. They don't have social security, they don't finance their houses or cars, if they can't pay as they go or pay cash they don't buy it. Their kids are their retirement fund, and if they raise them right they will take care of them when they stop working.

I have Iraqi friends who are grocery store owners, farmers, tailors, and other things outside of their current military job. If you want to know more about them, read about it here. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. They really enjoy answering them, and spreading some cultural understanding. Many myths that Americans have about the ME and the people here can be easily dispelled. One of the most prevalent is that Muslims hate Christians or want to kill or convert them. That may be true of some radical sects, but all the Shiaa and Sunni I know feel differently, and I've asked enough of them to be sure they are not just sparing my feelings. One gave me a statuette of the Virgin Mary for Christmas, and it wasn't that odd or hard to find here. They lived beside Christians here for several thousand years without any problems pre-Saddam.

ETA: "Ali Baba" means thief, as in Ali Baba and the Forty thieves.
Link Posted: 6/16/2007 10:33:06 AM EST

Originally Posted By Chairborne:

ETA: "Ali Baba" means thief, as in Ali Baba and the Forty thieves.

All the times I heard it it was used to mean just a general bad guy: "No Ali Baba. No Ali Baba."
Link Posted: 6/16/2007 11:28:25 AM EST
Thanks for taking the time to type y'alls stories.
Link Posted: 6/16/2007 11:34:15 AM EST

Originally Posted By krpind:
Thanks for taking the time to type y'alls stories.

Big +1

(queue Bette Middler tune...)
Link Posted: 6/16/2007 12:30:48 PM EST
I did two tours over there and I found most of the people to just be like people anywhere else in the world. They were just trying to get through their day like anyone else. People are the same anywhere you go. I've been to Ireland, The Azores, Germany, Egypt, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Korea, and Canada. People were really no different in all of those countries. Nice people and assholes are everywhere you go.
Link Posted: 6/16/2007 12:34:00 PM EST
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