We went on a dismounted patrol with the Iraqi Army today. It started off as mass confusion, but it improved along the way. As NCOs, we can get even the worst of American soldiers to do their jobs. We just cannot get these Iraqis to follow instructions at all, especially since we can’t talk to them.
As we walked, we visited a number of schoolyards, and we looked for evidence of rockets having been fired there. I walked through some of these schools, when it was just me and 2 or 3 Iraqi soldiers. The NY Times reporter usually followed us. I definitely don’t trust these assholes with weapons behind me.
When we got to the 2nd school, I had Ude, my interpreter, instruct the Iraqi soldiers to do the same as before. “Circle the outside area, and look for any evidence of rockets.”
Ude told me, “They say that they’re going to sit down in the shade.” Since the Iraqi squad leader was sitting on his ass too, I checked the school by myself. They’re so fucking worthless. I’m sure that the photographer got pictures of me searching while they sat.
I one point, I noticed that one of the Iraqi soldiers had his AK-47 set to full auto and the muzzle was on his foot. When I pointed it out to the Iraqi sergeant, he said, through Ude, “It’s okay. He’s a crazy hero,” and gestured like he was shooting a machine gun all over the place. He also said, “There is no round in the chamber.” I have always been taught to treat every weapon as if it’s loaded. Also, I don’t believe for one second that these pussies didn’t all have their weapons locked and loaded. I tried my best to explain why it wasn’t safe to have an automatic weapon, on fire, pointed at his foot, but I didn’t’ get anywhere. The squad leader brushed it off, and it broken English, he told me about another soldier who had shot himself in the foot, and how they had all been called liars when they claimed the shot came from a sniper. Go figure. He shot himself, and they’re all fucking liars.
Most of the people we ran into around the schools seemed friendly. One woman complained about the garbage that continues to get deeper and deeper in the streets. The smell, and the smoke from burning garbage is really bad. Right now, there are no services here in the city. Electricity is only on a couple hours a day, and there’s certainly no trash collection.
We returned to the patrol base, and we talked a little, with the reporter and photographer, about the Iraqi soldiers and their performance. I spent the rest of the day reading.
A woman who lives and works at the school we’re staying in, the caretaker from my understanding, came in and asked if she could get some of her clothing. A couple guys took her back to her living area and let her gather some things.
Later, we were briefed that we would be rolling out around 2000 (8 P.M.) with a crane and cement barriers. The intent is to separate this area from Sadr City proper, with 10 to 12 foot T-barriers. It’ll prevent the militia from moving into and out of this part of the city without having to pass through checkpoints. It’s almost as if we are laying siege to this city. I makes me think of that movie Outbreak, where the soldiers surrounded the city and wouldn’t let anyone in or out.
It was right at 2000 when we left for the JSS, where we would pick up the crane.