Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy Ramadan - The Eid is Near

Greetings once more from the land of Allah, and I hope you’re having a happy Ramadan season. Soon all your fasting and sufferings will be over and you will be free to enjoy three days of raucous celebration during the Eid.

Well, while most of the Iraqi’s are exercising shorter work days and more time off in the afternoon and evenings (due to no drinking or eating during daylight – and then pigging out at night) we are still quite hard at work here and even catching up on a little “Army Training” as well.

Let’s start off with the courthouse I was at in the last blog. These few photos are from the follow-up trip to insure that the work is finally completed. Progress had been slow coming on this project, but I’m happy to report that it is finally done and by the time you read this the ribbon cutting will be over with (I type these blogs in Word at night – they copy & paste once online.) While doing the inspection we happened upon a unique opportunity for some impromptu assistance for the judge, and for one of the prisoners. You see, the prisoner featured in the first photo below here doesn’t speak Arabic. He doesn’t even speak Farsi, the language of neighboring Iran. He actually speaks Urdu since he is from the Kashmir region of Pakistan. Apparently he is a poor only son who was trying to support his mother by working jobs in Iran and sending money back home. While traveling Iran in search of jobs, he actually ended up at the border crossing with Iraq near the town we were in. The story goes that he was working as pure labor off loading Iranian trucks with goods onto Iraqi trucks. The story further goes that he strayed into the Iraqi side of the border and was arrested. Now I know there are two sides to every story…but that’s not the point. The courthouse where we were didn’t have anyone who spoke Urdu, so this guy has been in prison for about 2 months without even a hearing because of the language barrier. Well, Dr. Khan (the guy with his back to the camera) is an American citizen who is an immigrant from India and speaks Urdu. So in this photo Dr. Khan is translating what the Pakistani is saying into English during an impromptu hearing that was arranged while we were doing our tour.

And in this next picture, our local engineer translates what Dr. Khan is saying into Arabic for the local judge. Hence, we basically had a 3 language hearing conducted with the assistance of a local Iraqi translator and one of our own principals.

In the end it was decided by the judge to have this prisoner sent to our town of Kut where they can arrange a translator and a trial. The judge even said that he put in a recommendation that the judge try the case soon and recommended release of the prisoner based on the testimony at the hearing. It’s those random incidents like this that separate Civil Affairs from the rest of the military. No one else that I know of other than Special Forces even has the opportunity for this kind of interaction with the local populace and the ability to do so much good when the opportunity presents itself. We may have only helped one person – but I can guarantee that he’ll have a favorable opinion of the U.S. from now on.

OK, on to more pictures. I said that we got some Army training done this week, so here we go.

This first photo is of us at the Special Forces shooting range. Since Civil Affairs is part of the Special Ops community we have an “in” with the “snake eaters” and are permitted to not only use their range (which is a lot more informal than a normal Army run range) but also had a couple of their shooters out giving our guys (and gal) some instruction on how to actually employ a weapon in real-world situations instead of just on a rifle range – something that, sad to say, the conventional military seems to keep forgetting that it needs to keep its Soldiers proficient on. This is actually the shooting that I teach at my home unit so for me the practice is mainly refresher, yet still invaluable. But for my new Sergeant and especially for our Air Force personnel who typically only shoot once per year (maybe) they have been having a blast (pun intended) with all the ammo they have been able to put down-range in their time with us.

This photo is of Justin and I lining up for some repetitions of controlled pairs.

And this one is of me pumping lead into some poor defenseless piece of paper two rounds at a time in rapid succession. Really, that poor piece of paper never had a chance!

Next, nothing like scorching heat to motivate folks to practice their skills at starting an I.V. drip. Not only do you get to practice how to help a potential casualty from fatal blood loss and/or shock. But once you get the I.V. yourself, then you can just go ahead and “drink up” the whole bag of fluid and get really well hydrated for the rest of the day. This photo is of C.J. practicing his skills on Justin.

Well, in all seriousness, the last two days have actually been downright chilly. We were talking about starting a pool to see what the first day would be that we didn't hit 100 degrees. And truth be told, it may very well end up being today the way things are going. It's a sign of the environment when you walk outside and say, "man, it's pretty cool outside" only to realize it's 88 degrees at midnight. But it's a lot better than saying, "I think it's going to be over 120 again today" like we were almost ever day last month. Ah - the time is ticking by and the season are starting to change. Pretty soon - that little counter on the Blog won't start with a 2 anymore.
For now - enjoy some fine fall air over whereever you are, and just know that when they start talking snow on your news chanel - I'll be nice and toasty at around 70-degrees!
- Hoyt


RachelH said...

Very cool - miss you! (PS - highs are in the 60s here this week!)

Tim Brasher said...


We are thinking of you often and can't wait to buy you a cold FAT TIRE when you return!

Thanks for your service to us all...we are grateful.

Peace be with you!