Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Month 12 Day 27

I forgot to mention on the battlefield circulation day that when we
were doing the BFC that we were being pelted with rocks from little
kids basically every time that we came in range.  They would first pat
their mouths to ask for food, and almost immediately thereafter they
would grab a rock and throw it at us.  This was not just in Marjeh,
but in Nawa and Garmsir as well.  These are the supposedly safe areas
where the people are turning towards GIRoA.

I worked on a bit of turnover stuff with Siegel in the morning.  He
really is pretty quick to speak and slow to listen.  He came in and
spoke to me about the GSU S1 sergeant who had his hand broken by one
of the GSU officers when he told him that he was not allowed to go on
leave.  I had already told him about the incedent, but I guess he was
thinking that I was just jaded and angry because I had been here for a
year.  While that may be true.  It is also true that I know what I am
talking about.

Lekic taught them the BATS system and the database while I fielded
questions.  The new SSgt is pretty sharp and he picked it all up fast.
 It was nice to see that they were trying to learn.  While I was
supervising that I was striking up conversations with all of the guys
in the COC.  We were having a grand old time.  Munir came in and said
that he wanted to talk to me in his office.  Siegel went first in case
it was anything work-related.  I went in after he got back.  Munir had
kindly bought me a scarf and a jersey.  The jersey happened to be
skin-tight see-through nylon mesh, so I don’t know if I’m supposed to
read anything into that, but it was very kind of them.  They all had a
few words to say.  They all said something like “thank you for all of
the lessons that you taught, I know that a lot of the time we were not
very good students, but thank you for being patient with us.”  I
didn’t make the pictures that Qais asked for, but we snapped a dozen
photos with their cellphones.  I went back to my hooch and I picked up
the AK-47 sight adjusters that I brought from America a year ago and
gave one to Salim, one to Amir Dad, one to Qais, and one to Munir.
Qais wanted to know if he could bring it back on the leave flight with
him, and Munir was excited because he had an AK-47 at home.  I think
that after we go, they are going to us AKs not M16s, they already do a
lot of the time even though the weapons aren’t issued, they’ll just
capture them from the TB, or buy them.  In one last little way, I am
trying to make them better soldiers. I must admit, that I don’t think
it will work, but I tried.

In the early afternoon the soldiers decided to leave on the taps in
the ablution buildings.  They were continually instructed not to do
this if the water tank was not full.   Because this ran all of the
pumps dry every one of the several-thousand dollar pumps burned up.
The GSU’s response was what it always was “we can’t keep the soldiers
from using the buildings—really—how about take your bodyguard and have
him watch the buildings rather than your stupid ass. Anyway, it might
turn out ok in the end, they might just move the water tank above the
level of the highest faucet, this would allow gravity to feed the
system like every other place in the world.  Maybe then they can add a
newfangled ‘windmill’ and this ‘windmill could operate a pump without

While we were waiting to have dinner Capt Nowak was sitting in the
door of his truck and said to me.  “the whole point of this thing is
to make the ANA independent, but they don’t want to be independent.
I’ve never seen anything like this before in my life. With the Iraqis
at least you could see improvement.  You knew that they wanted you out
of their country.  They were happy to put up with you in the short
term, but in the long run they wanted to have their country back, and
get you out.  These guys, they are perfectly happy to have us here,
just keep the stuff flowing in.”  I said,  “Steve, as you’ve said you
can’t teach will and want, and these guys don’t want to be
independent.”  He nodded.

In the evening we had our dinner with the terps, or to be exact we had
two dinners.  I was hungry and didn’t want to wait until later to get
food, so I ate at 1730.  That was a mistake.   They had the delicious
burritos that I like so much and I had two giant ones.   By the time I
was done eating the next meal I thought my stomach was going to
explode.   I was really obliged to eat a second time because Steve had
gotten a bunch of special-order food for the occasion.

The presentation to the linguists went well.  They were all very
jovial.  I made sure to tank each one of them, Tony, Naikpai, Dinar,
Sammy, Bashir, Fareed, and the new guy, Jon, who just showed up.  I
got up and gave a short speech about Bashir, how patient he was and
how humble.   I did not mention his religious intolerance.

I also went around and thanked all of the chow hall workers
individually.  A lot of them don’t speak any English and they are from
the Philippines, Nepal, etc, so I don’t think they really understood.

Special Goodbye dinner

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