Sunday, October 5, 2008

Email from Rafe

Every once in a great while, I am able to receive an email from Rafe. I excerpted part of it here, because I think the story is interesting. And I have a pretty good idea of what the potholes really were.

Today is kind of a relaxation day. I hope that we have more of them. I will use my time to catch up on some work, do my laundry and write you this email. I might study some Arabic too.
Things have been moving at a constant, but slow pace here. The Iraqi government is very bad about planning things out well, so as we come close to a departure point, it gets delayed even further. It is like a carrot dangling out there in front of us and our counterparts. This has happened to us about five times in the last month. I just want to get settled down into our own battle space and be near Marine units. I have spent the longest time in this particular battle space and it feels good to get to know the nooks and crannies out there. I am able to make suggestions to my counterparts based on enemy patterns and the terrain I see out there. There are bad guys out there who would have been captured or killed a long time ago had this been a Marine Infantry Battalion doing business. Sometimes I wish we could bring a Marine infantry unit in here and just go to town. They would have a heyday.
I met a 90 year old Hajji yesterday out in the middle of nowhere (which is our operating area). This guy remembers meeting with the British back in the 1920's. They took one of his father's sheep and bunch of tea without even paying for it. He did not know there was an Iraqi military until a soldier demanded to see identification on the outskirts of Baghdad in the 1970s. He is just an old farmer guy who is the eldest member of his tribe. When he saw me and I introduced myself and greeted him in Arabic, he just became all smiles and started talking a million miles per minute. He said that he knew and remembered me (I had never met him) and that he was so thankful for the ice and cold water that I brought for him and his family on some prior occasion. He said that his family prayed for blessings upon me that night as they enjoyed the cold water and ice. I told that we perhaps met in a different life. He just smiled and offered me a pillow to rest my elbows on as I sat out on his porch and listened to the conversation taking place between the Iraqi Officers and our staff.
The ride back to our command post was bumpy because of all the “potholes” in the road.

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