[link to www.optruth.org
US soldier - Disorganized and Unprepared
I´ve been home for about 4 months now and thought I had forgotten all the things that had gone on Iraq. Unlike a lot of other stories here, I wasn´t a "front-line" troop, but as we all know that doesn´t mean I was out of danger, and it doesn´t mean that I didn´t see the disorganization, rampant waste and corruption that is part of the fabric of our operations in Iraq.
First, some background on my unit and my situation. The 222nd Broadcast Operations Division is a TV/Radio unit, so we were sent in to establish AFN Iraq. Basically we were a mouthpiece to the military. Although we were almost never told to edit our stories, we were trained to know what we should be reporting and what would never fly. But more on that later.
We went to Iraq in November of 2003. We went with flak jackets as armor, and with 5 unarmored humvees. We had 6 out of 29 people who were scheduled to get out of the Ready Reserves in the year over there. I myself was scheduled to get out in January 2004.
Because of some desperate need to get us into country ASAP, we weren´t given an in-briefing. No rules of engagement, host-country sensitivities, etc. We were flown directly from Germany to Baghdad International Airport. When we arrived no one seemed to know what to do with us. Our unit was cut apart and shipped around the country.
I served with the 101st in Mosul, the 1st Armored Division and around Baghdad. In the Green Zone officers would ride in their newly leased SUV´s, windows up, air conditioners on, 1 or 2 people max, while enlisted would ride around in humvees. To my knowledge the SUV´s were rented at $90,000 a year, but if destroyed would be replaced without cost.
If the Army has humvees, why do we rent SUV´s? Ostensibly it was to fit in with the locals in non-military vehicles, but anyone in a brand new SUV in Iraq with tinted windows was obviously a foreigner. And most of these vehicles were only driven around the heavily fortified and defended Green Zone.
Besides that, there were contractors for everything. And sadly, often these contractors would work alongside Army personnel who were trained to do the exact same thing, but paid about 1/3rd as much. Once again, if the Army already has something to do the job, why do we need something else to do it, and pay them more?
Finally, the saddest thing was the PSD, or Private Security Details. Mercenaries, or civilians paid to bear arms and armor. Doing the exact job of the military, but once again being paid many times what the military was paid. Although many of these civilians were highly trained or specialized, there was enough talk among soldiers who wanted to do their time, get out, and then join these civilian security companies, because they were such a better deal. Not only does this prove how poorly treated our own troops are, but hiring these people actively increases our own recruiting problems.
All three of these issues just point to one underlying, glaring point: we were not ready. We were not ready for this war, and we´re willing to pay huge amounts of top dollar and increase our national deficit to shore up our mistakes. Not only that, but we´re willing to abuse our current military, because the repercussions will probably start in a few years, which won´t reflect heavily on the current goverment.
I remember the skepticism and flat out anger I felt when watching our President and his comments to the American people. When he said that our troops might come home after the election, if the Iraqi troops were ready to take control.
At the time I had done a story on training and equipping of the local troops. I had gone to the field on patrols and road marches with the Iraqi National Guard, and talked with the soldiers in charge of training them. Everyone knew that the Iraqis were poorly trained, low morale, and not close to ready. They were good people, and trying hard, but not used to the training, not well supplied, and constantly threatened when they left the camps. No one who was at all informed would think that we would leave any time soon when he made those statements. He was simply trying to lead the American public on.
There are so many other things that went on that made me so angry and indignant. The day after the elections, I slipped into a mild depression. I thought that the American people had forgotten us soldiers out in the field, and the words and images from Michael Moore´s Fahrenheit 911 kept ringing through my head.
I´m home now, working a job and doing my best to continue my life after a year long disruption (or 15 month, to be honest). When I heard about this site I wanted to join so that I could help the American public understand the TRUE situation out there, which any soldier on active duty is pretty much forbidden from telling. I only hope that civilians really do read these stories and gain an understanding of the real situation.