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3-23-06 News and facts from U. S. Soldiers in Iraq tell real story

Joe Gregg- Monroe Native in Iraq 3.14.06 Couple of things I have seen in the news, one there is no civil war going on right now.  Yes, they have huge rifts between religions and ethnicities etc, but there is not a civil war.  There are big crime issues.  There are tribal issues.  Most of these get resolved by someone killing someone.  Is it right, not in our way of thinking, is it common, yes. 

 

Example, they found a car of 4 people shot to death and then later in the week there was another car of four people shot to death.  First thought was "sectarian violence, Sunni on Kurd, or Shia etc".  My buddy got to thinking and asking some question like how do the people pay their bills.  There is no mail service in Iraq.  The answer is a man comes by the house or apartment and collects the money.  They usually travel by car and three or four will be in the car.  After some checking it was determined that both cars were bill collectors and had collected quite a bit of money.  Nothing is what it seems.

AVOC

 

March 20, 2006

 

News and facts from U. S. Soldiers in Iraq tell real story

 

By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.

 

I like to read first hand accounts of the situation from Iraq from soldiers and officers actually working and living there.

 

A friend from Monroe recently shared this email from a Monroe native.  It tells a different story from the Networks, Time and the New York Times.

 

It is refreshing to find such credible reports.

 

AVOC thanks our troops and their families for their efforts in the defense of American Interests.  We need to remember and pray for them daily.

 

ALSO:

1-3-06 Iraq Update from Georgia Lieutenant

2-22-06 Iraq News not all bad- Update from GA Lieutenant

8-9-05 “New Jane Fonda” Up to “Old Tricks”


3-14-06 Soldier from Monroe reports on Iraq

 

This is from Joe Gregg that grew up in Monroe. He is  in Iraq for a short time, this time. Much different story than you see on the news.

 

From: William J. Gregg

 

Subject: Update from Iraq 14 MAR 2006

 

All,

 

I wanted to drop you a note and let you know that I am still alive and in one piece.  I have been getting around pretty well over here.  Spent a few days in Tikrit doing some patrols with an MP unit from the Puerto Rican National Guard.  They had been in country for 11 months and had their stuff wired tight!  Just missed an IED own the way to release some detainees.  We are doing a catch and release program over here.

Everybody knows its bad but the Iraqi courts are backed up and there are not enough prisons to hold them. 

 

We got to visit Abu Gharib.  It is really two prisons, the Iraqi side and US detention facility.  Iraqi side is closed now and we will close our side very soon.  That is one scarey place.  I only went in the old Iraqi side.  Saddam butchered about 100k there.  The conditions under the Iraqis were unbelievable.  The story was that the warden was complaining to one of Saddam's retarded sons, Uday, about it so he lined up about 5000 prisoners and went down the line and shot every third one.  He had two guys hauling ammo for him.  They had a huge incinerator on the site, like a Nazi death camp, and that is why we think we haven't found that many mass graves.  After the liberation and the Iraqis took over a US advisor to them told me about how the dentist worked.  He said everyday the prisoners would line up outside this filthy little office, the dentist would come out with a big syringe filled with Novocain, start at the front of the line, the inmate would point to the tooth that hurt, the dentist would stick the needle in and put some Novocain in the vicinity of the tooth, then move to the next guy.  Same needle.

 

When he got to the end of the line he would call the first guy in, pull the tooth, drop it in an ash tray and bring the next guy in.  Use the same pliers and continue until all twenty or so were done, all the while smoke a cigarette with ashes falling into the guys mouth or face.  When he was done he would through the instruments up on a counter and leave them there until he came back, in maybe a week.  Never cleaned the blood or tissue off. 

 

Spent some time at the Embassy and the four star HQ in Baghdad.  Both are real puzzle palaces (literally).  They are located in the Green Zone or International Zone (IZ) as they call it over here.  The palace is about a quarter mile long with huge domed foryers every 100 yards or so.

Compared to the last time I was there, Baghdad is like a fortified city.

Big concrete barriers everywhere in the IZ.  Everybody carries a weapon.

You see these girls working at the embassy in a skirt wearing a 9mm in a shoulder holster.

 

I am now up in Mosul.  A brigade from Alaska is up here.  This was the HQ for the 101st during the initial liberation (OIF 1).  I have been hanging out with a friend who is a battalion commander up here.  They have the Stryker Vehicles.  They are the 8 wheeled personnel carriers and are the best thing over here.  His unit has been hit with 13-14 SVBIED (suicide vehicular borne improvised explosive device).  SVBIED is usually a car packed with a couple of hundred pounds of explosives and or numerous artillery shells that is driven into the side of a building or in this case Stryker vehicles.  He has not lost anyone in his Strykers.  That does not include all the buried IEDs.  The army needs to outfit all our units with these vehicles.  Case in point is another great friend in command south of Baghdad is operating in up-armored HUMMVs.  He has lost 13 soldiers to IEDs.  He himself was wounded last week in an IED attack.  The Up Armored HUMMV is a huge improvement but still not  nearly as good as the Stryker.

 

The unit up here in Mosul is working great with the Iraqi Army and Police and the Iraqis are really taking it to the Terrorist and Insurgents.  A real mix of religions and ethnicity up here.  Kurds to the north, Sunnis, mixed in, and then you get the Christians, Turkomens etc.  There is a huge Christian church that is shaped like Noahs Arc.

 

There is Mosque / Christian church dedicated to Jonah built on the banks of the Tigris River (swallowed by the whale and then spit up on the banks of the Tigris in both the Koran and Bible).  One of the places the bad guys like to plant IEDs is along some 8000 year old ruins of the Assyrian.  Tells you how much they care about history. 

 

There is huge political tension between the Kurds and Turks.  The Kurds do have a funtioning government and are doing it pretty well but if you ask one of their soldiers, in the Iraqi Army, what is his job, he will say "to kill Arabs".  Go figure.  The Turks hate the Kurds and have a couple of hundred thousand troops stationed two hours north just waiting to crush them if they get the chance.

 

I was supposed to fly back to FOB Speicher (Forward Operating Base) near Tikrit but I got bumped off the flight.  I guess people actually fight the war had priority over me, go figure.  So I have a little free time on my hands today. 

 

Couple of things I have seen in the news, one there is no civil war going on right now.  Yes, they have huge rifts between religions and ethnicities etc, but there is not a civil war.  There are big crime issues.  There are tribal issues.  Most of these get resolved by someone killing someone.  Is it right, not in our way of thinking, is it common, yes.  Example, they found a car of 4 people shot to death and then later in the week there was another car of four people shot to death.  First thought was "sectarian violence, Sunni on Kurd, or Shia etc".  My buddy got to thinking and asking some question like how do the people pay their bills.  There is no mail service in Iraq.  The answer is a man comes by the house or apartment and collects the money.  They usually travel by car and three or four will be in the car.  After some checking it was determined that both cars were bill collectors and had collected quite a bit of money.  Nothing is what it seems.

 

I was reading some stories from the NY Times and Washington Post and noticed that the story had a by line from some reporter and then at the bottom there was a "contributions from" or something like that with an Arab sounding name.  What is happening with those is that the paper or news cast is hiring local Iraqis stringers to essentially gather the "facts".  The news guy on the by line is paying this local Iraqi.  The news guy wants to get published and the Iraqi wants to keep getting paid so what he brings back is what the news guy has said he "thinks" is going on.  Either consciously or subconsciously the news guy is making up his own story.  Or the Iraqi is working both sides and getting paid by the bad guys to slant the stories.  Be wary of stories that are contributed by whoever.  This is just my theory on this and my not reflect the current US Army Public Affairs position.

 

There are plenty of bad things going on here for sure.  Corruption is rampant.  Every Iraqi takes his cut.  The "honest" Iraqi doesn't take too much.  It is the way this culture works.  You cannot apply western values on what they do here.  It does not compute.  One of the American Generals told me a story about a conversation he had with one of the Iraqi Generals.  He said the Iraqi asked him what he thought made the US Military so great?  The General thought and said some things like our training, equipment, logistics.  The Iraqi said no, that may help but that is not it.  The Iraqi General said it was our common values.  What we in the Army call the Dog Tag Values because we have a card attached to our ID tags that list the seven common values of the Army: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and courage. 

 

 The Iraqi said when he walks into a room of Iraqi army personnel, he doesn't trust any of them.  He knows they all have agendas that will trump any allegiance to the country or the unit.  When a US Military man or woman walks into a room of military personnel, even if they are strangers, they know that they all share common values and can trust each other to do their job.  The Iraqi said, "its the American Way." 

 

There are some really brave, patriotic Iraqis laying it on the line everyday.  Some have great honor and pride.  The only way to break through the culture barrier is through personal relationships and time.

 

They will only trust you after you have spent time with them and they get to know you.  These guys did not survive under the Baathist Terror by being trusting folks.  In their way, everybody has and agenda and some are lethal. 

 

As far as the morale of the soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen, I have never seen it as high as it is right here.  I have been in the Army for 20 years and these kids are the most motivated and trained group I have ever seen.  My friends battalion reenlistment rate is through the roof.  Wounded soldiers that were evacuated to the states are pleading with him to get back over here.  These are the kids doing the fighting.

 

They are the ones working side by side with their Iraqi counterparts and feel they are making a difference.  I think that is where the great disparity in reporting is coming from.  On the front lines, down in the police precincts, things are improving with leaps and bounds.  At the national level, things are a mess.  The 130,000 soldiers think things are getting better everyday and they are, the 20,000 politicians see the huge problems from the macro level and are discouraged.  I don't know how you reconcile the two.  Maybe if you get some of the politicians out into the back of a Stryker and patrol the streets with the Iraqi Army or Police for a couple of days they might change their perspectives.

 

Joe Gregg


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