Yesterday some of you gave me questions to pass on to one of my good friends who is a Marine Corporal stationed in Iraq. He has been moved from base to base, five times in the week or so that he has been there. I am posting the answers to most of the questions you came up with yesterday in the comments of my previous diary
. I appreciate the thought you put into them, and hope you get something from the responses he gave. Sorry about the lenghth, but I wanted to include as much as possible.
heard about these shorts, but wondered how many are actually in the field? Are they common issue now?
And are c rations really as bad today as they say? No real advances in the taste of them at all?
Kevlar shorts do exsist. They are the same as our bullet broof jackets but are worn over the groin and upper legs. I have not seen any since i have been here and if i do see them it will really surprise me. No one likes them, they add to the already heavy load we carry and make it hard to move. IT is better to be mobile than have that little bit of extra protection.
The "C' rations are called MRE's Meals Ready To Eat. We don't eat them unless we go to the field for more than half a day. The taste isn't that bad and they come in over 30 variations. When they are eaten over extended periods of time they cause constipation, a good thing in the field, and bad gas. Otherwise we eat in the chow hall most of the time.
Also, what can we send him and his friends to help? My friend when he was in the Gulf War (Bush 1) asked for zip lock bags and papers from home...can we send anything?
There isn't much that we can't get over here. We have military stores at every base. Local newspapers are good, but the one thing i really need are long black, cotton socks. The px doesn't carry them except at 10 dollars a pair.
What is the mission?
How will we know when it is accomplished?
I'd think the administration would be straight with the troops, and I'm interested in what they tell the troops and what the troops believe.
Mission is dictated by the individual's job. IT is all micromanaged. If your job is laundry, you understand it's importance and get it done. Then your mission is accomplished. If your job is infantry, you kick in doors and kill someone if they shoot at you. Then your mission is accomplished. No one here is concerned about the over all scheme of things. They just get their job done and know that it will help the cause.
What I'd like to ask is, how is morale and how are relations (if any) with Iraqi civilians? Is there any sense of US military working actively and comfortably with the local people, or is there deep mistrust on both sides? I was 100% against the war, believe the US intends to stay forever etc etc, but for those who are there now, I'd like to know what life is like. I know you can't say where you are (I guess), but are there any positive programs happening involving locals and soldiers--I'd heard that commanders have been given money to start construction projects, etc, hiring civilians. I guess I'd just like to put philosophical questions aside and ask how you and your comrades and the Iraqis you encounter seem to be doing, on the whole.
Take care of yourself. My nephew was a marine. You are in our thoughts.
Morale is high among the Marines. As long as they keep the weight rooms open and the movies playing and the free internet we will be fine. Relations with the citizens are good. A lot of them work with us and help us find the enemy and work as interpreters. They are treated very well. Some live on base and use the same housing as us. (Construction Trailers with AC and Heat) They use the same showers as us and eat at the same chow halls. It is almost as they are one of us. The locals are hired to do everything from water plants to build houses to run the stores. They cut our hair and are happy to engage in conversation.
What's his typical day like?
12 hour workdays, 7 days a week. we get lunch breaks and eat 3 meals a day. We run around the base and lift weights to stay in shape and we watch a lot of movies on laptops that some Marines were lucky enough to receive.
Ask him if we are in fact using Depleted Uranium bullets and if he has received any health warnings regarding them?
We do use depleted uranium but it is rare because they are expensive. The DPU bullets are good for cutting through armor and reinforced positions but there are no harmful effects from the bullets unless one hits you, then you are dead so you don't care anyway. The source of uranium is depleted so it is past it's half life. No radiation. There is more from talking on a cell phone. We use the DPU bullets cause they are 10 times denser than any steel we know of.
how do the soldiers feel about the press reports re: what's happening in Iraq? In the past (especially during the election), we'd hear comments that the media isn't telling the "real" story. Is that true? If so, WHAT is the real story?
We don't watch the news cause much of it is unreal. There are hundreds of convoys a day and maybe one gets hits and maybe one person gets injured. The media makes it sound as if people die every day and all the time. There are like 500,000 service men and women here and possibly one dies per day. Compare that to the number of traffic accidents that kill people in the US out of 500,000 people a day. It is safe. Very safe.
Influx of people to aid insurgency
We're hearing a lot about Syrians and Iranians aiding the insurgency on the ground in Iraq, what's his take on that?
Also, what's the general sentiment with regard to Russia's game plan when it comes to Iraq?
Last but not least, would our Marines rather be in Pakistan trying to find bin Laden? If we were to pull our Marines out of Iraq and re-task the Corps with this mission, would it put undue strain on them to fulfill it?
Other than that, please tell your friend that he and his fellow Marines are in our thoughts and prayers. And thank him for the terrific opportunity to be informed from the front.
In the battle of Fallujah we killed over 2000 enemy combatants, less than 150 were foreign. There are not that many here from other countries that come to fight, most come to work for the US government. Can't answer your other questions sorry.
How about the state of the Iraqi infrastructure? Good? Bad? What infrastructure? Best of luck to the Cpl. I will keep him in my thoughts.
The roads are in good shape, black top but full of garbage and wrekage. The water system is good, there is plenty of water. As far as power, we are independent with our own generators, The local popualtion has plenty of electricity, hell, they never turn their lights off, the crazy bastards.
What does he think our chances are for getting our guys out of there safely?
Very good. it is very safe here. Rumor has it we will be consolidating troops soon and letting the Iraqi's run the show.