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The Adventures of Antman in IRAQ [PART 4]


Click here to read part 1 if you prefer context and timeline or read the prequel here of how I ended up in Iraq prior to this series. If not, jump right in and enjoy.

20 Aug 05

Hi guys.
I had some time off yesterday and went out to take some photos. One of them is me in a ray of sunshine where a 1000pnd bomb came through and destroyed a palace, the other is inside the reception area of the main display ground at the cross swords – just thought it was funny.

Beam me up

So far in Iraq over 1300 US soldiers have been sadly killed in action. In July 1200 Iraqis were recorded at the morgue as murder victims, 45% of which were tortured. Two years ago, murder, kidnapping and daily explosions were not a part of everyday life. If you were an enemy of the regime or actively protesting it, you were in danger, their was and still is human rights abuses but day to day life was just that. You could go shopping, drive around the streets, westerners although restricted could go out or visit the country without risk of being shot on sight or kidnapped. With Saddam you got an average of 12 hours of power a day, now you get 3, with Saddam there was a cashless economy now you need US dollars to get anything. With Saddam you were oppressed, disadvantaged but you were fed , watered, and had had low crime rate. If you were an insurgent you were wiped out. The US is on a ‘winning strategy’ the local population is on a loosing one, a miserable one.

I work for a company trying to build health clinics in a war zone. They call it a reconstruction project but the US Military call it a ‘war on terror’ – to me these things are mutually exclusive. One is to win a war that is going on for two years longer than it was planned to be and is un win able, the other is a naive idea to provide something for the people. They are now trying to figure out why it is not working. You can’t build a health clinic in a war zone. Don’t get me wrong, some people here are doing some great things and are really trying and dedicating themselves to the betterment of others – like me of course.

There was an incident yesterday in Baghdad where a fire station was attacked in a drive by shooting (they need armed guards here). The militia attacked the Fire Station and the guards fired back, small firefight ensued. A nearby MNFI patrol heard the gun fire and moved towards to investigate. The militia had fled the scene but the guards were still firing after them and fired on the MNFI (US soldiers) who engaged the fire station guards. A supporting US helicopter was called in for support and seeing them run into a near by building, they circled around and saw about 25 people on the roof so they opened fire. Meanwhile the patrol is in contact with fire station security guards. On the roof, 25 builders who live there (because they are rebuilding the hospital) get shot up. Just a mess really. No casualty figures but the insurgents got away.

I will try for a more entertaining story soon. Going to the Australian Embassy for drinks tonight. (Didn’t get in! – not invited)

Have a good day all.


23 Aug 05

Hi Guys

The news is reporting chaotic violence in Baghdad. Sitting here listening and hearing constant gunfire and reports coming in you could be mistaken for thinking you are in a war zone. I have heard a lot of talk in the media about Iraq falling into civil war with many well-educated people and governments advising that this is unlikely due to the constitutional process, the US military control on the country and increased ability of the Iraqi Government to police their own country. Must be sitting at university in San Francisco.

I think the only mistake here is that the country is already at civil war.
For many months now ‘insurgent violence’ has been nothing but a concerted effort to attack police and government organisations, not to disrupt the constitution but to control power in the real world. The one outside the American political and media world of a democratic Iraq.

Yesterday fighting escalated on the streets of Baghdad, Police were targeted and took many hits with little effective response, over 40 police killed, running street battles and bystanders just shot down if they were in the way. We just kept happily driving people to the airport within 200m of the fighting as no US Forces were involved nobody thought to tell anyone. We saw it on CNN first. Personally, we were tempted to go and watch but after some anti-sociopathic counseling thought we better stay in the office.

Tough day at the office
25 Aug 05

Today the violence has spread over Iraq, Major towns have been shut down, arterial roads have been closed and we have locked down our little fort. As the fighting raged I managed to nick up to the US Embassy for lunch and get some Baskin and Robbins for dessert. What a scale that place is, 1500 people per mealtime.

You could be mistaken for thinking there is civil war but what is not widely advertised is that the current fighting is Bata party v’s Al Sadr, Shiate v’s Shiate – in the foreign media simplification of the issue – the same side. The Sunnis who are actively not a part of the constitution process are just watching, building more bombs to blow yanks up with, and looking to take over the country (the centre of it at least). The Sunnis have been obstructing the constitutional process because they are only dominant in the centre of the country or ‘the area without any oil!’ Now you may have heard about recent success of signing a constitution and moving towards an election. If you call the following issues, which were not agreed to but put aside for debate later small:

The role of federalism
The role of Islam
The state of Kurdistan
The sharing of oil revenue from the north and south with the centre.

But they did agree on the name of the country and that some women could vote (for who they are told too).

If the Sunnis want to strike a blow now is the time. The Shia are fighting each other, the Sunnis are fighting the government and the coalition forces and the Shia. If that is not a civil war then what is it? When the western media is discussing the potential of a civil war the Iraqis are having one.

After that cherry outlook on life I might go to the pool. Just kidding. We have no trips out in Baghdad today – to crazy. Iraqi fighting Iraqi and if coalition forces do not get involved it is not terrorism and won’t be included in the war on terror and probably won’t be on t.v. The US has a winning strategy, what they are winning they will define themselves.

At the liberty pool – IZ
31 Aug 05

No good news today. The 2 million pilgrims have now tragically got 650 funerals to go to tomorrow. Now this religious ceremony has caused more deaths than insurgencies this month. This place has progressed from actual bombs to yelling ‘bomb’. The local police (Militia) started firing shots in the air when the word spread a suicide bomber was in the crowd, the crowd was on a bridge, the crowd swelled and 637 (so far) crushed each other and fell into the river. For us now, is 600 funerals tomorrow. 3 days of morning and reprisals.
When things get bad they get worse ‘mass suicide’

Up to 600 people died when a crowd of Iraqi Shiites stampeded off a bridge over the Tigris River in Baghdad on Wednesday, fleeing rumours of a suicide bombing threat, Iraq’s deputy health minister said. “So far we have 500 dead,” Jalil Al-Shumari, the deputy minister, told Reuters. The crowd, on its way to the Kadhimiya mosque for an important religious ceremony, panicked as rumours spread that a suicide bomber was preparing to blow himself up. Earlier at least seven people died in three separate mortar attacks on the crowd. One hospital said it had received at least 100 bodies by 12:30 (0830 GMT). The hospital source said bodies were being sent to two other nearby hospitals as well. A crowd of several thousand had been marching through the old Kadhimiya district of northern Baghdad to a major Shi’ite religious ceremony. The streets leading to the mosque are narrow, making it almost impossible for rescue workers to reach the dead and injured in the packed throng, and raising the possibility that the death toll could rise further, witnesses said. Tensions have been running high between the main religious and ethnic communities ahead of a referendum on a divisive new constitution for the post-Saddam Hussein era.

Now, the Shia mostly don’t have CNN. They believe what the mosque tells them. So we send people out to ‘hear’ what is being said. This could easily go very bad if someone decides to start a rumour or spread the word that the US caused it or the Sunni. Could go very bad very fast. Me going to be positive though and go and play touch.



Great day at work today.

We have shut down the compound. There is a credible threat of suicide bombers in the IZ, Infiltrators on the run in the IZ. Now this is a big deal because compromise is compromised so the IZ is not safe anymore. The infiltrators are apparently known but cant be found, they are an Iraqi PSD team for a minister who have all the right passes! (but they don’t have a pass to wear I live). So know it is no movement inside the IZ without a PSD! I had to organise lots of things to up the security response to the threat. I had a very good afternoon, briefing people, giving orders, coordinating changes and getting people switched on! I enjoyed myself very much. Now, we are not a likely target, the US is but we are right next door and the US Embassy is very well protected so same basic applies we make ourselves more secure than the next guy so they blow them up instead.

I gave briefs to the big bosses and then to the staff (expats) about the situation. Very concerned looks and questions. Everything will be good for at least 2 days and then people will get complacent and start complaining about the inconvenience. I had to evacuate 120 Iraqis from the compound to the Red zone via Armoured car escorts. Not every planned for before so I just made it up as I went along. All went well. It is good to work with people that respond. Security work is good when your ‘customer’ is serious not like in Australia in an office, planning or thinking about it.

Now, lets see what happens. I don’t get to go for my drive though. Now prayers are tomorrow. The leading clerics will be preaching how the stampede is the Americans fault! No bullshit, that’s then line, these guys don’t watch CNN so that will be the direction of 950 funeral and reprisals and discontent. Plus, the Sunnis are right there poised to make a statement of their own. This could go very bad very fast. Both sides could erupt, the Shia could turn on the US, it helps their cause if more die at the hands of the US (and me if they come this way). So fort protection plans and evacuation plans are being done.

Watch this space for more breaking action and duplicate double meanings and self-serving agenda at the expense of innocent lives.

antman for Baghdad.

16 Oct 05

KBS – Kan Bani Saad

KBS – A small town 1 hours’ drive north northeast of Baghdad. Population – 20000. Known as the heart of the Iraqi Mafia and Sunni dominated region.

KBS – site of a Parsons Project. A 5000-man prison. Up to Phase 2. External Perimeter complete with guard towers and wire.

Security Survey – a visit to a location to determine the security requirements and threat level at the site and on the routes to and from. The reason for security survey for KBS was at the completion of Phase one the contractor who won was murdered on the first day. The locals were not happy with the choice. The contract was awarded to the second tender and before they began they moved 50 local security guards in to secure the sight. Parson’s construction managers need to visit to get Phase Two under way.

Security Manager – does site surveys. That’s Me.

Yesterday was the planned day for the site survey. So I organized for the new site manager and his security manager to come into Parsons for a meeting. That way I can ensure they won’t expect me to visit them.

I got together with some friends the night before (a PSD team consisting of five local Iraqi, four British protection officers, 1 advanced recon car and three armoured cars) we chatted about some snacks and games we could take to keep interested on the drive (extra weapons were organised to ensure we could break out through the wall if we needed to evacuate). We all made sure we had our I-pods ready to go and play motivational music (we checked our four means of radio comms and satellite tracking. We then advised some other mates we are going for a drive in the country to a pub, seeing some mates and then coming back for dinner (we notified the US Military of our intentions, route and personnel going). We went to get petrol before the drive and some snacks to nibble on (we took the cars and the team to an area to rehearse some drills and check the weapons work and to get some nibbles). (this is flippant sarcasm at its best, we rehearsed, planned for the worst and did some contingency training)

That night we watched CNN to see if any news had come in about the area and spoke to our local Iraqis without telling them where we are going.

On the way to KBS

We organised to leave after lunch because it is much nicer to drive in the country in the afternoon (we organised to drive so we arrive when the workers are knocking off early for Ramadan). We link up for the convoy (we depart on schedule giving the scout car 15-minute head start. We then head for our afternoon drive through Baghdad and north through some of the most scenic parts of the central region (we drove through the same shitty beige buildings and rubbish strewn streets until we got to farmland that was the same bleak brown colour and looked a lot like a rubbish dump). Baghdad was busy with people moving around for the celebration of the constitutional election (everyone was trying to get out of town and get enough supplies to lock themselves in their house before Baghdad is locked down for the vote). Yes, locked down to vote.

It was great to see people out and about (we eyed everyone suspiciously looking for those going for phones, people with weapons, people with hands tied to steering wheels or those walking like they are strapped to an extra 20kg of tnt). My mate Mike (the team leader) was busy admiring all the different (beige) roofs and raised areas) for friendly locals waving hello (aiming a RPG at us). It was a nice drive as we blended into traffic and didn’t stand out. We had the music playing and were just chilling (radio off, sat comms on we had our hands on our rifles and were wondering if the armor really worked). We drove past 3 places of worship (terrorist meeting houses). The traffic was steady and moving well so we got there in about 1 hour (the traffic was crap, two jams so we changed course twice, one was just for a 1km line up to get petrol, one was just a roadblock).

We arrived at KBS and enjoyed a drive of about 500m across a dirt road to the entrance of the site. (one vehicle after another with the others covering it across dead (open) ground). At the site we were greeted by the receptionist (four local looking ruffians with AK47s) said hi and went to see their boss (drove past and waived). Inside the site we went to see the on-site manager. I was meant to but instead of me one of the guys wanted to play a joke so he went over and said hi and told him why we were here (I stayed all kitted up and one of the team acted like a parson staff member come for a tour – he was surprised, which was good).

After the introduction we got out for a walk around (four expats debused and covered all approaches. The vehicles kept driving within 20m of our path on in reverse one forward.) We waved and said hi to the local security who asked us in for a brew and biscuits (we watched careful all security and demonstrated we mean business eye balling them all the time and advising them to keep their weapons pointed at the ground or we might get offended and shoot them. Our translator asked them stay around were we could see them so we could assure they got paid for there work (and not wander off to get friends) . We took our time touring and asking lots of questions (we took photos, we moved with purpose and we were back in the cars in 20 minutes).

A mosque in Baghdad

The drive back was much the same as the drive their however as always going home takes longer than getting there , 1 hours drive back and I drove past some shops and kebab shops, saw kids leaving school and drove down a marketplace selling fresh fruit like any third world country. Was very refreshing to see normal life and people going about their business. I wanted to stop and get some souvenirs (but I figured if I stopped I might as well buy a orange jump suit) but it was getting dark (we don’t go out after dark!)

We arrived back home. Mission accomplished. (it all went well)

Now I have to write a report. I hope you all liked the story. The referendum is on the 15th. The government has given everyone a four day holiday and for fun because everyone is ready for democracy (the constitution is so much like the American constitution – that’s workable!) they have closed all borders, all airports, all major roads, banned all gatherings, only Iraqi Police and US Military can have weapons on the street (that is great idea, should have thought of that earlier and everything would be fine). Then everyone can go out and safely vote for democracy.

Someone have a latte for me and some good berries.


Oct 05


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