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The Adventures of Antman in IRAQ [PART 2]


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.

Hello everyone

Thanks for the replies and information from home.

Getting on with the war here. Not really a War and thankfully wont escalate into one. Tried to get my client to spend $400000 US yesterday on protection arrangements for the compound and did lots of liaison work! Got back to the US Embassy and took some photos. Watched the news about an American being kidnapped, he was on CNN this morning not looking happy. He arrived at the airport for 10 days business with a private Iraqi firm, took a taxi to a local hotel, went to work, and three days later was kidnapped.

Not unlucky, just very badly advised – dumb really. Amazing really how stupid people can be and then its poor them. Not surprising though, meta few people who think it is all good if only you trust the locals – ha ha. Nobody travels around here on their own and everyone is told not to. In the same time frame the company I work for has had four local nationals kidnapped, no calls, no demands, they are just gone. I better get some security training going for the locals.

The perimeter of our Fort (compound)

visited another dining hall, called DFAC, yesterday. It was huge, the yanks sure know how to feed people. It was great, big choice and good quality. I think I will stay away from it, can’t get used to comforts as it makes you miss them when you don’t have them. Unlimited Hangan Das!

I got to close the compound down last night and get 50 people out of bed at 1am when the US check point out the front of our compound suspected a vehicle had a bomb in it. What’s called a VBIED(vehicle born Improvised Explosive Device). They searched the car with a robot and then an EOD person. NO bomb, so all safe. Everyone back to bed. But these little things keep you sharp. The VBIED is one of the bad guys favourite methods of killing people and attacking vehicles, soldiers, locals who ever gets in the way.


A Car they did blow up at our front gate

Really cool to watch the process and learn how they do it. Basically, blow it up to be safe and get no one hurt doing any of that disarming on TV shit. If someone has their hands tied to the steering wheel,  then it will depend on who they are and are they worth the risk.

Yes, even inside the green zone because they still let people/Iraqis and foreign governments move around freely. We are a fort in a fort.

Be good at what you do.

I am healthy, fit and working hard. Hope you are all enjoying the good life and making the most of life’s simple pleasures.


Hello everyone

Woke this morning to my first real desert sandstorm. Windy, bleak, warm and the air is full of sand. Looks like Baghdad got covered in pollution.

Short Pants and the Comms Guy

Yesterday was a busy one for the bad guys. Mostly attacks against the Iraqi government and police. As the media is reporting the number of incidents has dropped, down to about 75 a day however the reporting doesn’t indicate the size and complexity of some of the attacks. 4 by four-hundred-pound car bombs yesterday, not sure what was on the news but they made a mess of two streets and killed 30plus people. The bombs were about 2-3 km away and they were loud. Large smoke clouds followed, and fire went on for hours.

The bad guys have used 22 suicide bombs in the last three days so there is no shortage of people willing to go to Allah in a blaze of glory and death (or being forced through nasty methods of kidnapping their families and giving people no choice).

The Iraqi government and security forces are getting targeted every day in a methodical and deliberate approach. Last week a new area police commissioner was shot, this week his replacement was blown up and then his second in command was blown up, Anyone want that Job? The bad guys are smart and must be working off lists, doing surveillance and targeting people deliberately. Plus, there are still just plenty of random attacks on targets of opportunity, like any foreign soldiers.

On a brighter note, I get my laundry done. Comes back all folded and clean within 24 hours. That is service, guess they just want you working not doing washing.

If anyone out there doesn’t have SKYPE, you should download it, get a head set and save $ on all your calls. It is free between skype people on the net and cheap to a landline/mobile. It is cheaper for me to call a mobile in Canberra from here than it is to call one in Canberra.

Went and visited the Convention centre yesterday to get some more passes. It is wear the new Iraqi parliament sits. When inside you could be inside any country’s parliament house or government building. Nicely done, well air-conditioned and loads of money spent for the staff to be comfortable. Lines to get passes are long and ID checks are exhausting, so it is an all day thing.

Outside though it is surrounded by Gurkhas, has two large check points and takes about 30 minutes to get in. No tourists here and plenty of machine guns.

For what I do, the kind of place that the Iraqi guards are a threat and could change sides at any time.

The Convention Centre (Parliament House)

saw some yanks playing frisbee football, we probably have that game in Aus, but it looked weird watching people trying to catch, run and throw a frisbee through soccer goals. There was also a marathon held here last year.

For those at the PSCC (AG’s), you would like my US DOD pass, finger print scanned, unique coded identifier, has all my med history on it and contact details in a chip that a scanner can read incase I need med vac. A photo of course. Better than a passport in a card. Gets me in anywhere except the US embassy which is were you need to get them from! That’s the thing with passes, they keep you out! Now the US knows all about me which is the main point of the passes. To build their database!

It is nothing special over here to have a gun. It is like the old west in a way. There are a lot of serious and professional people but there is also your share of US gun nuts who are carrying weapons because they can, because they want to. We have a guy here who carry’s one in a side holster but never leaves the compound, I guess he can so wont give it up until they ‘pry his cold dead fingers from it’ as they say in the US.

Drove around the Green Zone today and realised that as security tightens it is turning more into a prison for the inmates than a protection for them.

The mean streets of the Green Zone
The mean streets of the Green Zone
One of Saddam’s Gates in the Green Zone Many people have locked them selves up so much they have no where to go.

Many people have locked them selves up so much they have no where to go.
The US are not in control here, they just don’t have the manpower, they just target areas and control in portions. I think they are just manipulating the media and steering things towards a ‘winning strategy’ so they can get out, scale down over the next 12 months with the appearance the Iraqis have it under control. This place will never be under control. The media all stay in one hotel and only go out escorted and invited by the US so what you see is what they are given. There is so much crime here masquerading as insurgency that< when the US leaves it will continue. For 2000 years Iraq has been a major trading route, and who ever controls the road, controls the place, the money and the power. And yes now it is about oil, power and oil. Some religion mixed in to con people but it is mostly about power as it always has been. The company I work for has the most Iraqi employee’s of any company. They< are building everything from Police stations to 53 hospitals across Iraq. All the building is done by Iraqis, contractors by remote from here. The US is throwing vast sums of money at these projects to get them done. They are good projects and it is a good thing to do however signs of neglect and corruption are all ready creping in. 10 million dollars worth of medical supplies< was stolen by the first contractor and is being sold back to the hospitals. It is just very hard to win. The hospital training the staff to fill the hospitals was closed by the Iraqi Government so when they are done they will be empty!

Today sadly 12 Iraqi police died after a bomb exploded in a vehicle at their gate. First, 1 policemen deactivated the bomb because it was a simple two wire device. He then invited his mates over to show them how easy it was, they all went for a look including the station commander. After a few minutes as he was explaining how smart he was he picked the bomb up, which was connected to another bomb underneath. It exploded killing all twelve. That wasn’t meant to be funny, but it was, really sad and really stupid, lacking all types of basic training.

I am getting used to sleeping with helicopters going over and gun battles off to the distance over breakfast. Did a lot of work today on my own compound. It is as water tight as a frog’s ass now. Just copied some military history, the British and used what I had. Something blows up, it is contained.

Getting the Fijians to trust me and listen wasn’t to hard, they were keen and setting an example always helps. Visiting them and talking rugby works every time. They are here for 6 months straight feeding their families and never get out like we do so got to get boring. My job is to keep them caring and concerned because it isn’t like being a mall cop. People will die if they get slack.

Our front gate and my ‘low tech’ design

Today I went to the PX (US for shop) it is not very big but it sells everything, T.V’s, stereos, bikes, protein powders, Gatorade, toiletries and DVD’s. Just outside the PX they have opened a recreational area in last few weeks for the US soldiers. It includes a Hungry Jacks, a subway, a Pizza place. All staffed by Iraqis then today a Gyros place opened, staffed by European women, there was a line – smart business. I found lots of presents for everyone but unfortunately I am very limited to what I can carry on the plane out of Baghdad so to keep it fair, nobody gets anything.

PX at Camp Victory

When I say went to the PX store. I went with a body guard team. 2 armored cars, 1 scout car. Total of 8 people. 16 guns plus 4 spare shot guns. 3 check points, 45 minute drive, some at 150km hr., some slow mo. Tooled up in the front seat. Everyone with a radio but no tunes. One way for 1 hamburger!

Thanks for those replying to the emails and keeping me updated. I may have not been gone long but this place is hectic, time does not go past fast when you work from 6am-11pm and sleep with a radio on. I feel like I have been away for ages.
I think that’s enough for one email. It will be Monday there when most of get this email so welcome back to work.
Train Hard

I supervise 28 Fijian guards and every Sunday night they have church but it is more like a choir.

They sing beautifully, they sing for about half an hour and you could be mistaken for thinking you are in a tropical paradise minus the beach, the ocean, oh ok minus everything.

After listening to the gentle sounds of the pacific I walked around the perimeter to visit the Ukrainian guards which was a waste of time because they cant speak English,(and I cant speak anything but English), then I went to the front check point to speak to the marines and couldn’t understand them either which was funny because I thought they might be able to speak English but they are from Alabama, ran into some Iraqis but no conversation there because they cant speak English well either (what is taking them so long) so I went back to the office to try and have a chat to an Irish guy, a Scottish guy and a Welshman, still couldn’t find anyone who could speak English so I gave up and went to my room to watch cable T.V, put the fashion channel on and I was happy. No need to talk. I am sure the girls could talk but what would they say.s

The Fijian Guards on Shift Change

I walked up the main observation post for the IZ today and took some great panoramic photos of Baghdad. It is one spread out, flat, desolate-looking city.

Our compound is in what was once known as ‘the Believers Palace’. It was where Saddam held his functions, to hide from the US, held meetings etc. It probably would have been nice except for now it is so blown up it is not safe to look around. Under this compound is a range of bunkers and tunnels that go all the way to the main Palace were Saddam lived. I am going to tour them some time before I leave. Saddam Palace is now the US Embassy, and it was not bombed at all until the US moved in. It is in pretty good nick, within a year they will hand it back to the Iraqis and build there own little piece of the USA in Iraq. Fort America!

I walked up the main observation post for the IZ today and took some great panoramic photos of Baghdad. It is one spread out, flat, desolate-looking city.

Our compound is in what was once known as ‘the Believers Palace’. It was where Saddam held his functions, to hide from the US, held meetings etc. It probably would have been nice except for now it is so blown up it is not safe to look around. Under this compound is a range of bunkers and tunnels that go all the way to the main Palace were Saddam lived. I am going to tour them some time before I leave. Saddam Palace is now the US Embassy, and it was not bombed at all until the US moved in. It is in pretty good nick, within a year they will hand it back to the Iraqis and build there own little piece of the USA in Iraq. Fort America!

The view from the tower
Baghdad from the Tower

Visited the Australian Embassy. It was under construction but there was one aussie soldier on the gate so I chatted to him. They are going home in two weeks after 6 months here. I then went around to the British Embassy to have a look and found out that is where the Australians are hiding. Our Embassy contingent consists of One Aussie government representative. Had a chat and went back to my multinational work environment. Had breakfast with a lady from Serbia and a guy from Northern Ireland. They like Iraq because it is safer than home and they get paid more. Boring work for the Aussie guys at the embassy. They get a medal I suppose for protecting the embassy and never leaving the green zone, eating at the US Embassy and going to other embassies in their time off.

My job on the other hand is the most operational I could of wanted, which would be possible in our risk adverse political presence here in Baghdad. I work with everyone who is ex-army and guys I knew before so it is more army than army and everyone is more switched on doing real work.

I kind of like being around such a mix of interesting people.

Today started with a bang! A mortar landed on the roof of the building next door and got everyone out of bed. The building is huge and it is not occupied.
We are all safe in our little bunkers but as a wake up call it certainly gets you moving. I spent the day getting to know the camp which is not that exciting when you live, work and eat pretty much in the size of two football fields. Just like any job I got caught up doing lots of paperwork today and spent too much time at my desk. It is getting hotter every day, toping 36 today! Not hot at the beach, but hot in a vest, long pants, long sleeves and no shade.


Today was my first ‘be a tourist in Iraq’ experience. I took two hours off to explore the palace that are compound is built beside. One of the American Engineers who has been here for nearly two years knows all about it so I went along with him. This is not just a palace; it is a nuclear shelter with a facade built on top. If you remember back to both Iraqi wars you will remember speeches by Saddam, you may especially remember his misinformation minister telling the biggest porkie pies of all time. Well that’s the place under the Palace. The palace is about 5 stories high, has two grand entrances, two large domes (like at the war Memorial) and a grand dining room in the middle. The main entrances have false lifts, false doors and an entrance that looks very official. The entrance to the bunker is through a false door and through two bunker entrances housed outside the palace in two large rooms that look like big garages. They are a door leading down four flights of stairs surrounded by 6meters of rubble, cemented in to form a barrier to missiles.

From the outside the Palace looks trashed, it got hit with 27 US cruise missiles and I have some great photos of the destruction it caused inside the ballroom. Apparently no one was in it the day it got attacked but it got attacked a lot because everyone new Saddam hid in there. When you go down into the bunker you realise it is no ordinary shelter. This thing was not built by Iraqis; it is one of the most impressive things I have ever seen. It was built by Russians.

It was designed to survive an explosion the size of an Atom bomb the size of Hiroshima even if it was a direct strike – and I believed it.

When the US rangers found it they had fire directional charges through the door just to get it open, it took hours to penetrate the outer four doors into the bunker. Unfortunately within the first few week of the war the bunkers were left open and ever chair, toilet seat, electrical wire and carpet piece was looted. There was gold plated sprinklers and tapes but now it just looks like a battle occurred inside. As soon as you walk down the steps you realise all the bombs have had no effect on it. Basically, you are looking at a 1800 sq meter cement block surrounded by springs the size of a car so it is suspended, shock proofed. It was fully self sufficient, kitchens, air, water etc all filtered, all cleaned. The place was also designed to keep radiation out and protect against a chemical attack. To enter the bunkers, you have to walk through shower blocks, compression chambers, air locks etc. There is rooms for soldiers, a first aid room and a TV room. I took photos of Saddams toilet, his bedroom and the control panel (all in Russian and English!). The rooms I mentioned before now look a lot different than did on CNN but got photos of that as well. The air was cool, well tempered and it was dry and comfortable. The door is 50 meters from my office so if things get really bad here I am going down there. It is the safest place in Iraq. What I cant figure out yet is why the guys I work for have spent millions building an office and huts above ground when they could of refurbished the bunkers, lived and worked in safety? I have no doubt someone from the new (if it ever gets going) Iraqi government will have their offices down there. I think it would be a great hotel for rich expats, a bar a nightclub etc. Any investors?

We walked out one of the entrances into the grand ball room to see firsthand

The Fijian Guards on Shift Change

what 27 cruise missile can do to your day. What a mess, remember the front of the building in the Oklahoma City bombing – worse. But five meters away in the bunker beneath, not a dent. Great photos with the light coming through the places in the dome the missiles entered. Looked like a scene out of terminator. It was a very interesting 2 hours spent in one of the most infamous places in the world. The engineer that took me around was a great source of knowledge and educated me on how it all worked, he thought it could all be up and running again with just superficial work.

Other wise I just did a normal days work just like you guys. Don’t expect this standard of interest to be maintained, like any job the first two weeks are the most interesting.

Be well, have fun with your lives.

The Front of the Palace – Nuclear Shelter


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