Well we are getting settled in here and the old crew is filtering out. We have been out several times to other local US bases our Iraqi Partner Force HQ and their training camp. The Iraqis play very good hosts and always have lunch prepared for us, and/or Chai (tea) depending on the time of day. So far it has just been meet and greet type stuff, and the Iraqis are always asking for more support from us, even though our focus is to teach them to stand on their own (so we can stop coming here.) But it seems that this unit gets very little support from Baghdad, and according to the commander of this battalion sized element, the main reason is they refuse to function as an extension of the Dawa party. Of course, everyone here has an agenda and we have to be careful about taking anything at face value. People will say “Well, that’s how Arabs are.” But I saw the saw thing in Bosnia, and you get the same thing dealing with Organized Crime in the States. People only give you information if they get something out of it – the trick is to figure out how they stand to gain. Come to think of it I have had the same experience in consulting.
Anyhow, during our first meeting, the Major was discussing some issue the Iraqis want our help with, and he was saying we would do what we can to look into it, being careful not to make any promises. Major M thought he would show a little cultural sensitivity and threw in “Inshallah”, which means God willing, and is used to avoid taking any accountability for your commitments, since if you fail to deliver it was God’s will. And who are you to question God.
Of course, this is not the Iraqi’s first rotation – he has been here dealing with Americans since we arrived. His response:
Is that an American Inshallah or an Iraqi Inshallah?Doh! They know Americans value their word, and he would like us to commit to providing direct support and pressing his government as well.
The city itself is fairly quiet, sure there is sporadic gunfire and the occasional mortar, but it isn’t as bad as some of the other places out there. The weather has been excellent, great shorts weather in the day and a little cooler at night. A river runs through the city, and it feels a little less arid – maybe that’s all in my head. So right now we’re starting to get into a routine, workout, work and train, rest, sleep, pull guard duty, start all over.