We folks, time for an update - I don't have lots of time to sneak these in, but work on it a a while each day, so what you get is a composite over several days. Fortunately I don't sleep much so this is my break from work.
The old team is gone and we have assumed responsibility for operations here (RIPTOA in army speak, or Relief In Place - Transfer Of Authority.) The outbound guys answered some last minute questions, hit some golf balls off the top of a bunker, and wished us well. We had an alert that there could be a mortar attack, and the guys who were leaving were anxious to get the hell out of here - Soldiers are superstitious about being in harms way when they're short (close to going home.) I said good bye and thanked Mike for his help transitioning his work to me.
I had just gotten to my hooch to try to get 20 minutes of sleep before going back to work, when I heard what I thought were mortars a few clicks to the north, I ran outside to see if we needed to man our mortars to fire counter-battery. But the impacts were loud, and one of the guys is on the radio, he says the are hitting a base about 6 clicks away, so to be that loud its either a large 120mm mortar or the Iranian rockets that hit Victory a few days before we got there. The sounds of "whump, whump" goes on for a while. Now the old team really wants to get out of here.
Iraqi Blood pays for the Resistance
Turns out even though it was a large barrage it was poorly aimed and while a few Americans are hurt, the only people killed are Iraqis who were unlucky enough to be near by. And so it is throughout Iraqi - the militias care little about whether they kill innocent Iraqis as long as they burnish their credibility by attacking Coalition Forces. These poor Iraqis were killed by rockets made in Iran and sent to Iraq to keep the blood flowing.
Picture Mister, Picture!
We've been out on several presence patrols already, and different areas of the city have very distinct feelings - from outright surprise at seeing a US patrol, to anger, to cordiality. Everyone is of course guarded, as if they are being watched, which of course they are. One thing that is common tough is the kids:
- everywhere they have their hands out expecting something - candy, a soccer ball, whatever. We'd brought some candy to handout and one teenager wasn't impressed - "you're gonna me this? this is bullshit" he said in perfect English to the Captain.
- and, as Michael Yon and other Milbloggers have commented on, everywhere they want to have their picture taken, even tough you'll obviously never be able to send them the picture.
I was talking to a local about the history of the area and the outlook of the people in the area, and his response really surprised me:
Don’t let the cell phones and satellite dishes fool you – these people are living in the middle ages, at least as far as their mentality goes.His point was that like the Church in Medieval times, the Imams held the real power here in Shialand. I'll have to see how that plays, our, but I have heard similar sentiments from other OIF vets.