Reflections, Ten Years On

Feb 14, 2013 by

The ten year anniversary of the 2003 invasion of Iraq is in a few weeks. Below are a few thoughts describing what we were going through as the invasion neared. J.E. On St Patty’s Day, 2003, myself and the five other members of HUMINT Exploitation Team Three, assigned to support Third Battalion/Fifth Marines, were in position north of Logistical Support Area Grizzly, just a few hundred meters south of the Iraq-Kuwait border. The day before we had taken the last showers we would have for about the next month. A few days earlier we’d made a last quick trip to First Marine Division headquarters, Camp Commando outside Kuwait City, to touch base with our chain of command, pick up last minute supplies like extra ammo and MRE’s, use the internet, and maybe get a...

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Ramadi Part II – Shitty Shane...

Sep 25, 2012 by

HET Two’s attitude was pretty demoralized after me and Jason got hit with the IED. That attitude was reinforced a week or so later when one of our team members, ‘Shitty’ Shane, went on patrol with Echo Company Two/Four. Shane was a great guy, but he got the nickname from the invasion the previous year when he routinely stepped in shit. Dog shit. Goat shit. Donkey shit. Human shit. Shit is everywhere in Iraq and, somehow, he always ended up stepping in it. It seemed he couldn’t avoid it (though, everyone else could). The Echo Company platoon he was with started up a side street in a fairly suburban neighborhood, just a little bit outside the city. They had good disbursement, they were alert, it was a textbook two-column patrol formation. And then they...

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Ramadi

Aug 1, 2012 by

I wasn’t supposed to go back to Iraq. I had spent almost a year and a half overseas, two tours back-to-back, and I had orders to a sweet gig in northern Virginia. I was supposed to go to the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity in Quantico. It was an assignment I had to fight for, one I thought I deserved. No combat, no long deployments, just an easy few years until I got out of the Marines. And, being near the Beltway I would be perfectly positioned to network with other intelligence professionals in the area and easily find a government or contractor job post-Marine Corps. Maybe even more importantly the girl I’d started dating, and fallen in love with, had chosen a graduate school in northern Virginia so that we could be together when...

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Riding

Jul 8, 2012 by

Again, an anecdote out of chronological order. We were in Tikrit in 2003 and me and Johnny Nano accompanied a sit-down between Brigadier General Kelly and some local tribal sheiks. Senior leaders.  Enjoy.   Joel   We feasted standing up, as normal. We all stood around a huge table laid out with bread, rice, yogurt, and various goat dishes. The general, his officers and the tribal elders rubbed elbows. Johnny and I ended up talking to the tribal sheik’s son, the ‘emir.’ The elders were discussing their bullshit, making promises that would never be met, so Johnny and I sat down with the emir. Johnny lit up, he was in his element. There was no real information to collect, so I could give a fuck about what happened. He bullshitted with the emir for...

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Celebratory Fire

Jun 28, 2012 by

For the majority of the summer of 2003 HET Three was in Al Kut on a tiny, postage stamp-sized base on the eastern side of Tigris, just north of the city. We were remote, the main Marine force of Third Battalion/Twenty-Third Marines (or simply 3/23, a reserve unit with a lot of guys out of Louisiana and the mid-west) was on the western side of the Tigris on an old Iraqi air base. They were at least forty minutes from us. We were on our own. The extent to which we were alone was made perfectly clear the day Uday and Qusay Hussein were killed. We had a satellite dish, courtesy of excellent scrounging in the Al Kut bazzar with Johnny), so we had a few english channels, Al Jazeerah, and of course Al Manar...

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