Saturday, April 15, 2006

Ramadi Madness

This is one of those posts that have to be written, 3 tests, 2 presentations and 1 project proposal are due very soon, I should be studying. My study group is going to meet soon, but I need to get this off my chest.

About a year ago there was a series of news articles in the Palm Beach Post.

The Ramadi Madness they called it.

Warning, some parts are very gruesome, and they cut out the worst parts. Thankfully.

So it all starts like this, when we were in Iraq we were not officially prohibited from taking pictures, I don't think. But common sense was the rule. A lot of the restrictions that are imposed during training are left up to the person on the ground making the calls. One of our Sergeants taped some of the action with his handy digital camera. The big flaw is what you see can be misinterpreted when taken out of context, and most of it is. Since he obviously taped stuff after the fact, he never taped a live firefight, he was too busy shooting his weapon to shoot his video cam.

Most of the times he made "funny" tapes to kill the boredom. People who has never been in that situation will never understand what is like to bored out one's mind. People will do the darnest things to pass time. People react to averse situations differently. Some of us found humor on everything. We were not politically correct. I don't apologize for that. We did the best we could. This is not Abu Garib. This is war, and war is not pretty. To me seeing this feels like watching porn in front of you own Mom. I feel ashamed, yet I wanted to keep looking. I am not making sense. I am rambling. But that's ok.

Before I continue I want to emphasize that I used to get into arguments all the time over the way we treated the Iraqis. I never called them Hajis, I made every attempt to get to know and understand their culture, Whenever I was in charge of a patrol I would not allow any sort of mistreatment, and my guys knew it. Most of us strived to be professional, but please understand when you catch people who were trying to kill you moments before is very hard not allow feelings affect you.

So this is what happened. When we got back to the States we had a party in our Armory, this guy started showing the video and a Public Affairs officer saw it and decided to blow the wistle. A full blown investigation gets underway, everybody is interviwed and we had to explain the video. After six months the Army concludes that there was no criminal action. When the Army released the news the Palm Beach post decided to be angry and ran a series of articles. The timing coincided with the Abu Garib prision scandal. The wanted to throw our unit in the same leage as those people. We were not.

I was recently watching and we don't look like saints. Yet, every action is justified. I am in one of those videos, but I am not doing anything ilegal, well, yes I am, I am not wearing my helmet or my gear, but that's ok, Most of the videos have the second squad of 1st platoon. All those guys are very good close friends of mine. While they may not be mature, they are good guys. War sucks. It is ugly.

One video thing that you might want to know that does not show in the article is the explanation of the video labeled "See Haj Run", we were in a building next to the police station in the middle of Ramadi, a building that got blown up a couple of months after we left. That day we were surrounded by a crowd like in the movie "Rules of engament", but our captain did not want to issue the "waste those motherfucker" order. Until they started throwing granades at the compound, the shocking thing is, kids were the throwers, how the fuck do you deal with that? in the video you can see the little kids waving their granades. You can see one dude that got shot. Oh well, I can't write anymore, I must go now.

Reality awaits.

PS If you want to see yours truly in the videos I am in the one labeled "Another day"
All I do is stik my tongue out....


Loralee Choate said...

Man. That is tough and it SUCKS.
It blows and is wrong.

I don't care how people feel about the war itself, but this just pisses me off.

Soldiers go through hell. This war is also CONFUSING. People screw up...sometimes very badly. People out there fighting (Or just WAITING or festering in the desert making airport shuttle runs)go through so much, we here can't even imagine.

I know, I know...Soldiers sign up for it, but SO?! They are underpaid and traumatized and their families go through hell as well. To deliberatly put them through more (Like this paper)is unexcuseable.

I had all of this stuff typed out to explain and clarify and "PC" the support I just gave you.



I may not be so sure about war and how I feel about it, but nothing can change my mind about that.

Jose said...

Thanks Loralee,

That means a lot.