29 January 2009


We were out and about today, introducing a new manuever unit to the AO. We hit a meeting, a couple of ICERP projects (school addition, complete; health clinic, progressing very nicely), drove past a couple of key points. Then we got to the part where the outgoing manuever unit wanted to introduce the incoming manuever unit to a local "sphere of influence."

The gentleman in question, a retired general from the old regime, exerts significant influence in part of the AO. His support of coalition efforts has, without a doubt, contributed substantially to the security improvements in the area.

We needed to talk about some election site security issues and do the introductions, so we parked the trucks in his compound, set most of the dismounts to playing soccer with the children, and headed into his "conference room" for chai and conversation.

It's a very nice conference room. The Iraqis don't seem to have figured out the concept of the "vacuum cleaner," so one of the ways the general keeps his conference room nice is by insisting footwear be removed before entry.

A little weird - I know - but at this stage of the game, if we've decided you're wearing a White Hat, and you want us to take our boots off, we take them off. So, sock-footed, we filed in. My part of the conversation was extremely brief, and I had time to sip my godawful sweet chai and look over the new guys we'll be working with.

Platoon leader...has his little book out, looks engaged, is participating in the conversation. Good. Platoon sergeant...looks like he'd rather be kicking in a door and whacking someone, but is paying attention. Good. Random second lieutenant...trying to follow the conversation, tapping his foot, which makes him look bored and...what the Hell?

Remember, dear readers, when your Mom used to tell you to wear clean underwear in case you ended up in the emergency room?


Bad enough that it looks tacky, but a dead giveaway of a military man whose training didn't involve nearly enough forced marching.

One of our Iraqi hosts must have seen my double-take, because he looked too and very nearly snorted scalding chai onto the nice conference room rug.

Fortunately, that part ended quickly, and we adjourned to the outdoor picnic area and ate far too much food. Good food, too. Kinda sad that we eat better out there than we do on the FOB, but such is life. It's rough out here, folks.