Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Green Zone Chaos

The Iraqis, on the first of January, are assuming security responsibilities for the International Zone, aka the Green Zone. In the past, the U.S. military controlled access to the "city within a city"; home to the Coalition and the seat of Iraq's government. As of tomorrow the U.S. Army will turn over all of the access control points (checkpoints) to the Iraqi army. I shudder.

For the past couple of weeks the Iraqi army has been doing a "left seat-right seat" with the Americans, shadowing them as soldiers dutifully checked ID cards, vehicles and pedestrians entering and exiting the zone. Over time the Iraqis have assumed primacy at the checkpoints while their American counterparts remained in in the background.

As a result the Iraqi army has quadrupled the number of soldiers manning the access points. Now when you drive into the checkpoint you're greeted by a hoard of AK-welding Iraqi soldiers all seriously directing you to do "something", most often in opposition to the direction of their peer standing right next to them; stop, pull-forward, get out of the car, stay in the car! Each becoming more agitated as you fail to comply. It's utter chaos, no one is seemingly in charge and you don't know who to listen to. In the past, failure to follow these commands would get you shot. Needless to say it's both confusing and very, very tense.

I look at the two American soldiers standing in the background, pleading for some sort of organization or sanity. One looks at me and shrugs. Welcome to the future of Iraq.


Long-time RN said...

Your assessment was echoed in the news yesterday. A story on British troops attempting to train Iraqi 'Marines' for security at the port at Umm Qasr. Brits voiced concerns regarding disorganization, attitude, and lack of any type of preventative maintenance of equipment, such as boat engines.

It's of no comfort, but from watching that piece, you do not shudder alone.

Any news on your patient friend?

Best to you in the New Year.

Cathy B

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 12/31/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

Eric said...


The news story that you referred to is one that I think we did. Anita McNaught was the correspondent?

Ref my MI: He's coming back to us. They did an angiogram and couldn't find any occlusions. Then, later on the day I heard that they wanted to take another look at his anterior walls. He should be back in a day or so, but unfortunately I'll be back in Atlanta by then. I leave on Friday.

Tom B said...

Have a safe trip!

Long-time RN said...

Conferred with my husband, and we both recall a female correspondent involved, not her name however. But, how many stories of this nature would be aired within the same time span? So then, you've witnessed take-over confusion in areas other than the Green Zone.

Good to read your friend is doing well.

Safe travels,

Cathy B

NahnCee said...

So what will happen the first time an Iraqi presumes to shoot a large mean Blackwater contractor?

Anonymous said...

I have not yet been this apprehensive about my son's survival in Mosul, as the Iraqi Army "takes the helm". Your experience echoes my worst fears.
waiting to exhale