Well, we are finally starting to settle in to our new home. Our area of operations is pretty rural, not a whole lot going on as far as a major population center since we are on the outskirts of Fallujah. Most of the people that live in our area are large extended families and tribes and retired military officers from the Saddam regime. Since the population base isn't too large, there isn't a ton of contact, but conversely the contact is more coordinated and and on a larger scale, since the insurgents don't need to be concerned about collateral damage.
The thing about this place is the filth. Greenpeace would have a seizure if they saw how these people treated their land. There is trash everywhere. I'm not sure there is a word in the arabic language for garbage can, let alone sanitation. On top of that is the rabid dogs. I now know what the opposite of a domesticated dog looks like. It looks like every four legged animal in Iraq that doesn't have wool. The combination of trash, dog and raw sewage makes for a very distinctive and appealing smell...I can't wait until it hits 130 degrees and the smell gets to marinate.
So far the homes that I have been in are pretty sparse. Run down, minimal power, if any, rarely running water. The homes contain about 4 things- 1 AK47, 1 television that won't turn on, 153 rugs, or 'Hajji Mats' and 1 photo of some ridiculous looking relative. Most of them are constructed of cinder blocks, and many of them only have dirt floors.
Most of the people that I have actually had contact with, people I have searched, whether their cars or homes, or people that we have questioned have been incredibly nice. So far it is difficult to tell which ones of them are thinking behind their smiles "I can't wait to kill this guy". Also, the kids adore us. It might be because we roll with all the power. They see us coming and see how cars get off the road for us and how we can go anywhere we please, I'm sure that impresses upon them, or maybe they just want chocolate. I don't know. The teenagers all try and stare us down, "mean mugging" us. This is definately a testosterone thing. I'm sure a lot of htem would actuallybe willing to take action against us too, so we just try and keep contact with them to a minimum, so nothing flares.
There are some places that we have been rolling the last few days that are known insurgent hide outs. I actually don't know what grown men do in Iraq, because so far it appears that they just sit at used car dealerships and smoke and stare down Marines... When they make threatening gestures at us we just point a big machine gun at them and it usually takes their nerve away though.
Today we were on a patrol and about to return to base when a call came over the radio that another convoy had gotten hit with an IED. They were requesting that we head their way because they thought that they had taken a scooped rifle shot, and needed someone to sweep it. We rolled on scene and got the intel from them, then determined the most probable place for a sharpshooter was in a little cluster of houses about 550 meters off the road. We sped off and dismounted in the center. I took one man from my humvee and went to the house nearest the road. The man of the house had already gotten his family out of it and was moving them into the yard, and then approached me and told me I could search his house. You could kind of tell that they had seen the routine before. We found nothing in the houses, no detonation switches. I feel like that is kind of how the next seven months are going to play out. We had another patrol tonight after dark that had a little excitement. We thought we heard some small explosions from an automotive garage so we headed over and I dismounted with our squad leader and another Marine to check it out. Just kind of weird to be snooping through a huge complex with night vision goggles on and rabid dogs yelping at you everywhere. Alas, nothing turned up though.
This is how my life is going to be for the next seven months. I actually am enjoying it though. Until next time...