Today I took pictures for the M.I. 214th unit here in Iraq. That’s MI for Military Intelligence. They are the linguistics group. Composed of all Mormons, except for one. Why? Because they know all kinds of foreign languages, wonder why! The only language they don’t know is Arabic. That’s military intelligence for ya.
Regardless, their duty, among others, is to ride around using top secret equipment to…well, do top secret stuff, of course. Use your imagination. But because, I guess, they are Mormons from UT for the most part, they are called the Prophet Platoon. Or, in the military’s interest in brevity, just plain Prophet. “Send Prophet out right away!” and so forth. By the way, it’s not really “top secret,” just regular secret.
For your amusement, I also took a few pictures after church in the Aloha Chapel. Notice the before-mentioned pulpit, and the convenient drum-set behind the sacrament table. Sometimes after church, we have choir practice. Sometimes it turns into a very brief jam-session. The musical talent, as you may imagine, is very high in this group and even without accompaniment, the vocals are very strong and true.
This week for their first time in a live operation, some of the soldiers got to rush forth out of a helicopter and dive into the grass to secure a field at the edge of a city at night. They were to prevent escapees while special forces made arrests in the city. This group normally is doing the leadership training and patrols of the city, which, for the most part, they feel very safe. No on in their group has been wounded yet and they are in their fourth month here. But this night exercise was more typical of the year before this one.
And that is the rate of progress here. The soldier I talked to says that their work is very different from the year before and next year’s tasks will be very different from theirs. He seems sure that next year the soldiers will have plenty of time to play cards. Things are shaping up that fast. In fact, I heard that in Baghdad this weekend they had this big, peaceful demonstration. Incredible. Do you know the last time Iraq had a peaceful demonstration? Without guns??? Could be the first time in 4 thousand years, if you use swords and guns interchangeably.
Of course, the demonstration was sponsored by the Shiite leader who tried to remove Americans by force (and surrendered several times) in the past. They chanted, Saddam is gone, now we want the Americans gone! Guess we still haven’t taught the rudimentary terms of “Thank you“ and “Please,” but like I say, they did it without killing anyone this time. A huge step indeed. And since the plan, I’m sure, is to pull out the guns and take over as soon as the Americans pull out of Iraq, they will be deeply disappointed. Again.