Not very many soldiers in church and today they had bomb-sniffing dogs at the gate for all the locals coming in to work--I suspect the anti-Iraq opposition is trying to turn up the heat. It seems SO MUCH of the work the soldiers do here is train leadership and coordinate building of Iraq’s infrastructure. They are always out directing projects and meeting with local leaders. Special Forces seems to do most of the bad-guy raids, backed up by the military. But the regular army guys are mostly out there trying to bring Iraq into the 21st century, meanwhile watching their backs.
Back when this American forces group first got here, they did quite a lot of tent, heater, and blanket delivery to thousands of Iraqi exiles trekking home during the Winter. They were set up in a "tent city." Many of them Kurds, they came back to find that Saddam had moved Arabs into their houses. So in places there is an air of disgruntled cooperation going on here as the new local government and others try to find compromises.
But the cool thing is all the things the soldiers do to comfort, help, build, direct, and secure a life for these people. If you watch the news, you'd think they were always out getting shot and killing bad-guys. But they do SO much more.
Here is a young soldier, we will call him Rapp. Specialist Rapp is a 25-year old medic’s assistant. His duties change from week to week from helping out when there are wounded to riding along on a mission or a patrol in the back of a HumVee to provide medical care if there is an attack. He also helps out with Operation School Supplies. He was forced to drop out of college a semester or two before graduating. Now he lives in this little metal box with a buddy, a locker, a few bunks, and an air-conditioner. He's one of the lucky ones; he's single.
Perhaps dangerous circumstances and depending on your team so much binds these guys together. Going on these missions for the last few 4 or 5 months builds a platoon comradery and they often become like brothers, swearing to stay in touch when it's over. They also begin to feel an affinity for their local Iraqi counter-parts, becoming connected to the people they serve. Does that sound like the reports you hear on the news? It’s a shame they miss the power of what is really going on here. There is just so much building and improvement going on in spite of the constant danger to limb and life. The American Soldier, not many better!