I met Sgt. Scown again today after church. He described the capture of a man who set an IED (improvised explosive device) into the road to kill those sympathetic to the cause of a free Iraq. They mentally prepared for a terrible mindset, to kill or be killed and for explosions and worse. They stormed his residence, only to find him alone, sleeping through it all out in the yard. Tensions let down, let go of the killing mentality. Back to being the friendly neighborhood peacekeepers. Arrest the man and bring him in.
As you can imagine, it is very hard on the mind and heart to do that. Most of the time the soldiers on their patrols and duties in overseeing the rebuilding of Iraq (not from the war, but from Saddam’s thirty years of abuse and neglect) project a friendly, “smiles and waves” demeanor and connect as friends with their Iraqi counterparts. But they have to be ready to put on an attitude of grit and force in an instant, like hitting a switch, Scown says. It seems almost like having multiple personalities.
In comparison, Scown relayed how when a bomb goes off near Iraqi militia units, they sometimes start firing at everyone in the vicinity, sometimes wounding and killing innocents. Their fear and anger is uncontrolled and random. The American soldiers have far more restraint, by rule never firing unless fired upon and the assailant is clearly identifiable.
Considering that these people here have been solving their problems with each other for thousands of years by killing each other, you can imagine what an impact it might make when they experience the benevolence and control of many American soldiers. It has to profoundly affect you when soldiers, who have power to do anything they want to you, bring you food, build your town up, train you to defend yourselves, and only kill your enemy when they are sure it is your enemy!
Certainly it will have some effect, maybe even a great effect, on the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people: That is, the great heart and mind of the American soldier.