Thursday, March 27, 2008

2 days and a wake up ...

Dateline: March 27, 2008

Camp Ramadi, al Anbar Province

By Command Sergeant Major Larry Johnson

I and my associates who are leaving Camp Ramadi with me are fortunate to be departing at this time. The fighting with JAM (Jaish al-Mahdi), the Army of the religious extremist Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, has escalated in recent days and poses a real danger to thousands of U.S. troops. As the street fighting continues with these thugs and criminals with weapons it forces the Iraqi government to take responsibility in dealing with these lawbreakers and enforcing the rule of law. Unfortunately, these actions are not unilateral and any fighting will ensnare U.S. forces. The U.S. military is in a delicate position when it comes to the fighting between JAM and Iraqi Security Forces because Al-Sadr is part of the coalition that keeps Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (also a Shiite) in power. As AQI is weakened and driven from the country by U.S. forces the sectarian violence between Shiites and Sunnis increases.

I am so tired of the grind and I am really glad to be leaving this time around. In many ways this tour has been the most difficult and most arduous of the previous tours because dealing with the Arab culture is so difficult and so time consuming. In a strictly kinetic (combat) situation patience and dialog are not the rule of the day, but in nation building it takes all the polite endurance one can muster. Sergeant Majors are not, by nature, the most patient and tolerant of the “nation builders”. Those of you who know me will find this thought mildly amusing. In other words it is much easier to tear things up and break stuff than it is to rebuild it. That having been said here I am this time around surrounded by Department of State personnel trying to make a difference. I tell you I’ll never complain about doing anything bureaucratic in the U.S. again upon my return.

Our journey home begins on 29 March and I should be in my pool by 12 April and beginning my rehabilitation and re-integration back into civilization. I look forward to seeing everyone soon and picking up where we all left off. Don’t anyone call me and say, “Larry let’s go camping because it won’t happen in your life time”. Go Giants; and thank God for room service.

W2R (Whiskey-2-Romeo)-signing of the Net

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