Monday, October 5, 2015

Less is More

Well, it's college time in a college town, and every store – Home Depot, Target, McGuckins, you name it – is writhing with douchebags and their children. I waited about 20 minutes to purchase 16 screws, as a woman in her late 40's back-talked condescendingly to an associate at McGuckin's who was trying to explain to her the purpose of anchors to support anything you're hanging on a wall. "Well I've never done this before," she snapped, "and you didn't tell me anything about this just a moment ago."  In truth, she spent so much time criticizing the man's approach to explaining a process to her, that it was apparent how none of the instruction was actually making it into her head.  The man got to a point where he leaned on a nearby shelf and stared blankly at the floor with each criticism.

Ma'am, you've never hung anything in a wall? What the hell are you going to do when ISIS is running the neighborhood, or if there's a sharknado? And, between you and your bound-to-be-indoctrinated [sorry, I meant educated] child with access to the world-wide web through smartphone, ...you wouldn't be able to figure it out?

Doters and coddlers whirring to and fro leaving retail shelves barren of all the expendables -- all the junk which the children readily have at home, but they're bought a second set of... Because the game of life is about more: don't accept unnecessary losses or take unnecessary risks, or expend unnecessary effort... when you can just take: more. No one wants to expend the effort or expense to move all their junk -- which is interesting in and of itself.

It's interesting that, in a rather liberal school where there are plenty of opportunities to sign up for groups and committees and take classes with regard to politics, economics, preserving the environment, Asian slave-like labor conditions, our carbon footprint, etc. -- all of these things which 20-somethings speak so passionately about changing -- consumer mayhem is unleashed by this demographic/horde every year, which contributes to the preservation of all of it. Go through the stores and see what's not there this-coming week: expendable alarm clocks, charger, mirrors, shelving, computer hardware, blankets & bedding, bathroom amenities, cooking wares, and the obligatory Bob Marley poster/T-shirt/tapestry/bumper sticker/toaster -- all that stuff you can't imagine they didn't have the prior week, or at home.

I say, if you want to do one of the best thing ever for any of the above socio-political situations, close retail markets to freshman.

The parental coddling is sweet, in a way: certainly there are many many kids who never see that. But in another way, it reeks of a lack of trust in their own creation of a person, and begs the question: "All these years, what role have you played in the development of a person such that you're spinning around them at age 18 or 19 with the same tenacity and hyper-focus as when you had to check their diapers?" What level of parental confidence does that show in their child's ability to problem solve, be resourceful, and independent?

From economist E.F. Schumacher's "Small is Beauitful", 1973:

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Reductionism

"Our great wistfulness about the world of primitive man is that he managed willy-nilly to blunt the terrible potential destructiveness of the drama of heroism and expiation.  He didn't have the size, the technological means, or the world view for running amok heroically."
-Ernest Becker, "Escape From Evil," p. 96





Samurai armor and weapons are individuated to the warrior.  The polishing of the katana blade alone took about six days, and before it was given to a samurai, it was often tested -- not with chemicals or equipment, but on cadavers, to make sure the blade can run smoothly through the limb of an enemy.  The armor's variegated manufacturing processes are a representation of their clan and its smiths, in the same way that patterns in Scandinavian folk clothing could indicate a specific municipality of Sweden or Norway, or patterns and creation styles in Persian or Kurdish rugs can identify the tribe that created it.  Needless to say, variety was part of the design in the plating and chainmail, as was how it was bound to cloths of various colors and patterns, and what animals or symbols were at the crest of a helmet.  It was a matter of what individual craftsmen and craftswomen put their talents and devotion together to make a warrior's image, survivability, and lethality happen.  Additionally, not unlike the spirituality native Americans had for their world, the Japanese came to associate spiritual qualities with the objects.  The maker of some katana swords crafted blades that were bloodthirsty, others created blades that were reverent, and so on.  The spiritual qualities of the equipment could also be established over time by the previous owners' deeds or misdeeds.

The impersonal nature of modern warfare is well represented by the difference between these older meaningful individuated processes that illustrated respect for the warrior, and the mass processes we use today.  In 2006, we shipped our Strykers from Fort Lewis, Washington, down to Arizona (via train or truck).  The company personnel took charter buses through California, to Yuma, in order to utilize the military's training site on the base.  About a week into training, we had a friendly-fire incident in 2nd platoon.  As it was told to me, in an ill-planned nighttime live-fire exercise, our stryker vehicles were to have their movement synchronized: two vehicles were supposed to alternate their bounding in the same direction, while firing at a target -- also in the same direction.  Soldiers with heavy automatic weapons would be exposed through the hatches in the top of the vehicle, firing at the targets.  Due to some apparent loss in communication and/or inability to coordinate, vehicle drivers weren't quite sure where and when to stop, and weapons teams weren't quite sure when to stop firing, and at least a couple rounds from one vehicle's crewman operating an m249 S.A.W. hit Bryant Compean in the head.  An immediate ceasefire was called over the radio, and although we headquarters medics fired up the engine in the medevac stryker and prepared for the casualty, we were called off from driving 20 minutes to the range where 2nd platoon was at, since the aero-medevac resources of Yuma Proving Ground were already 2 minutes out from the scene.

The next morning, it was declared that all training operations were to be halted pending investigation, and our company did little more than sit around doing weapons maintenance and physical exercise until leadership decided maybe we should take a break.  Somewhere off-post, accommodations were made for the company to stay in a hotel.  Mass intoxication, the seeking of prostitutes, and occasional fights ensued, but to no serious level.  After seeing his sloppy fistfight with a communications soldier, I confronted one infantryman who tried to justify his violence by claiming, "He was talking shit about 'Comp,'' while crying.  I was incredulous to that, but then he made the more clearer statement -- the true ailment, perhaps: "I had Comp's brains all over me."  I had to wonder if it was really a good idea to take a traumatized platoon and give them the conditions to be drunk and irresponsible, but it might have been the lesser problem.

By the time we left the hotel and got back to post, the vehicle that Compean had died in was given back to us.  High-pressure hoses of the Yuma Proving Ground Fire Department needed to be employed to spray clean the inside of the Stryker vehicle, as the Arizona heat had cooked pieces of the soldier and his blood to the vehicle's surface.  We wrapped up training operations and headed home not long after.

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=16337037


A week or so later, being back in Fort Lewis, I had the chance to talk to Jacob Sweat, the medic for the platoon who was at the range at the time Compean was killed.  Standing in the aid station of building 3213 with a couple other medics present, he told me about the incident, and also of the military's investigative processes immediately after the incident.  Sweat tells me that, despite the overwhelming consensus in the platoon that there was no foul play involved, military investigators still performed lengthy single-person interrogations, ripe with accusations of negligence in an incriminating style.  Sweat was a pretty tough character.  In my years of working with him, I think the only time I ever saw any hurt in his eyes was after that incident, when he said, "They asked me over and over again why I didn't do CPR on Comp, and I eventually told them to go fuck themselves.  I said, 'It's pretty hard to do CPR on a guy with half of his fucking head missing.'"



At the funeral, I sat behind Compean's parents; his father's head vibrating with emotion as if he had Parkinsonian tremors.  Months later, our company's First Sergeant would give me a ziploc bag with Compean's helmet in it, which had apparently only recently been shipped to us from Yuma after the investigation.  Fragments of skull were still in the body of the helmet, and part of the cloth helmet cover was caked with a dried mix of blood and cerebrospinal fluid.  "Wash it out," First Sergeant had told me.  "We can still use it."  And I did, in the shower stall of the aid station of that building.  I wondered about the men who receive posthumous promotions and posthumous commander's coins made in bulk in China, with no intended recipient; whose weapons and gear, the tools of their trade and key to their survivability and lethality, could potential see so much of their human essence, but were ultimately issued like library books: on loan.  Despite the notion of a "manufactured" society of "human numbers" sounding like an uber-liberal pedestal, there seems to be more than enough evidence that, in a way, mass production (and the absence of spirituality where one is unique and connected to all matter around them) makes this true.

The man whose bullets killed Compean got med-boarded out of the Army in 2007.
Sweat deployed with us, but his 2007/2008 Iraq deployment was marked by having been discovered to be stealing other medics' morphine auto-injectors and using them on himself.  He died of a drug overdose only 2 months after he got out of the army, in 2008.

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/timesunion/obituary.aspx?pid=120371381

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Barren



The reduction of staff levels at a local technology company's campus has left its mark over the years. A good number of the buildings have whole office floors of empty cubicles; rooms full of nothing but pieces of office furniture, and printers from the 1990's - 2000's. A walkabout through these areas paints a surreal post-apocalyptic atmosphere.

Outside a short corridor with barren rooms, where (presumably) team leaders and supervisors used to work delegating to their cubicle minions, a bulletin board hangs, as if a historic beacon to the hearts and minds of the workers. The expression from the employees regarding imminent force reductions presents itself as cartoons from Dilbert, circa the late 1990's, with the subject matter of each one related to the devaluation of the human labor force.





Sunday, April 20, 2014

Traumatic Growth

In one of the first meetings, he gave this:


The main line chart is a model, illustrating growth and development through one's whole life.  Like many-a-line-graph, the over-and-upward ray illustrates the course of a life, from left to right, with the elevation indicating a level of wellness and function -- or development -- and the distance representing time in years. 

As he had sectioned it, ages:
0 - 20 is largely biological/intellectual development;
20 - 50-ish years is one's growth in productivity in the form of financial growth and offspring;
50's - 60's is an assessment and evaluation stage of life;
and 70's - 80's he called "making peace."

Of the things he has been advocating all along is to give yourself time -- one of the things we both noted that societal conditions these days don't give us.  Back in the earliest days of America, when there was a frontier, veterans could receive free parcels of land for their service, as an extension to the Homestead Act of 1862.  The slow life of being a rural farmer on the outskirts of society gave former soldiers something to do, and time to process things.


Being a Vietnam war veteran, he understood that the situations of "traumatic experience" lend what might be called "traumatic growth."  The growth occurs secondary to the realizations of what the world is, with the fracturing of what we thought the world to be.  Having stepped far outside boundaries of everyday experience, one comes to a(n often isolating) realization of existence outside of confines of normal understanding -- and its importance.  He uses the big suit/little suit analogy.

When you did and thought in accordance with approaches that society had conditioned you to do and think, you wore the "little suit."  Exposure to the potential of one's own death, the death of friends, rationalization of murder, and especially, what all of that was for ... in seeing this aspect of it all, you come back from the experience with the "big suit".  The little suit no longer fits you, and reintegration to normative society is the hardest challenge.

After partaking in combat operations, a whole war, and a whole military that didn't make sense; for a government whose foreign policies only made sense to a select few, I was compelled to find a state of being in the world that truly made sense to myself.  I could no longer trust that there is something "out there" that I should believe will make me feel truly alive, be productive, and in accord with the rest of world in an honest and sensible way.  In a manner of speaking, I was now in a place where I had shed the behaviors I would otherwise accept if I were wearing the "little suit," and start looking for something of *symbolic* meaning to me -- lest, perhaps, my life not be meaningful to me.  My job was to find whatever that is.  In my last weeks at the VA hospital, secondary to questions about my leaving them, I had told my former supervisor, "What I am doing has to make sense" -- that I'm not in a place where I can simply fulfill illogical or inefficient processes simply because it provides me with money to live, or simply because someone in a position of authority had codified that as the way to do it.

Brought up by my counselor was the Repetition Complex, written on the upper left-hand side in the picture above of his dry-erase board.  This is a reference to what's also called Repetition Compulsion.  Freud was the one who initially talked of repetition compulsion, as it was a type of observable behavior in people that wasn't fitting in with Freud's working theory about people's drives: that people naturally pursue pleasure and avoid displeasure.  In a child, for example, this is demonstrated in their behaviors as when they hold a toy and intentionally throw it to the ground.  Mother or father comes to pick up the toy and give it back to the child, and after a little time, the child throws it back to the ground again. Traumatic repetitions could be seen as the result of an attempt to retrospectively "master" the original trauma -- a child's play as an attempt to turn passivity into activity.  As Freud said: "At the outset he was in a passive situation...but by repeating it, unpleasurable though it was, as a game, he took on an active part."

I didn't really understand this part of the equation until I told him that I would sometimes spend hours looking at the pictures from Iraq -- not realizing that so much time had passed -- looking at them over and over.  After watching an HBO documentary about Iraq war veterans, seeing one who claimed to engage in the same behaviors, I understood that I am not the only one who did that.  More importantly, in seeing a documentary called "Sous la Main de l'Autre," (English: "In Their Hands,") showing the work of psychotherapists in Switzerland with veterans or civilian victims of wars that included exposure to (or participation in) torture and other atrocities, at that point, then, like a revelation, I got it:



   

Friday, April 18, 2014

Field Orphans

He said,
"When I was in Vietnam, somewhere near the Laotian border, there were these Vietnamese children we called 'field orphans.'"

Although it was unclear to me whether or not the children traveled with the platoons, or appeared while the platoons were out on patrol, they were there somehow.

"In the 15 minutes it took for you to rest from a march, the kids -- anywhere from about 9 or 10 years old, to teenagers -- they would give you foot massages, shoulder massages, whatever... and also, strip down your weapons; take the bolt out, clean them off, oil them up and then put them all together.  ...and ALL of this would happen in less than 15 minutes.  They were awesome.

So, one time, we decided to get clever with one of the kids who was going to clean our weapons.  We gave him a Russian AK, a Chinese AK, and an M-16 to see if he could take them all apart, clean them, and then put them back together right, given all of the different parts -- but blindfolded.  And he did.  In less than the 15 minutes of our rest, he had them all back together and cleaned up -- and this is a rural kid about 15 years old.
"

He continues about the field orphans:

"One time, I noticed that one of the field orphans was missing a leg -- he had a stump left from the amputation.  I asked him how he lost his leg, and he said,

'You did that.'

I thought to myself, I didn't do that -- I hadn't even even seen the kid before.  So I asked the kid,

'What do you mean that I did that,'

and he said,

'U.S. bomb.'

And I thought about it for a minute.  I went into my gear to offer him a can of fruit, and motioned for him to come over to me.  After I gave him the can, I asked him,

'So if we did that to you, how is it that you will come and clean our weapons for us -- why would you come and help us?'

The kid said,

'The American people are not bad, the American government is bad.'"

He chuckled briefly to himself, leaned forward in his chair, and then gave me a compelling, wide-eyed, raised-eyebrow look, saying,
"Are you kidding me?  Did we really know who we were fuckin' with out there?  How is it that a rural 15-year-old Vietnamese field orphan has an understanding of what the real issue with the war was -- one that is superior to that of a great portion of the population back at home?"

Monday, August 10, 2009

The House of Broken Men


He was younger than I, whirring to, fro, and into the elevator in his black motorized wheelchair. We make room for him. Right hand on the joystick, left hand in decorticate posturing, his face leaning to the right, immobile. He was maybe 22 or 23 -- I could see it in his face. The face seemed to retain only a small fraction of the expressive capacity it once had; and echo of what once was. His skin had a patchwork of redness - perhaps from the contaminants insurgents put in I.E.D.'s, perhaps from post-burn skin grafting. As his vehicle stops in the center of the elevator floor, the momentum causes a slight lunge forward in his head, followed by recoil. His eyes unfocused, seemingly stare at some script, invisible to us, held right in front of his face. Projecting upwards, mounted somewhere behind his seatback is a 12-inch American flag.

Behind him a barely-haired man baby-steps his way into the elevator. He's 70 maybe, in a tweed coat, sweatpants, untied shoes, with a stale look of shock -- as if he was watching a bus full of school children catch on fire. Behind him, he drags his tails: an oxygen tanks on wheels, and an I.V. pole. The conserving regulator on his oxygen bottle supplements his inhalations with pure oxygen, to the tune of "kuff, kuff." He turns only partly around, facing the elevator buttons as, with his equipment, there's no room to turn anymore. The elevator doors close. Upon our ascent, someone from the back mentions how the snow is really coming down. The old man, still staring at the elevator buttons, blurts out, in a loud monotonous run-on sentence, "I think its partially cloudy and I say I think it's partially cloudy because I just had a brain aneurysm on my right side." The elevator returns to silence.

For those that can walk, the VA hospital is an exhibition of humanity's diversity in walking; a sharply less-comical version of Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks sketch. Some old guys, walking slow but upright, some slow and hunched over; others with canes, bouncing to one side, some with steps only six inches; others with rigidity on one side, waltzing themselves down the hallway. As I stepped through the revolving door through the south side of the building, I pass by an elderly man. He's pointing with his cane and talking to no-one, "We parked our car right there. What did they do with my car?" On my way across the street for a smoke break, I see a guy heading inside with what looks like a piece of large luggage, complete with extended handle and rolling wheels. I think to myself, "Checking in, are we?" Then I notice the folders: gray, red, brown -- a 201 file with the last four digits of his social security number on top. What he's dragging behind him are actually about 30 + pounds of his medical and service records.

I flick out the cherry, trash the butt, and work my way back in. I am the only one on the elevator at the 1st floor, but it stops at the second. Another elder, brown khakis and puffy winter coat, climbs on board. His head is not so much shaking as it is slightly vibrating -- looking like he's trying very hard to suppress how severely disgruntled he is. After the doors close, the elevator fires up and he starts, "I don't know what the hell their problem is." I turned toward him and inquire, "Who, the hospital?" He doesn't answer, just continues: "Rented that goddamn storage shed, and it takes King Kong to open the doors. Damn thing is full of spiders, too! One jumped down and bit me right on the hand." He shakily extends to me the back of his hand to show, but I see nothing out of the ordinary. "Then they can't put a damned light in the thing, so it's dark as hell..." He continues his rant on our elevator ride, getting off at the 5th floor. I give him a pat on the back as he leaves, "Well, sir, good luck with that." That's all I can think to say.

The elevator takes me to the 6th floor, and I enter my department. On the way to my office, I see a man who appears to be in hi 80's, seated by the oxygen closet, wearing jeans and a worn flannel insulated button-up shirt. He's exceptionally thin: his cheeks and eyes sunken in around his cheek bones, but what caught my attention were his hands. They had a slightly translucent quality to them, where you could see the hair-like bright red arterioles running their course throughout. Additionally, dark maroon patches were also visible on his forearm and the back of his hand; maybe from bumps and bruises, maybe from blood draws.

Although I saw no oxygen tanks, I asked if he needed a refill. He smiles, pointed to the office across the hall, and said in an exceptionally breathy voice, "No, I'm just waiting for my appointment." There's a pause. He asks, "You prior-service?" "Just got back from the desert 5 months ago," I respond. "You have that look about you. That's why I ask." There's a pause, then he starts. "I joined back when I was eighteen. I joined the Army/Air Force as a medic. They were both one branch back then, but then they decided to split. So, they gave me the choice: either be a foot soldier and go with the Army, or go with the Air Force. Well, my mother didn't raise any idiots. You went to the desert? I went to Korea. It's messed up, you know; chasing these guys all over the place. Then we get to the river and we're told not to cross, or even shoot across it: it's a demilitarized zone. ...What?" I laughed, he smiles, and I not my head. He says, "I say, if you're going to do the job, just get it done."

I relayed to him one of the same types of situations in the modern day: an operations order, a high-value target list (H.V.T.), and a patrol. Before the mission, our battalion actually went through the trouble of giving us all print-outs with pictures and names of the H.V.T.'s. During the mission, we established an observation post (O.P) and had positive identification (P.I.D.) on one of the high-value targets. The HVT entered a black Lexus that joined two other black sedans and was traveling southbound, in our direction. We called up the sighting, and the potential to interdict. The radio squawked back: command asked us to confirm PID. We did, and after a couple of minutes of silent radios, the 3-vehicle caravan turns right, approaching a cluster of buildings. We called again for the authorization, noting to them that he would soon be out of our line of sight. Command came back through the radio, nixing the interdiction opportunity, giving no explanation.

I expressed to him the same kind of sensibility, "What the point of giving us a printed HVT list and then letting him drive away? As it turns out, our unit wanted to play politics with some of the HVT's. So, a week or so later, a convoy of three vehicles from brigade level or higher goes rolling through that area to play politics. They intend to meet with some of the town's most influential people, so the town knows they're coming. On their way, an I.E.D. hits them, killing a sergeant and major." He inquires, "You were an infantryman?" "I was a medic with the infantry," I respond. There is a slight pause. I say, "I was one of those idiot medics you mentioned earlier that opted to run with the foot soldiers -- but I can't blame that on my mother." We laugh. His is a silent laugh, out of respiratory illness: face loaded with expression, but no sound. He's called in for his appointment and we shake hands.

I leave for the day, and on my way out, accidentally kick an empty whiskey shot bottle by the hospital doors. Some of the vets are homeless, alcoholics, and drifters. Most came into the Army from various forms of poverty, and to poverty many return, having bore the weight of an idea. But, so long as suffering is inevitable, one might as well be helping to deal with it. As I walk to my car, I'm approached by a middle-aged man wearing a 7-11 uniform shirt. He asks, "Sir, could you spare some change for a veteran for the bus?" I stop and look at him. "I ain't no bum or nothing. I got a job, I just don't have any money right now," he continues. I ask, "Veteran, huh? What unit?" He sparks up, "502nd paratroopers. I was a helicopter mechanic. I could take apart those things and..." That's when I will reach for my wallet and give him a couple. Even if he is full of shit, at least he put some effort into it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

An Essence of God

19NOV07

Earlier today the XO (executive officer) invited me to go with him from the JSS (Joint Security Station where US forces outside the wire live and work alongside Iraqi police) to "A’s" house. He said "A" was a man who has been indispensable as a median between the Iraqi people, the Iraqi Army, and the US forces. Captain K. told me he spoke English, was a 4-year veteran of the Iran/Iraq war, and now worked as a teacher. I accepted the captain's offer and at 1900 we kitted up with three 11B’s and headed out. Literally, he lived up and across the street from JSS M------. We went there, past a parked car and through the gate of the property’s outer wall. The homes in this area were arranged like town homes with walled-off yards. In faint light (and the XO being as tall as he is) we startled "A’s" wife. She immediately went inside to get him, and the 11B’s (infantrymen) waited in the outer cordon of the property.

I recognized "A" as one I had seen a couple times at the JSS. Mid-forties, average size, and a beak-ish nose dressed in a one-piece outer garment from neck to ankles. He shook our hands, sat us down, and had one of his younger boys arrange some chai. I noticed a person on the roof and he indicated to us that it was one of his guards. As the XO had told me earlier, a child of his was killed when the insurgent forces were catching on to him being a US asset. Since then he’s also had rocket attacks at his previous address. Thus, he stays now right across the street from the JSS. The people that guard him have volunteered to do so without pay.

His son brought us some watermelon to the flimsy outdoor table. "A" went immediately to work, tearing pieces of paper, making makeshift weapons cards with all the pertinent information for 5 civilian security personnel. These security personnel were guarding the gas station a little ways down the street. He wanted to turn in the personnel’s info to include the weapons serial numbers, to be signed by our Lieutenant Colonel, thus legitimizing their presence with firearms as being in service to the local community. Such information is important to have so that US forces, I.A., and I.P. don’t fire on lawful security personnel.

After the paperwork was taken care of, he urged CPT K to persuade our chain of command in reconsidering their stance on an issue. Some of our brass told "A" in an earlier meeting that there will be no contracted work. "A" said, "You can’t get people to work for free," and, "Remember that guarding the road to [a different township] is very dangerous. Without contracts, how is a security force going to be sustainable?"  "A" said that many men in [township] are not hostile now, just waiting for jobs. CPT K brought up the red tape, our unit’s financial limitations, and the limitations that the Iraqi government puts on the ability of the US to organize and work on reconstruction projects. With that he concluded the discourse and addressed me.

He asked for more Maalox for his heartburn – simple enough. Then he asked if there was something I could get for his daughter, who is losing her hair in large clumps. I took down a brief history and asked some questions that required him to go inside and speak with his wife and daughter. I told him I would like to see the condition of the scalp and so forth. He went back inside and came out again saying, “I’m sorry but she is embarrassed and with the women now.” I didn't know what he meant by that, and it took a few seconds for his answer to click in as a polite refusal based on cultural differences.  More questions indicated she was 22 years old, presumably unmarried. Had I known that, with their customs, I never would have imposed.  I told him I’d pass the information to my PA (battalion physician), see what he thinks, and try to have any appropriate meds brought to the locale on our next trip out.

"A" reminded us of all of the organizational work he’s provided: in advising us on the right people for reconstruction contracts, to disseminating information to the Iraqi people, and organizing the right kind of people to be part of the local guard groups; and he has provided this without payment. CPT K echoed what great work he’s done to bring security to the area. "A" brought up the issue from a few months ago when, west of Baghdad and not too far from here, a US helicopter killed many civilians. A non-uniformed Iraqi civilian town guardsman in Abu Nasr left his guard post to drink chai with a friend. Seeing a person with weapons out of place, helicopters fired upon them possibly thinking they were part of one of the illegal roadblocks AQI forces like to create.

He said, “To resolve such claims takes much time, much money, and it is a stain on the people’s image of American forces.   But over here, since we have come together, you see that it is quiet. There is not a lot of violence.” "A" was making a valid point: wouldn’t it take more effort, time, and money, in the long run, to pick up the pieces of such events, rather than to expedite the process of turning Iraq into an organized and self-moderated society? If there isn’t a religious bias, than why is the Iraqi government dragging its feet towards its own stability in Sunni areas? He says, “You've come to my house. You see how I live.” He gestures towards the roof. “I still have a metal roof for some parts of my home. But, if you go to the sheiks’s houses, you will see how they live. It’s very different. I am a servant of my people. I don’t do what I do for money. I value my reputation, and it is my duty as an educated man. Even if it’s not recognized by American forces, or by my own people, it’s witnessed by god and that alone is enough.”