War Zone Photos ~ Baghdad
I spent a bit less than three years working in Iraq. While most of my time was spent working out of bases located in the city of Mosul, for a short time I supported operations happening at Abu Ghraib Warehouse. When I’m old and no longer give a shit, I’ll share many, many interesting stories about operations there. In the meantime, enjoy a few photos I took while working in the area of Abu Ghraib and in Baghdad…
Photo of Nigerian Dog Handlers
I really wish the above photo turned out better; it was quite a funny sight to see! I was walking through a particular base one day when I saw all of the men in the photo training with their bomb-sniffing dogs. The skin of the Nigerians was very, very black. With the exception of one, all of their dogs were either brown or black; the other dog was very tiny and very white! I initially told them to line up for a photo with the intent of putting the following caption under it: Which one of these is not like the other? (For you non-Yankee readers, it’s a song and would have been quite a funny caption…guess you’ll have to take my word for it! =)
Kurdish fighter who supported static security operations at The Warehouse
Mosque on the edge of Baghdad
My old boss 'Rick' at The Warehouse
Rick and I became fast friends. I’ll eventually share the story of how he and I initially met in Mosul and when he was riding ‘shotgun’ with me on the night of my first shooting in Iraq. On another particular occasion in Baghdad, while working out of Abu Ghraib, we found ourselves in another hairy situation. We were making a run to Baghdad International Airport with another truck load of guys. Since we were only two trucks, we opted to take the back route into the airport because it was closer to our base, which was located deep in the ‘Red Zone’. Once we arrived at the airport, the guys in the other truck and the man who had been riding our tail gun decided not to return to our base. The truck Rick and I were riding in was armored in the front, but the back of the truck where the crew served weapon (heavy machine gun) was located was quite open and offered very limited protection from projectiles:
Rick and I were riding in a different truck, but this is what the open-back models we were in looked like.
Riding back to our base meant going alone. Should something like an ambush or roadside bomb happen, we would have no backup. In those days, we only had radio communication with our base station when we were within about five miles of our base, and we were quite far from the base. Because we only had the two of us, we were experiencing quite the dilemma.
Normally, in the event the driver of one of our trucks was neutralized by a blast or something else, there would always be another person riding in the front passenger compartment who could move the driver’s body and continue steering the truck in a direction away from any threat. In those days, it was a very poor idea to drive through Baghdad and not have numerous gunners to return fire when the enemy engaged us.
We had two choices: Option 1 – Both ride in the front compartment of the truck, which offered maximum protection from blasts and bullets, but have nobody to ‘return fire’ with our biggest weapon which was located in the back of the truck. Option 2: One of us ride in the back of the truck, which offers minimal protection, and employ the machine gun with hopes that enough ‘suppressive fire’ would result in greatly reduced accuracy by enemy shooters when we became ‘engaged’.
To put was was happening in better perspective: If you were hunting your enemy, would you rather fight one truck that only has one gun, or would you rather fight four trucks that are equipped with 12+ guns/shooters? Of course you’d rather fight the one gun; our situation translated into Rick + HANO + one gun = A very juicy target for the enemy. Never accuse me of exercising good judgement…
I asked Rick, “How many ammo cans do we have left?”
Rick said, “With what we took from the other truck, we have five.”
I said, “Fuck it. I’ll ride the tail gun.”
Off we went.
As we were finally nearing radio contact with our base, I saw one of the most glorious sights I’ve ever seen: Six Armor Group trucks rapidly approaching from the rear! The first three trucks sprinted past us and took positions to our front; the last three took up ‘the rear’, and we were safely escorted back to our base. When we pulled into our compound, one of the Brits from Armor Group yelled, “Are you fucking mad or do you have the biggest pair of balls I’ve ever seen?!” Yes, and yes.
Static Peshmerga guard
Pesh fighting position overlooking a part of Baghdad
One of my favorite Peshmerga in Baghdad
‘Peshmerga’ is a term used by Kurds for armed Kurdish fighters and means ‘Those who face death’. These boys are fighters! One of the main reasons I suspect they are such fierce fighters is because they’ve been struggling for survival, much like the Jews, for centuries. ‘Kurdistan’ is a region of the Middle East with includes parts of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, but Kurdistan is not a sovereign state. Though mainly in the aforementioned countries, their people are spread all over the Middle East and other parts of the world and have been a landless people, much like the Jews were prior to 1948. If you follow the news at all, you’ll remember hearing how they received continual ‘beat downs’ throughout the entire region by all of the countries I mentioned. A brief history lesson…
In the late 80′s, Saddam Hussein used Kurdish village populations to test his chemical and biological weapons, which resulted in the deaths of thousands of Kurds. While this was going on, the world stood by and watched. The primary reason the U.S., AKA The World’s Police Force, did nothing was because of the Iran/Iraq war. At the time, the U.S. was backing Saddam in hopes that a regime change would occur in Iran. Later, when the U.S. decided to launch an invasion to expel Iraq from Kuwait and initially had the intent of ousting Saddam, the Kurds were harnessed as a part of the Yankee war machine to drive into central Iraq from the north. When the U.S. stopped short and elected not to take Baghdad, Saddam killed thousands more of Kurds for having assisted the Yanks.
What does all of this translate into? When I was working in Iraq, I totally enjoyed working alongside the Peshmerga! The Kurds are a people who are sick of being beaten down, pushed around, and gassed. They are fierce fighters when fighting alongside someone who is a part of the Kurdish cause. While working for a particular Kurdish owned operation, I made some friendships that will last a lifetime. They’re similar to the Israelis in this respect; enter into their domain, and they’re a cornered Wolverine.
Iraqi bunker, Baghdad
Neighborhood in Baghdad
War in full swing, kids playing soccer! =)
Entering into Baghdad Internatioal Airport
Me and some Pesh I worked with
The smoke filled truck! The Lebanese fighter I was working with, Vasken, never felt the need to smoke until moments AFTER we started driving. (This truck was fully armored & couldn't didn't have windows that rolled down=)
Pesh tailgunner outside of BIAP
Making the last turn before we head 'home'
While working in Iraq, I first worked for a company headquartered in a country located in Eastern Europe. The next company I worked for was an Iraqi company. Both companies had offices located in downtown Baghdad. We didn’t have the luxury of sleeping in ‘The Green Zone’ controlled by western Armies. Our base was situated inside a residential community in the center of the Red Zone which only had blast barriers surrounding it for protection against suicide bombers. I’ll write more about the companies I worked for at a much later time.
Statue of the first Iraqi who attempted flight!
The above statue is located at the entrance of Baghdad International Airport. Here’s how the story was told to me but in my own words: So this Iraqi decided to be the first man to take flight! He attached hundreds of bird feathers to sticks, tied the sticks to his arms, and trudged up floor after floor of an extremely tall building in Baghdad. With great confidence and exuberance, the wiley inventor leaped off the building top! He SOARED!
to his death. Good initiative, poor judgement. =)
The above photo is actually from Mosul and somehow snuck its way into this album. On one particular day we were halted by Iraqi coppers and soldiers after someone discovered an IED (roadside bomb) along our intended path. We remained in place until the Explosive Ordinance people could do their thing and dismantle the bomb. This sort of thing quickly became not a very big deal because it happened with such great frequency.
Iraqi military along Route Irish
Iraqi military, Baghdad
This view is MUCH better than the opposite!
Sheep herder outside Baghdad
An interesting existance...
Harsh realities ~ A photo worth a thousand words...
I hope all of you have enjoyed a very brief walk through parts of a war zone. If you’re enjoying the blog, be sure and stop by the Hanotales.com ~ tales of a modern day nomad Facebook page and click ‘LIKE’! I post many more photos at the Facebook page as well as travel updates you won’t see here at the blog! =) When you click ‘LIKE’, you’ll automatically receive an update every time I make a new post!