The pullout method

2009.07.07

I received a request recently, regarding some coverage of what is going on in Iraq now that June 30 has come and gone.

First, for those of you who may not follow news in Iraq now that it is not an exciting combat zone, June 30 was the deadline for U.S. troops to pull out of the cities; you know, places like Baghdad and Basra. This is an effort to  give the Iraqis more control of their country and for the U.S. to start to pull out.

Pulling out will be a delicate maneuver. We don’t want to pull out prematurely because we might not leave the Iraqis felling like they got what they needed from us, and if we pull out too slow … well, we could end up giving birth to a whole new insurgency.

However, we have spent a lot of time and effort — thanks to the vision of our godsend General Petraeus — fixing mistakes that were made early on in the war by, first, recognizing this was an insurgency and treating it as such, then putting together low-budget Special Forces teams call MiTTs, PiTTs or NPiTTs — the key being the “TT” which means Transition Teams” — to embed with Iraqi units and train them to be able to protect their own cities.

So far it seems to be working. The Iraqi Security Forces are coming into their own as protectors, and we are pulling out of the cities with a few exception. For example, there was some gerrymandering at a FOB in Baghdad that redrew the city limits around it so it wouldn’t technically be in the city. That, of course, is a story I read a few weeks ago in the Christian Science Monitor, so I haven’t heard if this was for certain. Also, Mosul is a hot spot, so an exception was made there as well according to news reports.

As for how it affects me, I have to pay more attention to my unit’s property. Now that I am out of Basrah, and with my unit in Balad, my role has shifted from news-writer guy to supply monkey. Yes, I feel — and at times look — like Ben Stiller in Zoolander when he was dressed up like a monkey banging his brass symbols while the photographer yelled “Dance Monkey, Dance!”

Along with accounting for my units property, all supply folks are tasked to get ready to move everything out of country. Yes everything. This won’t be an easy feat and it won’t happen overnight. Remember, this war has been going on since 2003 and every unit that came through here brought more gear than they needed because they didn’t know for sure what to expect. And, as a result, a lot of the stuff they didn’t need was left behind and guys like me have to account for it and get it out of here, so we can be good stewards of tax payer dollars. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of shipping containers worth of miscellaneous stuff floating around country. My supply room has multiple fake Christmas trees stuffed into the top shelf in the back corner, as well as an overabundance of office supplies.

It will be quite a task to get everything consolidated, packed and shipped, and one I’m not too worried about because I’m almost out of here. I will get the ball rolling and the next guy will do what he can to keep it moving. Eventually, we will look back and wonder what all the fuss was about. And for now, we’ll keep hoping this war ends soon.

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