Monday, August 31, 2009

Detainee count is down to 9,000, fewer than 1,000 at Bucca

One of the main jobs of Wisconsin National Guard troops in Iraq is "detainee ops," running military detention camps at camps Bucca, Taji and Cropper.

Under an agreement with Iraq, detainees are being released or turned over to the Iraqi government. Several news agencies are reporting a milestone has been reached.

Fewer than 9,000 detainees remain under U.S. military control, down from 27,000 in 2007, according to a statement released by the military yesterday.
Of those, 3,572 are held at Cropper, 4,585 are at Taji, and 790 are held at Bucca, once the largest detention center in the world. Wisconsin National Guard soldiers have been moving the prisoners out of Bucca.

Iraq officials maintain control over who the U.S. releases from detention camps. U.S. troops are in charge of guarding and transporting detainees, after the Iraq government makes its decision. So it wasn't a reflection on U.S. troops when, in an AP report that came out Sunday, an unnamed Iraqi investigator claimed that the suicide bomber in the deadly Aug. 19 attack on the Iraqi Foreign Ministry in Baghdad had been released from Camp Bucca.

Will the released detainees reignite sectarian fighting? One of the Iraq experts at the Army War College Strategic Studies Institute says much of the answer lies with the Iraq government.

- Steve

photo - A U.S. soldier helps an Iraqi
prisoner disembark from a bus prior to his
release in Baghdad's al-Dora district in April.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I'll take my Iraq trailer over my Kuwait cot

From Nick Druecke at Camp Taji, Iraq, roughly 6,339 miles from home in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.

The bes
t time here would have to be when you get down time. It's always a happy day when you're told just to stay in your room and wait for further instructions, but the instructions never come. That's usually a pretty rare occurrence.

Since we don't get days off, and we're here all year long (minus two weeks of mid-tour leave), stress levels can get pretty high. People you see every day begin to wear on you, tempers get short, and things begin to get murky all around. So days off are awesome.

The worst for me was Kuwait. It's like going on a long vacation, driving all day, and getting a flat tire ten miles away from Disneyland. The flight from Ft. Hood to Kuwait took just under 22 hours of flying, and when you get off the jet after a day of traveling the stress starts to hit. People are cranky, sweaty, and smelly from the jet, and we still have to in-proces
s, and find out where our cots are located. You will be sleeping here for the remainder of your stay, which for us was a month long. It's only supposed to take a week or so.

You're exposed to a whole other world of weather and germs, so everybody gets sick at the same time. The entire company stays in a large tent, and your'e literally sleeping a foot away from a buddy on both sides (which is great for spreading germs). You have a shower trailer outside, and some Porta-Johns, and let me tell you that sitting in a Porta-John when it's 130 degrees isn't a pleasant experience. The chow hall is about half a mile walk away, and its hotter than hell outside.

Oh and don't forget the dust storms, if you've never been in one consider yourself lucky. It's like hurricane force winds, but instead of rain getting blown around it's sand, and it goes everywhere. EVERYWHE
RE! You literally can't see three feet in front of you, and I think there were four or five of them in the time we were there. Iraq isn't nearly that bad, at least once you get settled into your rooms. We were in surge housing for a while, which is pretty much the same thing as the tent in Kuwait. But hey, they don't pay soldiers to stay in hotels, they pay us to fight, and that's what we're doing here.
Live from Iraq,

Suffer the children in the cribs of Camp Taji

From Nick Druecke at Camp Taji, Iraq, roughly 6,339 miles from home in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.

Our living quarters are glorified trailers. I think I already bought this up on a note once, so I'll be brief on this subject. They literally are trailers, three rooms to a trailer, and two men to a room. Unless you're an officer - go figure - the college boys are pampered. They live in larger trailers, only two rooms to a trailer, and one man per room. Suffer the children I suppose.

I would say the rooms I live in are roughly 10' X 10' but you also have to put in two beds (twin), two nightstands (broken), and two closets. So really you only have about three feet of walking room between the two of us. If your roommate is messy, your area is messy. That is unfortunately the case for me, no chance of a change in that department either.
Live from Iraq, Nick

The insanely massive burgers of Camp Taji

Nick Druecke is stationed at Camp Taji, Iraq, 6,339 miles from home in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.

I was born in Waupun hospital, and lived in Beaver Dam for all of my life. My family was split as a result of a divorce I am too young to remember, both of my parents remarried. My mother, Heidi, first to a man named Eric Schoenberger who was in the Army for ten years. My father Lorne Druecke remarried after several years to a woman named Jenni Hart. They are still married today. My mother however passed away not too long ago, I honestly don’t remember the date. Not one of those things you wish to remember, I do remember however that it was shortly before I graduated high school (BD HIGH). I had trouble with that, I began to drink very heavily and only with the help of my friends did I recover. At the time I was working for a small gas station (CENEX) just on the outskirts of town.

After an unsatisfactory month of employment with a satellite TV company, I joined the military on 20 August 2007. My reasoning was the paycheck was steady, and that is about the only thing true to this day about the military. I enlisted as an infantryman and after basic went to Ft. Hood, Tx where I would report to Bravo Co 2/8 CAV and trained with them for the next year in preparation for their next deployment. Shortly before we deployed our platoon was selected to become part of a new unit called 'blues platoon', which is a big deal in Cav history. The last time this unit was around was in Vietnam. If you've ever seen 'We Were Soldiers,' it’s the same basic principle. I'll let you do your own research on that one, but to the big brass this was pretty huge.

So we moved units and became part of Fox Troop (FELONS) 3/227 Attack Helicopter Battalion. We had a train up and deployed to Iraq in late April.

To be continued.

- Nick