Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sights and smells on the Iraqi side of Camp Taji

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

Sorry about not posting in a while, we have been just busy enough to keep me from doing anything for long periods of time. Camp Taji is divided in two. The american side is by far the smaller portion, but even so its roughly the size of juneau. The Iraqi side is huge, but its also pretty spread out.

On the American side there is an order to things, we established the camp in a matter of years, so things were all pretty much laid out in a sense able manner. Entrance and exit is strictly controlled by armed guards. There are concrete barriers almost everywhere, there to protect us from mortar rounds and the like. Also there is gravel everywhere to help cut down on the dust during the summer, and the trash is kept to a minimum.

The Iraqi side is the complete opposite.
After passing an entry control point filled with armed guards, a series speed bumps, stop signs, detainee areas and more concrete, you enter what I call 'the dark side.' The roads are a nightmare, filled with pot holes and small fissures. Also road signs are a rarity, there is one speed limit sign to be seen (50 k.p.h.) which nobody obeys. You could be flying down those roads and somebody will always be trying to pass you, as there are no traffic lanes. More often than not you will see a truck with an obscene amount of Iraqi's going down the road. In an average pick-up there will be upwards of 12 crammed in there. Also all of the road signs are in arabic, so unless you know where your going your in trouble.

Trash is everywhere, as the only waste disposal system is the american's. So you will see holes, and trenches dug and filled to the brim with trash and stagnant water, the smell is almost unbearable. Although I haven't seen it yet, I am quite sure from the smell of it that these trenches are also used as makeshift bathrooms. Just about everything is falling apart or just about broken, yet somehow they make it work. The Iraqi army unit we help out here is friendly towards us, always offering us food or chai.

There is no doubt that they have a long ways to go, we are helping them as much as we can without doing things for them. Our role is disappearing however, as more and more troops are reduced. While I have surely gotten an experience out of my time in the army, I do not wish to return to this place ever again.

Live from Iraq,