A few pictures from J.'s Longest Year...
The team found a makeshift grill and enjoyed steaks left to them by an American Infantry batallion.
The infamous tents - they could reach up to 140 degrees in the heat.
They're kinda neat looking, but really don't offer much protection against anything. Not as formidable as tanks and strykers.
J. loved the Kurds. Most of them are former Peshmerga - Kurdish militia who fought against Saddam & his regime. They've been "scrapping" for years. They're incredibly courageous fighters (even the women fought in the militia). J. worries that the next administration will pull out of Iraq without getting the job done, and these guys will be left to fend for themselves against the many factions in Iraq once again.
Because no photo album of Iraq is complete without camels...
Practice firing weapons with their Kurdish Batallion.
J. practicing w/the batallion.
Notice how far apart the vehicles are in a convoy, lest anyone hit an IED (so as not to get more vehicles and soldiers caught up in the explosion). J. was usually in the first vehicle in a convoy. Nice. (There are some things I'm glad he waited to tell me.)
Pronounced "shake" (not "sheek") - the Team met with elders of the Sunni village they patroled.
One of J's Kurdish friends who spoke English fairly well.
Before boarding for an air assault mission/training.
The Team and their Kurdish batallion spent several weeks with metal detectors and shovels finding and digging up weapons after Operation Swarmer. This was the booty from just one day of digging.
Another Kurdish batallion going home (they trained 4 batallions of Kurdish Iraqi soldiers in their time there).
While J was on R&R, suicide bombers hit one of the Team's checkpoints with a car bomb. This is a sliver of the damage done by one of the Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs).
Car Bomb - The same checkpoint & some of the collateral damage from the car bomb (car pictured, right).
Explosive Ordinance Disposal (bomb squad) teams call these robots Johnny 5s. They were used to help clear the checkpoint of any further explosives.
Expolsive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) soldiers were also sent in to find and destroy any further IEDs (bombs). I can't imagine being the wife of one of these guys.
After training, the Team took the Kurds home to Kurdistan. Unfortunately, they didn't do any of their training here (it would have been safer).
The Kurds gave J and the Team each a traditional Peshmerga (Kurdish militia) uniform.
The Kurds in this area kept their food cold in the river.
The Kurds had a celebration by the river with J's Team. These are "shish" - lamb on sticks (kabobs).