Joe Ryan Abu Ghraib diary April 2004

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These are the April 11th through to April 26th entries from Joe Ryan's diary, a private interrogator employed by CACI International at Abu Ghraib prison. Shortly after the last entry was made, the diary was removed from the website.

This copy of the April entries was obtained from [1], which itself was originally retrieved from the Google cache. The diary was originally located in the cache by a reader of the left-leaning blog Whiskey Bar [2].

According to the Washington Post [3], Ryan offered the following reason for stopping his diary in an email to a producer at KSTP: "I'll not be sending my diary out any more because of the allegations being spread through the media. I will keep my diary and maybe someday the truth of what is and has gone on here will surface".

The April 11th to April 26th entries

26 April 2004

It was hot today! We flirted with triple digit heat for the first time this year and without a breeze, you can sure feel it! Things are also heating up in Al Fallujah. We are right on the flight path for the air support to the 1st Marines out there so we get to see all the different sleighs delivering packages to the bad boys. There were some intense firefights in Al Fallujah today and it will only get more intense. The fighters and Imams of mosques have now realized that if you shoot from a mosque, we flatten it. We have been leaving mosques alone and still do, but the rule is that if gunfire comes from a mosque or fighters retreat into a mosque, it is no longer a place of worship and is a combat zone. We just eliminated a huge group of safe houses for these fighters.

I was at work until 3:30 in the morning because we got a hold of some intelligence to directly support the Marines out in Al Fallujah. This is the stuff I have been spearheading with three other tiger teams working on it with me. (A tiger team consists of an interrogator and an intelligence analyst.) The Marines wanted to hit one of the houses I had reported on, but wanted more information. I went back in on the guy who gave me the initial information and he pinpointed the spot for me on a map. I am hoping to go into work and find out that they caught the target. Results like that make us feel great here because we are directly supporting the live mission on the ground.

Here in Iraq, one or two of the television stations are running again. The newspapers are in full swing again as well, but mainly only in the Baghdad area. This limits the messages that we can get out to the people since it is only for a small portion of the country. Information distribution in a country like this is tough. There are many places that do not have radios or televisions so it makes it tough to get the truth out.

I am sure looking forward to my first R&R. I will be leaving out of the prison on 10 May in order to catch my flight in Kuwait on the 14th of May. I will get to enjoy 12 days at home and see my son, my wonderful wife, and my newborn son. I probably will not sleep much so I can maximize my time at home.

25 April 2004

One thing I forgot to mention about yesterday; it got dark earlier than normal. This was due to a sandstorm that blocked out the sun. It was quite amazing that a wind storm filled with dirt can make it dark as night. It also makes it difficult to breath, even through masks.

The best thing today was that our Iraqi cleaners reopened. Finally, my clothes will be clean and not stained like what we get from the Brown and Root service.

Today was a short day. There were six of us that had to come in early and conduct long interrogations to ensure that certain detainees were only able to be seen, but not talked to. The Iraqi Governing Council came and looked through our mirrors into the booths to see some of the foreign fighters we have detained. They wanted to talk to them and film to show the international media, but we refused, due to not being able to interrupt interrogations. They were much more patient than we thought they would be so they tried to wait us out. Five and a half hours in the booth was a long time, but we finally outlasted them. The IGC left with only the satisfaction that we have foreign fighters from Morocco, Syria, Jordan, and other countries detained here. To be clear, they are not sponsored by their respective countries to come here, but it is due to their individual choices, be it religious or stupidity.

I got to take the rest of the day off after our long booth time. This gave us a nice evening after dinner to head to the roof and play a round of golf. Scott Norman, Jeff Mouton, Steve Hattabaugh, Steve Stefanowicz, and I all took turns trying to hit balls over the back wall and onto the highway. Since the club is a left handed 3 iron, I had an unfair advantage and missed a dump truck by only about ten feet. Not bad since the highway is about 220 yards. We do what we can to make it fun here.

23-24 April 2004

The LRS guys have started Friday Night Fights over here. A lot of the soldiers and Marines are getting into it. They have the padded sparring equipment and have had a blast setting up bouts and have even begun a ranking chart. The LRS guys do some warm up training out on our volleyball court, so we enjoy watching these young guys goof around while we relax on the porch.

Work is continuing to be brutally time consuming. I got home at 6:00am in the morning on the 24th and went right back to work at 1:00pm. I made it home tonight at a nice early 1:00am and have an entire 12 hours off. We have the Iraqi Governing Council showing up here tomorrow because someone told them that we have Syrian detainees here that were caught in Iraq. They are coming up here with news cameras and stuff, but they will not get a chance to talk to them because we will be interrogating them while they are here. We are pushing hard to get everything we can out of these guys because the situation in Al Fallujah is going to boil over shortly and we know it is due to the foreign fighters that have moved into the city.

It is becoming more obvious to the troops here as well as the Iraqi people that a lot of the problems here are directly caused by foreigners. This is not deterring the Coalition Forces and is slowly turning the populous against these foreign fighters. Iraqi Police are even starting to take action.

Time for sleep before another long day. I will be taking the rest of the day off after our Syrian interviews.

22 April 2004

I sure miss normal food. I look forward to going home and cooking whatever I feel like and hitting the grocery store and seeing the stocked shelves and wonderful fresh steaks! When I go home in May for 10 days, I will probably not sleep between spending time with family, eating, showering in a real shower, and using a toilet that actually flushes and does not have flies everywhere.

The mosquitoes are not bad here by Minnesota standards. Although they are heartier, they are not nearly as numerous. The flies on the other hand, are more populous here than people in China. The heat has really brought out the flies. It was windy today, enough to pick up small rocks and we had to wear our goggles whenever we went outside. You learn quickly why the Arabs wear Shamack wraps around their faces and heads.

Well, the terrorist are doing a good job of showing that they have no regard for life and are just as happy to kill innocent civilians and children as soldiers. The Basra attacks have marginally worked to our favor. It was a blatant attack against the civilian populous without regard as to who the victims were. I say this is only marginally to our favor because we are being blamed for not protecting the people of Iraq properly. My source told me that before we came here, the borders were controlled and there were never any bombing attacks like this in Iraq until the Americans arrived here. Another point is that we can call our being here anything we want, but "liberating force" is only a political name. We are an "occupying force" in the eyes of the Iraqi people and you cannot tell them otherwise because they are not conditioned to play to political spin like Americans are. There is nothing wrong with being an occupying force; that is what we were in Germany and Japan. As lon g as we can continue to make progress in rebuilding the infrastructure such as the power plants, we will prevail. I know that sounds like a weird objective, but envision your life without electricity or flushing toilets. Basic things we take for granted, but are essential to our standard of living. We have the ability to bring the people normalcy, it will just take time. We take steps each day, just sometimes we have to take one backwards due to the foreign fighters and insurgents.

It has been a long week at work and I will be taking tomorrow off. Scott Norman and I have been putting together the results of the interrogations from our recent guests. Scott has been putting together great association matrixes and I put together a smart book outlining all the intelligence gathered on this particular group to date. The Marines loved it and our stuff was 90% of their presentation to their Commanding General yesterday. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to put together stuff that helps the troops on the ground.

21 April 2004

We have been working hard on an intelligence project for the Al Fallujah area. We would probably be a lot further along if there was some support from Captain Todl. He is the Marine captain out there that wants all of our information post haste, but will not release any information they are getting so we can put the whole picture together. The Marines here are a fantastic bunch of guys and I am sure the average Marine in 1st Marine Division in Al Fallujah is great. I am just singling out one of the intelligence guys because he is our point of contact and an inept one at that. Scott and I put together an analyst package consisting of detailed association matrixes and interrogation highlights to put these guys all together. The command was thrilled and once again the CACI folks have set a high standard for the young soldiers to follow. Specialist Spencer overheard me saying one of the names. About ten minutes later, she came over with some information from one of her interrogat ions a week ago and we found a link. It is fun to see the excitement in the room when stuff like this happens. It is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle without the picture, so when you get pieces to fit, it is great.

It is getting hot over here, at least for my Minnesota blood. The heat is not too bad when there is a breeze, but when there is no wind like today, the sun beats pretty hard. The rain from the other day briefly kept the dust down, but it blows around even without the slightest breeze.

The tenuous peace agreement in Al Fallujah will not last. The Mujahideen foreign fighters will not allow that. Although there are not many of them compared to the population of the area, they are well armed and dedicated to keeping Iraq unstable. Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Iran, all border countries, do not want to see a stable Iraq; especially one that is on good terms with the United States. Just as South Korea is known as the fulcrum of the east, Iraq is the fulcrum here. If we have good relations with Iraq, the countries that surround it will have to behave because the world's only superpower, us, will be here.

20 April 2004

Nine mortars today...while I was in the shower. Not exactly the favorite place to be. I finished showering, cleaned up and came strolling out. The mortars were over by that time and the army folks that I work with were at their main bay doing accountability. They all started laughing because they were all in their gear and I came out in flip flops and shorts. Then we got the news. Five of the mortars landed in Ganci, one of the two detainee camps. Initial reports were 21 dead, 31 critically injured and another 60 plus injured. No Americans were injured or killed. All casualties were detainees. It is disturbing that Al Jazeera had the article typed and on their web site less than thirty minutes after the attack. I am tired of a "news" service being on location every time Americans are attacked. Nobody can tell me that Al Jazeera is not intertwined with these insurgent groups. The insurgents are trying to accomplish two things with these attacks; first, to draw attention to our f acility and be able to say that we cannot protect the detainees and secondly to try and incite the detainees to try and riot and overrun the prison.

I ask that everyone say a prayer or two over the next 48 hours for PFC Keith Maupin, KBR employee Thomas Hamill, and for the Marines in our area. God willing, all three will make the media and give a good story to report for a change. Enough said about that.

Work is fast and furious, but we are more productive right now than we have been since I have been here. Some intelligence things are really coming together and could shift a few things to our advantage, at least west and north of Baghdad. The Al Fallujah situation is being guided by results from the intelligence gleaned from here as well as at their division cage. We are making progress on rooting out foreign fighters as well as those individuals that are helping/hiding them.

Christine Chaney is another of our three CACI females here. She left the army last fall and was actually in the 202nd MI BN that we are working with here. Christine is tall like my sister-in-law, so my posture always improves like when I am around my sister-in-law. She also was in Afghanistan last year with the 202nd and is a fluent Farsi and Pashto linguist in addition to being an experienced interrogator. It is impressive because the three women we have here are all former army and hard chargers. They are more professional and tougher than most of the female soldiers here.

19 April 2004

Today we had to make a run to BIAP/Camp Victory. Since we have gotten in good with the LRS guys, they loaned us an up-armored Hummer to make the run. The Marines who serve and the convoy escorts/big guns, were teasing us because Scott and I have been very resourceful in our networking and are better armed than the average traveling vehicle. The trip down and back was thankfully uneventful. Of course, the two Hueys and the Cobra gun ship that were flying up and down the highway helped as did the Bradley fighting vehicles staged every quarter mile. It was probably the safest trip we have made with the firepower on the road. It is too bad that the army was not proactive and set up the extensive security before the attacks over the last couple of weeks. The road looked like a scene from a Mad Max movie. There were six fuel tanker trucks along the road that were burned out hulls. One of them was actually still burning this morning. Since they were filled with JP-8, the military ve rsion of diesel, they only burned and did not explode. On the return trip, the highway had a crater in it that eliminated the road from the right shoulder, through two lanes and was 30 yards long and two feet deep.

While down at BIAP, we stocked up on supplies for everyone here since we are not planning on making another trip down there for at least a month. To look after the guys here, I decided to buy Whoppers at the Burger King for everyone. I came back with 40 Whoppers with cheese. No CACI people ate at the chow hall tonight. It felt good to do that for the guys and it was well received, at least I think it was, the burgers only lasted about 15 minutes.

I learned two things at work tonight. Pigeons only mate for about five seconds and interesting insight about Al Fallujah. Ok, I better explain this. Christine, Dion and I were sitting outside in the break area at work and two pigeons landed on the MP guard tower directly in front of us. This went Nature Channel gone awry, but funny to see in the middle of a combat zone. It also gave us something to joke about the rest of the night. On the more serious subject, I spoke at length with one of my detainees about Al Fallujah. He explained that the people of Al Fallujah were not favored during Saddam's regime. Saddam kept the area under control by brute force and paying off the tribal leaders. Since the fall of the regime, Al Fallujah has been a hotbed for foreign elements funneling into Iraq to cause trouble. I asked him how many foreign fighters he thought there were in Al Fallujah and his answer was simple, "too many." He expounded by saying, "many of the people in Al Fallujah j ust want to try and make a life for themselves and their families, but these foreign fighters are ruining it for them."

On the trek back through the mud from work tonight (it rained just enough to make the dust into molasses), we watched eight 5-ton trucks roll in with detainees loaded in them. By the look of the vehicles, I think they were from the Marines in Al Fallujah. This will mean that we will probably be pulling long shifts for a while now.

18 April 2004

Today has been a tough day of fighting in a few places here. Down south, Sadr's followers have launched an offensive that is being repelled. Over on the Syrian border, the Marines got hit by foreign fighters in Husaybah. Yes, I know these are headlines. The fact is that these are two locations in a country the size of California and population of 25 million. Remember that when you hear the news. How many people protest in America each day? How many shootings occur each day in America? Sadr has been living and getting supplied by Iran for the last eight years. His financial support is estimated to be in the millions of US dollars. I will bet a paycheck with anyone that the 150 fighters that set up the ambush along the Syrian border were Syrian Mujahideen fighters.

Here is a little background on each and their psychological mindset of tactics:

Al Sadr's people are Shiites that are aligned with the Iranian Shiite extremist movement. They do not represent the majority of the Shiites. The Syrian Mujahideen fighters are jihadists, plain and simple. These are people that are recruited specifically to kill us infidels in the name of their Allah. Not the same Allah most Islamic people pray to. The strategy of these people is to try and cause an uprising among the people in Iraq. They do not have the numbers to mount a serious or sustained resistance, but are hopeful that they can gain support from the populous. Considering Al Sadr's militia attacked at the same time as the Syrian fighters attacked on the other border, I cannot believe that the Iranian network and Syrian network did not coordinate it. I am proud of the Marines that fought out west today. They were ambushed by a sizable force and 14 hours of fighting later, crushed the ambush and suffered minimal losses. I do not mean to minimize the loss of five Americans , but considering they rolled into an ambush, we were fortunate. The tactic of an ambush is designed for a small force to be able to engage and incapacitate a larger force. Those Marines were outnumbered and prevailed in a serious statistical advantage.

Many Iraqis would just like to see stability. They have been involved in three major conflicts in the last 13 years and would like to live their lives without war. As such, the intelligence network that started with no sources in Iraq, grows daily from Iraqis supporting what the coalition forces are doing. This does not get reported because it might suggest that we are making progress and does not have shock value for sound bites.

Pay attention over the next few days. There will be some changes over here and we may be showing our "big stick."

17 April 2004

I wanted to kill Scott Norman and Meyer Gilbert this morning. We have been getting up every morning to go work-out. Usually, I am waking Scott up. This morning, after the two long nights I have had in a row, I decided to skip this morning. They would have none of that and pounded on my door until I got up. When I opened the door, there they were, Meyer standing there with his usual friendly smile, and Scott with his smirk of vengeance. I ended up getting up and working out, but am paying the price for not getting enough sleep. At least tonight should be a decent night for sleep.

My smuggler friend just keeps on talking. I have nick-named him Han Solo since he is a smuggler extraordinaire. I have received information regarding the entire network from start to finish on how foreign fighters are coming into Iraq; who is paying for it; how they communicate; how they get their weapons once here; and how they move to their target locations. This will never make the papers, but it sure is exciting to know the information.

The air and weather was nice today. That little bit of rain that took the dirt out of the air really made it nice to breath again. Although the temps are starting to rise, the breeze is making is quite nice. We have all of our Iraqi national workers back here except for the dry cleaners. They apparently tried to return a couple of days ago, but their car got shot up in Baghdad so they do not have any means of transportation right now.

Meyer Gilbert is an analyst here. He spent several years as a police investigator and just got done serving a year in Kosovo working for the UN. He is definitely from the south with his accent and is a regular at Rico's Tanning Salon on the roof. Meyer brings some great insight to the analysis of information from a criminal investigation standpoint which is so unlike the military analysts.

Time to enjoy some sleep.

16 April 2004

Today it rained mud. Can this place be any more undesirable? For those of you that have been seeing the pictures circulating the internet of the camel spiders, yes, we have had a couple here and they are the ugliest things I have ever seen. Fortunately we have not had any near our living area.

Don Simpson, one of my roommates when I first got here, is deathly afraid of camel spiders. He hates bugs in general so it is hilarious because we keep telling him one of these things is going to crawl into bed with him one night. He is one of the three members of the "lollipop guild" due to his lack of height. Don is retired from the Air Force and is a great guy who will do anything to help. The LRS guys took care of getting him to BIAP so he could fly out on R&R a week ago. They received small arms fire all the way down and were shooting back the whole way. Don was sitting in the middle of the HUMMER loading M-16 magazines faster than the LRS guys could shoot the rounds. Don is an analyst here and a darn good one. He just transferred to work with the British guys we have here and is doing the analytical work for three of them.

I worked the guy from the Ar Ramadi area again tonight. I got home about 3:00am after writing reports and putting together the associations with the others in his group. It was great because my guy knows where the forged citizenship papers are made and by who and the real names and origins of the other detainees captured with him. It is hard for the other guys to lie when I already know all about their backgrounds, but they sure are trying.

We watched the Al Jazeera footage of the two American soldiers that are being held hostage. CW3 Dan Adkins said to the television, "kill 1,000 for every hostage killed. No need to discriminate either." We know they were captured right down the road from our location. We also know they are still in the general area. The first thing that needs to happen is to stake every Al Jazeera reporter in the middle of the desert and let the buzzards have them. This probably would not work since the buzzards would not touch them due to professional courtesy. Al Jazeera is known to work with and pay international terrorist groups for the "privilege" of filming their activities. It is also the largest Arab media source in the world. SFC Paul Edwards put some perspective on it when he said, "I would rather see them as hostages, than what we saw in Al Fallujah a few weeks ago." I concur.

The fact is we are not seeing resistance from Sunni Iraqis in our area. It is foreign elements coming in for a big push to try and get us to turn tail and run like we did in Somalia. In fact, they cannot figure out why we have done so yet. Down south, it is similar, but there are Iraqis involved as well. These are the Shiite Iraqis that are more loyal to Iran than they are to Iraq. It is important to remember that the Middle East is similar to Africa in that geopolitical boundaries mean nothing. Tribal and religious sect structure and power are much more important. Also, some of the rivalries among the tribes and/or religious sects date back hundreds if not thousands of years.

15 April 2004

What a long day today was. I did not make the mile trek back to my prison cell in the dark until 4:30 this morning. I was tasked with a new detainee that we just received from Ar Ramadi, which is a sister city just west of Al Fallujah. This guy is my age and has a background in smuggling stuff into Iraq from Syria. It actually did not take long to get him talking, the problem was how much information he had. I would give anything to make the information I received last night public. The support for what we are doing would be unbelievable. Sometimes it is frustrating knowing the truth, but not being able to freely share it. There is good reason for classifying material, but at the same time, it would be nice to rub a few faces in some of this information. We are starting to get some of the people detained by the Marines. Not all of them are from Iraq either. We should really start getting some interesting intelligence now.

Some of the foreign nationals have returned to post to resume their jobs, but not all yet. I am hoping the guys that own the little dry cleaner come back soon. It is nice being able to get laundry done same day and not have to do it on my little bit of down time.

Berryl Jackson is one of the three females we have here. She is a retired Chief Warrant Officer 3. To show you what a small world it is, she was my interrogation instructor when I went through the school 13 years ago. BJ is from Costa Rica originally and is a real character. She sometimes forgets that she is no longer in the military and is not in charge of the soldiers that she works with, but she is a wealth of knowledge and one heck of an interrogator. She is going to be heading to the 1st Cavalry Division cage at Camp Victory in another week or so to work there.

It has been announced that several units that are over here are staying longer than their original year. We already had the MI people extended here, but now they are extending other active duty units such as the 1st Armored Division for at least three months. It is difficult on the families, but the troops as a whole know that they are needed and have a job to do. Most soldiers that are on active duty recognize that this is what the military is all about and being deployed means doing your job. It is also the price we pay for downsizing the military and then truly needing it.

The weather here has been weird. It was in the mid 90s today, but there was a breeze and it was overcast. I learned that the overcast look was indeed not clouds, rather dust in the air and one of the interpreters was telling me to wait until it rains a little because then little droplets of mud come down. Hopefully the wind will carry this stuff east and dump it on Iran, not us.

13 April 2004

The June 30th transition of power to the Iraqi people is a convoluted topic. On June 30th, the provisional Iraqi government will take control of Iraq from a governing standpoint. The coalition forces will continue to be responsible for security and maintaining peace. The government will be responsible for their infrastructure, economics, government, legal system, etc., with our assistance as needed. We of course will assist in making a free election possible, but it will be up to the provisional government to decide exactly how they will want to proceed. Part of these standards are written within the constitution that was passed several weeks ago.

Now here is the blunt version; with a government in place, Iraq qualifies to appeal to the world bank for financial aid and other world relief organizations for grants, loans, etc. this will lighten the financial burden for the coalition forces, namely the United States. Besides this, nothing will change over here from the perspective of the soldier.

Yesterday when the LRS guys went out, LTC Edwards insisted on going on their patrol. He is the MI Battalion Commander and not well liked or respected by anyone on this post. The LTC and his driver did not see fit to actually go to the mission briefs prior to rolling out. A blocking position was set up on one of the overpasses and when a vehicle approached, the LTC's driver opened fire without provocation. As such, the LRS guys, upon hearing fire, traversed and opened fire as well. The Rules of Engagement are that no warning shots are fired. You either fire at a known threat, or do not fire at all. This is established so your fellow soldiers can immediately lay down suppressive fire upon hearing shots fired. Fortunately, they did not kill the driver of the vehicle, only wounded him. His truck is completely uselessthough. The poor Iraqi was treated by our medical staff and then LTC Edwards made the LRS take the guy back to his home with one of the vehicles from on our compound , plus $500. Now LTC Edwards is downgraded to despised and a joke.

"Wild" Bill Armstrong is one of our interrogators. He and I are both in the Force Protection section. Bill is married with five kids and a devout Christian, father, and husband. He arrived here two weeks before I did. Bill knows interrogation and reporting doctrine better than anyone here. Of course it was his career in the army and now he teaches at the school house in Arizona when he is not over here playing in the sand. I see Bill and know there are some incredible people in America. Here is a man who has already served in the military for 22 years, has a bunch of children, good job, and decides that he is needed over here so heads over to contribute. Politically, Bill makes Rush Limbaugh look like a flaming liberal by comparison. He is also leaving here after his R&R and will become the division cage site lead out in Fallujah.

12 April 2004

I want to start telling you about the people I live with, so each day, I will talk about one person in addition to the daily happenings.

Todd Preston is a retired Navy diver who spent the majority of his career in the Marine Corps. He is here as an analyst and sends me daily clips about Special Forces activities via secure e-mail. We call him Hugh Heffner because out of the 1900 or so men here, he is the only one with a bathrobe. It is also a white terry cloth that really should have a little longer hem line. Todd still runs every day to the behest of the military because he does it without his body armor on. Personally, he reminds me of Gunny Highway (Clint Eastwood's character) from the movie Heartbreak Ridge.

There continues to be fighting around us. I heard from Brent Jones last night. He is the division cage team lead for CACI down at BIAP with the 1st Cavalry Division. They were in the chow hall down there and received incoming small arms fire in the area. Everyone was hunkered down in the chow hall while the insurgents from the Mahdi Army (Al Sadr's group) were dealt with. They apparently tried to infiltrate Camp Victory and BIAP in several places yesterday. Fortunately, most places they tried to infiltrate, they were caught as they were entering. A few others got in, but did not make it too far. Word of advise, do not try and break in to a place where there are US soldiers all carrying weapons and ammunition, it can be bad for your health.

The Mahdi Army is the militant wing of the Shiites in the south. Many of their fighters are either Iranian or Iraqis who have been living in Iran for the last several years, hiding from Saddam. Al Sadr, the guy who just made our most wanted list over here, is their leader. He is a bad egg. He lived in Iran for about eight years to avoid Saddam and also build up an insurgent force. He is a radical who had his father and brother killed so he could ascend to power faster. Al Sadr is only about 26 years old. He does not represent the Shiite population in Iraq and Sistani, the unofficial Shiite leader, does not get along with Al Sadr. Of course, the reason Sistani has so much power within the Shiite community is that he kissed up to Saddam so that he could keep the power down south. Neither man is worthy to be considered to lead Iraq, however, Sistani is the one who really wants it. That would be a big mistake.

We received some incoming weapons fire tonight, but since these people shooting at us are not very good at math, they could not figure out that if you shoot up to clear an 18 foot wall, the bullets will not fall inside the compound. The towers fired back and it was all over in about a minute. It was kind of cool to see the red tracers about 100 feet in the air. I guess it was an early 4th of July.

Work has gone really well the last two weeks. Tonight was the first night that I did not actually get reportable information from a source. The nice thing is that means an early night.

11 April 2004

The hostage situation was one that we have been receiving reports on for the last month or so as one of their tactics. Fortunately, they have not been repeating the Somalia Scenario with the hostages. It is difficult to see contractors taken hostage, especially since there are in the neighborhood of 50,000 contractors over here supporting the cause. Tom Hamill, the KBR driver that was taken was en-route to our location with a fuel supply. I never saw him, but some of our guys recognized him from prior trips with other supplies. We pray for his safety and hope that the Special Forces elements working our area find him and bring him home.

Our LRS guys went on a road clearing mission again today. More than 8,000 rounds of ammunition were expended on their little excursion and the only casualty for the LRS was one of their guys received a grazing on his arm from a bullet that only required a band-aid. He did not even realize that he was hurt until they got back. Things outside are pretty hot in this area especially since the cease fire in Fallujah. Since we are only 12 miles away, they are hitting this area since the main supply route passes right in front of our compound. We are still enjoying not being attacked directly, but it is all around out facility.

Today a battalion commander was wounded on a convoy right outside our walls and the Apache gunship that crashed was only a few hundred meters from our wall. It is somewhat surreal to see the fighting all around and we feel like we are on an island within it all. Every convoy that is coming in and out of here is receiving resistance. The convoy returning from Camp Victory today was hit. The vehicle that was hit carried the mail for our compound and apparently some of it was damaged; worse, one of the Marines pulling security for the convoy was seriously wounded.

These pockets of fighting are fairly intense, but are being dealt with. I am optimistic that this will not last more than another week or two. I know that one of the things that is being reported back home is how taxing this mission has been on the military; active duty, reserves, and guard. It is important to remember that 10 years ago we had a lot more active duty forces, but a prior administration made downsizing the military a priority. As such, we pay the price now. Yes, this is taxing, but the vast majority of the forces over here are supportive of why we are here and know we are doing the right thing.

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