Ok, so a couple of people have asked me….What’s it like to “do what you do” and travel to the Middle East. Well, I thought I’d answer, but in our little corner of cyberspace (thanks AJ).
Anyway, for those of you who don’t know, I’ve done four deployments to Iraq since 2006. In 2006 I was assigned to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force (CJSOTF), Al Anbar Province (Fallujah/Ramadi/Sunni Triangle) as a law enforcement liaison for the SOCOM. If you know anything about Al Anbar Province in mid-late 2006–it was not a pleasant place to be.
I didn’t deploy in 2007 because my son was born, but in February 2008 I was assigned to the Counterinsurgency Operations Group (COIN) at Camp Bucca, Iraq..essentially operating in the prison at Camp Bucca, which is right at the port of Um Qasr, just south of Basrah. Due to the outbreak of violence in Basrah, and the subsequent desertion of most of the Iraqi Police in Basrah, I was reassigned halfway through to train and advise Iraqi Police Investigators. Again, my timing was impeccable as I landed in a hot zone and stayed there until I left.
In 2009 I was deployed as the NCIS Supervisor over our Criminal Investigative Office (NCISRA Iraq) at Al Asad Air Base, Al Anbar Province. Al Asad is a huge sprawling Air Base that is larger in square mileage than the state of Rhode IslandBy 2009 Iraq had really cooled off….and as a supervisor I was stuck behind a desk, so it was a little slower than I was used to. My guys were hopping and busy, but in true “boss” form, I was tied to a computer and a phone. Good experience for me though. At any rate, they didn’t call Al Asad “Camp Cupcake” for nothing, so I was comfortable.
Last year, I was assigned as the Special Agent In Charge for the Joint Counterintelligence Unit Iraq, South, again at Camp Bucca. Much different experience for me at Camp Bucca this time around, as I was the supervisor of a very critical US Forces Command. I was responsible for about 65 people, including our Texas National Guard security detail (love those guys). As far as what we did…..well…..you know the line…LOL
So that’s some background. As luck would have it, except for 2008, I found myself deployed right through the summer. In Iraq, they turn the furnace on right about mid April, and it stays on until Late Septemeber, Early October—with some notable exceptions—but suffice it to say I experienced Iraqi weather from blistering (and I can’t even describe it in words) heat to freezing (literally) cold……
I got to do some really cool stuff…..and from the looks of my pictures lost a few pounds along the way (go figure). I started out knowing literally nothing, I mean, I was a SWAT guy at my police department, but it had been a while, and Iraq was a whole different ball game than anything I was used to as a cop—and I had to learn on the fly, quick fast and in a hurry in 2006….
So hang on and give me some time to get into this, as it will take a bit—but I’ll try to keep it short if I can. I have a bunch of pictures, especially of my later deployments…I failed to recognize the significance of 2006, and in 2008 my camera was….destroyed…so I lost a memory card with some stuff on it. I like pictures (you know “Grog no read. Show Grog pictures”), so I’ll put them out there.
Now before you hit the ground running—you have to learn some basic stuff….in other words, you get to training.