Saturday, September 13, 2008

Iraq, when I left, we were winning

Article by recently retired Ltc John Hagl.

Link here to the article

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

They fought and died for our freedom, but all we ended up with was free dumb.

1. The Tomb of the Unknown needs some replacement marble.
2. Man buys some replacement marble from the same quarry used to get original.
3. Man offers the piece of marble to the government.
4. Government says, "No thank-you, your price is way too low"
5. I make fun of government.

Anyway, read the article

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Big Noize

Tongiht we all here at FOB Falcon got a special treat. The band Big Noize (Joe Lynn Turner of Rainbow and Deep Purple, Carlos Cavaso of Quiet Riot, Phil Soussan of Ozzies band, and Simon Wright on drums on load from ACDC played for almost two hours in a free concert. Those old bastards can still pump out the rock! The youngest member of the band is 53 and the oldest is 63 now. I don't know what it says for me that I knew the words to all their songs....but hey. I got some great photos and video. I will post some of the video as soon as I can shrink it to a size that will upload in something less than three months, but to tide you over here is a pic of Carlos Cavaso in a true guitar hero pose!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

One Loyal reader has stepped up to the plate!

Hmmmm, that worked so well maybe I oughta try for the motorcycle next.......


Your camera kit is on its way. I went with a 28-70 zoom to give you a bit more flexibility, but if you need the 50mm 1.7 for low light I can get one your way. I did not get a flash, but you are all set with everything else you need. I would have gotten you a nice Minolta like mine, but the eBay purchase and sending it out for cleaning and adjustment would have taken some time. Is there a film lab in Iraq? I photographer I know in Afghanistan brought his film gear and had to go digital as the none of the posts have a lab anymore. He is a Chaplain.

Same-o, same-o here. I did manage a day at Oshkosh this year. It was incredible. I have a shot of a F22, P38, and a P51 flying in formation. If I send you pics, how should I size them? Will under 300k file size work? My next major photo jaunt will be the WW2 days at the museum next month. I made some nice snaps earlier in the year and am planning on presenting them to the units when I attend. My friend Mike has me suckered into being a photographer at On the Waterfront next weekend, so that might be interesting. We just got back from New Orleans where we went for a Shaklee convention. The town would have been a blast if I was 15 years younger and single, but I cannot recommend it as a destination if you have kids along.

I do check your blog for updates. I hope you are doing well and give my best to your family.

Good luck with the camera!

Lance Eldridge

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Buy Me a Camera

You know, I have always liked taking pictures, and when I deployed here to Iraq I came with two cameras, a Jazz Elite HD digital cam-corder, and an Olympus 8808 8.1 MP point and shoot. I have taken literally hundreds of pictures since I came here and the only reason I do not post more here is the sadly slow bandwidth that I am forced to deal with (damn this war!). Anyway, I have been looking at FILM SLRs online and while they have radically dropped in price, i am trying to save my money for more important things, namely, a Motorcycle. So I have decided that YOU, the reader will have the honour (note the Brit spelling) of buying and sending me one! Click on the link below to purchase and send me a Vivitar 35mm manual SLR! My address is in a previous post, so go hunting for it. The person who ponies up and sends me one will receive an autographed picture guaranteed taken on the camera you send me! Make sure to give me your address!!!!!!

Link to Amazon

Is the Iraq War Winding Down

Gosh I sure hope so But not until I have saved for my Harley.

Time Magazine Article

Command And Staff

Here we go another attempt to keep my postings up. Today my Blog was linked to by.....another blog! Nice to know my readership is still up there! A couple more and I'll be able to retire off of the money google ads are making me. I have been doing this blog thing for a year now and made $6.55! Most of that in the last two months, Who'd have thought this Iraq thing could be so interesting? Please don't feel obligated to click on the ads at all, but I am saving up to buy a Harley when I redeploy (mid-life crisis thingy I guess).

Well on to WHAT I DID TODAY. Right now I am sitting on the back ramp of an MRAP (I told you to look it up) in the parking lot of a National Police Battalion headquarters somewhere in Baghdad. Our team chief, the Major is trying real hard to get the Iraqi battalion leadership to be as excited about his project, adviser wise, as he is. His idea is that they hold a "Command and Staff" meeting once a week. Now this is a grand tradition in our Army, because we have learned over two centuries of mostly kicking ass that the way to do it more effectively is by having a bunch of officers locked in a room together, trying hard not to look like the dumbest one in there. I, thank God, do not have to attend (a mix between there not being enough room and my flat-out refusing to). But I can imagine what is going on in there. Right now he is probably trying to teach them the way to have an effective meeting is to have an AGENDA. Agendas are to be followed strictly during a meeting because it allows participants the opportunity to track how close they are to getting the hell out of there. The Iraqis really don't have enough computers to be able to show them how to stream line the meetings using Power Point, but that is something we can work on with them later.

That is about all to tell about that, as I said before, I am not an attendee. I cannot imagine anything useful coming out of this first staff meeting, so don't expect me to write anything more to be written on this subject. All I can say that as this meeting is going on, the National Police are missing a valuable opportunity to be out patrolling their sectors, and collecting bribes at checkpoints.


1. Have you ever attended a Command and Staff meeting? How long was it? Did it only seem like forever?

2. What do you get by briefing from a Power Point slide that couldn't be more effective by briefing from a handful of 3 by 5 cards?

3. Of all the evil Bill Gates has loosed upon the world, is Power Point the worst? Or is it Outlook?

4. Have you clicked through any ads yet? Why not? My Harley costs $13,000! Do you think I am posting to this blog as a hobby?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What I Did Today

Yesterday one of the Shurta in one of the companies we advise killed his friend in the same company. He fired four rounds point blank. One round was stopped by his armor vest, and another was stopped by his helmet. The other two were stopped by his, well, between his vest and helmet. It speaks very well for the armor capabilities of the vest and helmet he was wearing, unfortunately, no armor on the face.

That much is the truth.

The rest of the story is kind of sketchy. The shurta who shot the guy panicked and ran away. Apparently (depending on which Iraqi you talk to), he made a telephone call to his unit to say he would turn himself in today. Which, reliable reports say he did do just that.

Also depending on which Iraqi officer you talk to (and believe me, I try not to), you will get two different stories leading up to the shooting. One version is that they were arguing about something and one of them opened fire. The second is that they were two friends talking and the one shurta had an "accident" with his rifle.

Well, that's all I know about that. Truthfully it is all anyone is likely to know. At least us Americans. I got the sense the Iraqi officers were embarrased by the whole thing, especially having to explain it to us.


1. Have you ever been shot in the face with an AK-47? How did it make you feel? Discuss.

2. Has anything ever exploded near you when you were posting to your Blog? well it just did here and it scared the shit out of me. Discuss.

3. Did you forget what shurta means?

4. If you are a policeman who shoots another policeman accidentally, who do you turn yourself into? ANSWER (a different unit)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Never type in an MRAP

I am writing this in the back of a bouncing MRAP (look it up, lazy) on the way to the front gate of FOB somewhere in Bagdad. So get off my ass if there aresome spelling, grammatical, or explosive errors in this text. I haven't posted any blog entry in quite a while, and before myreadership driftsinto thenegative numbers, I figure I had betterslap something together and release it into the wild web.

My purpose with thispost,and I suppose I must have , is to let all three of you know a little bit about what goes on in my tiny corner of the war.I am on a NationalPolice Transition Team. An advisor, if you will. My team is 11 US Army (from various job descriptiions) and three interpreters, all Patriotic Iraqi citizens who are trying to make their country a better place. Just kidding, they make 1400 bucks a month (a fortune here) and are counting the days until they get the US resident Visas approved so they can move to the heartland and steal our jobs. Just kidding, they're really a bunch of swell guys (but they are allapplying to live in the US).

OK, this is getting just a little too bouncy, I'll have to get back to you (stop reading for half an hour to simulate the wait). Ok, here we are. How was your break?

Like I said, we are a National Police Transition Team (advisors, remember? Just a check to see if you are paying attention). We are in Bagdad, but aside from that I am not going to be any more specific. Bagdad, for those of you who have not listened to or watched the news since about oh, 1990 or so is the capital city of the country of Iraq. It is considered to be one of the hottest cities on the planet, temerature wise, which makes you wonder just exactly why people thousands of years ago stopped here and said, “what a great place! Let's settle here, it's much nicer than the place we just came from which was..........”,hell the sun or Mercury I guess.

Anyway, the National Police. Sounds like a police force, doesn't it? Well, it isn't. Not like Americans understand a police force. Picture an Infantry unit that wears blue tinted camoflage and you've got it. They carry rifles and machine guns, but their pickup trucks have police painted on the side, so who am I to judge? Many of their Shurta (Arabic for Police man, remember that, I am not going to repeat it again), are uneducated, poorly trained, and some are on drugs a great amount of the time (I get this from one of our interpreters). Many can't read or write their language. Their weapons are cruddy, rusty, dirty AK-47s (which of course, the AK being the AK, function just fine). Their officers are fabulously corrupt (more on this later), an in fact, you can BUY a position in the National Police as an officer. They are consistently short of all manner of supplies (gas, ammo, etc.).

But.......they're effective. Or at least something is. Bagdad is at it's lowest level of violence in years, shops are open, kids go to school, there are political posters up and down the streets advertising for the upcoming elections this fall. Yes, there is still violence, sectarian and otherwise. People are still getting blown up. But not as many as before. And it's declining. AQI is considered kind of a joke.

What do we do as advisors? Our team is broker into sections and each one has a counterpart in the Iraqi battalion. For instance our team commander meets with and advises the Iraqi commander. Our intelligence officer meets with and advises the Iraqi intelligence officer. I meet with and advise the NCO's who run the Command Post. A lot of our duties involve data collection. We have many reports to send up to “headquarters” (in the mount olympus kind of sense). How many patrols did your unit run in their sector this week? How many of them were jointly ran with the US battalion in the area? Were there any “significant activities” (what you civilians would call “crimes” like you know anything)? Combine this with other pieces of data, such as how many gallons of gasoline the unit was supplied with, how many shurta are on duty versus how many are on leave or AWOL, write it all up and email it on up to Mount Olympus and it dissapears into a “file” until it gets "briefed" in a "presentation" to a "VIP".

We do accompany the shurtas on some of their missions, which are mostly what are termed "cordon and search". What this is, a unit will block off a section of city (a block or two) and systematically (or as systematically as Iraqis do anything) search every house, or at least the ones that look like they have something cold to drink inside. The two I have gone on were mostly to inform citizens of the new privately owned weapons ban in effect in the city. In the past each household was allowed to have one rifle (usually an AK-47) in their house for protection against bad guys. But now they are not. So the police go around and gather them up (noone is arrested for still having one, the guns are merely confiscated). Also the police will check the registration of cars sitting in driveways (car theft and false registration is a booming business). Also, they'll confiscate cold water and other drinks from the refrigerator of anyone lucky enough to have working electrcity. They will do this right in front of you without a second thought.

Other than that, we are a small team, so everyone has to or three other jobs that must be accomplishedin any military unit. For instance, I am the "calendar manager" I create and manage our short and long range schedules so that we operate like a well oiled machine. Just kidding, we usually do many things at the last minute, based on our Team Leader getting a cellphone call from his Iraqi counterpart. But our schedule still must be maintained, and that's my job. I'm getting very familiar with Microsoft Outlook (even though I always feel dirty after using Windows. This was written on a machine using Debian, in case you were wondering).

Ok, that's about all that I am going to writefor now. You are just goig to have to take another break at this point, because I have to save this to a memory stick, and then wait until I get back to my laptop that has internet access and transfer it to the web. I don't know how long this will take, so get yourself some lunch or a cold drink or something.

Stay tuned for my next post, which will talk about the "Sons of Iraq".


1. How long has it been since my last post? Do you care?

2. What is a Shurta?

3. Did you look up MRAP? Why not?

4. What are your feelings about Microsoft?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

just a short one

I have a few hours downtime here so a short post seems in order. Working with the Iraqi security forces certainly is a challenge. I am working on a longer post that will detail more, you all will just have to wait. Suffice to say, policeman are not allowed to charge "tolls" at checkpoints, especially when they charge only those who are a different sect of Islam. Anyway.......

For anyone interested here is my physical address here:
SFC Mark A. Buus
1-7-2 NPTT
Unit 2508
APO AE 09361

you all have a good 'un

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A NEW post, finally

Well, here I am, in Baghdad again. I haven't posted in a while, so here's the (brief) story of the journey here.

We left Kansas on the 21st of June (my Anniversary!!) and flew to Germany on an airline I had never heard of before (North American Air? Where does the Army find these?) and then on to Kuwait city. Busses met us at the airport and we were driven out to a place in the middle of the Kuwaiti wilderness called Camp Buehring. Really in the middle of nowhere. Of course it's like two in the morning, and for some reason we have to be given two hours of briefs before we go to bed. Mostly stuff like, don't get caught outside without your hat on.....and make sure you always have your ID card with you. Oh, and don't make scorpions and camel spiders fight, or you will be charged under article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, cruelty to animals. Then we were allowed some sleep.
The week and a half or so of time at Buehring were spent with classes and training, most of which was a repeat of stuff we did in Kansas. We even had a test on Arabic, although you didn't put your name on the test, so I am not sure what that was all about. Mostly we just got used to the heat of the Arabian summer. Oh, and I ran into Steve Zahn, who was there showing that actors who play goofy sidekicks care about the troops.
After a week and a half of this crap, we were bussed (at night again) to an airfield about an hour away and loaded onto a C-17 and flown to Baghdad International Airport. There we got some breakfast and were bussed to some giant tents where we lived for the next two days, waiting for flights to our next destination. Loaded up on CH-47s (at 3 in the blessed AM!) and flew to a base north of Baghdad called Tajji. There we were put in barracks and started a whole new round of classes, all of which were repeats of stuff we had before, again. General Petraeus did come and talk with us, that was rather interesting.....skinny little guy.
After 8 days of THAT, we were flown BACK to Baghdad, to a place called FOB Falcon, where we finally met the team we are replacing. More on that in the next post.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

George Takei to marry His Long Time Partner, Brad

Watch this YouTube clip from the original series and tell me no one saw this coming.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Purple Heart

I am going to be blunt: No blood, no heart.
Anyone who says otherwise,
please write to me.

The Five WORST ways to get drunk

Well, click on this link for the article, but I can add more to the list:

1. Three words: Jordanian Spiced Whiskey. Especially when you buy it from some "shopkeeper" in Mahmudiya, Iraq. Super especially when he offers to sell you AK-47's at 60 bucks a pop and wants you to come alone with him to his shop. Thinking back on it, I should have shot the guy. At the time, I just gave him the ten bucks for the bottle and mixed it with Gatorade. Two days later, I bought a six-pack of Egyptian beer from him.

2. Two Words: Egyptian beer.

3. Another tip from Uncle Mark's Drink tips and Other War Stories: Never EVER, EVER, EVER buy vodka from Romanian soldiers in Afghanistan. And especially don't do it three or four times. But if you DO, mix it with gatorade. Sense a pattern here?

4. I don't want to get a certain Special Forces medic in trouble, but..........did you know that Jim Beam comes in cans? Neither did I. Although, it DOES help you forget the sight and sound of a chest tube going into someone. By the way the sound is "crucnhhbhhhhhhhh"

5. OK......many of my six or seven readers are not going to believe this......BUT. Hand Sanitizer. When I was a Drill Sergeant, I knew another Drill who had found two privates obviously drunk. Upon further investigation, he determined that they had mixed Purell Hand Sanitizer with.......wait for it.......gatorade. One of them blew a .19



Saturday, June 7, 2008

Barack Obama's ancestors owned slaves

Ok, I can't believe after such a lull in posting I am posting TWO articles about Barack Obama, and especially another one that will get my seven readers into a fight over who can accuse me of being a rascist first. Let's not even get into what side the Democratic party was on before the Civil War.

Anywhooo-here's the article!

Barack Obama is Not a Black Candidate

Letter to the editor that I did not write, but makes some valid points.......comments calling me a rascist start in 5...4...3...2...

The Letter