Letter from Iraq

Things here at Al Kisik are pretty much the same. We have had a bit of anxiety over a change in the fuel contract for the base. Al Kisik is an Iraqi training base and is not a coalition base. It is controlled by the Iraqis, for the Iraqi Army. Up until recently the fuel contract was controlled by the Base Support Unit here at Al Kisik. But now it is controlled by the ministry of Defense in Baghdad. We depend on fuel to run the generators that supply our electricity. Today, many of the generators on this base ran out of fuel, and there was no fuel on the base to refill them.It was pretty dark here for a while. But later in the evening the Iraqis came up with some fuel from somewhere and the lights came back on. Funny, but I’m wondering if our vehicles will run in the morning…”grin.”
Really it is an inconvenience more than anything. They have been busy putting up electric lines all over the post. I don’t know how long it will be before the system in on line, but it should be better that the generator system we now have.
I have been quite busy training the Iraqi officers and non-commissioned officers. It seems that at first they are intimidated by me. I suppose that may be my somewhat stern visage. But they are anxious to communicate with me, and after they do, I become more popular with them. In fact, after one course I was voted the best instructor by many of them. They referred to me as “the Indian Sargent Major.” This comes from a sessions I had with them concerning cooperation.
This country is quite prejudiced. The Arabs look down on the Kurds and visa-versa. The Sunni and the Shi’a are at odds. Even strong tribal prejudices exist. In the class the officers from the different sects etc. began to form their little cliques and weren’t working together. Several of the instructors began to notice this, so I had some yelling to do. I explained to them that as long as they separate themselves they would be weak. I demonstrated this by taking sheets of paper from a notebook. I assigned each sheet a name… Arab, Kurd, Sunni and Shi’a. I said that “… this is the Arab alone.” Then I would tear the sheet in half. I did this for each sheet. Then I held up an entire notebook and made a show of “trying” to tear it apart. I said, “This is all Iraqis working together. Together you are strong.”
I explained to them that the officer sitting on the left and right of each officer is his brother. No matter what color a soldier may be, no matter where a soldier is from, no matter how rich or poor a soldier’s family may be… every American soldier is every American soldier’s brother. I told them that the Iraqis must work together to protect each other, and to protect Iraqi women and children. I told them that together they could make Iraq strong and great.
It seemed to make quite an impact on them, for they gave me a standing ovation. And they did work together for the rest of the course. Many of them would approach me for the next two weeks and remind me of what I told them by clasping their hands together ans saying, “Unity good!” Yes, I borrowed my example from the Iroquois, but I honestly don’t think they would mind.
Well, I’ll close for now and get this ready to mail. Take care and God bless you.

Sgt. Danison’s address is:
1SG Andrew Danison
2dBn, 2d Bde, 3d IAD
Al Kisik
APO AE 09334
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