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U.S. Forces, Returning to Iraq, Encounter the Things Their Comrades Carried

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U.S. Forces, Returning to Iraq, Encounter the Things Their Comrades Carried

Post by Neno on Thu 08 Jan 2015, 1:54 pm

U.S. Forces, Returning to Iraq, Encounter the Things Their Comrades Carried
By TIM ARANGOJAN. 6, 2015
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Remnants of the previous United States military presence in Iraq, mostly untouched, have greeted troops now that American forces are returning to the country.  Credit Ayman Oghanna for The New York Times    

CAMP TAJI, Iraq — The calendar on the wall reads November 2011.
On the ground is a half-filled can of Copenhagen smokeless tobacco. Scattered here and there are bottles of Gatorade, cans of Rip It energy drinks, poker chips, Monopoly money and razor blades.
Stenciled on a wall is a punchy soldier’s slogan: “I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat.” Taped on another is a note of encouragement from a Boy Scout troop back home: “You are our hero and your commitment to freedom is honorable.”
There is even a jar of salsa still in the fridge.
When the American troops left Iraq three years ago, they left behind a fragile country that collapsed into civil war. They also left behind the detritus of soldiers’ lives that, in the ensuing years, was left untouched, frozen in time.


Now that American forces, in much smaller numbers, are returning to help the Iraqis confront the extremists of the Islamic State, they have found themselves reoccupying some of their old places. And they are excavating what feels like a slowly decaying time capsule as they discover the things they left behind.
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A soldier's slogan stenciled on a wall.  Credit Ayman Oghanna for The New York Times  
When the Americans left, they turned over their bases to the Iraqis. But here at Taji, aside from some buildings that were clearly ransacked and probably looted of anything valuable, many of the spaces, now covered in a thick coat of dust, were left alone.
One soldier said he found pinups from Maxim, a men’s magazine, still on the walls. And the last copies of Stars and Stripes, the armed forces newspaper, delivered just before the American departure, are still scattered about the floor of one of the bathrooms. The score from an NFL playoff game in 2011, now considered a classic upset, is painted across an awning: Saints 36, Seahawks 41.
At Taji, about 20 miles north of Baghdad and once home to a sprawling American air base, even the street signs the Americans posted are still up. Separating a patch of housing units from the cavernous aircraft hangars is the corner of Longhorn Avenue and 46th Street.
Continue reading the main story



Interactive Graphic: How the Air Campaign Against ISIS Grew


Laith al-Khadi works on the base at a convenience store stocked with the necessities of a soldier’s life: energy drinks, Cuban cigars, DVDs and many other things. He is happy to see the Americans back and, to accommodate them, is trying to find a stock of Copenhagen. “It’s good for us,” he said. “Sales are booming.”
So far, the Americans have taken up residence at two of their old hubs, here and at Al Asad Air Base in Anbar Province. The Army is here, and the Marines are in Anbar. It is a tiny footprint compared with the past — about 180 soldiers here, and an additional 200 or so military personnel in Anbar.
For weeks, before starting their training programs with new Iraqi recruits, Marines and soldiers have had to refurbish their areas of the bases, filling sandbags, fortifying perimeters and getting the electricity working.
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A military calendar dating back to November 2011, when American forces left Camp Taji base.  Credit Ayman Oghanna for The New York Times  
One Marine major in Anbar, who has been in Iraq before and had just returned from Afghanistan in September when he was ordered back to Iraq, said it was “eerie” and “spooky” to return. Another said the place looked like “a train wreck.”

First Lt. Nolan Gore, a Marine from Texas who has been busy setting up the camp in Anbar, said that when he arrived, the place looked “apocalyptic.” Then he thought about it and said it actually looked “post-apocalyptic.”
When the Marines are attacked by rockets or mortar rounds — as they are frequently, but so far with no casualties — they can often pinpoint the source of the fire, send the information up the chain and then watch on a screen in their headquarters as the attackers are taken out by airstrikes.
Continue reading the main story



Graphic: Areas Under ISIS Control


The Marine major, who spoke anonymously because he was worried that identifying him could put his family at risk of an attack by ISIS, said he had been trying to explain to the Iraqis, “We are not going to come in this country and clear it out again.”
Many, but not all, of the troops who have come back to Iraq have been here before, sometimes multiple times. The mission is different this time — not to fight, but to train units of Iraqis to do the fighting themselves.
Many of them feel that for the Iraqis to be most effective against the Islamic State, they should have American advisers accompany them closer to the front lines to at least help pinpoint targets for airstrikes. President Obama has so far resisted that step.
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Piles of barriers around the doorways of what had been military housing.  Credit Ayman Oghanna for The New York Times  
On a tabletop at the headquarters building here at Taji is a copy of a recent issue of Foreign Affairs, its headline “What Have We Learned? Lessons From Afghanistan and Iraq.”
Inside, highlighted in green ink, are several passages.
“The United States also needs to cultivate better strategic thinkers in both the military and the civilian spheres” is one.
“Plan for what comes after the overthrow of a regime” is another. Still another: “Challenge rosy assumptions during the course of a conflict.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Keith of the Army is here for his fifth deployment. Watching the news last year about the gains of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, across Iraq, he had a feeling he would wind up back here.
His family had mixed reactions to his deployment orders.
“I don’t think my wife was surprised,” he said. “She’s been with me awhile; she’s a strong woman.” His father had a different take, the sergeant major said. He responded abruptly with vulgarity.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/07/world/middleeast/us-forces-returning-to-iraq-unearth-the-things-their-brethren-carried.html?_r=0


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fonz1951
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Re: U.S. Forces, Returning to Iraq, Encounter the Things Their Comrades Carried

Post by fonz1951 on Thu 08 Jan 2015, 4:07 pm

the last picture is the housing i lived in when i was there,boy this brings back memories.
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Re: U.S. Forces, Returning to Iraq, Encounter the Things Their Comrades Carried

Post by Bama Diva on Thu 08 Jan 2015, 7:05 pm

fonz1951 wrote:the last picture is the housing i lived in when i was there,boy this brings back memories.
Thank you for serving our country fonz. It had to have been rough :-(
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Re: U.S. Forces, Returning to Iraq, Encounter the Things Their Comrades Carried

Post by GWT54 on Thu 08 Jan 2015, 7:29 pm

Thanks for your service fonz!!
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Re: U.S. Forces, Returning to Iraq, Encounter the Things Their Comrades Carried

Post by fonz1951 on Thu 08 Jan 2015, 8:41 pm

thank each and every one of you guys for acknowledging it . i would do it again in a heartbeat , but i sustained several injuries and am unable to go back.right now i am recovering from a right knee replacement thanks to a roadside bomb.and a 60% and 40% hearing loss, as well as 2 bulging discs in my back. i loved my time there and if ever a re-value happens i fully intend to go back. i met lots of really good people there,some americans and some iraqis. i really miss it.
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Re: U.S. Forces, Returning to Iraq, Encounter the Things Their Comrades Carried

Post by Igorot on Thu 08 Jan 2015, 11:53 pm

fonz1951 wrote:thank each and every one of you guys for acknowledging it . i would do it again in a heartbeat , but i sustained several injuries and am unable to go back.right now i am recovering from a right knee replacement thanks to a roadside bomb.and a 60% and 40% hearing loss, as well as 2 bulging discs in my back. i loved my time there and if ever a re-value happens i fully intend to go back. i met lots of really good people there,some americans and some iraqis. i really miss it.

Thank you for your service and sacrifice Fonz.......

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