April 2003 was the month of America's apparent triumph in Iraq. The mechanized blitzkrieg up the Tigris and Euphrates Valleys had come to an end with the fall of Baghdad, and the news media feasted on graphic imagery of Saddam Hussein's statue being pulled off its pedestal amid ebullient crowds. Embedded reporters carried the soldiers' experiences live into living rooms and offices around the world, and public support of embattled soldiers was never greater. The destruction of Saddam Hussein's supposed caches of hidden weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) seemed imminent, as did the rooting out of terrorist cells he was alleged to have hosted. Survey teams were on the ground in Iraq to pull together accounts and analyses of the great victory-and of the lessons to be learned from it.

For all the euphoria, the triumph had not quite achieved perfection. Outside Kurdistan, coalition soldiers were seldom greeted as liberators, and a highly visible frenzy of looting and lawlessness accompanied the collapse of the Ba'athist regime. Critics who had deplored the paucity of ground forces committed to the initial attacks returned to their theme of insufficiency: if we had won the war, could we keep the peace?

Capt. Robert ("Todd") Sloan Brown's journal begins as the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) to which he is assigned rushes forward from Kuwait to reinforce divisions already in the heart of Iraq. Initial operational plans had the 4th Infantry Division invading Iraq through Turkey; its equipment had been shipped from Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Carson, Colorado, to stand off of Iskenderun and other southern Turkish ports. At the eleventh hour the Turkish parliament refused passage, and the division belatedly redeployed through Kuwait. Although it missed the dramatic march on Baghdad, it was on time for reflexive efforts to secure the country when law and order collapsed. Dozens of convoys rolled forward bearing the division's troops and equipment.

In the minds of Brown and his colleagues, the focus was on the residual regime elements, a view that corresponded with the generally accepted big picture that American forces were entering a mop-up phase. This mindset presumed that those resisting or defying American authority were diehard Ba'athists and that Iraqis intimidated by them would welcome the coalition after this residue had been swept away. A few hard knocks should be enough to collapse the local Ba'athist

Battleground IRAQ

infrastructure, city by city and village by village. American soldiers were ready and willing to deliver these hard knocks. They also knew that some kind of national reconstruction and rehabilitation phase was to follow, and the best informed among them knew it was labeled Phase IV. None of Brown's peers knew how this was actually supposed to work, however. Prewar planning and the hasty efforts of recently appointed Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jay Garner and his Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) to bring order from the postwar chaos had not yet translated themselves into details that brigade staff officers understood.

At the time, Captain Brown was in the cue to assume company command but was still assigned to the 3d Brigade staff of the 4th Infantry Division as an assistant S—3 (operations officer). His specific responsibility was to serve as the officer in charge of the brigade Tactical Actions Center (TAC), a small contingent of tactical vehicles and communications equipment that allowed the brigade commander to position himself well forward on the battlefield and to sustain communications while moving quickly from one position to another. Brown had come to this assignment after two years as a platoon leader in an airborne battalion and two years as a platoon leader in a Ranger battalion, so he had appreciable light infantry experience that proved of use to the mechanized brigade staff as operations progressed.

21 April: Just crossed into Iraq ... what a sh-hole! They are so poor here that the kids are running in front of the vehicles trying to get us to stop so they can hijack all our gear. It is a mugging, but they have nothing. I'm sitting in the back of the Bradley with the door open pulling security. It's hot. The people are cheerful and waving, but they are simply a suppressed nation. They are skinny with all smiles. Roads aren't too bad; the countryside is desolate, though. Houses are made out of mud, and it looks like they are desperately trying to farm.

This is my second convoy; the first time we broke down. These guys are slow as sh-. Luckily I got decent sleep last night on the bench seats. There are all kinds of tank-fighting positions abandoned. Looked like they had plans to defend well south but left the AO [area of operations]. They are dug in right off of the highway on the desert floor. Saw "el donkey" running from his herder. It was funny to watch.

The crazy aspect thus far is the unknown nature of this for the soldier. You don't know when the next hot meal is, the next shower, the next good night's rest ... or the next rest for that matter. We don't know where we will

Journal of a Company Commander

be twenty-four hours from now or what mission we will have. We aren't suffering like in Ranger School, but we don't have a "next" phase, etc., to look forward to-physical training is out the window, but we are becoming better soldiers each day. A lot of the training and exposure I had as a platoon leader rings true here. PowerPoint and the planners are proving ineffective; not their fault-just the fast-paced and unknown nature of the next mission is not streamlined to their process. It's up to the operators, as I have always believed it to be. You can take a garrison [lock-step] style to the National Training Center [NTC] but not to Iraq. It just won't work.

Just pulled into CSC [Corps Support Command] Cedar. It is a wreck. There are well over 1,000 vehicles waiting for fuel. D-Main [Division Main Headquarters] is in front of us clogging the line. There needs to be a prioritization of refueling. The problem right now is with the HETs [heavy equipment transporters]. They need to do everything possible to keep them rolling. Instead we have a giant [i.e., 3d Brigade] cluster. Someone please take charge of this place! The HET drivers are all flying American flags-despite the Frago [fragmentary order, a brief attack order] not to. I say good for them. They are the real workhorses of the war. The two guys driving the vehicle with thirty-seven flags on it are hilarious. Reservists called up from Florida and North Carolina: They wear cut off T-shirts and tell funny stories. I asked them what they did back in the world and they replied with a litany of different jobs: Taekwondo instructor, Miller Lite truck driver (paid in beer), shelves stocker, barber, tattoo parlor guy, etc. They were definitely "America." They had an American flag that everyone they took north had to sign. They actually had a lot of signatures. They had all the prerequisite interesting stories of their travels along the "Baghdad Express." Total patriots and representatives of what is good in America. The longer I am in the Army, the more I realize that we have it all backwards. Everything is logistics based ... everything. The tactical-type stuff is all preordained by logistics; planners are faced with a fait accompli. Now if we would distribute our focus that way we would probably be much better off.

The wind and dust here are absolutely horrible. They are everywhere. My Mohawk haircut was awesome, but now it has given way to the buzz cut. So much of this deployment has been lying around in the back of the track sweating it out with the master gunner, "Jonny Fogle." Carlson, "the porn star," is just chilling up in the driver's hatch, not really all that fun. Your lips get so dried out, and your body just absorbs more and more dust. Eyepro is a necessity in this place. I really would like to write an eloquent description,

Battleground IRAQ

but I don't know if I could capture the magnitude of vehicles, trash, crap, and the acrid smell of diesel. It is just a massive collection of the aforementioned products ... mixed with omnipresent gritty dust. I so want to find a body of water and jump into it, wearing everything, for both the cooling effect and cleansing. Weapons maintenance is difficult here: my stuff is already filthy again. Hopefully, my smallpox heals rapidly, and I don't relapse into the whole-arm cellulitis incident-scary. It is tough staying clean. I think it has gone away, though. Can't believe McDermott took shrapnel at the airfield; hopefully he wasn't being stupid-the verdict is still out. Also can't believe that I did all the legwork for that first march unit and then my vehicle broke down; it was/is probably still painful for those guys as well. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise. Poor Major Dan, the colonel is probably hammering him.

22 April: Just got mobbed by a bunch of kids at 0600, after a full night in the back of the Bradley. They were trading Saddam dinars for dollars ... that's a good sign since it wasn't for food. Staff Sergeant Fogle bought a Lawrence of Arabia head wrap. Last night blew-but not that bad-we are just moving so slowly. This company is about the slowest unit I've ever seen. They move forward about twenty kilometers and then sit for hours on end. I've been on a HET now for two days, counting our little rest halt at the ALOC [Administrative and Logistical Operations Center] for about four hours. I guess it is a mixed blessing because the TAC is probably pretty nutty right about now. All we do is lay in the back or chill in the turret. Well, I need to go clean my weapon. The weather and scenery are much nicer up north. Hopefully, it will continue to improve. Kinda funny, but we have no clue what is going on in the world, particularly in Iraq. I guess if you don't have CNN and the Internet you are isolated. I don't know if the war still holds the sensational journalism it once did, but we still feel it is a dangerous place to be. You don't want to get shot, but at the same time you don't want to be the cleanup crew. I guess you really just want to go home safely with all your friends.

Got off the HET-I think we set a record: fifty-five hours on the back of that truck. Waiting right now at a Military Police checkpoint to road-march through Baghdad. We already uploaded the TOWs [Tube-launched Optically tracked Wire-guided missiles] and everything else. The flies are driving me crazy. This checkpoint is a dive; everywhere we stop is a dump. We have zero trash-hauling capability so we just pitch it. Everyone is pretty motivated-even the dirtbags. I guess people shape up when it's for real. Excitement

Journal of a Company Commander

level is still pretty high, especially road-marching through Baghdad. Here come more kids. Feels so good to be out of Kuwait. This part of Iraq actually looks like Florida. Airing out my small smallpox scab right now. Hopefully, it heals soon.

Got the word to roll with that same company of M1s [Abrams main battle tanks] through Baghdad. Of course the vehicle right in front of us breaks down; unbeknown to us, he calls a Brad up to his side and guess what ... traffic jam. They ended up sending us forward alone for the first five miles. We were cruising down the highway with everyone zipping in and out. It was crazy; you just don't drive these vehicles on highways in America. We finally caught the convoy. I was starting to get a little nervous after seeing a burnt-out M1 under one of the underpasses. It looked like a pretty good firefight went down south of the airport. It certainly inspired me to always keep flak vest and Kevlar on. The people were all out giving the thumbs up and waving. They pretty much just wanted food. We ended up at Taji Airfield and saw lots of abandoned Iraqi equipment. I finally linked up with the rest of the TAC after that crazy truck-riding ordeal. We had a mission right away to seize Samarra Airfield East and then move to secure Ba'ath Party HQ in Samarra. Pretty fast paced. Fuel is going to be a huge issue. They are turning this ammo dump into another CSC, it looks like. Push north, push north. Saw a lot of tracer fire north last night. I think it was mostly friendly; we saw only a few green tracers. I saw lots of equipment, though. I pulled into the plans bunker-it looks pretty much like Auschwitz. They found tons of munitions here. I don't really dig this place too much. I hope we keep on moving-stagnation equals demotivation. I do need to run.

23 April: Rolling down the road right now to Samarra Airfield East. I'm in the back, watching the rear. [Col. Frederick] Rudesheim is up top. My feet are totally asleep due to the vibration of the track. Another tank just fell apart ... looks like we are waiting. No excitement at the airfield. We heard lots of reports of tanks and technical vehicles. Just a bunch of bunkers and burnt hulks. I got in and set up the TAC and then coordinated with the 571st Helicopter Medical Evacuation Company for coverage during the morning operation. We got the 1-12 IN [1st Battalion, 12th Infantry] brief for the takedown of the Ba'ath Party HQ-very liberal ROE [rules of engagement]. That is good. We roll at 0500.

24 April: Call to prayer is going on right now-it is really kinda freaky. Reminds you of Blackhawk Down. Very eerie feeling. Well, today was a

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bit crazy. Rolled out of Samarra Airfield East to Warriors [1-12 IN] attack position. Got out and pulled security for the colonel. I wish he wouldn't stand up on the back of the track. From there, we rolled on Ba'ath Party HQ. One of the Brads couldn't fit through the archway and just leveled the building ... crazy. Well, we got into the compound and dropped ramp. There were twenty guys stacked on Building 10, so I yelled for them to get into the building for cover. We then moved over to the police headquarters. [Lt. Col. Timothy] Parks threw me an AK-47 as the ramp dropped on our Bradley. I thought he was carrying a firing-port weapon. Kinda freaked me out since the scene that greeted me as the ramp dropped involved six EPWs [enemy prisoners of war] flex-cuffed in the water fountain, a guy with a broken ankle screaming next to my track, and a tossing of an AK-47 (not to mention two asleep club feet on my person) ... surreal feeling. We moved up to the police HQ and began interrogating the "police" guys; they had uniforms and a sticky that said "Police." I had them bring in the boss to talk to the colonel through our FIF [Free Iraqi Forces] translator; they were all standing around outside ... we need more MOUT [military operations on urban terrain] training.

We got established and then I went upstairs with Eric Koenig to set up the TACSAT [tactical satellite] since we couldn't get a shot on the bottom floor. I ended up demolishing a door to get out. It was pretty funny. I fell out the bottom of it as I was kicking it, and then ripped the top half all to shreds ... Comedy Central breaking down a plywood door. We found some .50-cal. ammo and a bunch of trenches to defend the police station. Pat Stobbe then had a Bradley knock down another wall, and we moved over to the Ba'ath Party headquarters building. We found a bunker full of 82-mm. mortars and shells for recoilless rifles. Everything looked old and rusted. About this time, an ex-general Samarii [General Wafik Samarii, former chief of Military Intelligence] showed up and told us the police were good and invited us to a meeting of the town's important people. We then released the police and set up shop in the police station.

A reporter from England showed up and tried to describe the whole situation-the blood feuds and tribal alliances. He basically said the "London General" Samarii was full of sh- and tied in with some bad dudes responsible for some ethnic cleansing of Kuwaiti women and children. I knew I smelled a rat. He also said Chemical Ali [General Ali Hassan al-Majid] was still alive running around to the north. I guess we'll find out soon enough. We decided to get these guys up to division for some clarification; I guess we'll be chasing "clues" for a long time. The reporter had a friend that he wanted us to talk to, so

Journal of a Company Commander

I had just "battled" my way to the roof of the police headquarters so we could get better tactical satellite reception. Behind me at ground level is a cemetery.
I had just "battled" my way to the roof of the police headquarters so we could
get better tactical satellite reception. Behind me at ground level is a cemetery.

Pat Stabbe's company B/1-12 Infantry, in front of police headquarters. To the right behind a stone fence is the cemetery.
Pat Stabbe's company B/1-12 Infantry, in front of police headquarters. To the right behind
a stone fence is the cemetery.

Lieutenant Colonel Parks sent me and Nick Fuller to go get this guy out of the crowd and search him. We found him and brought him in no problems-just a little crazy with the crowds, but they move away from you when you look serious. Heard his story for a little while and then went searching around the compound. Found a water-hose shower and got a razor shave. The people here are definite characters. Our FIF guy ran into his cousin; he was security for the ex-general director of intelligence. Had a good talk with Parks once things settled, then got on BFT [Blue Force Tracker] for the commander's update. We are continuing to hear small-arms fire throughout the city. Patrols

Battleground IRAQ

will be taking off soon. Would be more nervous if it weren't for the Bradleys. The combo of infantry and Bradleys really works.

25 April:Got the word early this morning that we would grab the "general" and disarm the forty Peshmergas [Kurdish fighters] for processing as EPWs-turns out this guy must have been bad. I guess you don't serve as the Iraqi intelligence director and not have blood on your hands. Very thought provoking on the dealings with the Peshmerga guys-it has the potential to go south rapidly.

Started the day out in the Bradley commander's slot. Looks like the colonel has switched to the Humvee [High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, or HMMWV]. We had the engineer battalion commander and field artillery battalion commander going with us. Gave the little convoy lineup brief, and they all just jumped in wherever and screwed the whole thing up ... figures. Anyway, we got rolling pretty good and then wham, all of a sudden we broke track. The thing came right off. Fogle worked it pretty good. While we were working, a soldier from A/1-12 IN [Company A, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry] got shot in the arm. Initial reports were that it was a drive-by on a motorcycle.

The FIF translator, Koenig, and I (background middle) removed the skirt to give Fogle
The FIF translator, Koenig, and I (background middle) removed the skirt to give
Fogle (foreground) access to the track.

Journal of a Company Commander

We finally got back on the road. Once we got to the compound, we heard the plan for the Peshmerga operation, and I watched it go down from the roof. Our security in MOUT is pretty lax. After the operation, we set up shop in the police station-that place blows. The air quality and dirtiness are horrible. I really don't want to spend too much time in here; I don't want to catch some biblical disease. Small-arms fire continues. Will probably really heat up at nightfall.

The BRT [Brigade Reconnaissance Team] took some small-arms fire during one of their recons. It seems that people are getting braver. I got a good nude "hose" shower today-it felt awesome. The shower was filthy, but I got somewhat cleaner. This place is a pigsty. The whole country is not up to code. I went through the prison-cell area of the building. Scary to say the least. All kinds of ampoules of bromide and horrible living conditions. Makes you wonder how many people were tortured and killed here-if these walls could talk. Pulling my radio watch ... all is quiet. I actually read for a little bit. Listened to the Victory Corps BUB [battle update briefing] via TACSAT. There are lots of random adventures going on. I think that 1-12 IN is going to move out of here to the pharmaceutical plant up the street. Should be better-it certainly is bigger. The Civil Affairs teams are going to the hospital tomorrow. They went to the radio station and found it inoperable but manned. This place is shady.

We are supposed to launch on a "chicken farm" outside Ad Dawr twenty-four hours from now. This is supposedly something pretty important-a two-battalion operation. Tanks isolate, and infantry clears. There is a building offset and guarded with triple-strand wire. I wonder what was there. They say no one has been there-looters or military. I guess 1-10 CAV [1st Battalion, 10th Cavalry] found a missile-storage facility. They are trying to figure out the chemical status of the weapons. Wonder what is the status of General Samarii. Hopefully, he is a real bad dude and that way I can say I was the first to search him. He seemed a real Slick Willy. I talked with our interpreter, Sergeant Ali, this afternoon. He was pretty upset about the Peshmerga deal. I guess we all have our orders. Hopefully, they all get to go home. The longer we sit here, the braver the populace becomes. We have gotten some good information but no real actionable leads. Hopefully, we will find Chemical Ali. Well, I'm almost off shift; this blows-I'm tired.

A good way to find weapons is the floating checkpoint. Roll around the city, set up for an hour, and move on. Don't establish anything permanent. Hop

Battleground IRAQ

and pop. Had a soldier killed in a vehicular accident; we have got to watch the driving. Apparently they were in pursuit of some technical vehicles. MPs just showed up with the forty Peshmergas that they took to Baghdad ... not good. We disarmed them and now wish to release them back into an Arab town weaponless. They are requesting transportation to Irbil. We need to get them north fast before they get pissed at us. Their boss just went to look for a car. I hope "car" does not equal RPG [rocket-propelled grenade]. The XO doesn't want to help these guys out-big mistake. They are our allies and have fully cooperated with what we have asked of them. We need to fix this. They sent me out there to talk to them, like I speak Kurdish. I basically punted on it and said I was working on the issue.

26 April: Well, the XO showed up and the Peshmergas left. They went back to the government building. The XO then decided to run over to the house alone in the middle of some town meeting-great idea. He then got two Peshmergas to go with us on a recon of the pharmaceutical plant. He wanted them to drive home in five dump trucks ... yeah right. They obviously didn't like the idea, so back to square one. I checked out the SDI building [pharmaceutical plant] to set up the TAC-pretty nice. I went through the building: running water, AC, rugs, and a bunch of drugs. Need to keep the soldiers away from there. Of course, we aren't staying here tonight; we are moving north to the chicken farm. It's a pretty large objective-two battalions. Drug company is pretty nice; we should set up here for awhile-good comms and good facilities.

I found a bunch of blood in the second floor bathroom and the packaging from a GI bandage. Turns out it was Jones' blood, the XO's driver. Got hurt during the XO's "mission." Well, the story improves. He decides to go downtown with the JAG [Judge Advocate General] vehicle and no escort, just injured Jones, T.K., Vivian, and Donaldson. Well, we knew this was a bad area with lots of arms deals going on; so he gets stuck down there and wants to organize some huge rescue operation. Huge expenditure of staff energy to get these guys back. He throws down wire and starts signaling with yellow smoke, talking about being cavalry and maintaining contact with the enemy. Lieutenant Colonel Parks gets on the radio and tells him, "Striker 5, leave. Get in your car and drive." Of course, he won't. T.K. wanted to kill him since it was five Americans versus 200 weapons-dealing Iraqis. He finally left. They sent down a patrol and found nothing.

Journal of a Company Commander

Finally got back to the SDI building, and some soldiers proceeded to pillage it. Connely decided he should take some drugs for later use-turns out they were anti-epilepsy pills. Major Martinez ordered him searched and his weapon secured-good idea. Well, the drug lab didn't last much longer. We moved out to the walled city of Samarra, a 3,000-year-old ruins. We go to pull into the city and whacked the Bradley on the wall, ripping our bags off. How ironic. The wall stands for 3,000 years and we whack it with a Brad. No damage to the wall, just Eric's rucksack. Anyway, we found a bombed scud inside the AO. We couldn't get comms, so we moved back to the pharmaceutical plant and re-set up. We got back to the plant, got the brief for the operation, and racked out.

27 April: We LDed [left the line of departure] for the chicken farm at 0200 Zulu [Greenwich Median Time]. We had some initial contact. Tough to figure out what is going on in the back of a Bradley. TF [Task Force] 20 was supposed to do a takedown in the vicinity of our objective last night. Don't know how it went, but everyone on brigade staff was boo-boo lipped that TF 20 wouldn't talk to them about it. The BRT reported a guy being taken out with a bag over his head. Now everyone thinks it wasn't TF 20 but an American prisoner of war. That kinda makes you wonder. Well, the chicken farm operation went off and it was just that, a farm for chickens. 1-68 AR [1st Battalion, 68th Armor] scouts shot and killed a fourteen-year-old boy-sad scene. They fired warning shots at the bus, but it sped up. They just didn't know; they were scared. No weapons were found, and they engaged them from about 500 meters. I guess it is covered by the ROE, but they jumped the gun, in my opinion. I guess you just never can tell. Well, we are sitting at the "hospital." It is camouflaged and has a MIG flight simulator and lots of munitions. The colonel just returned. I guess we'll set up here for the night.

The BRT got launched south to grab Blacklist #47. (This was the forty-seventh name in the infamous deck of cards-the three of hearts, I think.) No real guidance. A soldier in the BRT apparently tried to commit suicide-shot himself in the abdomen. What a nightmare. Spent a lot of time on the radio net trying to get the medevac [medical evacuation helicopter]-painful process. I was calling the 9 Line [standard medical evacuation request] on the radio all the way until the bird landed and couldn't get any confirmation from the pilots. Thank God they got the message the first time. We did pretty good other than the commo difficulties. I was pretty nervous about it-being someone's life and all. We need to work that piece hard since the BSA

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[Brigade Support Area] and standard procedures aren't applicable right now due to huge distances. It turned out fine, but it was a nut roll.

The TOC [Tactical Operations Center] rolled in. Good to see some of those guys, but it sucks being collocated with them; they are a pain in the ass to say the least. The XO comes through the place casing the joint for the best stuff and nicest places to sleep. Unreal. We are all sleeping outside; it's much more comfortable. Well, time to rack out. What a day.

28 April:Slept in late this morning and really haven't gotten going again. I had a good talk with T.K. about the Army and life in general. He is a really good dude. After that I went and made some maps and the order for the Tikrit Airfield East operation. The 1-68 AR is the main effort, and I'm riding shotgun in the S-3's Humvee. I think we are getting used to running these kinds of operations. It actually got cold here last night. They said we were going to get T-rats [tray rations, precooked meals served hot] tomorrow. We will probably have jumped by then and miss the meal. We have run these vehicles hard. I had the guys do a little maintenance, but it is going to get harder and harder the farther north we go. We had a "riot" at the gate today-400-600 pax [people, derived from "passengers"]-no big deal. Also had a trailer catch fire. By the time reporting was complete, it seemed like the battle of Mogadishu. Well, it's about time to roll. They are having a pro-Saddam rally down at the traffic circle in Samarra. It sounds like it is total chaos.

The armor airfield seizure went fine. No issues. They caught some guy who said he knew where the mortar fire was coming from. The 1-68 AR is now working on it. Never thought I'd see the day that an armor battalion takes down an airfield, and I was riding on a Bradley. I got the S-3's Humvee stuck running around the airfield. We towed it out with the Bradley. It is starting to get dark now, so we need to get back to the factory to sleep. No telling what will go on tomorrow ... Happy Birthday, Saddam!

29 April: Oh sh-, sitting in an abandoned hotel in Samarra planning this Delta Force-type mission. I didn't really want this, but Lieutenant Colonel Parks asked for me. I got back from the airfield at 1730Z, and we left at 1800Z. We are working through all the contingencies right now. We got a BRT platoon going in with a backup platoon of Brads. Parks will be the command and control, with a group of what they are calling the shooters if things go south (Nick Fuller, Pat Stobbe, Chad Christman, Sergeant Major

Journal of a Company Commander

Bond, Staff Sergeant Brown, and me). We are in three Humvees. BRT will be going in while we isolate and reinforce, if necessary, on a star cluster [a star-cluster pyrotechnic will be the signal to execute]. The composition of senior guys is pretty crazy. It wouldn't be so nerve-racking if it wasn't for the ad hoc nature of this event. All the guys are super competent; we just haven't worked together-ever.

The mission dynamic changed several times as the target building floated around the city. We finally got the recon done (Bill and Nick in the informant's car) and then we went to the [former] Iraqi terrorist-training camp for final precombat inspections and vehicle loads. I ended up riding with 1-12 IN in a scout Humvee with all the reinforcing shooters. The mission went well, and the BRT sped by with the target back to the camp. We offloaded him there and unsandbagged his head, and he started chanting, "Death to America! Saddam! Saddam!" Needless to say, he was our guy and got placed into the EPW vehicle rapidly. The other two guys were freaked out, and one passed out. Don't know what we did with them as we were next in the order of movement, so we sped off back to the TAA [Tactical Assembly Area]. Good call by Lieutenant Colonel Parks to take only one target building and to roll the Brads-seeing as how we didn't have any aircraft support. I would have recommended the same, seeing the ad hoc nature of the operation. Glad it went so well, but it was nerve-racking and adrenaline-pumping to say the least. It seemed like a great Ranger company mission. Too bad we didn't have one of them.

30 April: Slept in late today. There is nothing going on after the late night last night ... 0400. Just sat around all day BSing. They had a little church service, and I went to that. The big issue today was the mail. Turns out we have three trailers of it in the rear with the S-1 [personnel officer]/S-4 [supply officer]. I truly wonder what they are doing back in Kuwait, seeing that we left weeks ago. Different lives. We are just wasting people back there. It gets cold here at night, so I am pretty happy about that.

Well, Victory 6 [the V Corps commander, Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace] came to a meeting yesterday. He said we would be here for a year or until the job is done. Sad face for everyone after that meeting. Morale kinda sunk. It's been pretty boring since we got back from the raid last night. We actually haven't moved from this compound. That makes things go much slower. We still haven't gotten the water turned back on. We are dirty and getting dirtier. They say we are on a two-liter water bottle ration. No water for personal

Battleground IRAQ

hygiene, so we are going to get filthy if we don't get this fixed. Everyone is working but not really accomplishing anything-just sustaining. Now the CG is coming for a visit, so we are going to spend an inordinate amount of time preparing a briefing and sitting in a briefing. I have to go fix the colonel's map, but he took off somewhere with it. I sat in a meeting with the XO last night. He briefed us that we came to this country to take risks. We have RBA [Ranger body armor] (without plates) and ammunition and must go after the bad guys whenever we see them, regardless of the security we possess. Well, everyone pretty much ignored him; he thinks he can just go all around the country in a soft-skin Humvee. He is hazardous to everyone around him. It's one thing to risk your own life, completely different to risk the lives of others-especially your eighteen-year-old driver's. I just don't see eye to eye with that guy at all. Well, it looks like we are going to have company changes of command in May.