Dateline: Jabella, Iraq %u20139.21.04
We’ve been up since 3am–waiting for Hilla SWAT. It’s now 4:30. Despite their annoyance–the Force Recon squad from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit seems extremely patient–at least around Kuni Takahashi, a photographer for the Chicago Tribune and me. Instead they look at their watches–bullshit each other about their individual depravities–like masturbating in sweat socks. Typical life details at a military FOB or forward operating base in Iraq. These marines at FOB Kalsu still sleep in tents, shit in porta-johns, live in the dirt. This is no Camp Victory green zone paradise with guys chilling in air-conditioned trailers and eating at the Bob Hope Dining Facility–a zeppelin hangar of a building just down the road from Baghdad International Airport. Everyone here has heard the stories–or maybe, been on a convoy through the green zone, briefly glimpsed the way that other half lives. They piss and moan about it–but don’t denounce its existence. They are, after all, Americans–it’s about aspirations–still believing that hard work and perseverance may someday get you to the Promised Land.