Ah yes folks, my all expense paid vacation to … … … Iraq is almost at its end. Thanks to the wonderful folks at the 101st Airborne Division, I have been able to enjoy 10 months worth of great weather, lovely people, and a nice, quiet atmosphere.
It all started in Early March when the marching orders came down. It was time to roll out, time to begin an adventure starting in Kuwait and surely moving north into the deepest parts of Iraq. I was going to war, little ole me. Once arriving in Kuwait, I got to experience the best things the desert had to offer, the windstorms, scorching heat, and some hellacious rains. What could be better than that?
Well, just when I thought I was at the peak of the vacation, It was time to move forward, yes, venture into the heartland of Iraq. I mad a pit stop in the appropriately named 30 Palms, a camel breeding ground in which camels from all over Iraq flock to every year in order to breed. Great eh? No dirt, no sand on the ground whatsoever, all camel droppings. Little turds served as our basis for our tents. During this period I was able to provide legal assistance and operational assistance to the other wonderful vacationer’s. The great venture in the camel matting ground only last a couple of weeks and it was time to move to our next stop.
I had though things couldn’t get any better, and then I arrived at what we labeled HELL ON EARTH. Al Iskandaria, even the name sounds like some violent STD. Yes, what a great spot to enjoy the next few weeks. Luckily, I had a building to stay in, nicely invested with the local wildlife, some stray dogs even scorpions. What a great view. Not only that but the building next door was an ex-torture chamber. Blood splattered on the walls and fecal matter still everywhere. Amazing Folks!! I highly recommend you take a trip to Al Iskandaria, sure changed what I took for granted.
It was nice to have a protective layer of sand at least a quarter inch thick on all of my gear though, sure helped keep everything out. Ah yes, the next movement.
Mosul!!! Finally I arrived at my next destination; little did I know that my vacation would be extended to nearly a year. Yes!! Motivating! Mosul was exceptionally beautiful when I first arrived. Green grass everywhere and the ancient ruins of Nineveh were located here. (Not being sarcastic now). Not such a bad place, I thought. Mosul seem pretty safe upon my arrival. I also got to enjoy two of the best jobs I’ve done here.
Foreign claims: I was tasked to investigate accidents that the coalition had and were at fault, in order to pay compensation. What made this really enjoyable was when the Ammo supply point exploded, yes 5 football field sized areas full of Ex-Iraqi Army ammo. This was an amazing sight. However, as it was negligence on our part, we had to pay compensation for the houses it damaged. In order to do this, I had to go out and inspect the houses, everyone, nearly 10000 houses. Amazing actually. During the peak times here in Mosul, I registered 128 on the thermometer. 128, walking outside house to house in full body armor, that was truly an experience. I even managed to find some disgruntle locals that decided to engage me in a brief firefight. Neat!! I did however earn an ARCOM with V device. (For any ex-army out there you’ll know what that means.)
Once the ASP inspections neared an end, I was reassigned into the MOJO (Mosul Office of Judicial Operations.) This, I truly was excited about. My office was tasked with totally reconstituting and refitting the judicial system in Nineveh Province, specifically Mosul. First we started out by cleaning out the main courthouse, a daunting task as it was completely looted and nearly burned down. Files from criminal and civil cases were everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Not a computer terminal in sight. Nineveh Province still employed a Napoleonic justice system that had yet to meet the technological era. Amazing, people still use filing cabinets, pens and papers. Perhaps our most famous achievement, the Court Appointed Attorney Program (CAAP) was begun next. CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) passed an order instituting Miranda Rights to the Iraqi People. As MOJO was the only operation of its kind in Iraq, we decided to be the forerunners with the new laws. We formed CAAP, a program designed to educate local lawyers on the new rights and institute a public defender like system. Pretty amazing, to this day we have over 1000 lawyers trained. We have done graduations for 300 of these lawyers (meerly a little ceremony where we give them a certificate and give them $100 out of the capital budget for the Ministry of Justice.) The commanding general of the 101st loves this program and has attended every graduation.
Next, my focus was on courthouse reconstruction. There are 22 courthouses within the Nineveh Province, serving roughly 4 million people. NONE of them were functional when I arrived in Mosul. Now, every single courthouse is hearing at least 30 cases a day. Amazing progress in short time. We currently have 4 courthouses under construction. The main courthouse is over a million dollar project. I have written 14 grant applications for NGO’s and received no money from them. :rolleyes: However, via different means of financing I have been able to facilitate the construction of the aforementioned courthouses. Before I leave, I hope to have secured over 2 million dollars for the other courthouse and begin construction on 2 new, state-of-the-art buildings. Ah, this is my goal.
Now for my pet project. The Anti-Corruption Commission. Corruption has always and continues to run rampant in Iraq, and it is exceptional bad in Mosul. Thus, the idea for an anticorruption agency came about. I spent two months researching various modules and resources including CPIB (Singapoore), various USAID operations and extensive correspondence within Transparency International. After conducting the aforementioned research, I drafted the proposal for the agency. My office (we then switched to NIOJO – Northern Iraq Office of Judicial Operations) accepted the proposal and drove on. We hired 33 people, 16 of which are security; a chief prosecutor, 9 investigators and the rest are prosecutors. Working with an unnamed government agency, we are training these folks in investigative techniques and such. The grand opening of the ACC is scheduled for late December. There will be international press coverage and the commanding general loves this ideal. This, my pet project, is in full swing.
Along with all this great stuff, we have vetted the judicial system of corrupt judges, high ranking Ba’ath party officials and anyone against the new Iraq. Pretty amazing stuff. We have had one of our judges killed, a contractor shot, and interpreters attacked many times, all people just trying to help their own nation . . .pretty sad if you ask me. Also we have began to set up an educational exchange program, victim – witness coordinator program, instituted new ethics and oaths of office, a paralegal program (Iraq does not have paralegals) and set up a Juvenile Justice Center. Along with this, our office has hired two Iraqi computer experts and purchased over 40 computers for the courthouses. Our computer experts conduced 4 classes a day each consisting of 20 people. These classes are aimed at bring the Nineveh Judicial system into the 21st century. These are my accomplishments with the 101st Airborne Division. Me, a 19 year old male . . .
I am pretty proud of my accomplishments since I have arrived in Iraq. There is no other job in the Army I would rather have. Hopefully, all of these accomplishments will aide in my goal of going to law school and becoming a lawyer.
Sorry this is so long. I just felt like putting it all together, it’s a bit vague and rambling. I haven’t proofread it and I do not intend to . . . .hehe. Thank you