Being the victim of a department clear out wasn’t such a bad thing when your job was in Iraq. Especially with the jihadists banging on the door to the ancient Kurdish capital of Erbil. The atmosphere at work was becoming more like a scene out of the ‘Game of Thrones’ with all the rumours, lies and deception. Despite the high pay – I’m relieved to be out of that corrosive arena. I’m now pursuing work in local areas now where the only flak I get is from the wife and kids. I learnt valuable lessons in Iraq – that money isn’t everything. Yeah, it helps, but family and friends are more important.
I see the gradual mission creep of the US and I can see parallels to Vietnam. Naturally the British are following in the heels of the US, never far out of the arse of the president is the head of the prime minister. Where does it start? Back to 1991? Probably further back than that. But I want to start in August 1990.
BATUS – CANADA 1990
I was on an Alberta plain in Canada at the time – getting beasted. I’d only been in the Army a few weeks and I’d been sacked from the FDC (Fire Direction Centre), sent to the BQMS then onto an M109 Self Propelled Gun with a crew of guys who were going to make my life shit for 3 weeks. I don’t blame them either – I didn’t have a clue what to do on an Artillery Gun. I soon learnt and was preparing the charge bags, which were the US variant. They were easy to sort out as they were in white bags and you just simply put them on top of each other depending on how far you wanted to throw the 98lb shell. My name was Nig for that time and I was happy with that. Nig has no racist connotation, but it was thought to mean ‘New Intake Gunner’ or ‘New In Germany’.
Tommy Huntley came round to the gun one day and told us that the Iraqis had invaded Kuwait.
“My Mam and Dad’s in Saudi,” I say. And they’d been there for a year now. My dad had gotten a new job with British Aerospace Corporation (as it was known then).
“Guess where we’ll be going for Xmas?” Tommy says.
“Fuck’s sake!” Curses all round at the thought of Xmas in the middle east.
“Hey, we’re off to Ireland, man! We’re not gannin’. That’s all sorted oot.”
We had a tour of Northern Ireland booked in the January for 6 months. Sunny Bessbrook sounded just as far as Kuwait at the moment in Canada.
“They’ll get yer parents out if they’re in any bother. Saudi’s protected anyway,” Tommy goes to me.
And that was that. The exercise carried on for what else were we to do? If we were off to the middle east, then an exercise was just what we needed.
* * *
“Oh – for fuck’s sake.” A Lieutenant said as I ambled into the group of men designated a ‘gun runners’. We were to be shown where the M109 Artillery Guns were to be put. The Battery Reconnaissance Officer would take us out in a Land Rover and show us where our individual guns would go. I was the only Gunner who’s helmet had no cover. I think it had been stolen from me in the early hours of initial deployment.
In the Land Rover we’re all over the place in the back. It’s off road and it’s like a group of particles banging off each other. Great example for a physics lesson. Thank god for the Mark 2 kevlar helmet. We all stink, but we don’t notice it, our clothes are a just dirty and sweaty. The Rover stops and gradually the guys get out and they’re shown where to run to – the officer points in a direction near these sticks with triangle pointy bits on them that point off in a direction. I hadn’t been shown what to do here and this was my first job since I’d been sacked from the Fire Direction Centre. I get shown and then we’re all taken to a point where all the vehicles would pass through.
It was about 34 degrees out here and not a cloud in the sky. Straw coloured grass to the horizon on undulating terrain. We could see the smoke of a convoy approach, the ground under our feet began to vibrate. Then they’re upon us, one after the other, 40 tonne hulks racing towards us. We began to run and my Gun turned in my direction, its engine screaming as it did a 90 degree turn, churning up the ground. I ran for a good kilometre to a point where the Lieutenant pointed out to me and I halted in front of the vehicle willing the vehicle’s brakes to work. Dust and earth flew up to me and into my face as the M109 halted, a near skid. Out came Baz, climbing out of the commanders hatch squeezing past the Sergeant with a menacing look on his face. He was nearly twice my size. This was a little like David and Goliath. A fist came crashing out and into my chest nearly dropping me.
“Where the fuck are we meant to go!?” He screamed.
“Here!” I shout back, “I was sent here!”
“Yer dumb cunt!” He gets the driver to manoeuvre the big gun and points it in the correct direction.
That was the precedence to a shitty 3 weeks in the prairie on an eggy, cordite smelling gun. To make matters worse we had an officer cadet who joined the gun for four days and I remember him telling me how he was going to me a commander and would be my boss in the future. Smug fucker. I never met the bloke again – thank fuck.
The last fire mission was done and we were racing across the prairie in these M109 Guns – they’re basically tanks, but don’t tell that to an Artilleryman or they’ll have a go. The rations were thrown at opposing guns who were driving alongside; we had six to a battery. Eggs were flung, high angle and splattered onto the chassis. Fuck! That’ll be me cleaning that up!
Back at the camp, we park up in the Gun Park and begin maintenance. The Sergeant and the others go off on the piss while I’m stood there like a pleb – didn’t have a clue, sorting the gun out.
Impetigo scabbed my lower lip and it looked like somebody had taken a knife to it. I had to use my own basin and not shave it. A fucking nightmare.
Despite this, I went into the City of Medicine Hat and partied. Swimming pools, giant foam stetsins, massive cars, massive portions of coke and burgers and fucking huge ice creams – no wonder they’re all fat over here!!
I digress…. ISIS are a wave of thought. An idea, a way of life and a surge of influence through the world especially in the minds of young muslims. What they’re doing in Iraq and Syria is nothing new and even worse shit happened in the last century. It’s just that you get to see it on your computer whenever you google beheading, buried alive, execution etc etc. The Americans had the Vietnam war in their living rooms in the 1960s and 70s and didn’t like the taste that. Luckily both World Wars didn’t get the same media attention and the horrors were safely hidden by technological constraints. I suppose this was part of the reason why so many of the people coming back from the front felt alienated by their experiences as none of the selfish people back home knew what or could comprehend what had happened to them.
So, ISIS burying people alive, shooting women, kids, men, chopping heads off – nothing novel there – it’s already happened and on an even grander scale especially during the great upheavals of peoples post World War 1. Swathes of people, literally smears of dark stains from outer space could be seen on the land as they were forcible moved and exchanged – I’m talking about the Greeks and the Turks of either country to be ‘repatriated’. There were massacres, but you don’t really get to hear about that. Millions of Russians…. I’m lucky. Very lucky I was born in UK.
The Turks were just as bad… anyone else? The US, UK, French, German, the list goes on….
The Americans are now re-arming the Kurds to protect their US interests in the Oil reserves up in Kurdistan. The ancient city of Erbil may hold. It will get suicide attacks and may even be in range of ISIS artillery soon. I like it how the US begin by saying they’re not going to get involved and then all of a sudden we’ve got US special forces on the ground, Air strikes, Drones, Arms shipments to the Kurds etc etc. When there’s oil and it’s in the US interest then they’ll help. The Yazidis are just a sideshow to the US. There have been many more massacres in Syria on an unprecedented scale, but weren’t publicized.
I run a parallel to this with trying to get a book sold. Unless you have the right media you will not get the attention.
Forget the parallel for now, but for Iraq. Her only survival here is unity as we all know – sectarian violence is tearing it up. Already the Kurds have an even stronger foothold in the north, with a probably US backing. With the world police backing you up, you’re sorted. The only way you’re going to get the jihadists out of the country is with Western boots on the ground. The Iraqis just don’t have the discipline to deal with them. The Kurds are doing okay – the Peshmergah have a reputation of being hard bastards to uphold. The rest of them…. fuck. I was there in 2004 and saw just how corrupt/ undisciplined their security forces were. We’d arm the police, kill an insurgent and recover the weapon we’d given the policeman a week earlier.
The death of Robin Williams now eclipses groups of Yazidis clinging onto helicopters to escape the murderous jihadists.
Many of the Jihadists are UK, Australian, US and other western nationalities. If they survive their jihad and come back they should be deported to the country which they fought in and tried there. They may be executed depending on the capital punishment system of that country. I think it’s hanging in Iraq. It would certainly make the world a better place and it would be preferable to the Tax payer paying for a prison cell for these brainwashed numbskulls.
A few weeks ago we had a plane go down in the Ukraine and fuck me – it’s a Malaysian Airline. Here we go, let’s wait for the conspiracy theories. I didn’t hear any about the airline, but that it was a Russian jet that shot it down. President Putin is getting flak from every fucker about the plane going down. Let’s do some number crunching now. How many people affected by the crash? Take the number of passengers and cube it – 25,672,375…. maybe not. Whatever took it down didn’t vaporize it, but probably took out the wing and that’s what initiated the uncontrolled descent. We may never get to find out who press the button to make that missile fly or who authorised the firing of it. One thing’s for sure. It has widened the gap between the US and the Russians…. That means the UK, Germany and the rest of Europe too. Businesses are feeling the pinch due to embargoes. Even over here in Belarus – I’m writing this in Belarus – the fish imports from US are going to stop soon. The Ukrainian President’s chocolate brand is slowly dwindling in Gomel’s shops as they’re no longer importing them in. A patch of land mainly occupied by Russians and contested by them, is that what it’s for? Of course not – the Germans don’t want the Russians making land gains like they did 50 years ago. A bit rich coming from zee Germans. Whenever you get a mix of languages, cultures and colours, you’ll get divide and clash.
One solution – brainwash every fucker. Forget your nationality, name, colour, race and creed. Reminds me of We, written by, Yevgeny Zamyatin, who inspired Orson Welles to write 1984.