February 28, 2009
— DrewM Even the most ardent war supporters admitted victory in Iraq wouldn't look like victory in WWII but thought they would know it when they saw it.
The American soldier stepped out of the Baghdad nightclub. In one hand, he clutched his weapon. In the other, a green can of Tuborg beer. He took a sip and walked over to two comrades, dressed as he was in camouflage and combat gear.
Inside the club Thursday night, U.S. soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division ogled young Iraqi women who appeared to be prostitutes gyrating to Arabic pop music. A singer crooned soulfully through scratchy speakers to the raucous, pulsating beat -- an action that Islamic extremists have deemed punishable by beheading.
Twenty minutes later, several drunk men coaxed an American soldier to dance. He awkwardly shuffled his feet, wearing night-vision equipment and a radio, joining the women and boisterous young men in an Arabic chain dance around tables covered with empty beer bottles.
...Club manager Salah Hassan said Thursday's visit was not exceptional. "The Americans come here four or five times a week," he said. "They buy drinks and pay for them."
Others at the club said the soldiers had been there more than once. "I love the Americans," said Amal Saad, a petite young woman with blue contact lenses and thick red lipstick. "I like it when they come here. I feel so safe."
"Many times, I went with them in their Humvees," she added. "They took me to shops and bought me chocolates and gifts."
Now, there's a couple of problems with this.
First it likely violates a shit load of regulations (remember it took a special order from Gen. Odierno for the troops to have a beer during the Super Bowl and that was while on base). I'm guessing drinking off base while on patrol is going to land this guy in a pile of shit so deep he may not be clean for years. I'm betting this type of thing won't be happening again anytime soon.
Second, not every place in Iraq is likely as secure as this area and even in this type of area things can change quickly. I'd hate to see Americans killed or injured because they let their guard down.
All that said, this is stuff that was simply unimaginable during the dark days of 2006-2007. Unfortunately, too many people who said Iraq could never emerge from sectarian strife are in positions of high power today. Their lack of vision and commitment to the Iraq war does not bode well for their stewardship of America's national security.
Posted by: geoffb at February 28, 2009 05:57 AM (dWDyC)
Holy crap. I'd be busted so low I'd be saying "Yes sir" to Gomer Pile if I pulled that crap here in Baqubah. Of course I measure the mark of improvement in a patrol we did the other day.
We left the Government Center with the NP commander, walked down the street with nothing but the four of us, escorted by a photographer and a squad of National Police. We still caught hell for it, but even a year ago such a thing was unthinkable.
Now, while it was a "first time", it was hardly dangerous.
Posted by: CPL Kane at February 28, 2009 05:57 AM (Yjc54)
Posted by: Vic at February 28, 2009 06:00 AM (f6os6)
Drew, you are assuming the entire story is true, and not "embellished". Which, reading it again, it appears to be.
It wouldn't suprise me if the "beer" in the hands of the soldier was a soda.
Posted by: TomB at February 28, 2009 06:01 AM (HPG5S)
Blackfive attributes the story to MSNBC. The source alone is enough fail the smell test.
Posted by: Reiver at February 28, 2009 06:02 AM (lwDPK)
The purpose for the article?
"See mister jihadiscum was right! The evil Americans WILL turn all your daughters and wives into whores!"
Posted by: Grimmy at February 28, 2009 06:02 AM (jJfaV)
Posted by: Reiver at February 28, 2009 06:04 AM (lwDPK)
They have photos of soldiers in what appears to be a bar.
If it's a hoax, it's an elaborate one.
Posted by: DrewM. at February 28, 2009 06:08 AM (hlYel)
Posted by: Tim at February 28, 2009 06:08 AM (sp1sQ)
Posted by: TomB at February 28, 2009 06:13 AM (HPG5S)
No alcoholic beverages being held or drunk by them in their slideshow.
Even this isn't conclusive:
"...Club manager Salah Hassan said Thursday's visit was not exceptional. 'The Americans come here four or five times a week,' he said. 'They buy drinks and pay for them.'"
Drinks? What? Water, tea, cola, prune juice, Manhattans?
They come by for security checks. Maybe they're thirsty and, well, winning hearts and minds by commingling. Are they required to be surly and stand-off-ish even at the urging of the very locals who befriend them?
I sense some fabulism going on with careful phraseology to suggest to the reader that something untoward is happening when nothing of the sort really is. Of course, it is material from the Washington Post, so naturally I should accept it at face value.
Posted by: AnonymousDrivel at February 28, 2009 06:19 AM (swuwV)
To my non-military mind it's not that big of a leap. Yes, it's a lapse of discipline, a potentially dangerous one at that. But it seems to me as conditions improve that's the kind of lapse that will happen and have always happened. Even the best soldier can have be lulled into a false sense of security when all around them seems so normal.
What never passed the smell test was the idea of the troops as roving bands of murderers. That was always a fantasy of the left.
Grabbing the forbidden beer in a seemingly relaxed, quasi social setting? That strikes me as well within in the margins of possibility.
Again, I've never been there or done that so I could be very wrong.
Posted by: DrewM. at February 28, 2009 06:23 AM (hlYel)
Posted by: AnonymousDrivel at February 28, 2009 06:23 AM (swuwV)
Posted on February 27, 2009. The same day that Obama made his Iraq Pullout Plan announcement. Shaping the news to fit the events?
Or just a coinkydink.
Posted by: SlaveDog at February 28, 2009 06:27 AM (LDTnn)
These Iraqis are willing to use their name and be photographed with Americans, that's a good thing. Yes, I'm sure this was happening under Bush and we are only hearing about it now that it's safe in the Age of Obama but life isn't fair. I'd rather it be seen now than hidden forever.
Posted by: DrewM. at February 28, 2009 06:28 AM (hlYel)
Posted by: Disease Ridden Vermin at February 28, 2009 06:28 AM (Tha0W)
Posted by: sherlock at February 28, 2009 06:29 AM (L4jPh)
Posted by: silly at February 28, 2009 06:30 AM (zplc6)
I don't know you, except from this site, so I'll tread lightly and if I step out of bounds I'll apologize.
Your remark, at above, seems to have an edge of challenge about it, to wit, if it's in the paper it must be as presented. I'm not going all paranoia here, but it is the Washington Post, and these appear to be Arab reporters, and the language of the article seems intended to incite Islamic outrage, ( gyrated,gyrate).
All things being taken into consideration, setting this as a counterpoint to all of the heroic action of our military personnel in Iraq, is so patently the liberal MSM template it reeks to me.
Thanks for listening and this article begs the "I question the timing" label.
Posted by: solitary knight at February 28, 2009 06:31 AM (SqnIe)
To my non-military mind it's not that big of a leap. Yes, it's a lapse of discipline, a potentially dangerous one at that. But it seems to me as conditions improve that's the kind of lapse that will happen and have always happened.
Not while they are being trailed by a Washington Post photographer and writer.
Posted by: TomB at February 28, 2009 06:34 AM (HPG5S)
I call bullshit right there. No need to read further.
Posted by: Ombudsman at February 28, 2009 06:37 AM (fWF4Q)
It wasn't meant as a challenge or a 'if it's in the paper it must be true' at all.
Mostly, I don't view this as a negative story about American troops and honestly I'm a little shocked others do. Aside from the beer issue, I didn't think it was a hit piece on the troops but as close to a puff piece as we are likely to see.
I think the story shows that the troops are far from being monsters and oppressors in the eyes of every Iraqi, some of them actually see Americans as human beings they can get along with.
I saw that as progress from an outfit like the Washington Post.
Posted by: DrewM. at February 28, 2009 06:40 AM (hlYel)
That possible loophole aside, this story would make it a very bad time to be deployed in the Eighty-Douchebags. The chain of command over there knows who they sent the reporter to, so they know exactly who to hammer for dicking around in a nightclub on company time. Expect some people to be in deep fucking shit over this.
Posted by: SGT Dan at February 28, 2009 06:46 AM (YCle4)
Posted by: Potosi Joel at February 28, 2009 06:50 AM (TPRbZ)
HOWEVER... the rest of the story is exactly in line with current strategy in Iraq. Sitting down for tea, dropping into the local businesses, playing with the children in the streets, etc... all are considered part of an average/daily patrol in many parts of Iraq these days. It's a conscious effort; besides building relationships and improving the American image, you often get the best intelligence from informal and friendly interactions with people.
Posted by: FbL at February 28, 2009 06:56 AM (HwqvF)
The only beer I see clearly is in the slide show, being consumed by an Iraqi nam in an " all-male club in another part of Bagdhad", which is a coy way of saying "a place completely unassociated with where the soldiers mentioned in the article were, and thus having nothing to do with them.".
I also note the strange construction of:
A U.S. military spokesman, responding to a query about the soldiers, was incredulous. "Just so I understand this clearly, you saw U.S. soldiers at a nightclub in downtown Baghdad outside of the Green Zone in uniform drinking and dancing?" asked Tech. Sgt. Chris Stagner.... Club manager Salah Hassan said Thursday's visit was not exceptional.
The U.S. military spaokesman was obviously directing his question to a reporter, and doing so in a manner that challenged the veracity of their claim, but it is never answered... instead, we go to another paragraph where a club manager is making a genral statement about such visits, and soldiers buying "drinks". So this reporter was directly challenged by someone to prove what he alleged, and we are not given his answer? Stinks.
Oh, and AQI thanks you for the handy map, WAPO. Maybe AoSHQ should publish a map of the location of the WAPO news bureau and engage in some constructive speculation about whether Korans are regularly burned there by the Jooooos that run the place? Sounds like MSM-quality journalism to me!
Posted by: sherlock at February 28, 2009 06:56 AM (L4jPh)
Women? But aren't they are all prostitutes? Just sayin'.
Adeeba? Beheaded by late August- early September 2010.
Posted by: Dear John at February 28, 2009 06:56 AM (MU8FI)
Posted by: bman at February 28, 2009 06:58 AM (2ahX8)
Unless this "journalist" witnessed the women accepting cash and then dropping to their knees and honking on bobo...well, that's not journalism.
Posted by: Ombudsman at February 28, 2009 07:01 AM (fWF4Q)
Thank you for addressing my comment, and I take you at your word that you had no intent at challenge.
Not to belabor the point, but I would ask that you consider this one thing in your response......I think the story shows that the troops are far from being monsters and oppressors in the eyes of every Iraqi....
Do you see what you did there? If I'm a bit pedantic, apology offered.
Posted by: solitary knight at February 28, 2009 07:05 AM (SqnIe)
OMG! See? Murtha was right!! Now these rampaging kill-bots have descended into ogling! You'd think they could be trained to do it in their mind like Jimmy Carter, but I guess they are just too far gone into the whole Bushitler-Cheneyburton ethos of unilateral leering!
Oh, the humanity. Hopefully, someone like Barney Frank will convene a truth commission to really probe the whole stinking mess. Right?
Posted by: sherlock at February 28, 2009 07:08 AM (L4jPh)
If your point is I adopted the language of the left (monsters and oppressors) it was intentional. I was using their own language to demonstrate the absurdity of their view and how far from the truth they are.
If not, I missed your point and have to run out for a few hours but I'll check back and see what you meant.
Posted by: DrewM. at February 28, 2009 07:11 AM (hlYel)
I can understand why you would read this as a good sign; some civilians would read this as a portent of good things in Iraq. I have to agree with this not passing the smell test, at least as first read. But, yeah, the writer most def sexed the thing up (gyrates, appears to be prostitutes) and that kind of loose shit (on the part of the MSM, not you) plays into all the wrong peoples hands.
I'd guess, too, that lots of soldiers are going to be spoken to about this. You hate to say it, but aiding the media rarely works out well for the (un)common grunt.
Posted by: Mike Caldwell at February 28, 2009 07:18 AM (mDarN)
My loose shit!
Posted by: Mike Caldwell at February 28, 2009 07:20 AM (mDarN)
Received and understood. Have a good weekend, and rest assured the next time you screw up I'll be there with my steady hand of being outrageously upset at the message and fully willing to terminate the messenger with extreme prejudice.
Until then, Godspeed to you and yours.
Posted by: solitary knight at February 28, 2009 07:33 AM (SqnIe)
This was a crappy story to run at this time -- a fair bit of journalistic shit stirring if you ask me; they'll make Iraq into Vietnam if it takes every reporter in the Congo.
If this fell into the wrong hands (any of them) there could be shit, and that's what worries me.
If the fellows from the 82nd (or any other unit) are letting their guard down (and if this is story is even remotely correct, they are, which from what my kid says we are having a problem with some troops falling into "garrison" mode), then some folks need their chops busted -- hard and soon. I hate denying a bit of relaxation from the troops, and I hate to see who are essentially good troop getting powdered, but that could get someone killed (and the media would be rubbing their hands and squealing at the prospect, so they'd be more than willing to help that prospect along -- fuckers).
Posted by: unknown jane at February 28, 2009 08:07 AM (EpmMs)
The soldiers stop by the club, a declared target of the bad guys, which is an entirely reasonable thing to do. They aren't going to *not* look at the girls.
After 20 minutes the drunk fellows manage to talk one of the Americans into being a good sport and doing a line dance. How does this equate to Americans hanging out at night-clubs parting with prostitutes and getting drunk? It doesn't.
The girl claiming to have gotten rides in Humvees "many times" is really the only part of that where it's probably a case of either she's lying or someone is in serious trouble.
Posted by: Synova at February 28, 2009 08:22 AM (NxP4A)
That's why the WaPo published the story, to get the soldiers in trouble, and to paint Baghdad as a corrupt place full of prostitutes and drunks, like the war ended the "mostly conservative Islamic" society, which is bullshit. Saddam made it a secular country.
Posted by: PJ at February 28, 2009 08:23 AM (oioJx)
Posted by: t-bird at February 28, 2009 08:43 AM (FcR7P)
Posted by: muggedbyreality at February 28, 2009 09:27 AM (sChOZ)
Twenty minutes later, several drunk men coaxed an American soldier to dance. He awkwardly shuffled his feet...
I call bullshit. Joe knows how to dance.
Posted by: martini at February 28, 2009 10:01 AM (UY3pA)
On the dance floor, nobody messes with Joe.
Posted by: Barney Stinson at February 28, 2009 10:04 AM (pfStM)
I've got a friend who's been to Iraq repeatedly over the last few years. He told me a story about smoking hash with an Iraqi family that was pretty funny. He said he didn't want to insult them when they offered by saying no and keeping it friendly with the locals was a big deal at the time.
GI's are known to BS on occasion, but I can see his point at the same time.
Posted by: digitalbrownshirt at February 28, 2009 10:16 AM (ABDig)
Does it happen with mid-rank, SF/CA guys doing their job, Yes. Does it happen with 19 year old legs, on patrol, No (Maybe, if they were pulling security for somebody else who had a reason to be there. But, that's a long shot)
Unless things have dramatically changed in the last 60 days.
My guess, patrol moves thru area. Local friendly hands out cold pop in an AC room. Boys are there 10min max. Reporter is there getting hammered and hummered, stumbles upon scoop story - that is 75% BS.
The cool part of this story is the Baghdad is safe enough for reporters to go get hummers on the economy. The uncool part is some E-6's shit is getting drilled right now, for basically doing his job.
Posted by: Jean at February 28, 2009 10:18 AM (xCBQ4)
I believe in having fun while you work. But, in a combat zone or so as this reporter tells it is emmmmmm....beyond belief.
I'd fire the whole frigging crew for being dumb enough to be photoed having their fun.Sorry crew, report to the showers, turn in your gear and go home for being stupid.
Now for this reporter........drivers license, registration and proof of insurance. The reason I pulled you over is for being a *dickhead*
Posted by: tendavidseventy at February 28, 2009 10:47 AM (MyEs9)
Posted by: dri at February 28, 2009 11:01 AM (XRqBM)
Posted by: richard mcenroe at February 28, 2009 01:22 PM (pEXyx)
Posted by: richard mcenroe at February 28, 2009 02:58 PM (pEXyx)
Posted by: enter sandman at February 28, 2009 04:03 PM (RraiC)
What pisses me off is the freaking article naming names, and oh look, they were even so gracious as to put a little map up -- I blame falling revenues for them not going to extra mile and putting a little "the troops hang out there" arrow.
It's great that Iraq is starting to get on its feet and all, but it still isn't a completely secure place to be, and with our troops pulling out soon there is bound to be some trouble somewhere. That's just one of the rules: things are always a bit dicey at the beginning and ending of things. The troops still need to be on their toes, and that goes triplicate if a damn reporter is around.
At the very least this is a smear job. American soldiers = debauched centurions who turn the locals into camp followers (hmm, seems I remember this as one of the standard stereotypes coming out of Vietnam concerning our troops). At worst, it's a snarky attempt to stir shit.
Troops -- let's be careful out there.
Posted by: unknown jane at February 28, 2009 04:08 PM (EpmMs)
OK, so no shit, there we were. My and my section of 3/502 are in the rec tent at Camp New York before the big drive north in '03. Some guys from the 325th (only BCT of the 82nd in Kuwait, 504th and 505th were swapping out in Afghan at the time) come in and proceed to talk shit. Apparently the Falcons were off on some FOB in the middle of ass-fuck noplace and loudly decided we were pussies for being where we were sent. Then the traditional unit-hate came out.
"Hey, look guys, it's the Screaming Eagles. What's the eagle screaming?"
His buddy pipes up "Help! Help!"
Shit talking starts going both ways. I started talking about "fucking glider riders from the 3-2-5", that sort of thing. We were about ready to pick up chairs and dance when a couple platoon sergeants decided we'd had enough fun.
Posted by: SGT Dan at February 28, 2009 04:12 PM (YCle4)
Posted by: SGT Dan at February 28, 2009 04:17 PM (YCle4)
Posted by: bman at March 01, 2009 05:32 AM (2ahX8)
I feel bad for the soldiers involved and pictured in the story, but worse for the women pictured and described as "prostitutes." The soldiers will get grilled and busted for violating GO #1, but the women might get killed.
A lot of Abu Nawas street is basically like a mini-Green Zone, with checkpoints and walls around it. It's where the Palestine, Baghdad and "Sheraton" hotels, long with some smaller hotels are. It was always one of the entertainment districts of Baghdad. The story is accurate, Saddam banned the night clubs in 1994, but they started to open up in some of the hotels in 2003. I didn't know that Maliki legalized them again. No wonder his party won the recent provincial elections!
Posted by: icus at March 01, 2009 06:11 AM (Ozf6a)
The Division went off jump status in 1968. No one was jumping in Vietnam (unless you count SF and the 173rd Airborne Brigade's 2/503 on JUNCTION CITY in '67) and Benning couldn't produce enough jump-qualified replacements to keep the 101st, 173rd, SF, and the mostly-Stateside 82nd filled up. The decision was made that a second air cavalry division was more useful, so the 101st had more aviation units attached and started getting leg replacements. There was paperwork calling us the 101st Air Cavalry Division for a while until it was changed back with the (Airmobile). This held over after the war and in '74 became (Air Assault).
We're sort of the heirs to the glider half of of the Airborne family tree. We come down as intact units with heavier equipment, then we can pick up. move ninety miles or more further behind their lines, and do it again. The 82nd does the same thing in theater. They haven't executed a combat jump since Panama in '89. They wanted to jump into Karbala Gap in '03, but we executed that mission with helicopter support instead.
But we're about 40 percent jump qualified in case one of the 82nd's brigades suffers a misfortune, then we're supposed to be able to unit-train and certify to reconstitute a parachute capability. My regiment, the 502nd, is the only one of the WWII parachute infantry regiments without a single battalion on status.
Posted by: SGT Dan at March 01, 2009 09:21 AM (YCle4)
Posted by: bman at March 01, 2009 12:21 PM (2ahX8)
An Islamic cultural organization has called upon its 51 member states to boycott Denmark in response to cartoons of the prophet Mohammed printed three months ago in national daily Jyllands-Posten. There were many more calls for a boycott.
That was in 2006, but the boycott goes on. Kinda makes me wonder...Beer is prolly not that easy to come by, and to get Tuborg? I don't know how hard it is to get beer there...so...
And honestly...if no blood was spilled and a few brews were had, I don't have a problem with it. Should it be a daily occurrence..? NO...that would be stupid.
Posted by: Kevin Nolen at March 01, 2009 03:00 PM (jrH0j)
Posted by: remy hair at March 01, 2009 04:21 PM (poHFL)
Posted by: Doc at March 01, 2009 08:36 PM (ABfDp)
Servicemen typically buy non-alcoholic beverages like sodas, coffee and what-not on duty.
If it was beer, he should be reprimanded unofficially (more like a pat on the butt than a slap on the wrist).
As for the dancing, again, I do hope the CO isn't a "by-the-book" guy. Individual soldiers have a good read on whether or not they're in danger. He certainly crossed the line in terms of professionalism, but I'd remind him sternly rather than write him up for it.
Posted by: Rykehaven at March 02, 2009 04:39 AM (VZS2x)
Look at the soldier in the picture; he's in full kit. Also, they are likely on patrol-- if the route of Abu Nawas St takes them to the entrance to the Green Zone, then this would be a patrol from an ECP; not sure if the soldier is outside, or inside a bar. Looks like several of the pics are taken at outdoor cafes.
Also, if that soldier is that bold to get his mug in a photo for some journalists, he is either has big brass ones (maybe) or the photo and the soldiers situation is taken out of context in the WashPost article. (Hmm, THAT never happens...)
PS - I'm in Anbar province, where its relatively quiet but extremely dry. No hookah hookers.
PPS--last time a Tech Sgt was your unit spokesman? (An Airforce E-4 in plan language). Sounds all a little off.
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