Thebastidge: Ali Baba
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    ********************Southwest Washington Surplus, your prepping supply store********************

    Thursday, October 19, 2006

    Ali Baba

    Funny, the person who gets most pissed off about being called a thief is always the guy who just ripped you off.

    My co-workers related more of the story today. I'd heard rumours about weapons being drawn and lots of yelling, but I got more details on an incident today. Kinda funny in retrospect, and the guys involved laugh about itnow, but it was tense at the time. There's a rumour that a certain commander of a base far o the south was actually a privatein Saddam's military, who put the right uniform on when the coalition came in, and is now a colonel. Amazing how changing rank tabs affects how you get treated. Anyway, during an install a few weeks ago, when some equipment went missing andlocks were misteriously changed on store rooms over night during the installation, our guys were understandably pissed. So they called the dude Ali Baba to his face, and the incident, though resolved peacefully eventually, ended up with guns drawn.

    All of whch is just background that brings brings us to today at another base. Today we delivered some repaired computers (actually outside the scope of our isntallation) and the commander of the receiving unit told us to just leave them and he would have his guys put them back out where they belong.

    Well, that was kind of funny. You see, one insight I've gathered over time is that your vices tend to work against each other. Criminals get caught, often as not, because their natural tendency to be lazy keeps them from being diligent enough to not get caught.

    When an Iraqi offers to do physical labour (in this case, hauling computers, monitors, and heavy-ass UPS upstairs), it stands out. During this entire install, not one person has offered to carry equipment, no matter how eager they were to have that machine working on their desk. So our Navy Chief that we have along as military escort and liaison started asking hard questions about where all the peripherals for those computers were- keyboards, mice etc. After much chinese-firedrill-like scrambling, some equipment that doesn't look much like ours was produced. Conclusion: this guy didn't want us to see how depleted his inventory is- the rest of it probably being in some haji-mart outside the wire. There wasn't time to pursue the issue further, but the Chief will be reporting the discrepancy up the chain, for all the good that will do.

    Iraqis have already developed a cargo cult, more or less. They are all about getting as much as they canout of us, on an individual level. I'm told there is 8 billion dollars sitting at the MoD for military infrastructure alone, but every time they can get coalition to pay for something, they do.

    The other day, an Iraqi police came up to me and started babbling in really badly broken English. Being me, I tried to understand what he was talking about. He was trying to get me to give him bullets from my clip. He had a nearly full clip, and I don't have re-supply out here, but he wanted me to give him some. I would wager that sometime inthe past, GI's werehanding out bullets to IP (Iraqi Police) like candy andhe just wanted some more. Cargo Cult. Well, I told him no, but he wouldn't stop bugging me. FInally I was able to leave the area, but when I came back about anhour later he tried again.

    These guys are not afraid to ask for, really to beg for, anything that they can get. There doesn't seem to be any shame. But they don't take good care of theirown, either. They'll leave guys standing guard post in the sun all day without even resupplying water. I don't know if that is because they don't care, because they just aren't organized and proactive enough to plan a schedule of guardpost checks, or a combination.

    There's NO planning here. These guys know that we're coming on a certain date, and yet they'll still take off and leave no keys behind. It's not that they don't want what we've got- in fact, getting their network is really inportant to them. They just don't trust anyone else with their keys, even in the military, and they don't think about anything that is not immediate. By immediate, I mean someone standing there requesting a key. Immediate in the most immediate sense of the word. We give thempaperwork to complete (user agreements) that spell out the terms of the network, and it takes DAYS to get them turned back in, with constant hounding on our part. This is partly because no Iraqi will willingly write down any of his personal information, but partly because nothing gets done until it's crisis time. Then when it doesn't get accomplished, it's not because some lazy bastard procrastinated, it's Inshallah.

    Lest it seem like I'm already reaching my frustration limit, realize that I'm mostly just laughing about all this. I'm not shocked by any of it, I'm bemused and a little disgusted, but not really surprised. Reading about a situation and talking about it with experienced people before hand will really enable you to function much better, I find. Fortunately I had those friends with the experience and I read widely.

    Until next time...


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