This first picture is of me and an Iraqi policeman taken while we were out on a foot patrol in Ramadi. There are several things I would like to point out about this picture. First, note his incredible sense of style; the scarf, the 50 Cent-style bullet proof vest, the AK47 slung as if it were some kind of accessory. But the paramount to this ensemble: the SAME L.E.I. jeans my sister used to wear in high school. No joke. I don't know, call me crazy but maybe the reason you still have terrorists in your city is because you have Muhammad McPillow-biter patrolling the streets.
*I mean absolutely no disrespect toward the man's sexuality. In all seriousness, if he is gay, more power to him. Especially in such an oppressive culture. All I'm saying is that you may have more success if you at least tried to look aggressive.
But unfortunately the absolute WORST part about this picture is something that cannot be seen. This man smelled like a mix between a hobo's scrotum and a dirty foot on it's period. Notice how I'm standing three feet away from him and I still had to hold my breath the whole time this picture was being taken. It was appalling. You have to understand though, that this is kinda the norm over there.
Here is your typical Iraqi bathroom. I did not take this picture but this is just an example.
I know what you're thinking: "That's not a toilet." But let me assure you that it is. I've never tested this out, but the concept is that you simply squat over the hole and let gravity do the rest. Easy enough right? Wrong. I think Arthur Harris' carpet bombers in WWII had better precision. Believe it or not but this is the average cleanliness of an Iraqi bathroom, and sadly I've seen worse. The smell in those bathrooms is so bad that you can literally taste it. As counter intuitive as it may seem, breathing through your nose is probably your best bet. Suffice it to say that personal hygiene over there is not a common virtue.
In the next two pictures is something that kind of took me by surprise. Heading over to Iraq we had these preconceived ideas of what we would encounter; terrorists, bombed out buildings, death and destruction. All of those things were as we anticipated but we didn't expect to see such a large ninja subculture.Who knew they had such an affinity for covert Japanese warfare.
In an effort to avoid making this post completely about Iraq (because that can be a little gloomy), this picture is of a birthday cake I purchased for one of my friends and presented it to him in front of our whole office.
There are many more pictures still but I'll save them for another day. For now I'll leave you with the one and only video in this series. We were headed back to base after being out on a week-long mission. We hadn't showered or had a decent night's sleep for several days so this kinda broke up the monotony.