JAG-ged Edge
Trial Defense Services (TDS) Deployed
By: Andrew Efaw

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Tuesday, 8-Feb-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Note from Andy (via Mary)

Due to operational considerations (whatever that means) I will continue blogging my deployment on the following site: http://tdsjag.blogspot.com

Sunday, 6-Feb-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Blind Blogging with NO COFFEE!!!

I sit in the waiting area of helipad waiting for my flight to be called. Smoky and the Bandit plays on the TV. I’ve actually never seen this classic. I can barely here because of the prop noise that seems ubiquitous over the camps at Baghdad and even more so around the airfields. My name gets called by a female sergeant with five other soldier’s names. She doesn’t say anything. We just follow her outside and into the prop wash of a Blackhawk. I am wearing full battle rattle for the first time. I am struggling with a two rucks and a duffle bag. I get in the front left. The co-pilot has an Orange County Sheriff’s Dep’t patch glued to his CVC helmet. I haven’t flown in a Blackhawk that I can recall since 1987 at CTLT at Ord. I can’t remember how to get the racecar type belts on. The left side gunner that I sit beside shows me in pantomime. We take off. For some reason, flying in helicopters is not scary in the least the way airplanes are. I think it is because there’s no going faster and faster and faster hoping there’s enough speed to get off the ground. You just gently lift off.

As soon as we are up, the gunner is all business. We zoom over the wall of Camp Victory and into Baghdad. The gunner is all-business. He scans every building, every street with both with his eyes and his M-60. It looks just like that scene from Blackhawk Down just before the Blackhawk gets hit. The pilot follows the nap of the earth—which is pretty flat. We skim the ground, the trees. This whole country seems strewn with high power lines. We approach below the level of the lines and swoop up. Then the bottom drops out like a roller coaster as we come down the other side. This country is much more green and beautiful the Kuwait. In some places there are groves of beautiful palms. We fly over these in a zigzag motion while the gunners search everywhere in case there’s a bad guy. We see kids on a makeshift soccer field in the middle of nowhere. They wave.

After 45 minutes, we land at Camp Iron Horse. This is mandatory stop because the pilots have been flying for over 5 hours. We stay there for an hour and get chow. I eat with a Air Force LTC that is on the flight with me. He turns out to be the Division ALO (Air Liaison Officer). A good person to know in the future. We take off again after dinner. It is now dark. We fly lights out. The crew wears NVG’s (night vision goggles). I don’t worry about getting shot down anymore. But I do wonder about the power lines. I thoroughly enjoy the ride but think of how much more I’d like to be home with Amy and the girls and boy.

As with every other place I have been, I land in the dark in seeming chaos and mud. I call CPT Gilaburt on a DNVT line. The connection is awful. I wait for him to borrow a vehicle to pick me up. While I wait, I realize that I have flown to Tikrit with Dave Scott’s room key in my pocket.

CPT G picks me up and dumps me off in my new digs. They are trailers not unlike those in Baghdad. I am assigned to slot 150. I walk in and one half the trailer is a mess. The other half—presumably mine--consists of dirty linoleum of some sort of ugly Asian pattern, a broken single bed, and mattress stolen from an old trailer in West Virginia. The whole place is reminiscent of living in one of those storage rental places. I sit on my bed for a full ten minutes and just stare—wondering what I am doing here. I take a picture of my roommate’s stuff and go to sleep.

I wake up today and stumble out of my hooch and look around. This is helmet only country and weapons always on your person. I wear a leather holster that I bought at the Bazaar—handmade in Baghdad. Speicher used to be an Iraqi Air Force base and the Iraqi Air Force Academy. The Army has named it Speicher after an American fighter pilot that was shot down in ’91 in Iraq. He’s still considered MIA. The place has been shot up and bombed into oblivion. It’s like wandering around a movie set. There’s one of those tile pics of Saddam. And a soccer stadium that’s been shot and bomb and shot. The stone seats are full of strafe marks and the announcer’s grandstand is broken to pieces and has rebar sticking out like wild hairs in the sky. I still feel depressed about being here. I find an AT&T phone trailer. I have the card I got in Germany still in my pocket. I call home and talk to Amy for exactly 12 minutes before it cuts off. She senses that I am depressed about here. But I can’t explain why. Because I really am not sure.

I eat lunch. Drink coffee and suddenly feel much more positive. Maybe its two days without coffee that is the problem. This is truly a muddy boots assignment and I am excited to be here. What’s next?

What’s next is an email from CPT Russell P. Thomas. CPT Thomas says “Sir, I have no idea who you are, but I am a field artillery officer. I have taken over an empty tent at Camp Beuhring in Kuwait. In this tent are three duffels and trunk with your name on them. Any idea why?” This is not welcome news. These were supposed to trek up here with one LT Badilla of the 42nd. It has nearly all my belongings. And all my coffee. I have clothes for five days here. There is no washing machines or dryers. All must be sent out with the Hajji men for cleaning. Back into the survival mode.

Saturday, 5-Feb-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Blind Blogging via Mary


-poster in the Coalition Café, Camp Victory, Baghdad

Iraq—definitely a new state of existence. Much more like a combat zone.

I waited at the A-Pod in Kuwait—at the little VIP lounge that you’ve seen pics of before. Beside it was a tent. GP Medium. We were briefed, “This tent has nice carpet and a comfy couch . . . and it’s not ours so stay out.” 4 and half hours later, I was wheels up, crammed into a C-130 with a bunch of civilian contractors and some three star general who showed up at the last minute. For those of you who don’t know what C-130 looks like. It is a short squat cargo plane that has one of those ramps that drops in the back. It has the aerodynamics of an iron with wings. You sit in 4 rows of jump benches that are made of cargo webbing and run the length of the plane. Two sets of benches on the left side of the plane face each other and the two on the right do too. The facing benches are so close to each other that everyone’s knees overlap and touch the knees of the guy across from you. Not real comfortable. You get stacked into the plane then a forklift brings the palletized bags and sticks them in the back. I read Aron Ralson’s (the guy who amputated his own hand) amazing story in Outside on the way over. The flight wasn’t bad at all, except for the flatulence problem someone had. The last time, I was on C-130 was at jump school preparing to jump out. Somehow, for me, flying into the combat zone was less stressful, though I did notice several civilian types donning their kevlar’s and body armor as we descended. I’ve noticed since I’ve been here that several people have their blood type embroidered onto their body armor and helmets or just inked onto them.

Like I did in Kuwait, I arrived in Baghdad at night. So right from the start everything is alien bec. you can’t orient youself very well. We landed at Baghdad Int’l Airport (which has the bizarre acronym BIAP with the more bizarre pronunciation of BI-OP). My first impression was how muddy everything is and then how chaotic everything is. Picture a big outdoor event like a concert where it rains buckets and picture the mud and you have the camps at Baghdad. The mud sticks to your boots with the gravel that has been laid to “fix” the problem and it builds up until you feel like you are wearing heavy metal platform boots. The flight line is separated from everything else by concertina wire with a gate. You wait by the gate in the mud until a forklift comes with a pallet that has your gear on it. Then everyone scrambles to scrounge through it to get their bags. When I arrived, elements of 3rd ID where also arriving. So those soldiers were everywhere adding to the confusion. I found a found in “Tent 1—the terminal” and called the JAG guys here to let them know I had arrived and then waited in the extremely crowded “Tent 2,” the waiting area. This tent was jammed full of 3rd ID soldiers which all their NODs and weapons and gear and tracked in mud. Then, smack in the middle of this primitiveness was a large screen TV broadcasting ESPN SportsCenter.

After about an hour, the Senior Defense Counsel (SDC), CPT Dave Scott came to pick me up. He’s a former infantry CIB guy. We went to the office (near BIAP on Camp Victory—which are trailers surround by cement barriers and bunkers. They are right beside Saddam’s mosque and the courtroom where his preliminary hearing occurred a few months back. SSG Daugherty was there desperately trying to get me a flight to Tikrit. Apparently, even tasks that seem simple are hard here—made more difficult bec. of very slow computers (might have something to do with the LAN lines that are laid across the surface of roads?) and phone lines that often don’t work. CPT Scott—after figuring out that I am “a pretty cool guy,” decided to let me crash in his room instead of dumping me off in one of those transient tents.

The trailers here—and there are acres and acres of them—are the size of a contractor’s trailer at a construction site. They have 3 doors cut into them for entry into three two man rooms. Each is completely surround with concrete—Texas Barriers or boxes made of fencing and full of rocks. A few places even have barriers that are bigger than Texas barriers—they are about 15 feet high and look like segments of the Berlin Wall. Latrines and showers are several yards away in separate trailers. You can only get there by traversing lots of mud. You get dirty just getting to the shower. Then you get clean and get dirty again going back to you room.

In spite of all the cement here—obvious evidence that safety is an issue—people here don’t seem that concerned about dying. The TDS people I talked to last night seemed to be most concerned with backsplash in the portajohns (if you’re not sure what backsplash is, let your imagination run wild). And if they are killed, they pray it’s not when they are in the portajohn.

CPT Scott had to leave early this morning to fly for witness interviews somewhere else. I got up and one of the first things I heard was gunfire. Here everyone carries their weapon everywhere. You can take your weapon and rounds in every building. And you don’t have to use the clearing barrels if the weapons status is green. It’s like an ant hill there are soldiers and vehicles everywhere and in motion everywhere. I even saw and Estonian soldier today. And it looks like a combat zone. Besides being dirty, many of the building and walls and bridges are combat damaged.

SSG D worked on getting me a flight to Speicher and I was able to wander around and see the sights in daylight. There is water everywhere here and trees everywhere. For me it’s great just to see the trees. Camp Victory is home to one of Saddam’s main palaces which sits on a beautiful lake. This whole area was some sort of animal preserve with beautiful buildings scattered throughout. I took a few pics this morning, but doubt that I will be able to post them. Can’t even get on the blog site right now. Hopefully, I can get this up via Amy or Mary.

Just got word from SSG D that she found me Blackhawk flight to FOB Speicher, leaving tonight and making several stops along the way. So next dispatch will be from my new home.

Thursday, 3-Feb-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Next Stop Baghdad

This is it. My last day here in Kuwait. Tomorrow I fly to Baghdad and from there to Tikrit. I'm really looking forward to a change. I've spent the last couple days tying of loose ends like dismantling my office, mailing books and case files north, drawing ammo, packing, meeting with clients and coordinating flights.

Yesterday, the TDS office took a rare day off for "organizational day." Ellis, Emery, Deichert and I went to KNB. I had to meet with one of my "leftover" clients (meaning I will have to come back down here for trial if his case gets that far.) Then we ran the pier out into the bay. I took a few pics, but mostly let Christian Deichert use my camera. He's a huge photographer type and his camera has not arrived from his place in Germany yet; so I let him use mine. He has some great pics from around the world on his website. There's a link on this page under my favorites. Then we ate food at the KNB haji fallafel (or whatever it is) stand. They bake the bread wraps right there and have that great meat like the Turkish places in Germany. It was great just to eat food that doesn't taste like mess hall food.

I tried to draw a basic load of 9mm ammo today. But the guy was like, "We're out of ammo. Here's 10 rounds I have left in the bottom of the box. Good luck." So I am left with the proposition of borrowing ammo. for my first Iraq foray.

I also went to the confinement facility to visit two of my clients. That place looks like Stalag 17 meets Angola Prison. It's several tents surrounded by triple strand concertina stacked six feet high. The prisoners kind of just shuffle around the enclosure. They are supposed to be gainfully employed. But from what I saw--there was not much there there. The "gate"/"guardhouse" is makeshift structure made of plywood and two by fours. Even the door and lock are homemade. I turned over my knife to the guards, but no metal detectors here. I really think escape would prob. be pretty easy. But both the guards and the prisoners know there's no place to go. Generally, no one stays there more than 30 days. They are moved either to Germany or the States depending on room in Army facilities.

I'm booked on a flight for tomorro, but they never tell you when the flight is leaving because of security consideration. You call the night before you are to leave. They give you a "show time." You show up and wait an undetermined amount of time (can be several hours) and then fly.

Tuesday, 1-Feb-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark

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