Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Dumb luck?

The security manager uses a sophisticated program called FalconLite to plan the routes of his team's missions. It's similar to the Google map program, but has more views and offers a unique set of overlays that detail the location of every "sigact," which in non-military speak means any enemy action that's significant enough to record. Most of the sig acts are IEDs, though after the bombing in Sammara, the program started recording the number of murders. I placed the overlay of all the incidents that have happened in Baghdad since the beginning of the month. Though we're just a little more than half way through May, nearly all of the map is covered with incidents and our compound is completely obscured.

This makes me grateful that in the time I've been here, we've never been attacked. The reason for this is a matter of some debate. The PSDs, ever wary, contend that it's only a matter of time and attribute our record to dumb luck. I prefer to think that Iraqis can tell we're not with the military, and aren't bothered by our presence. There's no official policy barring them, but I've never seen coalition forces enter the compound. Also, many Iraqis know that we're creating jobs and trying to improve lives. Of course the Zarqawis aren't able to look beyond our nationalities and would be happy to take us out all the same. But as targets go, we're lower on the list because of the work we're doing.

Though there have been some close calls.

A few months ago, an explosion on the main street outside the compound caused the building to shake. No one was killed in the blast and after a few minutes of trying to glimpse the damage from my window, I went back to work. Apparently, there were plenty of explosives packed in the car. Though the car was parked almost 100 yards away, the door handle, pictured above, was launched into the compound and landed next to our generator, a few steps away from the entrance to our building. Despite the close proximity, the consensus is that the compound was not targeted. Amazingly, the cars adjacent to the IED were damaged but still operable after the explosion. The force was diffuse and not channeled properly, which lead some to comment that it was detonated prematurely.

Recently, the insurgents seem to have a new target: liquor stores. The recent attacks on stores selling alcohol have taken place in our neighborhood. If these insurgents knew the amount of inebriants that are consumed in the compound, it would certainly outweigh any points earned from our development work.


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