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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • LV Times columnist: Iraq and back again

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  • SourceURL:file://localhost/Volumes/Editorial/1%20LOCAL%20NEWS/1.....%202014/6-June/6-18/Ready/6-18Column-Reichley.doc
    One would have to be living under a rock not to know trouble is brewing again in Iraq.
    An organization of radical Islamists has formed what some consider a military force and is moving not so slowly toward Baghdad.
    The U.S. State Department rejects calling it a civil war, but people are killing people and many other very warlike activities are going on.
    There is no soldier at Fort Leavenworth I can get a first-person update from as all U.S. troops were pulled out of Iraq many months ago. But, there is one Leavenworth citizen who could, and did, give an update on what is going on, as he’s been there to see and experience it.
    Dave Shearman is a former Los Angeles police officer whose family has lived in Leavenworth for three years. He’s had a couple of jobs, and the current one is working for the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service.
    What does that mean in layman’s terms?
    His specific job is agent in charge of high threat to motorcades, with the collateral mission of training the Iraqi police.
    “We provide convoy service for U.S. diplomats and others as they move from place to place for meetings and their business in Iraq,” he said. “To do that, we coordinate with the Iraqi police and army and some Iraqi civilians.”
    Has he found much hostility toward the U.S. from Iraqis he’s dealt with?
    “Generally speaking, the Iraqis I’ve dealt with have been hospitable and willing to assist Americans however they can,” he said.
    “I’ve worked with hospitals, oil fields, fish farms, and found the Iraqis to be nice people. My job is what is called a ‘high-risk post’ so of course we have to take precautions. We lived in Basra, which is south of Baghdad, but have moved to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
    “There is a constant threat of violence, and checkpoints have been blown up within sight of the Embassy. You can hear gunfire in the streets around the Embassy quite often.”
    Iraq is a bit different from Kansas. He said it gets to 130 degrees in the summer, and rains very much in the winter. He describes living conditions as “austere.”
    But, ever the trooper, he’s ready to return to duty, which currently is scheduled for June 24.
    “If the attacking force takes over the airfield, I won’t be going back,” he said. Obviously he’s watching the news closely while getting overdue maintenance jobs done around his home in Leavenworth.
    Page 2 of 2 - I don’t believe most Americans understand the Middle East, which includes Iraq. The two dominant Moslem factions, Sunnis and Shiites, have not been friendly for centuries. That is an understatement, as they have hated each other’s guts for centuries.
    The potent force currently causing the problem is not a country, but a radical offshoot of Al-Qaeda.
    News reports say that as Iraqi cities have been captured, the people hailed the attackers as heroes, until they began beheading police officers and government officials.
     The White House has Pentagon officials working on several “contingency options,” but has ruled out boots on the ground, or the return of combat forces. Days ago, a U.S. aircraft carrier was moved to the region.
    More bad news is that many of the weapons, including combat vehicles, the invading force is using came from the retreating Iraqi army as soldiers deserted and vacated the area in droves. That is the army the U.S. spent years training.
    We will see what we will see. And I suspect we’ll be seeing something momentous very soon.
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