Chief Wiggles -- Straight from Iraq
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The online journal of Chief Wiggles.

Monday, August 11, 2003
Please note. Chief Wiggles main website has moved to
http://chiefwiggles.blog-city.com. However, some people are not able to access that site. While we work out that problem, we will continue to provide his latest journal entries here. Please view his blog on his new site if possible.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Good morning Baghdad. In an earlier posting I started to talk about how good my first week had been, but I got side tracked by my emotions desiring to discuss recently learned lessons and feelings. Sorry if at times I get on my soapbox to express my thoughts.

With all of these new creature comforts living has become less of a laborious task, no wonder I slept almost 12 hours my first night here.

On my first full day here at the palace, we went out with one of our collection teams to scope out our area, getting familiar with the neighborhoods of Baghdad. We drove all over this large spread out city of around 5 million people. It was so exciting and much as I expected, reminding me of my days back in the early 70's when I was living in the cities and neighborhoods of South Korea, although Baghdad does appear to be slightly different in many respects.

It was quite an experience for me to witness first hand the nature of my surroundings and the extent of the devastation inflicted by the weaponry of the US military. It was quite a testament to the precision of our bombing to see only the targeted buildings completely demolished in a neighborhood of buildings, not knowing of course if our intelligence of what was in the building was as accurate. Never during the next 4 hours of driving around Baghdad did I see any evidence that our bombs had missed their targets, hitting inadvertently a house or a school, or other seemingly insignificant civilian areas.

My interpreter continually remarked about how the city of Baghdad had changed since he was here many years ago. The city used to be beautiful and clean, modern even for its time, some 20 to 30 years ago he said.

The city is now showing its age from the years of neglect and the scares of war, dirtier and more run down. There is very little color to the buildings, the sandy, kaki color dominating the landscape. There was a lot of trash and garbage on the sidewalks and streets, indicating perhaps that not all services are operating yet.

Most of the city does appear to be up and running, with power, although many of the shops and businesses are not yet open. But a good number are which is a healthy sign, indicating that people are attempting to recover from the unfortunate circumstances that have plagued them.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the people bustling around busily engaged in going about their normal life or so it seemed. The streets were full of cars and people, even congested at times, which is a scary thing for us driving around in a military vehicle.

We were always aware that at any moment an unseen assailant from a window or rooftop could light us up. We never forgot even for a second the ever-present danger of the areas we were traveling in, grasping our loaded rifles ready to fire at any moment. We were ever so careful not to get blocked in by any traffic jams, using our Hummer's ability to drive over obstacles to change direction immediately when the traffic started to back up. 
Our team has driven these streets daily, feeling very comfortable about driving around in the middle of the day. I trusted the team chief's intuition and instinct regarding the degree of danger we were willing to accept.

At one safe area we stopped to grab a few cold drinks from a friendly street vendor, who along with others thanked us for our willingness to come to their rescue. A man had parked his car for a moment to buy some meat hanging in a butcher shop, so I ventured over to talk to the young boy who had been left in the car. I took the interpreter over with me to insure I didn't scare the child with my questioning and of course to get some answers to those questions.

The boy said he was 6 years old and that his name was Ali, or something that sounded like that. What a cute kid, his future now brighter than ever before.

The owner of the butcher shop came out to speak with us, actually able to speak English quite well. He was curious of our actions in his neighborhood, but more than anything wanting to show off his ability to speak English. He said he used to teach at the university. He was quick to inform me that he was a Christian, now not afraid to admit that.

I made a special effort to wave to everyone I could see as we drove around, showing them I cared and that we meant them no harm, supposing they might be afraid of our weapons. We are still making an effort in every thing we do to win over the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

We drove into an area just on the outskirts of the city, which was covered with date palm trees as far as you could see. Huge towering palm trees each with their golden treasure held up near the top. Iraq is or at one time was the world's largest producer of dates. I've been told that there are over 100 different types of dates, eaten at what seems to be all stages of their ripening. I love dates so it is a treat for me to eat them here.

As we drove around we noticed a drastic difference in the standard of living of certain neighborhoods; ranging from the extremely poor areas to the obviously extremely wealthy. Some neighborhoods were filled with big beautiful homes, apparently untouched by the affects of the war, the homes and yards still kept up and nicely manicured. I had cause to wonder about the plausible connection between the homeowners and Saddam's regime, having won enough favor to own such a big beautiful home.

I felt very fortunate to have had this great experience driving around the city and interacting with the people unharmed.

Every night the sound of gun shots echo through out the city, reminding us of the ever present danger that looms like a dark cloud. It is the random unpredictability of it that keeps us on our toes, knowing perhaps that some of our fellow soldiers have just fallen victim.

Some days are worse than others in the number of attacks, which I am sure you all hear about from the media. Sometimes it is soldiers just being out at the wrong time, in the wrong areas doing stupid things. Other times it is a car bomb or a remote controlled detonation on a bridge or street. But there are safe areas around the city and it is not like it is happening all the time all over the city.

We do get leads on who these terrorists are and we do take them down, just last night catching up with a Fedayeen officer who had been terrorizing a neighborhood. It is a process, involving time and assistance from the local people, who are gaining confidence in our ability to provide security for this country. As the days go by the local populace trust us more and more, which is evident by the number of people stepping forth to provide information.

A few days later my partner and I had an opportunity to attend a conference of religious leaders in a city north of here with all the heavy hitters. Winning over the support of the religious factions is critical to our success here in Iraq. The religious fanatics can be the cause of much unrest amongst the local populace, resulting in additional violence and death.

Good night for now


posted by Chief Wiggles 7:36 PM
. . .
Please note. Chief Wiggles main website has moved to
http://chiefwiggles.blog-city.com. However, some people are not able to access that site. While we work out that problem, we will continue to provide his latest journal entries here. Please view his blog on his new site if possible.

Friday, August 08, 2003

My first week in Baghdad. Oh, what a week it has been. I might even say it has been a great week, one like no other, with out comparison, one of my best weeks ever. At least here in Baghdad, except for the intense heat, I don't have to fight the environment with such vigor as I have in the past few months. Yes, contrary to popular belief, Baghdad is hot too; in the 120's and higher when you are out in it with all your gear on. As per the Commander's orders we are required to wear our Kevlar helmet, our flack jacket, and tote our weapon around with us whenever we go out of the walls of our compound riding in a military vehicle.

It's been kind of nice that my environmental situation has improved with each and every move; starting with the worst and moving on to the best as opposed to the other way around. I am glad I didn't know then what I know now about the state of how nice things could be on the flip side. In retrospect I am amazed at what the human body can adapt to, in a situation where you have no choice.

At least in my previous assignment we could wear our brown T-shirts without the top shirt of our uniform and we didn't have to blouse our boots, so those little things did help in coping with the extremes of the environment. As I mentioned before, I actually came to a point where I had grown to like it, but now looking back on it I must have been delusionary, overcome by the sand and the heat. I must have been zapped by the flash in Men in Black, not able to recall the creature comforts of a previous life time, comforts I had totally taken for granted.

What was I thinking; now as I sit on a real bed, listening to my boom box, while I reach over to grab a cold water out of the little fridge within arms reach of my bed, in a room cooled to a perfect temperature by my own AC unit. What can I say, I almost feel guilty, almost.

I've spent the week meeting all our important sources, rubbing shoulders with the big wigs, trying to get brought up to speed by my good bud Chief Authentico. I'm definitely humbled by this opportunity totally feeling unworthy of this assignment, which has been laid in my lap. The two of us have had a great week together, which for him has been pretty much a solo act for the last month.

We have such a vision for this mission, the scope of which is greater than anything that has been done up to this point. We are in the process of developing a way to repackage and remarket this to get the buy-in from those above us. We have big plans for what this should be.

My heart is full of gratitude for the abundance of blessings that have come my way in such a short period of time, my cup spilling over with a constant flow of blessings one being added upon another. My eyes filling with tears at this moment as I ponder the extent to which I have been blessed with so many wonderful things.


Who am I, but one so insignificant little person in the big scheme of things. Yet if I, being almost nothing in comparison to the universe over time, have been worth enough for the Lord in his wisdom to affect my life's course so as to bring me to a point of total fulfillment, then are we all not of great worth in his sight. Do we all not warrant his caring, directing hand in all of our lives, if we will but acknowledge his hand in all things?

We are his creation, his children, his own, each sharing his complete love and knowledge of each of us, equally qualified to receive his blessings. What can I do but love him in return and love all that he has created as he does. Oh, that I could see the worth of each of his children the way he does, seeing their positive characteristics and strengths. I pray that I can further be a tool in his hand to accomplish his goal, in my own small way, at times feeling like a small pebble in the ocean waves being tossed to and fro, thinking what possible influence can I have on the direction of the waves of human kind.

I'm amazed at times that I am able to accomplish anything of significance, but admitting at the same time that even I, one so insignificant, have seen the small impact of my hand on the things the Lord has brought to my care. In his grace I have been entrusted with a few small things and given the chance to make a difference. I have seen my hand print as he has placed it on things, acknowledging that it was not me, but him who touched a heart, changed a mind, influenced another, made someone cry, or influenced a decision.

Unfortunately, all too often I have failed to accomplish the full measure of my creation, instead allowing my human weaknesses to overcome my desires to succeed. I have fallen off the edge when I really needed to rise up and meet the challenges of the time.

All I can say is that every day I have another chance to fulfill my destiny, to play a small role in the play of life, even seemingly so insignificant a part, but as is written in the Bible, through small things shall great things be accomplished, through the weak shall they be made strong. I have hope for yet another day to do his will, to be a tool in his hand, as he carves out the course of human history and as he directs the life of each of us.

I have been truly blessed. I am humbled to see the extent to which I, being nothing, have received so much. All I can do in return is give back, to give all that I have, for I have nothing but what he gave it to me.

I have been annoyed by the constant negative comments by the people all around me - those close by or in the media, or in political parties, who are constantly attempting to show off their intellect by devaluing the accomplishments or deeds of others.

At times there are those of us who feel proud of what we have done or what we have accomplished, as if we actually have done anything really on our own. Sometimes we are proud of our own superior knowledge if we are able to find fault in the accomplishments of others. Do we feel smarter if we take what someone else has said, or thought, or made or created, and criticize it, find fault with it, but never introduce a better, workable plan of action? Does this ability that any of us have to find fault, actually equate to superior intelligence? Who really can't find fault with everything around us, if we try?

Why is it that there are so many people who spend so much time expounding the negative aspects of something rather than using their own intellect to creatively come up with a solution, then work to make it a reality, proving through implementation the real superior value of an idea. Isn't it those people who choose to quietly solve problems through actions and by implementing plans who actually have the superior intelligence? 

Anything short of real hands-on development is merely a waste of time - pontificating worthless negative ideas about the mistakes or shortcomings of another course of action.

What value is there in cynical fault finding? I find it limiting and restrictive, counterproductive in every sense of the word. Stop it already. I find those types every where I go.


posted by Chief Wiggles 7:35 PM
. . .
Please note. Chief Wiggles main website has moved to
http://chiefwiggles.blog-city.com. However, some people are not able to access that site. While we work out that problem, we will continue to provide his latest journal entries here. Please view his blog on his new site if possible.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

I was recently asked by someone back in the US, "What is the real story of what is going on in Iraq?" So I felt it would be worthwhile to spend some time shedding a little light on that subject at least from my perspective. I would be the first to admit that there is a certain amount of subjective prejudice in my perspective given my background, my religious preference, the type of work I am engaged in over here, and the type of glasses I use to look at the world through. But my perspective though jaded does represent a reality from someone here doing the job, on site, hands on, working up front and personal with the Iraqi people.

This is the classic struggle between good and evil that has been going on since the beginning of time. These people have been in bondage, chained by the ruthless hands of Saddam Hussein. They have been forced to live according to his evil desires, teaching them for the past 30 years that if you are going to get ahead in life, you need to take what ever you can get anyway you can get it. Life according to Saddam is about acquiring wealth, power and fame through being deceitful, dishonest, ruthless, willing to go to extreme means to get what you want, at the expense of others. Thus perpetuating the evils of society in every aspect of their lives, creating the very things I spoke of earlier in my journal, such as; distrust, disbelief, dishonesty, greed, strife, selfishness, and on and on.

I am not saying all the Iraqi people are like this only that this was their example and they were rewarded for pursuing an evil course of action. So many of them followed the path to fame and fortune outlined by Saddam himself, through being abusive, taking advantage of those weaker, it was survival of the fittest. The wild west of the Middle East.

We came to their rescue bringing a new freedom perhaps for most never before experienced; the large majority of people welcoming our relief from the chains of Saddam, cutting his evil control of their lives. Even now that I drive around Baghdad people waive, kids run out to greet us, people all over the country giving us thumbs up. Just yesterday, a car full of young men pulled up along side of us to express their great joy for what we have done for them.

There is good happening all around us. So many good people are stepping forward to bring us information about bad activities going on against the coalition forces. Little by little we are weeding the society of those that would desire to perpetuate the evil doings of their former ruler, still seeking to take control of these people. Evil doings of people wanting power or wealth through wicked means.

Every day people come to our office to inform us of activities in their community that are illegal or pro-Saddam or are against the coalition forces. We dispatch a team to conduct a raid on the location to take down the bad people. We do this almost every night. It is happening, one raid at a time, one good act of kindness at a time, one honest deed, one kind gesture, it is catching on and the wave is building. It is going to happen.

The door is opening to the Middle East, to bring about the freeing of these people. They have been suppressed long enough under the auspices of religion or a royal family, subjecting these people to untold amount of bondage. I do believe Iraq is going to thrive on their new freedom, but it will take some time, some ups and downs, and mistakes will be made along the way.

Just like when Saddam's two sons were killed there was celebration in the streets, people firing weapons into the air in jubilation, unaware that when those bullets came back down 50 people would be killed inadvertently. Freedom has a price and limitations, to insure that others are not affected by the freedom of one. Freedom requires a certain level of understanding, empathy, consideration and restraint. Laws actually go hand in hand with freedom, to insure the rights of all.

There are still those who wish to pursue an evil course of action, seeking to gain from another's loss. It will take time to change a nation's mind set, to create a paradigm shift, bringing about the level of understanding that is required to not abuse freedom. __This is a just cause for which we are dieing for and the start of many great things for people through out the Middle East; ridding this region of the world of hatred. The battle of good and evil, right and wrong, love and hatred exists all over the world, what role will each of us play in this eternal struggle. We all must decide what side we are on and act upon our conviction to make a difference. Do something.


posted by Chief Wiggles 7:33 PM
. . .
Please note. Chief Wiggles main website has moved to
http://chiefwiggles.blog-city.com. However, some people are not able to access that site. While we work out that problem, we will continue to provide his latest journal entries here. Please view his blog on his new site if possible.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

I have been away from the POW camp now for almost a week and I really do miss that place, or should I say I miss the people. I had developed so many strong friendships over the past 3 months, which I am going to try to maintain. It is just too easy to let friendships slide away never to be reclaimed. It does take a certain amount of effort to hold on to the things we will miss the most if gone. It all depends on how much value we place on our friendships and I have to feel that it starts with me taking the initiative to keep it.

Fantastic news! I got word yesterday that 3 colonels were released from Hoover 7, the officer who I blessed when he had the tremors, the colonel who had 9 kids and Jamal, who was like the manager of the camp, organizing everyone's food and memorizing everyone's number, in a lot of ways he was like Radar O'reily off of MASH.

I am now smack dab in the middle of Baghdad, right at the epee center of the management of this country, working in one of the governmental palaces, this one being the main one. It is a huge complex of people and buildings, hundreds of unseen men and women showing up out of nowhere to partake of the meals in the cafeteria. I am so excited about the possibilities for so many great things. I am invigorated by the changes in my life, which bring me great joy and a renewed enthusiasm.

It is not that I feel capable of accomplishing anything of great importance or as if I had something to do with the course of events that brought me here. Actually I am humbled by the scope of this mission and the endless nature of this assignment. But at the same time I am really excited for what might be. I have to believe that the Lord had something to do with preparing the way for me to arrive at this place at this time. I am so ready for this new challenge; I just hope I am up to the task.

I was recently asked why I was so optimistic about the possibilities for this new position. My answer summed it up quite well. This new assignment has a great degree of flexibility that allows us to work outside of the box, calling upon our own ingenuity and creativity to come up with solutions. We have a chance to a certain degree to carve out our own way, to make our own path if we can but visualize it. We can develop new ways of gathering human intelligence, from a variety of sources, the whole city of Baghdad being my playground.

More than anything I will be working side by side with my long time good buddy Chief Authentico. He is also a CW4, with years of experience, having both worked together back in 1991 in Saudi Arabia during the gulf war. We are a lot alike, both having such a driving force for self-improvement. We have such synergy, such a compatibility that propels us into more self-awareness and discovery.

I am excited that we get to do what we love most and that is developing interpersonal relationships. We get to work with the people of Iraq, to discover them, to gain insights into what makes them tick, but most of all we get to extract intelligence from them. That sounds like we are stealing their intelligence, as if we were aliens snatching up intelligence and leaving them like lobotomized zombies.

Thank goodness we don't actually take anything away, but hopefully we are adding something to their lives. Even though the main focus is gathering the information, which in many cases saves lives and puts bad guys away, we are able to help the Iraqi people understand their newly acquired freedom and how to use it.

Oh, by the way, before I forget, I did get an email back from Senator Hatch's office regarding the general's daughter who needs the brain surgery. Sharon in that office told me that they are working on getting her to the US for the surgery. That is such great news, wow what can I say. I am hoping that between the Senator and the president of Intermountain Health Care, who has also expressed an interest in providing assistance, we are going to bring this to fruition. That would just be the greatest thing we could do. Please help push this along through your prayers and through emailing the Senator.

There are so many good things happening, so many positive experiences and opportunities, can there be any doubt who is in charge of our lives?


posted by Chief Wiggles 7:32 PM
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Sunday, August 10, 2003
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posted by Plunge 10:07 AM
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