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

Tuesday, August 19, 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.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Today at around 4pm as I was going about my work, I heard and felt a large blast not far away, it is a fairly common occurrence so I wasn't too alarmed, until later when I returned to the office to hear that the UN headquarters had been bombed.

There was an unusual buzz around the operation center, people grabbing bits and pieces of information relating to this afternoon's sad course of events. I was saddened to hear that numerous people had been killed and injured, only adding to my concern for all of our soldiers out there in harms way.

It was even more unsettling to discover that many innocent bystander, people looking for work and a variety of other individuals had fallen victim to these latest acts of random terrorism. At times I feel that it is impossible to make sense out of such a senseless, meaningless loss of life and property. What kind of people are they anyway?

What is even more disturbing is the fact that many of these acts of terrorism are committed by non-Iraqi people, those from other countries who have traveled here for the sole purpose of disrupting our efforts to give to these people a life free from fear, bondage, and torture. As if their small random acts of violence will even put a dent in our resolve to continue in our efforts to provide security and freedom to these people.

What kind of place is it that will deliberately breed such contempt and hatred for people, hatred that knows no bounds or limitations and will stop at nothing to accomplish their goal of killing innocent human beings? People that will do such things are blinded by their own relentless hatred that they cannot even see the good that is being done over here.

Maybe our efforts for the most part are going unnoticed: the schools and hospitals that have been opened, the playgrounds and housing projects that have been started, and the many jobs that have been created. Where is all the talk about the thousands of good things that have been done? Why is the media not assisting to promote the word that many great things are occurring day after day? Where is the truth in reporting that makes good news as sellable as bad news?

My partner and I were tasked to go talk to the hundreds of people that were displaced by the bombing of the hotel, or UN HQ, being told that many of them were slatted to sleep over in our palace tonight. But as of yet no one has shown up, even though over 150 beds were set up in the chapel in anticipation of their arrival.

We were supposed to speak with any of them that wanted to talk to someone about what happened or what they might have seen, hoping to provide the intelligence community with some leads. I am going to go back over in a few minutes to keep tabs on things, but I thought this would be a good time to let everyone know what is happening.

I am fine, if any of you are wondering. Life goes on as usual, these acts of terrorism hardly causing us to skip a beat in the process of reconstruction. Our resolve is firm and commitment in tack, for we will succeed and be victorious.

This is the right thing to be doing; righteousness will prevail over the evil intentions of misguided hate filled people. Keep the faith. Do your part in assisting us to be able to continue until we are finished with our plans. We need your help. Tell everyone you know that we will not give in to their negative reporting and we will not give up until we are done.

Thought you would like to know.


posted by Chief Wiggles 7:14 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.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Early in the mornings when I am out running in the deserted streets of the green zone or late in the day when I'm finally able to retreat to the comfort of my trailer, I am beginning to notice a change in the outside temperature. I believe there is hope for a life without the relentless summer heat of this land. Now I am not saying it is starting to get cool by any means. I am just saying the days have started to cool down ever so slightly. There is a feeling in the air that a change is about to begin, which the local people have already started talking about. The change of a season.

Over the years of my life I have learned to embrace the many changes of life: the changes of the seasons, the change of time, of things growing older, and of all things evolving. I look for change to relish in the moments when I can capture a change, being able to say look at how things have changed. As I watch the evolution of plants, animals, and the very world we live in, I realize that all things are part of an every changing natural system.

We are in an every changing plan of eternal progression, for is not progress change? Our very beings are designed for change, to be able to adapt to change, to be at one with the changes of our environment. But more importantly we are part of a divinely inspired plan to be forever changing that we might become more like our creator, even our Heavenly Father, as his godly children.

It seems at times that people in general fight against change, as if they could through their own efforts affect the constant rotation of the evolutionary process that is inevitable. Who are we to think that we might slow down, or pause this natural course of events put in motion at the time of our creation, through exercising our fears of change. A natural process of change which establishes a system of progress and development, creating the opportunity for all things to shed layers of their unwanted past blossoming into a new stage.

I can change my mind. I can change my clothes. I can change attitudes, unwanted habits, opinions, feelings, perceptions, likes and dislikes, tastes, governments, political affiliations, goals, decisions, directions, beliefs, behavior, jobs, hobbies, and on and on.

Many of us do have fears of change that prevent us from realizing the experiences and opportunities behind an unopened door, fearful of what lies behind. There are those who settle into a situation feeling so comfortable that all desire to see what might be around the bend or over the hill is lost. We are rather willing to take the bird in the hand not realizing that a flock of birds might just be in the bush, contrary to the words of the old saying.

Many in our group at the POW camp had no desire to move to another area, as if that place was the perfect place to spend the remaining time in this country. I for one, would have lost so much had I held onto that attitude. Sometimes it is the unknown that freezes us in our tracks, preventing us from making a move, only feeling confident to remain stuck.

It is the very essence of change that brings us the greatest rewards, through new experiences, new opportunities, and new developments, forcing us at times to continue on our course of eternal progression. Is this not the very plan and purpose of our creation?

I admit I too have some fears of change, but for the most part I embrace it, yearn for it, and even ask for it, hoping that with it will come new challenges. I look for ways to influence positive change in myself, in my surroundings, and in those around me, hoping they too will see the many treasures awaiting them.

More than anything, I am in awe of how change is actually deliberate and not merely by chance. It is used to guide us through life's journey, by the hand of our savior, who is really in charge of our lives. There is purpose and meaning in all things. The process of change is not haphazard or reckless, it is calculated and divinely directed, but yet no man knows always the path ahead and where it might end up.

Let me explain one example of how I have come to believe in the process of change. In looking back over the last 6 months, my life has been a progressive chain of divinely directed change, each step preparatory for the next. Prior to going to the POW camp I was in preparation qualifying me for the move as the OCE at the POW camp.

At the POW camp I had a great mission to fulfill in so many areas there, touched in so many ways, grew in so many ways, changed in so many ways, helped others, assisted the generals, etc.

But there came a time to change, to move on to the next step, one move leading to another. It was time to leave the POW camp having done all I could have done there. Little did I know that I would end up here in Baghdad working for the very general who would be the key in getting the generals released.

I have just now finished the release forms, submitting them to my boss, the general in charge of determining the fate of the officers we have detained. It is by no coincidence that this has happened. Things are moving in a predetermined pattern or course, initiating change in a timely fashion.

A few days ago we, the two of us, were asked to brief the general on what we were doing, giving us an opportunity to get to know her and her now knowing us. She now knows who I am and what I am doing here, associating a name with a face. We gained her full support for our current mission and had the chance to speak with her for some time afterwards regarding a number of topics.

I have hope and faith in the eternal principle of an every changing and evolving world, positively influenced by an all-knowing Father in Heaven. For he knows the future from the past, having seen what we might become. He knows the required course of change to bring about his will on our behalf.

It goes with out saying that change can be painful, sorrowful at times, and difficult. But, with the proper perspective more and more people will be preparing themselves for the day when they will be asked or perhaps required to change or at least have the option in a free world to make choices for change. .

Change is the very thing we are hoping to initiate in this tightly closed part of the world. It is the closed mindedness of the people against change that brings out the fears for what the face of change might look like.

It is not that we want to force change upon these people but rather that we want to assist them in bringing about a positive change for good to open the doors to freedom that they might take their rightful place in the free world. We are but a catalyst, to spark the continual affect of the freedom to change, without the fear of any reprisal.

As for me I will love change in all of its variations, in all aspects of my life, for better or worse. I will be looking for areas where I need to change, hoping that I will have the courage and conviction to do so.


posted by Chief Wiggles 7:14 PM
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Sunday, August 17, 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.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

It is now almost 8:30pm. I am up in my big office with the 15-foot ceiling. As I look out from my windows I can see that darkness has fallen on another day in Baghdad. The sun has just crept beyond the horizon, leaving a slight glimmer of light behind the skyline. The sun sets late here or so it seems, forgetting for a moment that back home this time of year it is also just about now getting dark.

The sounds of shots being fired should begin to be heard sporadically around the city, as the cover of darkness provides refuge for those few would be attackers. Most of the city is quiet, tired from a long day of struggling to make ends meet.

Part of the city forced to sleep early due to the lack of electricity. We continue to lay down electrical wiring only to have it stolen or damaged the next day by thieves and other ill wishers.

I am in one of the many presidential palaces, this one being Saddam's main governmental administrative one I believe. It is a massive complex of numerous huge buildings, all ornately done up in Saddam's presidential style; nothing but marble, high ceilings, chandeliers, handcrafted decorations, and nothing but the best of everything except taste.

We were fortunate enough to snag a large office for our two linguists and us. In our office are three very large windows from which we can see one of the four large sculptured Saddam's heads, which guard the four corners of this building. We have the mother of all desks here originally slated for a much larger -- more important office.

We even have two smaller crystal chandeliers in our 20 feet by 40 feet room. Fortunately we were able to procure 6 large high backed chairs perfect for dealing with the number of sources we have to talk to on a daily basis.

Around this building is what we call the Green Zone, which is a one mile radius safe zone that has been totally cleared out of any people, most of it was just government buildings anyway, this one being smack dab in the center.

In the mornings I run to the perimeter and back and then around the building to put in my 2 or 3 miles. It is a quiet running course interrupted only by the familiar sounds of army vehicles driving by, this morning a couple of tanks turned in front of me as they commandeered a corner.

Most of the buildings are empty, except for a few army units who have claimed part of their territory. Several of the buildings are uninhabitable, bombed into a pile of concrete and steel.

The streets are wide and lined with palm trees, with concrete arches, which serve as gates into the area.

I am sure in it's time this place was quite something to behold, a regular show piece. I am still amazed at the intricate design and the craftsmanship of the marble and wood, but yet overcome with the gaudiness and lack of taste.

I was speaking with a restaurant owner today who had come in to give us some information. I was asking him about his business given the nature of things right now. He answered by saying that business is really tough, especially without electricity, but any kind of business is better than life with Saddam. He invited us over to dine whenever we get a chance.

A mother and her daughter who had both found work in the new government, invited us to spend some time at their farm on the outskirts of Baghdad, to enjoy some real home cooking and a ride on their boat on the Tigris River.

Dad after day, we continue to meet with people who for one reason or another want to come in to meet with us, to share information they have regarding things going on out in the city. Many of the people are confused about what to expect from us, hoping in many cases that their information will be worth a job or some reward in return.

In many cases it is worth a reward if we successfully catch the people or the weapons being reported. We do try to accommodate them but really lack the funds to do much of anything significant.

We do get our share of totally bogus reports from people attempting to milk the system or get something for nothing. Boy could I tell you some stories that would just blow your socks off. Some of the craziest things you have ever heard of, at times wondering if I have the word sucker is written in Arabic on my forehead.

At times the information is just not as valuable as the person thinks, not quite panning out with the compensation they were expecting. One gentleman today after assisting us was disappointed with our job offer we gave him feeling he was going to get something more to his liking.

I was disappointed with his attitude after I felt we had done all we could do. He gave no indication that he appreciated anything we were offering him, not even in a polite way of acknowledging our efforts.

At times I wonder if I will be able to remain caring, concerned, empathetic and compassionate as I continue to deal with my fair share of liars, ungrateful and needy people, takers, dependent individuals, and overall people who feel we owe them something.

I feel at times that I am in some kind of a parent child relationship trying to get them to step up to the plate, to be responsible, to take advantage of things, and to take some initiative.

But yet at all times remembering where these people have been and what kind of environment they have grown up in for the last 35 years. Oh what a toll Saddam's regime has taken on its people.

The real test is whether or not I will continue to do this with all my heart no matter what the people say or do. For the most part the people here are very appreciative of our efforts on their behalf to free them from the chains of bondage. I feel it and see it everywhere I go, kind simple people grateful for our presence.

Who am I to judge anyway, maybe I really don't know what they are thinking or feeling. All I really care about is that we are here making a difference. We, in our own little way, are here in the middle of a bad situation trying, in the only way we know how, to make things better.

The bottom line is that whether they are appreciative or not, it really doesn't matter, as long as the information is making this a safer place. We are making a difference. Things are getting better. We are saving lives with the information we are obtaining. That is really what this is all about, saving lives and making this a better place for all of us, where people can worship the way they want, where kids can get the education they want and enjoy the God given right of freedom.

This is also about changing the perspective of a nation of people about America and the rest of the world, from years of being brainwashed by Saddam's henchmen. Influencing a paradigm shift with every person we touch, every action we make, and every word we speak, for we are the catalyst for change.

One of our interpreters told us of a time just a few years ago when while walking along the side of the road one day, people were throwing things at him as they drove by because he held a guitar in his hand. He was told that he would go to hell for listening to western music and playing a western instrument.

Another one was asked once by his friend, in all seriousness, if there were aliens that lived in the world outside their country, having never ventured out beyond the borders of even their city.

Here is a story I was sent by someone reading my journal regarding the changing of perspectives them of us and us of them.

Who is Poor?

One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family. On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, "How was the trip?"

" It was great, Dad."

"Did you see how poor people live?" the father asked.

"Oh yeah," said the son.

"So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?" asked the father.

The son answered: "I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.

We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.

Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.

We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.

We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs.

We have walls around our property to protect us; they have friends to protect them."

The boy's father was speechless.


Then his son added, "Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we are."

Too many times, we forget what we have and concentrate on what we don't have. What is one's person's worthless object is another's prize possession? It is all based on one's perspective. Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for all the bounty we have instead of worrying about wanting more.

The other issue here is "making a difference" for the Iraqi people and for the people of this region of the world, regardless of what the media says, who's only interest seems to be in showing our failures. At least there are thousands of us here putting in long hours each and every day making a cumulative difference of great significance. History will prove my point.

Here is a poem my sister sent me that touched my heart.

"The Dash" by Author Linda Ellis. To read this amazing poem, please visit her website, http://www.lindaslyrics.com/ and specifically http://www.lindaslyrics.com/Dash_Movie.htm

Her words were an inspiration beyond my ability to express.

Good night.


posted by Chief Wiggles 6:51 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 12, 2003

The day is drawing to a close, another day in Iraq. At times in the business of the day I forget that I am thousands of miles from home, feeling as if I am just on another long business trip or like I could just get in my car and go home. Other times I feel like I am on another planet, dealing with a whole unusual set of circumstances, so foreign and strange.

It is as if I am in some strange time warp, frozen in time endlessly spending the same day over and over again with no concept of what day it is or even what month. The seasons pass with hardly a whimper. I forget at times that life is going on as usual back home, with or without me. Aside from the feelings of being missed, it is pretty much business as usual back in the states.

The chief of one of our teams is leaving for a new location, so the other night we all decided to go out on the town, in our own sort of Baghdad way. I am sure you can picture it. Eight guys in what we call our "full battle rattle", in other words wearing all our gear, driving around in our two hummers, with a gunner on top of the rear vehicle, rifles locked and loaded ready for bear; now that is a party group for a night out.

Actually we were out meeting with a source and decided to stop and get a bite to eat. We went in this really nice restaurant where the owner had been helpful in providing us with some information about one of the local bad guys. He really put on a feast with all the Middle Eastern trimmings; some hummus and other assorted side dishes with the traditional flat bread, baked in an earthen oven, and of course the lamb, the chicken and the beef broiled or what ever they do with it. It was such a treat to enjoy some of the local cuisine, eating something that actually had some seasoning, some flavor for a change.

Last week I was fortunate enough to be chosen to attend a conference of a group of religious leaders in a city about two hours north of here. Our main generals were speaking to solicit the assistance of these leaders in squelching the violence occurring around the country. My partner and I were there to gage the reaction of these leaders, hoping to glean whether or not they were going to go along with our proposal.

We drove over to another base near by to jump on a black hawk helicopter for a quick ride north. Although I had a rough ride on a Chinook getting to Baghdad, riding on a black hawk was another story. Normally I would have to pay to have such a nice ride on a helicopter. It only took about 30 minutes flying so that alone, over driving, was a big plus. All I can say is that I really love flying on a helicopter.

From my perch up in the sky, I was able to get a full view of what Iraq is really all about. As you would expect once you leave the city it is all farms and countryside. I am sure the fields were growing what ever they could in this hot climate, unable to detect much from my birds eye view. All I knew is that there were scattered fields with something green growing, along with the usual date palm trees.

There were adobe houses grouped together in villages all the same kaki color with flat roofs for sleeping on during the hot summer months. I was able to see herds of goats, cows and sheep, grazing in sparse fields of hay.

For the most part the land is barren of any vegetation, due to the long unforgiving scorching months of summer. The farm houses appeared poor, at times even without power or running water, canals bringing water from the not too distant two rivers. Children would run out of their houses to waive as we passed overhead.

As we arrived at our destination, we were transported over to the closest base where we were to spend the night. Upon arriving, I saw one of the young soldiers I had said goodbye to a couple of weeks earlier, the one who had told me he loved me (you might recall). In fact there were around 6 of our boys there that I had spent time with at the POW camp, now un-expectantly seeing them again here. We had quite a reunion with our LT, our first sergeant, and a few of the old gang.

We were already running late for the conference, stopping just long enough to drop our gear and buzz over to the meeting room. They had put on quite a spread for the religious leaders, with all the local delicacies. We were fed appetizers and later a full coarse meal, with all my favorites; lamb, hummus, basmati rice, etc. I was in heaven, eating up all that good food, I could not get enough of it.

After the meeting we returned to the camp to get caught up with the boys on all that had gone on since our separation a couple of weeks earlier. It was good to hear that they were all doing great, staying somewhat busily engaged in good things. We talked until late in the evening like a bunch of young girls on a slumber party, laughing and joking around, keeping everyone up well past their bedtime.

We left first thing in the morning to catch our bird back down to Baghdad, trying to get back to the palace to make our appointments. But, things did not go as expected. We were supposed to catch a bird with one of our generals, but we arrived late, after not being able to find which airfield he was leaving from, getting there just in time to see the general's blackhawk take off.

The long and short of this was we didn't get back to Baghdad until late that afternoon, missing all the appointments we had set. But the conference did go well, the religious leaders got a chance to air their feelings, vent some frustrations and listen to our generals. In the end I did get a chance to speak one on one with our main general discussing how the whole thing went, which was the high point of my trip.

Since I am not currently living at a POW camp, you might be wondering what I am doing here in Baghdad, living at a palace, rubbing shoulders with all the top brass. I can't say a whole lot but I am a strategic debriefer, questioning anyone who has information regarding anything that is going on in this country that would be considered illegal or hazardous to the health of our soldiers. We set up appointments with these individuals, question them, gather the intell, write up reports on what we have collected and try to get some one to act on it. That is what the two of us do.

Right now we have more people waiting to speak with us than we could ever have time to question. We are extremely overloaded which I guess is a good thing, given the fact that there is so much going on in this country. I can't begin to tell you how many illegal and terrible things are going on everyday that impacts our troops.

These people are so poor that for a handful of cash they will agree to fire on a soldier, blow up a tank, or set an explosive on a bridge. The various anti-coalition groups are basically hiring these poor peasants to pull the triggers killing our soldiers, many of these people serving whatever side will pay them the most. We do have numerous individuals stepping forward to divulge information, but even then they are requesting a job or some reimbursement for their time and expenses. For the most part, everyone is looking to take care of themselves, while supposedly serving their country. Without exception we question the ulterior motives of most of them not fully trusting the information that is being shared. Boy do we get some stories.

I question their integrity and desire to serve their country, but do understand they are also just trying to survive in a very difficult environment. There seems to be so many dichotomies in life, so many conflicts both internal and external. I guess we all have our demons to deal with while at the same time we too are just trying to survive from day to day.

Looking back on my own life I can see the contradictions and dichotomies of my existence. Our lives are a complexity of contradictions that we endeavor to make sense of by rationalizing our own degree of inconsistency and weakness to stand for what we believe in. We all at times falter or waiver in our own efforts to remain steadfast in what we know is right, not always being able to be the true example we wish we could.

I for one am well aware of the difficulties in trying to always be the person I want to be, finding it increasingly difficult to maintain that higher law or standard. I too am weak at times, as I see myself for who I really am. I am a human with needs, with at times voids, acknowledging that something is lacking or missing in my life too, which might motivate me to act out of character.

For example, if I consider myself to be a kind, helpful, caring person, one who takes care of other's needs, there may come a time when my own needs will be neglected and sacrificed. At what cost am I willing to go to insure my continuance of the belief that I am one who takes care of others needs. How far am I willing to go to perpetuate this image of myself? Will I do it at any cost, even take the risk of losing myself? Will I do it at any expense, sacrificing my own needs, allowing others to suck me dry of everything I am willing to give, in order to persist in my belief?

Will there come a time that in order for me to survive I will have to let go of the very belief I have of my self? Thus the dichotomy.

At some point, I do believe I have to take care of myself too. There is a balance and a limitation to giving and receiving, only having so much in our positive bank account to give before it needs to be replenished. I do believe in serving others, and through this service one can find oneself, but I also believe that we cannot endlessly be used and abused by people who just want to take rather than give.

There are givers and takers in life, some living abundantly and others living scarcely. What holds us back from being who we truly are? Are we totally honest about who we really are? Do we live with regret, or jealousy, or envy? Do we give till we are empty sacrificing our own wishes and desires, to promote the image others have of us?

I was watching the movie “The Family Man”, with Nicholas Cage. In that movie he was two people, both who at some point thought perhaps they were totally happy, yet two very different and distinctive people, one with all the monetary success one could accumulate and the other with true love and a family.

So who was he really? What was his true belief system of himself? Was he the self centered, perhaps selfish, money and power hungry, wealthy individual, or was he the loving, caring, giving family man? I think he figured it out in the end but many of us are still in the process of that self-discovery. We have an image of who we think we are but at times act out in many different ways, inconsistent with our belief system of our self.

At one point in the movie he figures out why he ended up selling tires for a living. His father in law had a stroke preventing him from running the business full time. Jack came to his rescue, sacrificing his own career to take care of the company. Jack as the family man was a giving, caring individual, who was willing to give up even his own career to take care of someone else. But yet in the end he felt bad about what he had not accomplished in his life, failing to achieve the level of success he thought he should of. He wanted more, seeing himself as somewhat different than what he was.

There is the dichotomy.

I see the dichotomies of life all around me here, ever so obvious in every aspect of life in Iraq. As we interact one with another, or as we deal with the realities of a difficult life. There are inconsistencies, incongruent with the very belief systems we hold so dear.

Thus my quest to find the authentic, deliberate self, honestly congruent with the belief system of who I really am. I am searching for this and hope to find it for I desire to be totally honest about who I really am, with motives purified and congruent with my belief systems. I hope find him.


posted by Chief Wiggles 6:51 PM
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