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Live from Baghdad 1

A good friend of mine who's in the defense contracting business has been working in Baghdad for a few weeks now. He has been kind enough to send along updates, partly to reassure me that he's still alive, and partly because he sees and does such interesting things there. He calls his messages "Live from Baghdad", which is a satisfying double entendre. Anyway, he has graciously allowed me to post sanitized excerpts here. From his second message after arriving:

Several days have been surreal. In describing this scene I am not being flip, because I have been on the bad end of this situation, but I have to set this scene that may remind you a bit of Apocalypse Now with Wagner playing on the attack helicopters.

The other day I left the Green Zone with a guy that I work with here, and with our State Department and DoD clients. We need to go to the Baghdad International Airport, to Camp Victory, and to Abu Ghraib where we have warehouses. We need to check on the receipt of 3.2 million rounds of ammunition and some cases of AK-47s.

My friend M is driving our $250,000 level six hard-car (an up armored Toyota Land Cruiser). I am the front seat trigger guy riding shotgun with an AK-47, an MP-5, and a Glock. There are an Army Colonel and a Navy Commander in the back armed with AKs.

We hit Check Point 12 where we leave the Green Zone to head north on Route Irish towards the Airport. The procedure goes like this: The guard waves us through; everyone locks and loads all weapons, all sending the bolts home at the same time; M pushes play on the CD player; and Axl Rose starts belting out "Welcome to the Jungle" and M hits the gas. We're off zipping through and around traffic, heads on swivels.

An IED had just gone off about two hours earlier on Irish when a convoy passed. Our nice hard car is good against small arms fire, and against IEDs that are not too close. But an IED going off as a direct hit tend to knock a hard car over, and then you have to get out and fight on the ground. Not a good thing at all. There are several bridges over Irish and it is very interesting to slam the wheel hard on such a heavy vehicle to come out under the other side in a different lane than the one in which you entered.

We made the trip with no delays, and at mostly 80 plus miles an hour.

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