Note: These are the thoughts of a gay soldier — a North Carolina
native — who has been deployed to Iraq. Because of the military’s “Don’t
Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, he must remain anonymous.
My reaction to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s death was a mixture of shock
and excitement. It’s a great win for the Coalition Forces and the
Iraqi Army. It was disappointing to hear some of the locals portray the
coalition forces as villains — I heard some of them say that Zarqawi
wasn’t dead and American soldiers beat him to death. In my opinion
this was a bad man — he was responsible for the deaths of so many — he
didn’t deserve to live. The overriding opinion of the Iraqi military,
civilians and Coalition Forces soldiers I have spoken with indicates
that most people feel justice was done.
I will say I found it interesting that the media both in the U.S. and
Iraq happened to announce the incident the same day Iraq filled three
major cabinet positions in the new government. Then add on President
George W. Bush’s surprise visit to Baghdad. Is that political spin to turn
Bush’s numbers around? For the soldiers and everyone over here
involved, his visit was a great morale booster.
I don’t actually believe Zarqawi’s death signals the end of
terrorism in this country. There’s already a new leader of Al-Qaeda
in Iraq — Abu Ayyub al-Masri — and new threats, like the
Russian hostage executions and the bus hijacking.
We are, however, making strides in intelligence gathering. The information
that led to the strike that killed Zarqawi came directly from within the
The officers and soldiers of the Iraqi Army I work with were and still
are very excited. They actually cheered and gave me high fives. They were
chanting “Thank You America!” It was an experience I will
This weekend there will be new measures for cracking down on security
in Baghdad. The new Iraqi Minister of Defense and Minister of Interior
are implementing new security measures, over 75,000 soldiers from the
Iraqi Army and Coalition Forces will conduct raids and man checkpoints.
It is thought that the Sunni neighborhoods could pose the biggest threats — although
there are insurgents throughout Al-Qaida from many walks of life.
I’m very excited about the accomplishments here in Iraq. The Iraqi
Army is getting trained and the mission I serve on is downsizing by 20
percent when we leave. If that continues then the U.S. Forces that make
up the majority of the Coalition Forces will be home sooner. The American
public wants that — and so do all of us. This is not a fun place
to live, it’s not Charlotte by any means. It’s a dirty, sand-filled,
hot and nasty hell for most of us.
I will be in Baghdad soon so I plan to give you an overview from my perspective.
I hope that things continue to improve here in Iraq. We will continue to
be vigilant in the search and capture of the insurgents that attack us
each day. I believe the people here are finally feeling some sense of positive
movement and the start of what they hope is a bright and wonderful future.
— Reporting from Iraq,
your friend and soldier from Charlotte