Sunday, October 02, 2005
In the Heart of Fallujah
I've just spent the better part of four days in the heart of Fallujah with 1st Platoon,Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, of the 7th Marine Regiment. I went out on 2 day and 2 night patrols. Echo company's battle space covers everything from open country,to both industrial and urban residential areas in the city of Fallujah. Visually the city is flat and sprawling with a predominantly dull tan color to almost all the structures. Up until the curfew at 10 PM the streets are filled with traffic and lined with shops and open-air vegetable stands. At night, especially in the residential areas, flourescent lights illuminate EVERYTHING both indoor and out. The Iraqis live in cloistered compounds of modest size. Reconstruction from the effects of the battle here last year are progressing in earnest. The streets and alleys are strung with great haphazard bundles of wires that catch on HUMVEE antennas and an occasional Marine's helmet. The industrial areas south of "Route Fran" (the main artery running east to west throught the city)still bear the worst evidence of the fierce combat that took place here. Yet, despite this, a wide variety of skilled artisans, mechanics, metal workers, and shop keepers have returned and are up and running amid the still lingering evidence of war.
The Marines of Echo Company live in somewhat primitive conditions when compared to Camp Fallujah, the main base. The young men patrolling these mean streets carry on the their youthful faces the hardness of narrow watchful eyes and dusty sweat streaked brows. When I look into these faces I see a young-old look that brings to minds the photographs of WWII.
I thought I'd include a picture of a young Fallujan. He's very representative of the energetic and sometimes wacky improvisation that characterizes the remergence of life and industry in this devestated war zone.