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Happy New Year to one and all! A couple of insurgents did their level best to help us bring in the New Year last evening by launching a salvo of rockets at the base. Nary a scratch was suffered by anyone here on the receiving end of this small bit of indirect fire. Enshalah!
Here is a sketch of a light armored reconnaissance Marine "taking a knee" on a patrol in one of the dusty villages spotting the hills above Hit, Iraq. The lion's share of time outside the wire is spent in keen observation. In this drawing I wanted to focus on the one intensely vigilant eye of this Marine peering out from under his helmet. The building he leans up against is typical of western Iraq; stones loosely stacked with minimal mortar followed with a secondary application of rough haphazard stucco. One is always aware, especially here in Al Anbar Province, of the thin veil between the natural and the man made. The Iraqis seem to favor welded metal grillwork set into the walls as windows, with or without the benefit of glass. Most towns and villages have several very busy metal working shops cranking out a variety of door, gate and window treatments. The metal workers often use little more than a piece of cardboard to marginally protect their eyes from the flash of electric arch welders. There is also a proliferation of satellite dishes on even the poorest of homes. Out from the cool shadowy interiors you hear the locals watching everything from Islamic religious shows, to "The Simpsons" and "Everybody Loves Raymond". They have a multitude of channels featuring elaborate MTV style music videos performed by popular Arabic singers, both male and female. Many of these videos feature fashions and scenerios that fly in the face of any notion that Muslims are not great romantics.