Hello everyone! Hope all is well back in your respective lands. Things have been very interesting over the past couple of days and I wanted to share with you my initial observations of the area and the Squadron.
After being told that I would accompany the Squadron Commander (SCO) on some of his patrols in and around our Area of Operations (AO) I was a little nervous, mainly because I didn't really know what to expect. I went outside the wire in less than 24 hours of arriving at Camp Liberty and have spent most of the last two days running patrols throughout our AO on the western side of Baghdad. Things were pretty hot here earlier in the year, but the conflict has all but ceased over the past month or so.
With regard to the areas that I have seen, there is really only one word that comes to mind... dirty. There is trash everywhere and most of it looks like it's been there since before Desert Storm!!! You can't go 10 meters without seeing a pile of trash on the side of the road. Almost every tree has at least one or two plastic bags (20 in some cases) stuck to its branches. There are stray dogs all over the place rummaging through the trash for food and herds of sheep or lamb are constantly passing through the villages.
For those of you who might be wondering if I have been scared or nervous during the patrols, the truth is I haven't. I've been with a group of soldiers that have been doing this EVERDAY for the past eight months. These guys are Pros, so if they're not scared, I shouldn't be. Moreover, I have felt the comforting presence of the Lord throughout this time, which further validates my trust in his protection, and I believe their are many others here who feel the same way.
Before leaving each time, one of the SGT's recites a few passages of Scripture and offers a prayer for His guidance and protection. I asked him today how he chooses his verses of scripture and he said that he just thumbs through the Word until the Lord speaks to him. My prayer request from you all is that you pray for Sgt. Long as he seeks the scripture that both comforts and prepares his fellow soldiers as they leave for the field of battle each day.