Here is the mission report and photo essay for our mission to Iraq Kurdistan that you all generously funded – We will add some more pictures as we organize them but this will give you a good idea of all the people we were able to help with your support
Being a newbie at a job site sucks!
You will be known as the “new guy” for a few weeks, don’t take it personal. You are in the time immortal judgment phase of your new job. Your reputation starts on day number one. You better ask yourself right now…How do you want to be known?
“The most valuable thing you own is your reputation.”
To put it mildly, contractors are a cantankerous and cynical bunch who will judge you quickly and harshly. They’ve seen all types of wannabes and bullshit artists come and go and you are the fresh meat who just got off the bus for your first day at school.
Your actions and what comes out of your mouth will be put on your permanent record. The world of contracting is a very small one and a person’s reputation precedes them.
Now, I know I can’t help everybody. Some people are just retarded and won’t listen. But that’s good news for you, if you are not completely retarded and you are someone who can follow advice. You might have a chance to move ahead.
THE CURRENT SITUATION:
The terrorist group ISIL (formally ISIS) has mounted an offensive in Northern Iraq and has violently taken large areas and cities surrounding the autonomous Democratic state of Kurdistan, many of the cities are heavily populated by Iraqi Christian and other religious minority groups. ISIL has demanded that all Christians in the areas they now occupy to “convert or die”. ISIL is beheading children, gang raping women and crucifying Iraqi Christians – it is unknown how many Iraqi Christians and other religious minorities have been slaughtered so far in this Holocaust, but the number is thought to be great.
“Simply put, ISIL is an unholy combination of al-Qaeda, the Khmer Rouge, and the Nazis.”
“A Christian girl (a child) was beheaded by ISIS terrorists as a warning to others”
An estimated 500,000 people from Iraqi Christian and other religious minority groups have or are attempting to flee the ISIL genocide to the safe haven of Kurdistan. A reported 200,000 Christians are seeking sanctuary in Kurdistan, primarily in the Ainkawa neighborhood in the capital of Erbil. Most of these men, women and children have abandoned their homes with nothing but the clothing on their backs and have no means to care for their families. These families are now homeless and living in churches, monasteries, schools and on the street in Ainkawa. They have no access to free medical care and they desperately require food, water, clothing and medicine.
“They (Iraqi Christians) are camping on the floors of church halls, in a building site, in the street. An old woman was sleeping in a flower bed. Another begged for help”
NOTE: Not all the guys going wanted their pictures posted (due to their jobs) so we blocked them out
After 7 months of waiting, saving and getting gear ready, I jumped on a plane last week for the trip of a lifetime. Being semi-employed for months and generally bored with life and restless in Australia, hearing about Death Valley Magazine’s DVM Expeditions maiden trip to Cambodia was the sort of thing that would probably keep my mind off my various first world problems and dilemmas.
Landing in Phnom Penh International Airport on Tuesday 4 March and heading on my way out of the visa application area, I was held up and vigorously questioned about my passport and visa. (“Where you live? Where you go? Why come to Cambodia? Where you live?”) I figured maybe I’d have to have an even more vigorous chat in a closed room when a second immigration officer came over and smiled at me.
Suddenly my passport and plane ticket stub were given back and I beat feet to baggage reclaim and past the howling tuk tuk drivers and forex kiosks until, with some relief, I spotted Thomas D Moore, survivalist, ex- military contractor, U.S Army Pathfinder and star of the hit survival reality show “Dude, You’re Screwed!” and another guy on the DVM Expeditions tour, Mike, waiting for me.
We traveled by tuk tuk, a motorbike or scooter hitched to a four seat passenger trailer, to where James Price, ex- military contractor and editor in chief of Death Valley Magazine, was holed up with our fixer, Vanessa and New Yorker Maurice, the third man joining us on the Expedition.
We all know that guy who wherever he goes, he has an energy drink. But have you ever seen this on a large scale? Anybody who has spent time in the sand box has, it is called mass Rip It addiction. It is a weird phenomenon, either you never tried one or are shaking in a corner with one in each hand.
I was first exposed to this evil on my first deployment, these little innocent looking 8oz cans in the galley. We used to walk to the chow hall with empty back packs just so we could load up. Just thinking about it makes me itch and twitch.
We would grab a bite, and then walk to the cooler. We then would clean out the cooler of Rip It. My ruck would weigh 30lbs in Rip It’s alone. Many times we got chased by chow hall staff for cleaning them out. At one point I was knocking back 18 a day, how my heart didn’t explode I will never know.
The best part is they are free. Yup, you don’t have to pay a dime for all the heart popping goodness of Rip It. The thing is they don’t taste that great, and they don’t even give you energy, they just make you awake.
Last week two boxes suddenly showed up on the doorsteps of DVM HQ USA and DVM HQ Bangkok simultaneously, as if they were delivered by an Australian SAS Regiment on a highly coordinated mission.
Always suspect of unexpected boxes here in Southeast Asia, I paid a massage gal from a parlor down the street 200 Baht to vigorously shake my box up and down just in case it was a bomb from one of my ex-wives.
Fortunately for Ms. Yum-Yum, no boom (well, not yet), so I tore open that box (get your mind out of the gutter pervert) to find some bad ass pieces of killing steel from our friends at Hardcore Hardware Australia.
How often do things ever go PERFECTLY in a venture? Rare, if ever, right? Do you know we can learn from f-ing up? We can learn A TON The chaos, friction, and the most assured probability of mistakes being made in the Red Zone is a tremendous learning opportunity if you survive it.
Your first order of business is to always fight through whatever gaffe takes place. This is not as easy as it sounds on paper. Seemingly simple matters tend to become wildly complex in the field. Too many contractors and adventurists tend to dwell on the mistake in front of them and lose the immediacy demanded in combat or crisis to recover in swift fashion.
They dwell on the ‘oh shit’ moment too long giving a decided advantage to their adversaries. This negative distraction and self talk invites disaster. Continue reading
In a wilderness survival or tactical environment how can you tell if you’ve sprained or broken an ankle? The distinction may seem minor, but the implications are dramatic.
In a wilderness environment it means the difference between wrapping the ankle and the patient can walk out, or immobilizing the limb and carrying the patient out.
Tactically, the distinction is the same, but instead of having another shooter, you have a casualty.
So here is a field expedient method to determine if an ankle is broken or sprained. It called the Ottowa Ankle Rules.
(This isn’t completely fool-proof, so use some common sense. If the patient’s foot/ankle is obviously deformed then it’s safe to assume it’s broken and don’t let the patient put any weight on the foot.)
Working as a sailor in the Military aviation business you get comfortable in some pretty crazy places. Being 20 feet from a thousand pound propeller spinning at 13 thousand rpm. Or wedged in a microwave sized area three feet deep with electrical wires all around you. Hell, with the military in general you work in some less than favorable conditions. Problem is you get too comfortable. Eventually you get complacent and shit turns into a shitstorm. You work those lines near death, and you start to lose the fear. That fear can be double edged. Too much or too little and bad decisions get made.
Complacency is part of our everyday lives. You want proof? Look at your daily drive to work. How much goes into auto pilot? Are there moments where you cannot remember going from one stoplight to the next? You get so wrapped up in your head all else blurs by. My favorite example of complacency is cell phone zombies. I have witnessed the zombie horde bang, crash, and fall in the streets because of facebook. These are great examples of shit that kills people. The reports of the driver never saw the person in the street he ran over, but was answering a text. The person who swears their attacker came out of nowhere but was nose deep in snapchat.
One of the first things I had to figure out when a young James P. started contracting in Iraq was setting up my “kit” of armor carrier, rig, mag pouches, IFAC and a bunch of other crap I had never carried before. At that point in my career I was not in the tactical gear world and had pretty much never even owned anything ‘tactical’ except a black CamelBak. So when I had to buy a full load of kit I basically ordered a bunch of cool looking shit I saw online.
Two weeks later I got a big ass box that puked out the entire Blackhawk! catalog onto my hooch floor in the IZ. After putting every pouch I bought on my super cool SWAT vest I pretty much ended up looking like a Coyote Tan Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. My kit was also so poorly placed I could not even scratch my junk. I ended up fighting my kit on every mission for the next two weeks until I adjusted everything.
Like most people who have never been deployed to a war zone where they would have to wear full kit, I thought it would be all yelling “follow me lads” and burning villages when wearing all my ninja slick gear. I suppose I had fantasies of going from battle to battle pulling mag after mag while rescuing white women from the clutches of Ray Ban wearing dictators.
Nope, not even close – Even if you were on a mobile team running the most dangerous roads in the world like I was, in reality 99% of the time you are wearing full kit you are doing glamorous stuff like; frying eggs in oil for breakfast next to a Land Cruiser, buying 83 gorditas at Taco Bell on base because half your guys don’t have an MNFI badge or sitting in a truck trying not to fall asleep.
So if you are setting up your first all-out full kit I have the following suggestions: