Iraq

304th ING

 
Southern Baghdad Aug. 1, 2004
Junedis during a search operation south of Baghdad Aug. 1, 2004.
I spent most of 2004 and 2005 as an Army photog in southern Baghdad. A lot of that time (most, in fact) out in the field with the grunts and converted treadheads fighting the growing and incessant insurgency. The first rumblings of sectarian violence started there too.

Some of that time I spent with the 304th Iraqi National Guard Battalion, a sometimes ill-equipped and semi-competent rabble of Iraqis who were there for a variety of reasons. Those reasons were, to me, examples of the stark choices in life that freedom brought to them after April 9, 2003. A small number English and they told me in halting words they they served because they either needed a job or felt like something larger was at stake for Iraq. With unemployment hovering at 50 percent and that growing insurgency, there wasn't any middle ground in their reasons.

Being out there with them was always an adventure. You never really knew what to expect and anything could happen. Often times nothing more than a few slaps. Occassionally something exploded and I was treated to a death blossom.

What I did see, while a little unorganized despite the monumental efforts of the American advisors to train them, was a motivated (at least in the Iraqi sense) groupe of men -- especially the battalion's B & C Companies. I have no idea if the men I photographed are still in the 304th. Many IA units had problems with pay problems, lack of working equipment and motivation, etc etc.

 

Dec. 5, 2004 -- Southern Baghdad
A detained man pleads with an Iraqi junedi from the 304th ING during a search operation in southern Baghdad Dec. 5, 2004.
July 18, 2004 -- Baghdad
A junedi during a search operation in southern Baghdad July 18, 2004.

 

April 16, 2004 -- Farmlands

Iraqi soldiers in formation during a break from patrolling the farmlands southg of Baghdad April 16, 2004.

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