A walking exit strategy, the Sons of Iraq – also known as the Sawha – spread across Mesopotamia with an industrialist’s spirit and the subtlety of a drunk weatherman. When I stop playing Army and finally grow up, I want to be one.
Every LT worth a fuck dreads the harsh inevitability that his platoon leader time is a transient experience; a fleeting familiarity with the hands-on and the hardy reality of the front lines. After that, it’s off to become the XO, a logistical whipping boy and desk jockey, or even worse, to staff, where the Iraq War is simply something for the Powerpoint gurus and TOC-roaches to design reports around, and firefights occur so photographs can be taken for the after action storyboard. Through a sporadic mix of luck, guile, and shameless throwing of peers under the proverbial bus, I’ve managed to stick with my platoon for over a year now, with no replacement yet to pop up in my crosshairs. Still though, there is no guarantee that I’ll be able to pull these shenanigans off for the duration of the deployment, and thus, I’ve had to deal with the possibility of LT G’s post-PL life. And that’s where the Sons of Iraq come in.
Consider my application pending.
As far as I can tell, a Son of Iraq has three basic job tenets. One, don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Or, in this case, remember not to blow up the people who are paying you. Two, show up to work enough of the time that you aren’t in the grossest violation of the Americans’ compliance inspections. This will differ from week-to-week and from area-to-area, but from my perspective on the ground, two out of three (days) ain’t bad – just like the Meatloaf song states, and will keep you out of the most trouble. And three, show up every month on the doorstep of the American combat outpost, demanding anything and everything short of Chemical Ali’s vintage pog collection.
Dormant? Check. Lazy? Double check. Obnoxious? Show me the dinar, mistah! Triple check. Hell, I’ve found my ideal vocation. It’ll be like being a towel boy at the casinos again, just with even more time to read books and without the solicitations from fat Bay Area pedophiles. I’m sure the dental plan isn’t as good as the one I have with Uncle Sam, but the hours would be a huge improvement.
Granted, I don’t necessarily bring the traditional resume to Sawha, Inc. I didn’t come through the traditional street pipelines of Jaish al-Maida or Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and don’t have any shady connections to the various mob bosses that run the Sons of Iraq. I’ve never emplaced an IED in an attempt to kill and maim infidels, and don’t profess blind, scathing hatred towards my Shi’a/Sunni counterparts. Further, I tend to hit what I’m shooting at, although in all fairness, I’ve never worked with a Cold War-era AK-47 before. If I purposefully wet my powder and got access to some Guinness here, I’m fairly certain I could learn to miss my targets with that musket.
If granted an interview with any of the Sawha bosses, or sub-minions, I will promise them the following things, in order to land a job on one of their checkpoints: I will only search cars if the Americans are directly overwatching me (thus forcing them to spend their time on the job ensuring that I’m doing mine, redefining the word “inefficient”), I will never tell the Americans something is amiss, and I will definitely nap away at least half of my shift, and claim confusion regarding the sleep rotation if inspected too closely by said powers that be. I’d also tout my legit understanding and historical knowledge of the paramilitary movement, focusing on the relationship and development of guerilla warfare and politics in twentieth century Ireland. That’d be sure to impress them, and if they’re an anticipatory leader, they’ll value the possibilities such education could yield them and their men in the near future. Stockpile those caches, mistah – the Coalition of the Willing willfully can’t find them all, willingly or not.
While there are some Sawha leaders who would be shocked by my candid honesty, and claim that they’d never hire such a degenerate scumbag with a shamrock fetish, I know a few that would appreciate my bluntness. Even Iraqi bureaucracies fear boat-rockers and bomb-throwers. (Metaphorically speaking, of course.) And yeah, I know men much smarter, much harder, and of much more rank than I have decided the Sawha are instrumental to American success in Iraq. I’m not disagreeing with such an assessment. I’m simply stating that I want in on this epical greatness. As SSG Bulldog sometimes tells the Joes, the Army seldom provides you an opportunity to “get you yours. When it comes, you get you yours.” This is one of those rare times. I would play by the unwritten Sawha rules of sit, watch, and wait. I’ve been doing that my whole life; the military man of action I now serve as shouldn’t be too hard to discard in the name of nation-building.
Viva la Reconciliation!