Reports from Iraq

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 16, 2006

Tony Nichols

The Times-Journal

Editor’s note: United States Army Major Tony Nichols deployed to Kuwait on December 19.

The Selma Times Journal will run a continuing series chronicling his training, landing, and tour of duty to feature the life of one of our country’s defenders while we are engaged in the Middle East.

Nov. 21:

“We got issued all our new gear, brand new weapons to include a Baretta 9MM and an M4 rifle with a laser sight and close combat optics.

All designed to make everyone a sniper.

Seems to be working – everyone is shooting well.

In the next 25 days, we will learn to drive Humvees, shoot machine guns on top of the vehicles, react to ambush while mounted, clear rooms, etc.

The fun part starts when we learn to become combat lifesavers – a program the Army has to treat the wounded until evacuation assets arrive.

Basic pressure dressings for gunshot, shrapnel, IVs, morphine and all.

The graduation exercise is you have to give an IV to the guy next to you in class.

We are taking basic Arab language also, and learning hand-to-hand combat.

We are taking classes on their culture and reading recommended writings from T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), since we will be doing the same thing he is –

training the Arabs to fight.

I will be attached to an Iraqi battalion Commander as his advisor.

I will have an 11-man team with three armored humvees.

We will live with them, eat with them and sleep with them – and fight with them. We are what are called a Military Transition Team (MTT) and this is the exit strategy for our force – training the Iraqis to fight. It’s going to be an interesting year.

When I deploy to Kuwait, my 365-day clock begins.

After Kuwait, I’ll depart for Baghdad two weeks later.