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Oct-06-2008 00:49printcomments

Unusual Observations From the War in Iraq

A list of unexpected and offbeat sights and sounds from the Iraq war theater.

Old Iraqi jet fighter from Camp Anaconda at Balad, Iraq
Old Iraqi jet fighter from Camp Anaconda at Balad, Iraq, has English letters stenciled on the fuselage, apparently from the MiG factory in Russia. Photos by Tim King

(BALAD, Iraq) - Most of the people I have met who are serving in Iraq at this time are professional and on task. They perform their roles without complaint and almost all work long and hard hours, regardless of what they do.

Iraqi NCO clowning in Baghdad

I was in the military during the 1980's, and things have changed a great deal since then, particularly when it comes to technological advancements. Body armor and night vision are two great examples.

Other changes in the military have also taken place, and since arriving here I have noticed many things that I did not expect or anticipate.

Some are humorous, some are bizarre, and a few are downright strange, but interesting.

Here are a few of these observations and I encourage everyone who has a point they would like to make, to visit our comment section and share their thoughts so their opinions are heard.

* More Air Force personnel have the classic "high and tight" haircut than Marines, a style clearly more synonymous with "jarheads" than "flyboys".

* One air base in Iraq has a low rider HUMVEE that looks like it should be cruising Whittier Boulevard in East LA instead of the Iraqi war theater.

* The generators that power base living areas are far louder than the interior of military aircraft.

* The only critters plainly visible in the Iraq summer heat are lizards and black ants. The famous 'camel spiders' are a rare sight.

* Tattoos are more common on Army and Air Force members than Marines. There is no gender barrier when it comes to tattoos.

* Iraqi families, primarily men, do not hesitate to inflict corporal punishment on their children.

* Hot water heaters are highly unnecessary during peak Summer months in Iraq and even the cold water is uncomfortably hot.

* Any news photographer at an American base in Iraq who tries to take general photographs of base living, a seemingly innocent subject, will likely be subject to heavy scrutiny, even detained.

* Many service members in Iraq are known as "fobits" which means they never leave the relatively safe confines of forward operating bases.

* Marine Corps public affairs officers operate above and beyond the call; Army PAO's are often very good and professional also.

* Iraq is hot, but Kuwait is almost always several degrees hotter, and temperatures truly do exceed 130 degrees Fahrenheit there.

* Marine and Army HUMVEE's have several differences, one being the "suicide" angle of Marine HUMVEE windows. Army HUMVEE's have sliding track windows.

The new military vehicle called the "MRAP" is not suitable for many places in Iraq, as they are too top heavy and overturn very easily. On decent roads, they perform well and are more comfortable than a HUMVEE.

* The MRAP has oxygen bottles inside to prevent Marines and soldiers from drowning if they overturn and roll into a canal or river.

* Many mortars lobbed into American bases are "duds" because their guts were removed to create IED's.

Air Force girl in a sandstorm

* All food at sizable base dining facilities od "DEFACs" as they are commonly known, is prepared by civilians from KBR, a Haliburton company, at considerable cost to the American taxpayer.

* There are almost no overweight Marines, but the other services have plenty of people who are. Oversized Marines still pass rigid physical testing.

* Female Marines are far more attractive than they were in prior generations, not that there weren't fit women serving years ago; today they are more fit.

* All Marines praise Navy Corpsmen with few exceptions.

* The "Surge" helped, but peace is being largely paid off in Iraq, and when U.S. dollars are withdrawn, the violence in Iraq will again rise.

* Many sheiks are highly irresponsible with the funds President Bush's plan authorizes them.

* Most combat veterans are willingly open to discuss Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and they actively work to offset the problems associated with it.

* Anyone who intends to fly in a military helicopter have to wear long sleeves. One answer for those in short sleeves is to take their socks off, cut the ends off, and roll them up their arms to simulate sleeves. Believe it or not, this actually is allowed.

* If you have to fly any distance in a crowded C-130 Hercules transport plane, try to sit on the fuselage side of the plane. The center is poorly designed and extremely uncomfortable.

* The Marines' new V-22 Osprey provides the strangest sensation on takeoff that I have ever experienced in an aircraft. The angle of ascent and the helicopter/plane's level of acceleration combine for an awesome feeling in the pit of your stomach.

* As I run into more of these I will add them and again, I encourage our readers to send in their own by adding them as comments.

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as's Executive News Editor.
Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 in Afghanistan with Oregon troops. His coverage from Iraq has now commenced and will be ongoing throughout the next many weeks. Serving the community in very real terms, is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators.
You can send Tim an email at this address:

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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VKT October 8, 2008 6:12 pm (Pacific time)

Fobbit is someone who never leaves the forward operating base (FOB), pretty close to a Rear Echeleon Mother F***** (REMF).

caleb October 7, 2008 5:17 pm (Pacific time)

I think he broke a lot of hearts when he said Marines are less likely to be tattooed and wearing stupid haircuts. There will always be those that WANT to be and those that are! The physical fitness has been a staple for years and the Corp's entire reputation will continue to improve with the new regulations enacted by our beloved Commandant!

EazyMoney October 7, 2008 7:07 am (Pacific time)

Maybe the it stands for internal technician. ; )

Anonymous October 6, 2008 6:06 pm (Pacific time)

No, it's more like FOB for forward operating base with an 'it' added to the end, sort of a spin off Hobbit I suppose.

EazyMoney October 6, 2008 9:48 am (Pacific time)

Is fobit an acronym like remf? If so what does it stand for?

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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