Justin Marozzi is a Brit working on the reconstruction effort in Iraq. In the middle of a piece on his life there in the London Spectator of September 18th, 2004 (owing to a technical Catch 22 too tedious to recount I can’t link) he had this to say about the US military’s civil affairs teams.
“They are a terrific bunch of men and women. Reservists drawn from all the professions…they apply themselves with extraordinary courage, professionalism, dedication and courtesy. And they do so to great effect, only their achievements rarely make it into the international press. Schools have been refurbished, football pitches, orphanages and children’s playgrounds constructed, sewage works repaired, district and neighbourhood advisory councils…initiated and funded.”
As it happens, a friend of mine has just shipped out to a town near Baghdad to do just this sort of work. Amongst other things, a recent e-mail from him had this to say:
“The base is fairly large. Took a few mortar rounds today. The
reverb and concussions are one heck of a combination: they are
unnerving and attractive at the same time.”
That’s another reminder that the stiff upper lip is not confined only to Britons.