Utne Blogs > Literature

When Marines Leave a City, They Do Not Leave Neatly

Soldiers file onto plane in Iraq

All over Iraq, American forces are striking camp and withdrawing from cities. Blogging for the AtlanticGraeme Wood offers a snapshot of the withdrawal, with an eye for the details most news reports leave out:

The only thing uglier than a military base is a military base that is being torn down. Camp Tash is nearly gone, and it is already half landfill and all eyesore. While walking around I tallied the objects buried in the sand: a leather sandal, frayed coaxial cables, many plastic bags, scattered live 5.56mm rounds, plastic bottles galore.

And stacks of old wood are everywhere. The Marines' weapon of choice is the crowbar, with a claw-hammer for a sidearm. They crawl over SWA huts, ripping out plywood and wearing rifle vests if they rise above the berm and into the sights of potential snipers. In the middle of the afternoon, three Iraqis show up, one in a police uniform, with a truck. They scavenge as much wood as they can carry. One of them, Adnan Yusuf, is plump and huffs smoke through the gaps in his teeth. He is smiling, because there's money in that wreckage. “Business is good," he says. "I just spent three months tearing apart bases in Hit and Ramadi.”

Source: The Atlantic