I decided to come here to get a ‘feel’ for what Zed might experience arriving at such a place, hear what soldiers say generally—especially their slang—and get a handle on military acronyms.
So, I did. I heard. And, I flunked military acronyms totally.
FOB Marez is situated up on a hill overlooking Mosul, and encircled (roughly) by this city of 2 million. Concrete structures and HESCO barriers are the main architectural theme, though they have a killer gym, and the DFAC (chow hall) I probably have a legal case against; I must have gained 15 lbs there. Definitely, you should have the omelettes they make from scratch for you there, though apparently tacos were no more when I arrived. They are apparently greatly missed.
Thanks to Michael, much of what I experienced here was déjà vu. The grit, the overall ‘being in Iraq’ feeling I had already read & assimilated through Michael’s dispatches, though actually meeting the soldiers here, and hearing their experiences really helped my characters, I think. I taped some of the interviews, have a listen:
MP3 Audio - Chris Muir Interviews Mosul Soldiers
One part of the trip stands out in particular–a visit to a radio station. On a 6:00 am patrol to the east of Mosul, we were tasked to resupply the Mosul TV/Radio news station, IMN. I got in a quick interview (for my sister’s radio station KACC) with the manager, I call him Mr. Haman (not his real name). This all-Iraqi staffed news station is rocketed every day, and has lost 19 of its journalists in a year for reporting on terrorist attacks in Mosul.
The week before, terrorists shot a western Mosul family’s parents in front of their children. The station received hundreds of outraged calls, and investigated. Most staff have to live on-site, in very difficult conditions, just to stay alive and get news out; in fact, I had to wake up Mr.Haman to ask him a few questions, but he was very cordial. I append the soundtrack below:
MP3 Audio - Interview with an Iraqi Radio Station Manager