Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Iraq's Unsafe Haven

Yesterday in a Newsweek web exclusive, Lennox Samuels has a piece about Baghdad 's Green Zone as the latest battleground in the struggle for Iraq and writes in part: "More than 1,000 State Department and military staffers work in the American Embassy, which is housed in Saddam Hussein's former Republican Palace. Most live in trailers on the palace grounds, and many of them began sleeping in the embassy when the bombardments began and have yet to return to their trailer beds. "There have been cots all over the embassy and people sleeping in stairwells and hallways," says a State Department analyst who would not be named discussing embassy matters. Many are afraid to sleep in their cramped metal containers, which are considered flimsy and inadequately protected. The trailers sit next to each other in rows of two, three or more. A rocket destroyed a row of trailers and people were "just freaked out," says the embassy staffer. "If somebody had given me a gun and told me 'five guys are coming to kill you,' that would have been preferable to going to sleep in this tin can not knowing if you're going to wake up," adds the embassy analyst. KBR, the engineering and construction contractor, is hiring more people to sandbag housing areas at the embassy in response to an embassy request, according to a company memo. The company asked for volunteers to help with the sandbagging and said that the project will now be completed by June rather than October. The number of heavy concrete barriers, called T-walls, will also be increased.

Meanwhile, diplomats are taking no chances. As the attacks continued into Monday afternoon, with a projectile apparently landing near the U.S. Embassy grounds, staffers there were issued a memo discouraging them from driving around the Zone and recommending that they keep "Personal Protective Equipment" readily available in living quarters. "Personnel should minimize time outside as much as possible," the memo said. "… It is recommended you spend as much time as possible in hardened facilities with overhead cover. It is also recommended that you sleep in hardened facilities with overhead cover … If you decide to sleep in your trailer, please remember that your ability to quickly react could save your life." Click here to read the entire article.


C.C. said...

Oh my gosh, I can't even imagine how stressful that must be. These folks are heroes in my book!

Digger said...

I have quoted and commented on this piece here: http://lifeafterjerusalem.blogspot.com/2008/05/well-thats-another-way-to-put-it.html