CMATT 2004 letter home, part A

It is tough to describe a country that has been through three wars since 1981. The non-city portions of the country are poor and as backward as a U.S. citizen could imagine. This is a country with a broken power grid, no transportation system, a highway infrastructure in a sorry state of repair, little in the way of security (some areas seem are controlled by armed gangs), a broken medical and education system, and little in the way of water and sewer systems.
Generally the people seem wary of us, as can be expected. Once we have been around them for a short time, they start to open up, as with our Iraqi counterparts. Some GIs look down on the Iraqi people, and there are many instances where coalition forces do not treat them with respect. Many Iraqi officers feel that they are not treated as allies, but more like terrorists. Those on convoys have it rough, because they must be fast and aggressive to accomplish their mission. Since the society here is based on old tribal lines, when a U.S. soldier does something that hurts or kills one Iraqi citizen, that person’s tribe is affected! As we at Kirkush Military Training Base try to create good relations, the overall progress gets set back each time an event happens. I feel for those serving on convoys, as they are out there every day and therefore are the first-line emissaries. But for those soldiers who do treat Iraqis with some courtesy, the rewards are great. My fellow team members have done this. This has garnered the Iraqis' trust. Many have asked when we are to leave Iraq, and when we tell them, they rub one hand across the other and say “No good! You leave, then we leave too!” They have told us they will hold an Iraqi feast before we leave. Many have invited us to their homes. We realize this will never happen in the present environment. This area is considered by some as the cradle of civilization. Babylon, Ur, the Tigris and Euphrates, all here.
The good Lord has watched over me on all my travels, but brother Dan is one of the unfortunate transportation people who has to travel the roads every day, often in areas that have a high concentration of attacks. He has lost some friends!
A man from an unnamed agency stays with us occasionally, and told us one night that we are doing something more important that trying to get the Iraqis well trained - we are creating a bond with a people who never met an American before. They only knew what state media told them.