The radio transmission we received told us not to engage any target west of the base of the Kani Domlan ridgeline. I asked for authentication due to the fact we had been pounding this ridgeline and the Iraqi troops on it for a few weeks with airstrikes. The order was authenticated and myself and my commo sergeant looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders. We made a transmission back to our patrol base in Klaw Kut where the rest of our team was located seeking further direction. Our Team Leader informed us that the Kurds had broken through to the city of Kirkuk and that he and the rest of the ODA would link up with us at a small village that was situated on a road intersection just north of our position. It would take them a few hours to arrive so we leisurely packed up our gear and threw it in our vehicles. We headed north until we stopped at the agreed upon meeting point and discovered it was already swarming with Kurdish Peshmerga. We dismounted our vehicles and greeted our allies with some small talk and those that smoked enjoyed a butt.
While we were waiting our medic conducted an impromptu sick call for the Pesh, one young fighter hobbled up with a bullet wound in his lower leg which our medic quickly treated. From the facial expressions and gestures, I got the impression the other Kurdish fighters felt it was self inflicted. As I lounged on the bumper of our vehicle I watched the continuous and comical stream of Kurdish vehicles pour by as they headed south towards Kirkuk. The Peshmerga had commandeered anything with wheels in an effort to take back what they considered their ancestral home. A home that had been stolen from them by Saddam Hussein, and oh by the way there also just happened to be some very large oil fields located near by. Pesh were packed into the beds of the usual Middle Eastern vehicle, the white Toyota pick up, but they were also jammed into school busses, taxi cabs, and passenger cars. I even saw a dump truck with about twenty Peshmerga hanging out the back. All of theses were flying down the road hell bent for leather with scarves flapping in the breeze and rifles hoisted in the air.
I got out of the truck when I saw some Humvees headed towards us, at first I thought it might be another SF team although none were operating in our sector and none where driving such obviously marked military vehicles. In fact it was a unit from the 173rdAirborne Brigade who had seen us sitting by the side of the road and stopped for a quick intelligence update. I laid my map out on the hood of this Major’s vehicle and pointed out to him the lay of the land and the targets we had been engaging. I estimated the Iraqi strength and probably direction of flight. He asked me a few more questions and got in his vehicle and their little convoy moved on down the road. This small encounter put in context why I had joined Special Forces. Here I was a Master Sergeant deep in enemy territory with my small team of kick ass troopers and our indigenous allies. I was wearing my University of Iowa baseball cap and hadn’t shaved in about a month. My team had more ammunition and fire power on us than a platoon of infantry. We went where we wanted and when we wanted within the scope of our orders. Read more