Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Danger Close

"Danger Close" is an artillery term for when you have to call fire on a position within 600 meters of friendly forces.

This morning, a 40mm mortar round landed just 60 meters from my trailer.

Because Ambassador Khalilzad is in the States for the UN General Assembly Meeting, I have my mornings off for this week. So a little after 1000 I was in my trailer, getting ready to go to the gym, when I heard what sounded like somebody hitting a sheet of corrugated tin with a baseball bat outside. This kind of low thud happens all the time, and one is never sure whether it is a round impacting, construction work on the Palace, or a truck going over one of the hundreds of speed bumps inside the Palace Complex.

About a minute later, there was a much louder THUD that echoed through my trailer, and was unmistakeably a round exploding. After waiting to make sure there was no more incoming fire, I went out to see where the impact had been. On the other side of the 15-foot concrete wall and a small dirt berm (right next to the Emergency Ordinance Disposal headquarters -- talk about irony) was the 2'x2'x2' crater left from the round's detonation.

I sometimes complain that my war experiences are generally pretty boring. Today's incoming fire was enough to remind me that it only takes one moment of excitement to chagne things dramatically, and that boring isn't necessarily such a bad thing in Iraq.