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RAY SUAREZ: Now, a report on one U.S. Army company doing occupation duty in Iraq. It’s Charlie Company, part of the 4th Infantry Division, and it’s operating in the so-called Sunni Triangle. This report was produced and narrated by Martin Adler for Independent Television News.
SOLDIER: Lay it down. Lay it down.
SOLDIER: Down. Get down.
MARTIN ADLER: It’s 2 in the morning. American soldiers are searching for a local resistance leader. Rooting out the resistance in Iraq is a messy business. Every night, more Iraqi families come face to face with American force.
SOLDIER: What’s your name?
SOLDIER: What’s your name?
SOLDIER: His name is Ahmed. I don’t know if we need it…
MARTIN ADLER: The man in the balaclava is a local informant.
SOLDIER: We took him as prisoner; we kept him for about three or four days. And a lot of times, what we’ll do is we use those guys to show us different houses where members of their terrorist cell or whatever cell they’re operating with, where they live so … just used as leverage against them with the hope that they’ll be let out of jail earlier, whatever the case may be, similar to what the police do back in the states. It works out pretty well.
MARTIN ADLER: You don’t think it’s a risk going into people’s houses like that, that it might make them more scared of you and sort of more, you know, anti-American?
UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER: (pause) Not really.
MARTIN ADLER: It turns out the men arrested are not resistance fighters at all. They’re just cousins of the man the soldiers were looking for. But they were bound, hooded, and taken away, all the same. A wife asks the soldiers to let her husband at least to take his shoes. (Speaking Arabic)
SOLDIER: I’m right behind that…
SOLDIER: What’s that?
SOLDIER: I’m right behind that.
SOLDIER: He’s probably laughing at me.
MARTIN ADLER: I spent ten days with Charlie Company. These men are all professional soldiers and have been in Iraq since April. Their job is making highway one safe. It’s become the most dangerous road in the world. It links Baghdad to Tikrit. Today the soldiers are dealing with the now familiar problem of a roadside booby trap bomb.
SOLDIER: Yep, it’s a bomb.
MARTIN ADLER: It’s a live bomb?
SOLDIER: Yeah, a live bomb. He needs to pull one.
SOLDIER: Will you please let my mom and dad know I love them?
MARTIN ADLER: Incredibly, the captain of the company picks up the live bomb and carries it to a safe place to be exploded. ( Explosion )
CAPT. KARL FITTSI: He comes to work or he’s fired. I’ll talk to him.
MARTIN ADLER: This is the man who picked up that bomb. Meet Capt. Karl Fittsi, commander of Charlie Company. He’s partial to the odd cigar, and now finds himself as de facto governor of the area. Today he’s having a meeting with the newly recruited Iraqi police force in the area. The Iraqi policemen are complaining that too many of their colleagues have been killed recently.
CAPT. KARL FITTSI: You’re correct. Tell Mohammed I want to see him tomorrow morning. Okay? Tell Mohammed I want to see him tomorrow morning. I want to see you. I want to see Mohammed. He, you and me, we need to sit down tomorrow morning and we need to iron this out.
I love the Iraqi way of firing weapons in the air.
We’re pretty sure this is probably going to end up with about a dozen dead Iraqis before we get out of here. Because, you know what, I see an Iraqi with a weapon outside and I just shoot him. Okay, we’re not playing this. “Oh, I think he’s playing celebratory fire.” There’s no such thing as celebratory fire. There’s enemy fire and there’s return fire. That’s what it is. So, anyway, they don’t … they don’t get it. So I think we’ve already killed like, what, like two or three of them? They don’t get it. They’re just going to keep doing it. You think with when they heard my Bradley coming, they’d be smart enough for like the next half hour to not shoot in the air. But, no.
SOLDIER: We’re here. We’re not leaving for a while. Come pay us a visit. ( Gunfire )
SOLDIER: Hey, get back…
MARTIN ADLER: Mortar attack: The soldiers scramble into their vehicles and charge into Samarra in search of the man who fired at them.
SOLDIER: Okay, shut it off! Shut it off!
MARTIN ADLER: This man was found loitering near what was believed to be the mortar launch site.
SOLDIER: Look down! Get down! Sit down! (Speaking Arabic ) ( indistinct conversation )
SOLDIER: Get down! Get down! (Indistinct conversation)
MARTIN ADLER: First Sergeant Mikel can speak Arabic. He can cross the language divide that hampers so many of the missions in Iraq. (Speaking Arabic)
SOLDIER (Translated): Give them your hands!
DETAINEE (Translated): I swear I had nothing to do with it!
SOLDIER (Translated): Give them your hands! If you don’t, I swear I will shoot you!
SOLDIER (Translated): I’ll take you over there and shoot you in the head!
SOLDIER (Translated): Do you understand me?
MARTIN ADLER: The suspect, bound and hooded, was left in a waste ground for hours before being taken away into detention.
Back at the base, “The Rock,” as the men call it, it’s all about camaraderie… ( laughter ) …and the overwhelming conviction that their cause is just. For others with their own children, the routine of raiding Iraqi homes is wearing them down.
CORP. BRAD TURPIN, U.S. Army: Mission comes first. We go in the house and we go in and we know there’s a high value target there and there’s women and children around. We try to do the safest, easiest distraction that we can so no one gets hurt. We try not to think about well, what if this goes wrong? And, you know, something happens and there’s women and children. We try not to think like that.
MARTIN ADLER: Corporal Turpin hasn’t seen his own family since July last. ( Singing )
CAPT. KARL FITTSI: My job is to go in, find the bad guys and kill them. I’m trained for that. They want to see a burning Bradley downtown. That’s what they want. They want them jumping up and down, saying, you know, “God is with us. Allah akbar, God is great.” And they hunt you. They hunt you. They used to say they would park at this southern OP … and the average time for the first incoming RPG was 120 seconds.
MARTIN ADLER: The campfire has become a place of reflection for the men. PFC Little has reservations about his time in Iraq.
PRIVATE FIRST CLASS LITTLE, U.S. Army: It’s not every day that you can live in a movie. It’s a unique job, you know. But I mean I wouldn’t want to do this again. You know, being … being overseas deployed to Iraq, you know, fighting a war and all kinds of stuff like that. My country called me; I came out here, I’m doing the job, you know, doing it to the best to my ability. But it’s not something I want to do again. I would do it again if my country asked me to, but I don’t want to do it again.
MARTIN ADLER: When on leave recently, Little went to a shopping mall with his wife.
PRIVATE FIRST CLASS LITTLE: I started to realize that, hey, you know, I’m looking at all the exits as I’m walking by. I’m seeing what every person has in their hands. And it’s, you know, they’re 50 meters away from me. I’m like looking at every store while I’m walking down here. Now I wasn’t even trying to do it.
It was like, you know, second nature. It was just coming. And I felt naked. I didn’t have any weapons. I didn’t have any gear. I didn’t have my squad with me. And I seriously felt naked. I was like, “oh, my God, you know, what the hell is going on? This is not cool.” I’m a little bit scared that it’s going to be like this throughout the rest of my life I think.
MARTIN ADLER: Another night, another raid in Samarra. And this is happening every night until the end of December. ( Speaking Arabic )
SOLDIER: You need to move. ( Speaking Arabic )
MARTIN ADLER: “You’re all occupiers,” the woman cries, as the soldiers burst into her home. ( Crying )
SOLDIER: Let’s start going through everything.
MARTIN ADLER: As dawn breaks, the soldiers and their prisoners are back at their camp. For the Charlie Company it was a successful night’s work. A few of the soldiers pause to take photo souvenirs.