Iraqi Survival Guide

When you work in a country where you don’t speak the language, sometimes you need a little help communicating. That’s where it’s helpful if you have one of these Iraq Visual Language Survival Guides.

Fortunately, I’ve been lucky enough to have a great teammate who not only knows the language but also knows the culture very well. He’s been able to help me so much that I’ve never really had to crack open this survival guide.

I originally found it in my desk, and I left it there for my entire deployment. Just this past week, when I was cleaning out my desk, I start poking through it. It contains lots of phrases that might be useful to me along with cartoons of several different situations I may find myself in here.

It shows me pictures of Iraqi ranks along with the Arabic pronunciations spelled out for me. It shows me the numbers, and it also gives me a few phrases that might help me as I travel through Iraq.

I learned Arabic numbers while I was here (mostly from reading license plates), and I’m proud of that, but I’m sad that I wasn’t able to learn more.

So, as I started poking through the guide, I noticed that the cartoons weren’t always politically correct.

This image in particular caused lots of giggles on my part. I leave it to you to figure out the joke.

The other thing that amuses me is that this one dude felt it necessary to carry a handgun, a rifle, and a giant knife, but the soldier was able to force him down on his knees without so much as a slingshot with which to coerce him down.

I’m guessing the soldier was once on the debate team and was able to use very persuasive words to get the heavily-armed insurgent to surrender. Clearly, he said, “Get down on your knees… or else!”

As my wife can tell you, I’m a big fan of using “or else.”

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3 thoughts on “Iraqi Survival Guide

  1. Outside the picture frame are all the other soldiers standing around with their M16s pointed right at the guy’s head?

    I may be a blog entry or two behind, but did you see SecDef when he visited? The NYTimes article made mention of “Smoking cigars in one of Saddam’s old palaces with an artificial lake”, and I thought “that sounds familiar”, and wondered if you shared a stogie with Bobby Gates.

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