Thursday, September 4, 2008


Ramadan! Once a year Muslims around the world spend a month fasting, reading the Koran and acting in a more pious manner.

The first time I encountered Ramadan was during my first Iraq tour, back in 2003. My chain of command put out a little pamphlet explaining Ramadan to all us infidels. The only thing that stood out was the section on killing. This isn’t verbatim, but it went something like this: “During Ramadan, Muslims are prohibited from killing other people. Now, were always supposed to avoid killing people, but during Ramadan we really mean it.” That was an early Iraq …what? moment.

For Ramadan, Muslims won’t eat, drink, smoke or partake in nookie during daylight hours. In an effort to respect Ramadan, Coalition Forces won’t do any of the above in front of practicing Muslims. It isn’t so much about respect, as it is an effort to not make them angry. Iraqis are rather high strung after five years of murder, VBIEDs, random explosions, etc. Especially the smokers. Ever been around someone who’s trying to quit the death sticks? They’ll blow up at someone for breathing too much. I don’t want to be the guy that lights up a cigarette and pops open a soda mid-afternoon.

A few weeks ago, our Iraqi Army brethren swore up and down that operations would be unaffected by Ramadan. Once Ramadan began…not so much. Nothing happens during the day. Ramadan means nap time every single afternoon. I can relate, whenever I’ve gone without food and water for any length of time I have no energy either. It is a little frustrating. If I want to go after a bad guy in the afternoon, my IA are a bunch of zombies.

I respect anyone who can stick to Ramadan for a whole month, it doesn’t sound easy.

At the end of the day, it’s time for chow. The meals are large and the family is supposed to spend it with their family, like a month worth of Thanksgiving, minus the football.

As a Soldier in Iraq, I must go without some things as well. It stems from General Order #1. General Order # 1 states military personnel will not drink, attempt to change anyone’s religion, or partake in nookie (amended if your spouse is stationed with you). Legend has it that General Swartzkopf (sp) issued General Order #1 during the Gulf War in an effort to appease the strict Islamic rules of Saudi Arabia. No one has rescinded the order since 1991.

Yes, I see the wisdom to General Order #1. Alcohol and firearms don’t mix, as YouTube redneck videos have taught us. If a Muslim renounces Islam, they could be killed.

But nookie…come on! I’m a patrol base with nothing but dudes, so the decision is made for me. I wonder if anyone would buy a “Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, sexually deprived for YOUR freedom” bumper sticker. I doubt it.

I will allow your imagination to explore the difficulties of romantic relationships on small patrol bases, in units where people work together 12-18 hours a day or what an average guy’s chances are with the 5% female population. It’s like High School divided by Days of Our Lives times Rambo II.