The day we traveled back to Falluja last week was a nice day. The sun was shining, and there was just the slightest wisp of a breeze. The LT gave his mission brief behind the vehicles to a circle of men in tan jumpsuits and blue-grey ACUs. He finished, and asked for comments, questions, or additions.
The platoon sergeant stepped up: "I have something, sir.
*This* is the most beautiful day since I have been in Iraq. I wish *every* day could be like this. The sun is shining, and it's not too hot and not too cold. It's good weather for us to do our jobs, it's good weather for the Iraqis to live their lives, and it's good weather for the Muj. I bet Muj is having wonderful thoughts of man-ass right now, and how much shit he can talk down in the man-ass bar after he blows us up. Do your job, enjoy the day, and shoot the Muj before he gets a chance to blow us up!"
As it turned out, it was indeed a day for the Muj. We saw nothing on our trip, but plenty of other people did. The air smelled of smoke much of the way, and the fires stretched away on both sides of the highway. Some of it was industry- those Iraqis out enjoying the day and making an honest Dinar. A lot of it was destruction.
An hour into the trip, the LT came on the radio and informed us that Gator had called in a TIC at Achmed's Garage. Achmed's Garage is a collection of repair shops and fuel pumps near Falluja. It's also the neighborhood hangout for insurgents. Gator is the Marine unit that owns the area, and they're letting approaching units know that they have Troops In Contact- a sustained firefight. Apparently, wonderful thoughts weren't all the Muj had in mind that day.
Not so long ago, the Marines and the Iraqi Police got tired of taking small arms fire, mortar fire, IED attacks, and sniper fire from the area. They came in under the cover of night, and the IPs proceeded to demolish the doors and back walls on the little adjoining shacks. They left them as little more than shelters from the sun, and capable of providing far less concealment than before. As we rolled past towards Falluja, there was a long line of Marine transports heading north towards the columns of smoke and dust of another battle. The weather is nice today, yes, but it's about to get a lot warmer for some Muj.