The second Jonathan said that he was running his own business and literally about to sign the biggest contract of his career to provide high speed internet for a large company when he got the call that his reserve unit was being shipped to Iraq. His tour is up in two weeks now. Samuel and the other Jonathan have three more years.
They described their experiences in Iraq and how surreal it all was. They were trained on ground to air missiles, but never got to use their training, because there are no planes firing on anyone in Iraq. The insurgents set up bombs and surface missiles on timers and then leave, so there's no enemy to fight when the bombing and missiles start raining in on them. But they said the insurgents don't really want to kill Americans, they want to kill Iraqis who associate with Americans--the police and any one that works for Americans. They said that so many times an Iraqi that they saw all the time working at the base would simply disappear and they would learn that that person and their whole family had been killed. One described witnessing a car drive up to a group of police recruits--the driver was dressed as a police officer and the recruits came over to the car when he called them. They all blew up.
They said that the army is making progress on getting insurgents, but that the rules of engagement make it very difficult. They are not allowed to shot at anyone unless the person is aiming a gun at them and ready to shoot them. They said that they caught a group of insurgents planting bombs and gave chase, but were not allowed to shoot, so they threw their water bottles at them to try to knock the insurgents off their motorcycles to catch them.
They said that it was very hot when they first got there in August and wearing all the gear was very challenging, but that they weren't prepared for how cold it was in the winter in the desert. (They made me smile because they said the temperature was 38 degrees, but the wind chill brought it down in the 20's. Of course, they were living in a tent--I never lived in a tent in that kind of cold in Michigan.)
We had a few police officers at out meeting and they pounced on the guys after the meeting to recruit them to work for the Glendale police department. I still think they look too young, but I'd much rather they were police in Glendale than soldiers in Iraq.
P.S. My personal political battle has 11 more days.