Greetings again from mud-ville. I think I can lean forward a little and predict that the drought that has gripped Diyala Province for the last couple of years may be near an end. We've already had over 2" of rain, last year they had 4" total in the entire rainy season. That 10 days of Rain has managed to put large portions of FOB Warhorse underwater. That being said, the water problem in Diyala Province is indeed serious and hopefully the rains continue to fall, even though it will completely screw with my workout regime, I figure the Iraqi's agricultural needs are probably more important.
Our Brigade Commander recently pushed out to the Wolf Family a newsletter updating family on the progress of the BDE and sum of the details. I figured I would pass along some of the information he chose to share since it might help you understand some things about Diyala Province and the area of Iraq that we are currently operating in:
A few facts about Diyala Province, Iraq. Diyala extends to the northeast of Baghdad as far as the Iranian border. Its capital is Baqubah. Diyala covers an area of 17,685 square kilometers (6,828 sq mi). That is an area approximately the size of the state of Maryland.
Diyala has been inhabited continuously since pre-Islamic times as a center for agriculture and commerce. The name itself is thought to have come from the Assyrian language Baya 'quba, meaning "Yacoub's (Jacob) house."
Because of its proximity to two major sources of water, Diyala's main industry is agriculture, primarily in large date palm groves. It is also recognized as the orange capital of the Middle East. Although it is often referred to as the "bread basket" of Iraq Diyala is suffering from one of the worst droughts in nearly 50 years and we can see the effects of the drought throughout the Province.
Baqubah (Arabic: بعقوبة) is the capital of Iraq's Diyala Governorate. The city is located some 50 km (30 miles) to the northeast of Baghdad, on the Diyala River, just outside Iraq's so-called Sunni Triangle. The estimated population of Diyala is 1,224,000 people.
I hope that helps all of you get a better picture of where exactly I am and what exactly this area looks like.
As the Catholics, Orthodox and Liturgical Protestants among you are aware, Saturday was All Saints' Day and today is All Souls' Day. I think the basic and essential meaning of those events take on special meaning in a combat zone. We had two members of our Brigade die recently from enemy action. It is on All Souls Day that we remember all those who have gone before us and here especially, one can begin to understand just how transitive life is. We are only on this world for a short period and we have eternity elsewhere. Thoughts like that bring us to the Feast of All Saints. They are the communion of believers that exists across space and time. Just as theologically speaking any sacrifice of the Mass occurs both on the date it is celebrated and also on Golgotha, the communion of Saints exists here and now just, as it did yesterday and will tomorrow. Eternity is a long time, or so I've been told. Anyways, enough with the really, really deep thoughts for the email. But hopefully they resulted in a little pondering of the "eternal questions" of which we must all someday give account.
On another note, Tuesday is election day in the United States for those of you back home. Seeing how you've been deluged with a two year campaign, it's kind of anti-climactic and I imagine a relief that soon it will be over. Contrary to the greatest fears and hyperbole of the Far Left, President Bush hasn't destroyed American democracy, and in fact, there will be an election on Tuesday between two very different people, neither of whom is President George W. Bush (Also, please note, there hasn't been another Terror Attack in the US Since 9/11 and Bush deserves some of the credit for that). The Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) of many on the Far Left will have to find another outlet, and it will probably dramatically improve their health. Whoever wins, America remains America. We've had peaceful transfers of party for over 230 years, with a violent intermission during the 1860s (The Civil War), that even then featured elections. On January 20th we will have another peaceful transfer of power, showing just how enduring our system of government is and wise our Founding Fathers were. The nightmares and doom preached by the Far Left hasn't happened and won't. Those of you who are happy to See President Bush leave office, will be happy, because he will indeed leave office. We will have a new president with new goals. It's how America works. Just recognize that (on the deep theological thoughts again) even our vote has eternal consequences. I'm personally anticipating a change in the political party which occupies the White House, and America will survive - it always does (we survived Carter, LOL).