One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so the saying goes.
At Taji Air Force Base in Iraq, there was, and I presume still is, a well-known “junk motor pool” made up of all kinds of old Cold War-era vehicles that have been piled there. I’ve visited the motor pool a couple times when I was posted to Taji and found it endlessly fascinating; it was even the subject of a couple of comics in the first deployment, around 2013 through 2014.
No visit to Taji was complete without at least a cursory stop to take in the acres of junked vehicles, many of them “threat” vehicles we had been warned about in every enemy briefing we’d ever received. It’s one thing to be told about things like the T-72 tank and BMP troop transport, but it is a whole new perspective to actually crawl inside them and get an idea for them in real life.
The Taji junk motor pool had more than just T-72s and BMPs, though– there were radio trucks, radar trucks, anti-aircraft vehicles, armored cars, rocket launching trucks, you name it. Of course when we began to re-constitute the Iraqi Army, they used a lot of their own existing vehicles to outfit their troops, and so a lot of the types of vehicles we saw in the junk motor pool were being refit and reissued.
The vehicles in the background here are a type of troop transporter called the MT-LB, a lightweight design that is cheap and easy to repair. Because of that, it is popular with a lot of armies around the world. It is not surprising that the new Iraqi Army would be seeing these back in action again.
And of course we get to see Hakim, an Iraqi national that the troops from the 213th got to know during their first deployment. He’s now in the Iraqi National Guard and wearing the “chocolate chip” desert camouflage uniform that has been supplied to a lot of US-backed Middle Eastern forces. We’ll see what Hakim’s presence means in the next episode.