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What it means to work as a guard in Iraq

By Vision Reporter

Added 10th January 2009 03:00 AM

Over 12,000 Ugandans have been recruited to work in Iraq since 2005.

Over 12,000 Ugandans have been recruited to work in Iraq since 2005.

Over 12,000 Ugandans have been recruited to work in Iraq since 2005.

Most have spent at least two years there. The majority are guards who are either gun or dog handlers.

For a gun handler, you are supposed to get training once in Iraq, although you have prior knowledge about guns. The same applies to the dog handlers.

The day starts at 4:45am when every guard wakes up. They have breakfast at 5:00am. Breakfast is normally African tea with some bites.

The guards proceed to work in vehicles owned by the coalition forces when deployed far from their camps.

By 5:30am, most guards are at work. Their work involves guarding the camps, carrying out patrols and detecting explosives using trained dogs.

The guards work for 10 to 12 hours during the week and six hours during weekends, which are observed on Fridays and Saturdays. Sundays are working days.

Dog handlers have to be very careful when moving with the dogs. The handler has to alert other pedestrians by shouting ‘dog passing through’. If you don’t and the dog bites someone, you may face negligence charges.

But if after the warning, people refuse to give way, the guard has no case if the dog bites anyone.

Gun-handlers patrol the camps in shifts 24 hours a day. Even when there are no enemy attacks on the camp, you have to stay trigger-ready full-time.
All bases have anti-missile installations that divert them when fired at a camp. At times these missiles hit people’s homes.

The guards have lunch at work and they take supper in their camps.
There are also halls of entertainment with screens and gyms. However, there have been reports that some Ugandan guards were sodomised by American soldiers.

Within the camps, there are dry cleaners and cooks, who provide services to guards free of charge. The guards pay for airtime when they want to call home. It costs sh300 per minute to call home.

The bases have both permanent and temporary houses. Most shelters are made of containers that have Air conditioners.

During summer it is so hot that if you do not take water, you can die of thirst. The temperature goes as low as 8°C in Baghdad in winter. To keep alive, the guards wear thermal clothes that generate heat.

Guards are given a chance to return home every six months.

What it means to work as a guard in Iraq

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