Largest Most Expensive Embassy (c) maintains its own air force, several dozen helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. The aircraft ferry personnel in and out of Iraq (commercial air transport is considered unsafe so State Department personnel roll private from Amman or Kuwait into Baghdad), and move people around inside the country.
The helicopters are also used by some of the 5,500 mercenaries hired to protect the Embassy, for observation and armed search and rescue missions when a diplo convoy gets ambushed along some freedom highway in Iraq.
So it is a developing story that one of State’s merc helos went down inside Baghdad today and had to be rescued itself, eventually hauled back in shame into the Green Zone on a flatbed trailer with the Iraqi Army in support. Agence France-Presse on Twitter is the only outlet that even seems vaguely interested in a story that would represent a major diplomatic incident had it occurred in any other country.
The Embassy states it was an “emergency landing” with no one hurt, but refuses further comment. Oh well, Iraq is a special place.
For me, I tried as hard as possible to always fly Army while I was in Iraq. As recounted in We Meant Well, the closest I came to getting killed was when a State Department helicopter idiotically took off with me still standing next to it, the tail rotor swishing just over my head and the head of the bewildered crew chief the pilot accidentally left on the ground with me. The door was wasn’t closed and so the pilot also lost an unsecured weapon and some other items in his haste to depart. Army radios couldn’t contact the State helo radio, so we had to make a phone call to the Embassy to call the mercs to radio the helicopter to recall the helicopter.
Until we know more about the downed helicopter, Embassy staffers are advised to buckle their seatbelts when in flight– it may be a bumpy ride.
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