It was early 2016 and I was providing routine infantry training for the Peshmerga of 3rd Brigade at a base near the city of Sulaymania in Iraqi Kurdistan. I remember we had just finished out the day at the range with some fire and maneuver drills; I sat down with a cup of chai in front of my office computer checking up on the latest current events around the world. Joey walked in laughing to himself and asked if I had heard about the police locked up in the bathroom near the HQ building; I stared at him blankly before uttering a flat, “Wut?”
Apparently it all started when a captain with the heavy weapons section of the brigade was driving to base that morning and was stopped just outside the city by the local traffic police. I’m not exactly sure of the reason for the stop but they requested he present his vehicle registration. He presented his military identification (in uniform) and declared that he had left it at his office on base and would happily provide proof of registration if they contacted his office. He informed the officers that he was Captain of the 3rd Special Brigade, the vice president of the PUK’s personal Peshmerga unit (one of the two major Iraqi Kurdish politic parties). I knew this Captain personally and he was very kind man who would not have been belligerent in the least with the police.
As I understand it, at this point the police began to severely disrespect the vice president of the PUK and declared they were going to arrest the captain. In response he phoned a lieutenant and platoon commander in one of the many infantry companies (I will call him Phil) fearful that the men intended to follow through with their threats. Phil was a man known for shall we say “bold” decision-making skills; He responded by immediately mobilizing his platoon of Peshmerga and driving to the captain’s location with AK47s locked and loaded in full battle rattle.
Upon their arrival they proceeded to dismount their vehicles and detain the Police officers at gun point, relieving the men of their sidearms of course. The officers were promptly rolled up and thrown into a truck bed; the Peshmerga then proceeded to drive back to the base. Once RTB (Return to Base) had been completed, they locked the men in a small bathroom adjacent to the HQ building.
The following day the chief of police for Sulaymania had to drive to the base personally to collect his men and their pistols. He was required to apologize to the unit General, the Captain that they had attempted to arrest and Phil (for wasting his time) before any of that took place. I guess the lesson here is that things work differently in the far reaches of the world, and you do not fuck with the Peshmerga. We may or may not have provided the training that the Peshmerga utilized during this course of action a month prior to the event taking place.
Image courtesy of the author.