The prison at Abu Ghraib was still a relatively unknown part of America s War on Terror whenwith no special training and their gear lost somewhere between the United States and Baghdadthe 152nd Field Artillery Battalion of the Maine National Guard was sent there to serve as guards in February 2004. Read more...
The prison at Abu Ghraib was still a relatively unknown part of America s War on Terror whenwith no special training and their gear lost somewhere between the United States and Baghdadthe 152nd Field Artillery Battalion of the Maine National Guard was sent there to serve as guards in February 2004. Just before their arrival, the now infamous photos of the abuses suffered by the prisoners hit the world stage. Abu Ghraib became the focal point not only for global condemnation but for the insurgents outrage.
Over the next year, the 152nd would come under attack by snipers, suicide bombers, vehicle-borne IEDs, and constant rocket and mortar fire. Yet at the same time, the Mainers would form close bonds with some of the prisoners, among them an Iraqi boy struck by a mortar in one of two mass casualty events, and Kamal, a community leader who acts as an envoy between the detainees and the soldiers and yet is assassinated after his release for helping the Americans.
The men of the 152nd were an eclectic group of citizen-soldiers caught in one of the darkest corners of the war in Iraq. "Packed for the Wrong Trip" tells the true story of how they relied on each other and their own ingenuity to survive and to transform one of the most inhumane detainee centers into a functioning, humane prisonor as close to one as you could get when tucked between Baghdad and the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah.
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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-02-08
- Reviewer: Staff
Using one of the darkest incidents in recent American military history, Griffith, a former U.S. Marine combat correspondent, recasts the atrocity of torture and torment at Iraq’s infamous Abu Ghraib as a moment of redemption. In February of 2004, a ragtag unit of the Maine National Guard’s 152nd Field Artillery Battalion was deployed to the detention facility as a replacement for the disgraced soldiers whose photos of the cruelty they inflicted upon Iraqi prisoners shocked the world and served as a recruitment tool for insurgents. The prison, filled to capacity with “die-hard Saddam loyalists, native religious fanatics, or specimens of the Syrian, Yemeni, or Saudi Jihadists who had come over the unsecured borders,” was guarded by the 152nd’s “ill-trained, poorly equipped” citizen soldiers under harsh conditions that featured car bombs, snipers, and constant rocket and mortar fire. To quell the ongoing insurgency, military commanders changed tactics, granting hearings to detainees as well as providing better food, education, and counseling by moderate imams. The facility is now shuttered. Griffith’s account of these compassionate Mainers offers a new perspective on what happened at Abu Ghraib in the wake of the torture scandal. (Apr.)