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BAGHDAD — The chorus of complaints about a certain kind of pistol holster is growing louder. You’ve seen them everywhere — the shoulder holster rig that leaves a pistol tucked in a person’s armpit, with the barrel pointing straight back.

The holsters seem to violate one of the first rules of gun safety: Even if you know it’s not loaded, you never point a weapon at someone unless you intend to shoot them.

“Look, I don’t care if you think it looks cool, is more comfortable or whatever, it’s idiotic,” said one Army first sergeant, who asked that his name not be used because his company commander and several other officers in his chain wear them.

The holsters, that sergeant and others said, are a fatal accidental discharge waiting to happen.

“I was behind a colonel in the chow hall line the other day, and his [pistol] was pointed straight at my chest the whole time. He saw that I didn’t like it, and said, ‘I cleared it.’ Well, thanks colonel, but I still think it’s the dumbest thing I’ve seen.”

It’s Georgian, not GeorgianSome of the U.S. troops stationed in Baghdad’s Green Zone got excited earlier this year when they heard a new contingent of security troops was coming from Georgia. They were a little surprised, though, when the Georgians showed up, speaking … Georgian.

The soldiers are from the country Georgia, a former Soviet republic, not the U.S. southern state. But because their uniforms are nearly identical to the U.S. Army’s desert camouflage uniforms, some confusion reigned at first.

“I heard there were a bunch of Georgians new to the Green Zone, so I went and started talking to this guy at a guard shack,” said Sgt. Phil Ellis, an Atlanta native. “But he just stared and stared. Finally, he just looked at me and said, ‘No English.’ Then he walked away.”

Of course, soldiers and contractors working in the area have long been used to international security forces. After a large contingent of Gurkas left earlier this year, a new private security company came along, with scores of Latin American guards.

So now, instead of Georgian, many troops in the Green Zone walk around speaking Spanish, with calls of “Que pasa?” (What’s up?) “amigo,” (friend) and, strangely, “pelicula” (movie) among the refrains.


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