Reporters' Notebook: Iraqi vendors' sales of bootleg DVDs, games halted
January 4, 2005
Soldiers at bases around Baghdad are complaining that one of their main sources of entertainment is being taken away.
The DVD stalls run by Iraqi vendors outside many post exchanges are being shut down because of security concerns stemming from last month’s suicide bombing at a base near Mosul, Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials said.
Granted, the movies sold at the stalls are of dubious origin and probably don’t adhere to international copyright laws. But at $2 per movie, the prices can’t be beat.
The small shops, often clustered around the AAFES stores on bases, also offer bootleg video games, Cuban cigars, cheap cigarettes and every kind of knife imaginable.
According to an AAFES spokesman in Dallas, the stalls “have been closed because of force-protection concerns that are keeping local nationals, particularly those not associated with current contractors or DOD agencies, off the installations.”
Some of those stalls had been approved by base commanders or base mayor cells, but are now being shut down, AAFES spokesman Judd Anstey said in an e-mail response to Stars and Stripes.
As a result, several of the stores offered “going out of business” sales, resulting in a two-day windfall of even cheaper movies and games for soldiers.
What’s in a name?
Many American last names refer back to the occupation of their ancestors, such as farmer, miller, baker or even smith, but one soldier assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment has one that’s appropriate to his current job in Iraq.
When Pvt. David Tanks joined the Army, he seemingly was destined to become a tanker.
“When I first got (to the recruiters’ office), they said, ‘Oh, you want to be a tanker,’” the 21-year-old Franklin County, Va.-native said.
But Tanks said his last name didn’t influence his decision. When he went to the processing station, he was given a choice of career fields. “They gave me a list of jobs: infantry, artillery, scouts and tanks.”
Tanks chose tanks.
“It was my best option and the safest, so that was what I chose,” he said.
During basic training his name was the first the drill sergeants remembered. “When they wanted something … usually push-ups, guess who got called?” he said.
Since his arrival with Company B three months ago, Tanks has been getting plenty of experience. “I’d say about 30 percent of the patrols have been in tanks,” he said. “In 1st Platoon, I did maybe 10 missions.”
Now with 3rd platoon, he splits tank missions with those done in armored Humvees, but he’s sold on his chosen career field.
“It’s the best thing on the battlefield,” he said.