May 04, 2004


Australian soldiers are living large in Saddamís old palaces:

The vast Presidential Palace North, now christened Camp Victory, features hundreds of ornate buildings with Aussie troops locating their headquarters and accommodation in buildings on the edge of a huge artificial lake.

Aussie soldiers wake each day to the sun rising over Saddam's personal lake, recline on his gilt-trimmed furniture and marvel how one man could squander so much of his country's wealth.

The Australians remain on full alert, however, for stealthy paddle boat raiders:

"One night while we were sitting around here on picket (guard duty) about 11pm I noticed a row boat out on the water and behind the row boat I could see a head moving towards us," [Sergeant Mark Dowling] recalled.

"The person I was with shone a torch on him and said 'what are you bloody doing mate'.

"He (an American soldier) looked at us and said 'I just thought it was a nice night for a swim' and swam off. He was obviously trying to steal our paddle boat."

UPDATE. The 380 Salvadoran troops in Iraq havenít received much notice. Check this:

One of his friends was dead, 12 others lay wounded and the four soldiers still left standing were surrounded and out of ammunition. So Salvadoran Cpl. Samuel Toloza said a prayer, whipped out his knife and charged the Iraqi gunmen.

In one of the only known instances of hand-to-hand combat in the Iraq conflict, Cpl. Toloza stabbed several attackers swarming around a comrade. The stunned assailants backed away momentarily, just as a relief column came to the unit's rescue.

"We never considered surrender. I was trained to fight until the end," said the 25-year-old corporal, one of 380 soldiers from El Salvador whose heroism is being cited just as other members of the multinational force in Iraq are facing criticism.

Posted by Tim Blair at May 4, 2004 06:19 PM

Micah wouldn't have been busted... bloody amature.

Posted by: fidens at May 4, 2004 at 06:48 PM


Posted by: Mike Hunt at May 4, 2004 at 06:55 PM

Filthy theiving yanks! We help them out and this is how they repay us...

actually, one of the amusing parts of reading Andy McNabs book Bravo Two Zero is when they all zoom over to the US compound to try and steal as much kit as humanly possible. The spirit of the idea is somewhat defeated when the americans are happy to hand the stuff over, as they have too much anyway...

Nicking other unit's stuff is as integral to soldiering as marching or shooting.

Posted by: attila at May 4, 2004 at 06:56 PM

Heh, yanks! Keep your hands off OUR paddle boats.

(No quips about our navy, if you please.)

Posted by: The Gnu Hunter at May 4, 2004 at 06:58 PM

Sepos - over there and over paid!

(For the uneducated 'Sepo' is short for the rhyming slang 'septic tank'=yank)


Never got over '83 and the America's Cup!

Posted by: Razor at May 4, 2004 at 07:04 PM

Oh, the humanity. This will haunt all our lives. I recant my objections to Latham's policy. OUT NOW!!!!! There must be a better way, there must be. We must find leaders fast, real fast.

Posted by: Margo Skingston at May 4, 2004 at 07:16 PM

Paddleboat of Mass Destruction?

Posted by: PatD at May 4, 2004 at 08:08 PM

It's all about paddle-boats!

Posted by: CurrencyLad at May 4, 2004 at 08:31 PM

All Paddleboats home by Christmas.

Posted by: PatD at May 4, 2004 at 08:46 PM

They weren't trying to steal HMAS Paddleboat.

It was merely a paddleboat-related program activity.

I propose a peaceful resolution: Send in the paddleboat inspectors, commence a paddleboats-for-food program, and get that turd Gaddafi to renounce his ambitions to own his own paddleboat.

Posted by: Endgame at May 4, 2004 at 09:01 PM

In East Timor, Aussie soldiers referred to their NZ counterparts as 'hydraulics'. They could lift anything.

Posted by: Mike Hunt at May 4, 2004 at 09:50 PM

Nothing wrong with a little traditional midnight requisition.

Posted by: Donnah at May 4, 2004 at 10:15 PM

From the Wall Street Journal's featured article for Tuesday, 4 May: "I was on Mr. Kerry's boat in Vietnam. He doesn't deserve to be commander in

It's written by one of John Kerry's fellow Swift Boat commanders. Go read - may need to register.

Concluding money quote: "John Kerry's recent admissions caused me to realize that I was most likely in Vietnam dodging enemy rockets on the very day he met in Paris with Madame Binh, the representative of the Viet Cong to the Paris Peace Conference. John Kerry returned to the U.S. to become a national spokesperson for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, a radical fringe of the antiwar movement, an organization set upon propagating the myth of war crimes through demonstrably false assertions. Who was the last American POW to die languishing in a North Vietnamese prison forced to listen to the recorded voice of John Kerry disgracing their service by his dishonest testimony before the Senate?"

Double ouch.

Give Kerry the paddle-boat. If he can command that he can put it to use where he's headed: up what we Aussies call 'Shit Creek', sans paddle.

Posted by: CurrencyLad at May 4, 2004 at 10:39 PM

They were just checking to see if you Aussies had installed another one of your top secret keels. Since '83 we feel like we have to watch you all pretty carefully about that stuff.

Posted by: Mahatma at May 4, 2004 at 11:25 PM


To this yank that conjures up images of steamboats and the Mississippi.

Posted by: Robert Crawford at May 4, 2004 at 11:26 PM

Now they've gone and done it. That was obviously just a forward scout. The SEAL team from Operation Healthy Exersize will show up next, and then you guys won't get off so easy.

Posted by: Bryan C at May 4, 2004 at 11:55 PM

It's not "stealing", it's called putting in a "midnight requisition". And he was obviously not a Marine, since Marines are masters of "midnight requisition". :)

Posted by: Jim G. at May 5, 2004 at 12:03 AM

Now, now! If our soldiers wanted to steal the paddleboat, it would already be gone.

The truth is, the soldier was on an unannounced safety inspection, looking at the hull integrity and all. You must have passed, or he wouldn't have been so nice.


Posted by: JeffS at May 5, 2004 at 12:29 AM

I didn't fall off the canoe. Some Australians tipped me over. - John Kerry.

Posted by: Andjam at May 5, 2004 at 12:41 AM

Dude, where's my paddle boat?

Posted by: Andjam at May 5, 2004 at 12:43 AM

"The work is all shoddy. There's dodgy wiring and plumbing. What you see is a great facade and behind that facade is a lot of dodgy work," explained Sergeant Mark Dowling.

Symbolic of the regime, really.

The Australian contingent also has a perfectly good swimming pool but it's standing empty because of problems in sourcing the necessary chemicals.

Where's chemical Ali when you need him?

Posted by: Andjam at May 5, 2004 at 12:56 AM

Hey, what's a little thievery among friends, eh?

Posted by: Rebecca at May 5, 2004 at 01:54 AM

The chlorine is in Syria.

Posted by: Dave S. at May 5, 2004 at 01:54 AM

I thought Seppo was one of the Marx brothers.

"While I was in Iraq I shot a Fedayeen in my pajamas. How a Fedayeen got in my pajamas I'll never know."

Posted by: Dave S. at May 5, 2004 at 01:57 AM


And that's the difference between the US Marine Corps and the US Navy. Marines steal, the Navy "trades". Of course the provenance of what the sailors are "trading" may be questionable, but there's almost always an exchange of some sort involved. (There's even a special word the Navy came up with to describe this "trading" -- cumshaw.)

Posted by: David Crawford at May 5, 2004 at 01:59 AM

Too bad there aren't more Salvadorans in Iraq. A brave soldier indeed......I'm not sure that I would go that far in those circumstances. Charging armed terrorists with a knife? Wow.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 5, 2004 at 06:39 AM

Let's hear it for that stabby salvadoreno!

Posted by: gst at May 5, 2004 at 07:33 AM

All your paddleboat are ours!

Posted by: Sgt. Mom at May 5, 2004 at 08:08 AM

We should start a pledge drive to buy some new boat-paddles for the Aussies and some swords for the El Salvadorans (Salvo's?). Imagine the surprise on Al Sadr's face when he gets ambushed by a bunch of guys swinging oars and clawmores.

Posted by: derf at May 5, 2004 at 08:49 AM

All your paddleboat are belong to us.

Posted by: Andjam at May 5, 2004 at 09:57 AM

Hero of Trafalgar, ah, right, Hero of the Battle of the Swimming Pool.

The Digger crossed the T by shouting, what are you doing mate.

The foe, called, That's it we're doomed, bail out your sinking paddleboats or swim for it.

Posted by: d at May 5, 2004 at 12:00 PM

All your paddleboat are belong to us.

What you say?!?!

Posted by: Sortelli at May 5, 2004 at 12:07 PM

What's all this about paddling?

Great article on the El Sals. Notice at the bottom how the Spaniards did not come to their rescue but now that the Amis have replaced the both-hands-in-the-air guys they are quite happy.

Posted by: Tommy Shanks at May 5, 2004 at 05:15 PM