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'I've Been to Iraq'


We head now to the other side of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad's eastern side, to hear a story from a US soldier. We're listening to American troops in their own words this week as part of NPR's Span of War series. Today, we hear from a 22-year-old member of the National Guard. Originally trained as an artilleryman, he was retrained as a military policeman. Now he's working a tough section of Baghdad on a yearlong tour.

Specialist BRANDON BOYD (182nd Field Artillery): My name is Specialist Brandon Boyd. I'm from Detroit, Michigan. I'm part of the 182nd Field Artillery out of Detroit, Michigan. We're attached to the 720th MP Battalion in Baghdad, Iraq, and I'm 22 years old.

The rules of engagement are I'm gonna shout, I'm gonna shove you, I'm gonna show you my weapon and, if all else fails, I'm gonna shoot you. If a person's coming at you--let's say they're in a vehicle, they're coming at you full speed and you don't have time and you take that person out, you use the role, because if you'd have done anything else, you'd have endangered the lives of you and the people in your convoy.

We had a near miss. We had caught an IED on the way rolling out the gate. And then the next morning, we had someone try to run our traffic control point. They came in and they shouldn't have. It basically boiled down to the guy didn't know what the sign said. And they shot at the vehicle a few times, just to disable the vehicle, you know. But he came through all right, you know.

I don't shake. I don't get the jitters. Some people do, but to tell you the truth, I kind of like it. 'Cause you know how some people say they're tough, you know, they go through their whole lives, want to be a tough guy, say they're tough, but never have the life experiences to back it up? I could say, `I've been to Iraq and I made it out, you know. What else can the world throw at me?' you know. I don't think any situation anywhere else in the world is as bad as this right now, 'cause you never know. You go outside--Boom!--and it's done. Or you could be bad off and be maimed and have to deal with the pain, you know. You just take it in stride.

NORRIS: Army Specialist Brandon Boyd is working to train the fledgling Iraq police force in eastern Baghdad.

We'll hear from other soldiers all this week, all in their own words. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.