Denver Bar Association
October 2004
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View from Iraq: Generally Peaceful

by John G. Scott


Maj. John G. Scott on top of a Russian-made
Iraqi MiG.

Metro Volunteer Lawyer Director Sally Maresh received this email from her good friend John G. Scott, a Senior Prosecutor for the Marines in Iraq.


Good morning, I think it has been a while since I have dropped everyone a line, so here we go.

It’s hard to believe it is August already. With that, I am thrilled to say that I should be back "sometime soon." It has gone fast, yet it seems like I have been away for years. When I left Denver on Feb. 5, we were in the midst of a snowstorm. By the time I get back, I would like to think that the grass will still be green and the Rockies will be back to .500. I owe my son Nate a Broncos game and my daughter Marissa a trip to Elitch Gardens. I am greatly looking forward to both and just the thought of being back home. I owe my family much more than football games and amusement parks, but those are two tangible events to look forward to.

It seems from the news we get over here that the stories concerning the generally ill-perceived successes in Iraq have taken second chair to the presidential election. That is probably a good thing because it means that only truly significant adverse events are being reported out of Iraq—not every explosion that happens in Baghdad or in or near the Green Zone.

I assure you all that no news is generally good news over here. The lull in reporting will be met at some point with reporting about all the progress that will have been made
during the lull. Local achievements are all favorable. Although we are still suffering losses, there are some significant strides being made towards making the Iraqis self-sufficient. I’m no fool, it will take years, but there is definite progress. We hear many encouraging reports of Iraqi police and National Guard forces taking responsibility for their own security, and doing a reasonable job.

I read a comment recently that basically said that if the Iraqi National Guard and police forces were United States Marines, they would not even have completed their schooling cycle after boot camp yet. At the same time, however, many expect that they should be performing like seasoned Marines, and because they are still green, they must be a failure. Again, it takes time and experience to develop proficiency. The most important aspect of their training is that they are generally trying to succeed. With that mind set, ultimately they will get there.

First hand, we see water projects being completed, and many Iraqi nationals working. Schools are open, and there is freedom of the press and public media. Although you might not know it from where we sit in the Sunni Triangle, most of Iraq is generally peaceful on a day-to-day basis.

I was just talking with one of our lance corporals who is presently on "TCN" (third country national) duty. He escorts Iraqi workers on base who are hired to do various projects on the base. He said he is greatly enjoying the duty and the opportunity to interact with the locals. He enjoys speaking with them because they are all good humored and just intent on making a living for themselves. This is truly a remarkable experience for the typical 20 year-old young man or woman. No matter what each respective Marine is doing over here, all will come home with a renewed appreciation for what we have in our country.

For the most part, our team is starting to wind things down. We are wrapping up our cases and thinking about our return. I am taking the opportunity this week to do "gray belt training." Not too long ago, the Marine Corps started a martial arts program, and everyone is required to progress through a series of "belts." At 39, my aging frame does not respond as well to body throws and rolls as it did 15 years ago, so I am sore from head to foot. It is a lot of fun though. With the warm temperatures, we all look like powdered sugar donuts when we emerge from the sand after training.

Not too much else going on over here. I hope all is going well for everyone at home. Thank you all for your continued emails and support. Technology is wonderful. This has been a far cry from the "first gulf war." I am not even sure that Al Gore had invented the Internet yet at that time. The attached picture shows me at my camp sitting on the top of a Russian-made Iraqi MiG, the former pride of the Iraqi Air Force. Have a great "rest of the summer," and keep in touch.

Best regards,
/s/ John

Major John G. Scott is presently serving as the Senior Prosecutor for the Marines in Iraq. He was mobilized from the inactive reserves in early February. Maj. Scott is a 1995 graduate of the University of Denver College of Law. He can be contacted at

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