TAQADDUM, Iraq — The war here smells like diesel fumes and nostalgia.
In the distance, there is an explosion, a single thud that has the Marines of Baker Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, on their radios trying to figure out what it was. “Iraqi artillery, I think,” the Marine sitting in a reinforced observation point, known as Post Eight, decides. It is dark and getting cold, and the Marine on Post Eight, an infantryman, has been here since October.
Post Eight and its fellow line of fortifications is just adjacent to Taqaddum’s tarmac and makes up one of the borders of the American camp — called Camp Manion, after a Marine lieutenant who was killed by a sniper in Iraq in 2007. The camp is an outpost within an outpost — an island in the middle of the now Iraqi-controlled Taqaddum airbase where a small contingent of Marines, soldiers and Special Forces help train Iraqi troops to fight the Islamic State in this new chapter of the Forever War.