What is a Bedouin?

Bedouin guide

Bedouin: a nomadic Arab of the Arabian, Syrian, or North African deserts
– Merriam-Webster Dictionary

I am not a nomadic Arab.

Like many other service members, I have been deployed to the middle-east region. Before my unit moved into Iraq, we spent some time in Kuwait getting our equipment ready, ammunition issued, and confirming zeros on our weapons. My first full day in Kuwait my unit told me I would be the range safety the next day. That next day when I arrived to the range, there was already another unit using the range, so I received a range safety brief from that unit’s safety prior to my unit moving onto the range to fire. “Your normal range safety stuff here. Weapon pointed down range at all times, treat every weapon like its loaded, do not shoot over the berm or past the left and right limits, anyone call call cease fire if they observe an unsafe act, you know the drill. Some things specific to this range though: do not shoot camels or other wildlife that may wonder onto the range and look out for Bedouins. If you see Bedouins or camels, immediately cease fire halt shooting.”

“Roger,” I responded. I did not know what a Bedouin was.

After a few hours I saw a group of people walking up with loads of gear on camels walking towards us from my left. They could hear us shooting, but they continued to come our direction. Recognizing the camels as something that could cause a cease fire, I called it and the range went quiet. As we were waiting for the people their camels to pass, an officer came up to me and said, “why do those Bedouins walk that path? They see the range and hear us shooting.”

“I don’t know,” I answered. But I did now know what a Bedouin is.

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