Since the military provides just 6 to 12 computers for every 1,000 or so troops, time limits of 10 to 15 minutes per day are often enforced at Morale Welfare Recreation Cafés (the complicated name for military internet cafés). Anyone who sorts through spam, reads forwarded articles and jokes, then tries to respond to "real" email knows 15 minutes isn't enough. Josh Hines, a soldier from Conway who recently returned from Iraq , confirmed that the Army lacks internet services and lamented the scarcity of entertainment options.
It should come as no surprise, then, that some enterprising military personnel have engineered an alternative. Hajjinets, the common term for troop-owned ISPs, have sprung to life on almost every base around Iraq. A typical Hajjinet is built and maintained by one or two soldiers and can provide nearly 24-hour internet access (until the region is stabilized and electrical lines can be installed, generators must occasionally be powered down for maintenance). Most Hajjinets are small, serving between 20 and 30 troops, but ISPs serving as many as 300 are known to exist. In a country wracked by war, where even the capital city receives only intermittent electricity, where people's lives are in constant peril, and where even basic necessities are scarce, this is no small victory.
Truly, I can't think of a better example of John Gilmore's old saw, "The Internet interprets censorship as damage, and routes around it."
But take this prediction to the bank: It's only a matter of time before the stupid, paranoid control freaks in DC crack down on our troops and try to deny them this kind of free access to the net. As soon as the next batch of camera phone pictures of the next Abu Ghraib or Haditha find their way to the press across a Hajjinet... reasonable net access will be banned at military bases across Iraq.