Lessons From Ramadi: A Guest Post from Captain Thomas Daly
I’d like to thank Captain Thomas Daly for writing this guest post. He lived the experiences that so many of us have read about.
Captain Daly joined the Marine Corps in 2004. During his
military career, he has held a multitude of billets ranging from Forward Observer to Intelligence Cell Leader. His unique perception of the battlefield has been shaped while operating with units of the United States Army, Navy SEALs, ANGLICO (Air, Naval Gunfire Liaison Company), Iraqi Army and Police Units, and anti-Al Qaeda guerrillas. In July of 2008, Captain Daly transitioned from the Marine Corps to the Inactive Ready Reserves. He currently works for ITT Industries as a project manager. He is also the author of the forthcoming book Rage Company (Wiley, Spring 2010).
On the night of January 26, 2007, I laid in a dark, muddy irrigation canal on the eastern outskirts of Anbar’s capital: Ramadi. Next to me was a former Saddam General, who was also a leader within the tribal movement that later would become known as the “Anbar Awakening.” Together, we watched a squad of Marines storm into a house that the general and his fellow tribesmen insisted was a legal court of the Islamic State of Iraq. Once the Marines gained entry, the tribesmen and I followed. As I approached the rectangular, one-level home and adjoining car port, the general muttered behind me, “Ali Siyagah’s car!” Siyagah, a mid-level al Qaeda cleric and former direct-action cell leader, was the target. His car was parked in the driveway.
I ran up the front stairs and through the main doorway. I was greeted
by the standard Iraqi living room—no furniture, just blankets strewn about, and a television in a far corner—and the calm and defiant faces of the eight military-aged males sitting on the floor. Within seconds, horror overcame the men, as the general and his men entered the room.
The ski-mask-clad tribesmen with us spouted off the names of the men seated on the floor. Ali Siyagah was not present, but his personal driver, two bodyguards and an al Qaeda propagandist were in the group. To me, the group appeared to be normal civilians. The tribesmen quickly explained that the remaining four were exactly that—locals forced into the insurgents’ service. We separated the innocent in a different room while we detained the others, then we prepared to move to the next target. The alliance between Sunni nationalists and America was about to dismantle al Qaeda. In four months the kinetic fight that had plagued Ramadi for three years would be over.
The impact of the uprising of Sunni tribes against al Qaeda was the catalyst that ended insurgent violence not only within Ramadi, but also much of Iraq. However, this fact was not a coincidence. It was the end result of a series of actions and events, which can shed light on the actions required for America to succeed in Afghanistan.
May of 2006, the fully operational 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division (1/1 AD), took over responsibility for the city of Ramadi. This is important because they replaced a collection of Pennsylvania National Guard units that were responsible for the southern and western sectors of the city. The Guardsmen had not exerted control over these sectors, in turn affording the insurgents safe havens to assault the adjacent units of the 1-506th and 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines. The soldiers of 1/1 AD quickly reversed this by moving into the safe havens and establishing a string of Combat Outposts that put their tanks in the heart of Ramadi. Fighting throughout the summer was intense, and over a dozen Bradley Fighting Vehicles and M1 tanks were catastrophically destroyed.
As the insurgents fought 1/1 AD, they also faced internal battles. December 30, 2005, a couple of months before 1/1 AD arrived, representatives of Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s and the nationalist 1920s Revolutionary Brigade’s, met at a downtown mosque in Ramadi. Zarqawi wanted all of the different insurgent groups to fall under his proposed Mujahadeen Shura Council, which he envisioned would govern the Islamic State of Iraq. Not everyone in 1920s agreed with Zarqawi’s heavy-handed tactics against Shia Iraqis.
Like a lot of events in Iraq at the time, the meeting ended in a firefight as some elements of 1920s held out. The conflict between the two opposing camps continued through the summer, around the time 1/1 AD arrived. The weaker hold outs turned to America for assistance. We obliged, helping them establish a couple of tribal police stations between the Marine garrison at Hurricane Point and the Government Center.
Al Qaeda quickly responded by focusing deadly attacks on the group, but they also made a critical mistake. They kidnapped and murdered the sheik of the tribe and hid his body, preventing a proper burial. The event became a major tool for the nationalists to exploit via propaganda. One sheik, Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi, even recorded television commercials blasting al Qaeda for their actions.
By Fall of 2006, the fight for Ramadi’s hearts and minds climaxed. Sheik Sattar declared an “Awakening” of Anbar’s tribes against al Qaeda in September. At the time, Sheik Sattar was not very powerful. The call to awaken went mostly on deaf ears.
October 18, the Mujahadeen Shura Council responded by declaring Ramadi the capital of the Islamic State of Iraq, and held a parade 800 meters from Anbar’s actual seat of government. Yet, the pressure began to pile on the extremists.
1/1 AD continued it’s offensive: new Combat Outposts were seized, an influx of 2,200 Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit flooded into Anbar; including my company, which arrived in Ramadi in early November. Sheik Sattar formed separate military and political organizations to first combat al Qaeda and also reach out to the other tribes of the Euphrates River Valley as well as the Iraqi Government.
The balance of power left al Qaeda’s hands in late November. Until then, Sheik Sattar only was capable of rallying the western side of Ramadi against the extremists, while American troops, myself included, contested the city’s center. Al Qaeda continued to control the urban east and rural areas beyond (Mila’ab, Sofia, Juwayba). However, this dynamic changed when an al Qaeda mortar team trying to use the usual farmland in northeastern Sofia to fire at Americans was turned back by a group of armed locals. The leader of this very small tribe (Shiek Jassim of the Albu Soda) was tired of our artillery counter-fire destroying his fields because of the mortar team. His tribesmen didn’t kill the insurgents, they simply said, “go away; use a different field.”
Again, al Qaeda made a serious mistake, completely disregarding the locals’ concerns. They launched an all-out assault against the Albu Soda tribe, forcing Jassim to call the United States for help. We responded in the midst of the attack, supplying Jassim with arms and ammunition that allowed him to repulse the enemy. Apache gunships followed up the action by destroying insurgent vehicles as they fled.
The attack on Jassim unified the small tribes of Sofia east to the Sijariah crossing, cutting off al Qaeda’s urban headquarters in the Mila’ab from its historic command and control network in Juwayba. At the end of January, the final push for control of Ramadi began. Coalition troops simultaneously attacked the Mila’ab and Juwayba. Days after the push into Juwayba, twenty-five Iraqi tribesmen offered assistance to the Marines. The first two paragraphs of this article describe part of the first mission we executed together. A month later, Juwayba would literally revolt against the extremists after the brutal murder of another innocent Iraqi.
So how does this apply to Afghanistan? How does Iraq’s tribal movement relate to Afghanistan? Is such an awakening even possible in Afghanistan?
The Pashtun tribes in Afghanistan are much more fractured and loosely aligned than the tribes in Iraq. Their territory traverses rugged, sometimes impassable terrain, unlike Iraq’s flat desert. Another difference? The Taliban is not al Qaeda. For almost a decade the Taliban provided for Afghanistan as a functioning government. It is a home-grown movement, led, in most part, by Afghans. The Taliban’s weaknesses and strengths are different than al Qaeda’s in Iraq. In fact, the Taliban’s knowledge of the local districts’ socio-political landscape makes it a more potent adversary. However, warfare is an art, not a science. There is always opportunity to change reality on the ground.
This begins with more combat boots, because step one is showing up. The awakening in Iraq spread in large part because it coincided with the “Surge.” As the support of Sunni tribes grew so did the reach of American troops. This combination of the coalition’s conventional tactics, supported by a Sunni nationalist guerrilla campaign, accomplished what the United States could not do by itself: defeat al Qaeda.
Step two is to truly understand the Taliban. As historic Taliban safe havens get a new combat outpost manned by Afghan and American troops, commanders on the ground must realize who they are facing. A concerted effort to encourage moderate Taliban commanders to our side has to take place. Not everyone in the Taliban agrees with suicide bombings, and as combat outposts move into villages, so will IEDs, mortar attacks, and devastating firefights. By living amongst the populace, local citizens will see the nature of the Taliban’s tactics. Some will probably experience them first hand. Such a burden will force the differences between Taliban leadership to come to a breaking point.
The goal in counter-insurgency is always to divide the insurgents’ voice. Their weakness lies in their inability to agree. Look at Afghanistan after the Soviets left; no one wielded control. The same is true of today’s Taliban. Who is it that leads them? Mullah Omar? Bin Laden? Or was it Baitullah Mehsud, who was reported killed in a Predator UAV strike last week? As we experienced in Iraq, different insurgents will give you different answers. Our goal must be to exploit this weakness and there is evidence it exists.
Take Baitullah Mehsud for example. A day after reports about his death started circulating, sources began stating that his two probable successors (Hakimullah and Wailur Rehman) were at each others throats over control of the Mehsud clan, and that one or possibly both were killed in an ensuing gun battle. Signs of internal struggles within the Taliban were apparent earlier this summer, when Baitullah Mehsud’s agents killed Qari Zainuddin, one of Mehsud’s chief rivals.
This is the sort of situation we need to exacerbate and it must be done at the local level: the company commander level. The biggest signal of America’s failure in this regard is the fact that a standard infantry company in the U.S. Army and Marine Corps continues to operate without a dedicated intelligence cell. This is unacceptable on a battlefield where an infantry company is often times responsible for an entire community. How can we claim that intelligence is truly driving operations?
We also must intensify our highly effective UAV Predator Drone attacks; especially in areas such as Baluchistan, where Taliban fighters can openly flee the Marines currently executing Operation Khanjari due to a non-existent Pakistani troop presence. In essence, the pressure cannot relent. As we experienced in Ramadi, the more we applied, the worse al Qaeda’s decisions became over time. This isn’t to say that al Qaeda wasn’t always so brutal, it’s just that we never followed step one.
Prior to the summer of 2006, after significant events in Ramadi took place, coalition troops would return to their large bases outside the city, allowing al Qaeda’s network of propagandists to shape events for the locals. By living across the street or two blocks over, we will mitigate their lies. When the Taliban take over a local’s house to fire at a combat outpost, the people will ask the Taliban why this happened. They will wonder why they are supporting a brutal militia instead of the Karzai government and foreigners who offer medical care, new schools, cash for damaged property and a future more than opium, a burqa or a beard. Like Iraq, the majority of Pashtun Afghans don’t want an extremist version of Islam to govern their lives.
If we hope to recreate the tribal movement of Iraq in Afghanistan, we cannot expect the extremist views of the Taliban to create a division we can support, such as the division between al Qaeda insurgents and nationalist insurgents in Ramadi. We must look for opportunities ourselves. And, this will only be accomplished if we truly begin to understand the enemy at the local level.
Our infantrymen at the tip of the spear cannot simply hunt for Taliban fighters, they must also develop an understanding of the enemy’s beliefs, personality and, more fundamentally, why they are fighting us. Once we begin to attain this knowledge and develop a relationship with the Afghan tribes, which lasts longer than one mission, we may very well find that the Pashtun tribes are not as committed to the Taliban as we think.
Far too seldom do we get to read discussion of events by those who were up to their ears in it. Instead we get some very good (but not always) political theory and analysis, which while much needed, always falls short of reality. Thanks Captain!
David Killcullen’s book Accidental Guerilla would seem to be a must read in this context.
On that really good analysis/comment side, if you and your readers haven’t discovered yet, there is a very dynamic dialogue on COIN and “why fight in Afghanistan?” on the CNAS/Abu Muqamama blog (http://www.cnas.org/blogs/abumuqawama/2009/08/afghanistan-strategy-dialogue-day-three.html#comments). Overall context includes either direct quote or refs to former Ranger Andrew Exum, Army Col Gian Gentile, David Killcullen, Col John Nagl, and some others who appear very knowledgeable and/or involved, but are unknown to me.
At a different but closely related level is the on-going dicussion at organizations like CNAS and Center for Complex Operations at National Defense University on the “what next mix” – COIN, conventional, unconventional, hybrid, fourth generation warfare, iregular warfare – roles and missions and capability needed as we move further from 9-11.
In a different context, what and how those decisions might impact us on the homeland side is offered on my Project White Horse site http://blog.projectwhitehorse.com/2009/08/08/eei-10/ – Thinking about War: Mitigating and Accepting Risk.
Steven, keep up the great effort.
Well written and insightful regarding the counter-insurgency fight. The tribes are the center of gravity, both in Iraq and Afghanistan. We discovered this early on in our tour in Ramadi from June 2005-June 2006 – when it was still very much a “kinetic” operation. Fortunately, the US military has become more of a learning organization, and recognize that lessons learned generate from leaders like Captain Daly. However, one portion of the article doesn’t sit well with me – Captain Daly’s brief description of the units in Ramadi prior to his tour. I have the utmost respect for the Army and Marine Corps units who came behind us, and their achievements, but I think there needs to be some clarification as to actions during our tour. Understand that I was not a grunt, kicking in doors and taking the fight to the enemy. I worked as a Battle Captain in the 1-172AR TOC, a “TOC Rat”, or “Fobbit” to some – but did have a battalion level view of our efforts in the AO.
I served with the 1-172nd AR, subordinate to the 2/28 BCT in Ramadi. We are Guardsmen, but that title should be replaced by the title “Soldier” – in particular with regards to our performance while deployed. While the 1/1AD replaced us, it is important to note that the “collection of Pennsylvania National Guard units” were actually units and Soldiers from many states – PA, VT, KY, RI, IN – nearly 5000 Soldiers, and Marines. Overall, I recall 36 states and territories represented in our Brigade. That is a strength.
We did not allow insurgent safe havens as noted in the article. If you look at the placement of units from 2005-2006, 1-172AR (VTARNG) was responsible for Ramadi west of the Nasir Canal and north of the Euphrates. 1-110IN PAARNG was responsible for Habbiniyah to the east, and 1-109IN PAARNG in Al-Asad to the west. The 876EN RIARNG were responsible for the northeast between Ramadi and Habbiniyah. BDE HQ was at Camp Ramadi (formerly Junction City). That being said, that leaves Ramadi proper divided (at the time) in half, with elements of various Marine Regiments in the west (1/5, 3/7, 3/8 Marines over the course of a year), and US Army to the East (2/69 AR). We did control our AO, given the limits of our personnel resources, establishing COP/ECPs in key locations to deny insurgents access to central Ramadi. The RR bridge from the suburb of Tammim to Southern Ramadi was a problem, with insurgents moving ordnance across – we closed it with an ECP in conjunction with the Iraqi army. Insurgents were attacking with mortars and rockets from Jazirah, north of the Euphrates – we established a COP (OP Forsaken) in conjunction with the Iraqi army, which pushed the mortars and rockets further out from the city center. We established three OPs on the canal road to the northwest, in Zangora, further hampering insurgent activities in that area. Pushing out to the northeast, we went were no US units had been prior, establishing another COP at the former health clinic, engaging in multiple firefights. It should be noted that we worked with Marine MTTs, embedding ARNG Soldiers with them. In truth, southern Ramadi, while in our AO, was isolated. At the time in question, no one pushed into southern Ramadi, not the USMC, not the US Army. We tried (ICW 3/7 Marines) during a Brigade level cordon and search – but after a number of armored vehicles were destroyed/damaged by IEDs during the operation, with according casualties, we realized we didn’t have the ass to get it done. Clear, hold and build wasn’t a tactical reality for us, certainly not in all areas of Ramadi. Remember, we were pre-surge. We managed to provide security to the populace for both the constitutional referendum and the first free parliamentary elections in 30 years. My battalion commander and the Brigade chain of command frequently met with tribal leaders, locally and at the Government Center, awarding contracts for road improvements, gravel delivery and facilitating the hiring process for the police and Iraqi army. There are various accounts on who met with the Al-Anbar tribal leaders and when, for instance on NPR, introducing a 1/1AD Commander as the first American commander to meet with tribal leaders. That is incorrect. Last year, Sheik Bezea (Abu Risha) brought Governor Mahmood (Governor of Al-Anbar), the Mayor of Ramadi and their entourage to Vermont following a visit to the White House and George Bush the elder in Texas. That request was specifically to say “thank you” to our Soldiers and leaders, and was not on the State Department schedule for their visit. My battalion commander still keeps in touch with the Sheik via email.
We were attacked with over 350 IEDs, discovered/disarmed about 260 more with USMC EOD. We detained 1200 suspected insurgents, of which more than 600 were subsequently sent to Abu Ghraib. 10 SVBIEDs, 2 SBIEDs. Recovered over 3000 rounds of ordnance from multiple cache sites. Neutralized insurgent IED cells and caches. Disrupted insurgent financiers. Executed sniper missions, neutralizing IED emplacement cells and forcing them to go to ground. Dropped bombs and fired LMAVs with our USMC ANGLICO. Innumerable counterfire missions. Executed route clearance operations and MSR security patrols and OPs. Worked with SF, Rangers, SEALs. Not exactly a unit that “had not exerted control over these sectors”. 2nd Brigade, 28th Division had 83 KIA. We lost 16 of that number in our Battalion. These Soldiers and Marines died setting the conditions for the success of 1/1AD. Ask the USMC EOD NCOIC at the time how we did. Ask the USMC ANGLICO OIC, how we did. Ask the USMC Captain in charge of the riverine patrol boat detachment assigned to us how we armored their boats and supported their operations. It was one team, one fight – irrespective of service.
There is much more to the story, but just want to make the point that a single paragraph written by a professional can denigrate the team and continue to feed a myth that Guardsmen and Women are less capable or proficient in the performance of their duties. If we want to throw darts, there are plenty available. Rather than that, I can tell you I worked with outstanding Soldiers, Marines and Sailors. We brought maturity, experience and patience to the fight. Our Battalion was replaced by three active component battalions, responsible for the same AO – the surge. God bless anyone who was in Ramadi, you all had a hand in turning it around.
I agree with you 100% on the dedication and teamwork of our National Guard units. I am not, in any way, trying to detract from their accomplishment and sacrifice.
That said, I will point out that the southern side of Ramadi: east of the canal, south of the government center and west of the stadium (al Andaloos, al Iskan, Second Officers, not a small piece of the city) was uncontested during the tour of 2/28 BCT. You allude to this yourself:
“At the time in question, no one pushed into southern Ramadi, not the USMC, not the US Army. We tried (ICW 3/7 Marines) during a Brigade level cordon and search – but after a number of armored vehicles were destroyed/damaged by IEDs during the operation, with according casualties, we realized we didn’t have the ass to get it done.”
I define a safe haven as any area where insurgents are allowed to operate unchecked without the presence of coalition ground forces. Using this definition, I feel that southern Ramadi was a safe haven at the time.
I agree with you that 2/28 did not have the “ass” to get it done. So who is to blame? I would argue it rests with the unit that owns that area of operations, 2/28. It is their AO. The Brigade Commander better be kicking and screaming about his lack of troops and equipment. His troops are fighting night and day while the enemy is afforded, due to our lack of combat power, an area to rest and refit.
The leaders of al Qaeda and JTJ while I was in Ramadi were from this safe haven, not the areas 2/28 contested (Thamir Hamad Nahar was from al Iskan, Mullah Qahttan was from al Andaloos). I would imagine this is not coincidence.
I want to make the point that allowing an enemy safe haven to exist on the battlefield is not a sound strategy. I don’t think any of us would disagree. It certainly doesn’t matter to me whether it was a Marine, Army or Guard unit that was responsible for the AO at the time.
If anything, the fact that the Guard units did not have what was needed makes their sacrifice even greater than those that followed.
South Central Ramadi belonged to the Marines. It was 3/8 Marines when 1/1 AD arrived in May 06. 3/8 gave the southern part of their AO to 1-37 Armor. I was the BN S3. 3/8 Marines called us the “Skull People” and complained that we went in and drove our tanks around. Yeah, we did. And we killed about 500 armed insurgents. During 2/28’s time the Marines had their hands full controlling Route Michigan. But the kept it open. The mini-surge in Ramadi created by 1/1 AD and the BNs from 2/1 AD coming in Mid-06 enabled the clearance of south central Ramadi. This put pressure on AQIZ and emboldened Sittar to finally start putting together his security force. 2/28 isn’t to blame and 1/1 AD were not superhumans either. When 2/28 moved as far as they could and had no more push power, 1/1 AD came in at that moment and kept pushing. The Green Mountain Boys of 1-172 AR impressed the hell out of this active duty tanker and anyone who says otherwise is hereby designated “an assclown.”
Bandit 3, welcome to the discussion.
You are right, 3/8 Marines AO did extend all the way to southern Ramadi. With 300 Infantrymen amongst a population of 150,000 they didn’t control much. This is why 2-28 launched an operation to seize the southern half of south-central Ramadi and create a new AO for one of it’s organic units (what would become your AO in 06). When we, as a coalition, failed to gain a foothold we decided to “isolate” the region rather than contest it. This action is what allowed an insurgent safe haven to remain there until 1/1 AD arrived.
I think you will enjoy the first four chapters of the book, it opens with a firefight around COP Grant, Operation Harrison Creek 1 (Papa 8, 9, 19 patrol sectors) Op HC 2 (Papa 10), and Operation Windmill Point (Lima).
Tom, I got your book on Monday. Of course, having been on some of those patrols, I remember things a bit differently, but it is interesting to see your perspective. You can delete my last post (please do) it wasn’t very polite!
Please do not overlook the tactical/operational failures of a unit because we want everyone to feel better about themselves. Lets not kid ourselves. Equating a Guard unit’s capabilities to that of a regular Army or Marine unit is like saying a AAA baseball team can play in the big leagues. Maybe for a few games but certainly not a wise decision for the entire season. Lets face it, waging war across the world is NOT the Guard mission. Securing our borders, conducting disaster relief, obeying the orders of their Governor are all things that the guard do. This is HOW and WHY the Guard is there. They are deisgned to be an on-call force for when the nation faces a grave threat here at home. They are getting better due to ON THE JOB training. War is the worst place for this. Look at their title, NATIONAL Guardsmen. Now there is a legitimate argument for using the Guard to go to Iraq in that we didn’t have enough soldiers or Marines to fill the gaps during rotations. This would be ok if the DoD were bringing on enough new Army units to replace the Guard mission. Do we think 22,000 is enough to fill this void? Remember we have to bring enough to replace the current Guard units, cover the ‘not enough ass’ portion, and allow for a solid rotation plan. Also remember the 22,000 will not all be trigger pullers, instead the majority will be what the Major defined as TOC rats (admin, comm, supply) those who aren’t out kicking down doors. In reality we will see maybe a 6-8000 increase in trigger pullers. Put that on a rotation and you got 3-4000 more troops. Yeah baby we can feel the love!! 14 month deployments vs 15! Hell, lets even take for example a Marine Expeditionary Unit. Review their T/O, what the hell are they doing running around Ramadi? They have 4 tanks, no APCs (unless you count the nice thin shell of an AAV, by the way almost any weapon system the insurgents use can penetrate it). Obviously the MEU was attached to other Army units in this example, but even still a unit that does not have organic assets will always be placed ‘lower’ on the need pole by the ‘parent’ command. Who would you feed first, your kids or your neighbor? What about the beginning of the war? I am sure most have read/heard of generation kill on the blog. Why is a reconnaisance unit conducting direct action operations? What I am getting at is that the military is not being used appropriately nor are its needs being met. This is clearly evident in the above posting by both the Major and the Captain, referring to not having enough ass which took Washington years, not months to determine when it was painfully obvious to anyone who was there. Instead we spend ‘BILLIONS’ on crap programs like the F-22 when we really need larger better trained and equiped ground force. I think I fall under the irate diatribes, I’ll leave it at that.
Did some research, contacted my counterparts in the PAARNG, formerly BDE staff. The BDE Commander and staff did press for more resources via the MEF, who I would guess pushed higher for the same. Whether those requests resulted in the surge coming to Al-Anbar province and the city of Ramadi when it did, I can’t say. I do know two of the three AC Battalions that did the TOA with us were from the theater reserve out of Kuwait, so someone got it. Concur that leaving safe havens is bad practice – not done by choice I can assure you.
As for the Guard not being able to play in the big leagues, don’t know that I agree. Same training, same equipment, same mission – when mobilized for overseas contingency operations. Like any other military unit, the Guard brings certain skills to the fight, and also have some of the same issues as any other military organization. Some units do very well, others not so well. Can’t paint it all with the Guard vs. Active Duty hubris and who is better than whom. Agreed, long term use of the Guard as an operational reserve is taxing, and stresses the force. We are Citizen Soldiers. We also still have the other missions Dan mentions. But until things change, looks like we are driving on.
Lt Daly, first of all congratulations on the book. I was with 2/4 Fox in 2004 and 2006/07. I remember you as an intelligent officer who looked after the well fare of his Marines. Some things I wanted to highlight though:
2/4’s time in Ramadi was wasteful. We did discover a few weapons cache’s and killed REAL insurgents, but the number of innocent killed was probably higher. Unfortunately quite a few boneheads were just trigger happy. Captain Smith (Fox CO) appeared “lost” for most of the time, and cared more for his vehicles than his Marines. While some lessons can be taken from Iraq, Afghanistan is a total different animal. The Karzai government is grossly corrupt and the US contract money is not making its way to where its supposed to go. But the root of the problem is that there is little alternative for poor young people in the Muslim world to turn to (other than joining hardline religious groups). Also, in many instances we won the support of the local shieks in Ramadi through large cash incentives.
Captain Daly – As a former member of Fox 2/4 I want to thank you for bringing our story to the public. I eagerly await the publication of your book, and greatly respect your continued commitment to our Corps and country.
This guy never really went out the wire and wasn’t even in country for four months. Shame on you DALY, trying to be hero..
Anything I’ve ever written regarding our accomplishments has been about the company, not me as an individual. I urge you to read the book.
I’ve read the book now. When you say things like, “What was too dangerous for the captain’s tanks, was fine for our dismounted Marines” you denigrade the commitment of Army units to “rescuing” you when you “went firm.”
As anyone who was downtown would feel after about 2 days in that hell-hole, you would FEEL SAFER WALKING than in a combat vehicle. Yes, having both is best, yes, at the moment of explosion of an IED it is safer in a vehicle, unless it’s right under you! Combat vehicles draw IEDs, especially in the city, walking was pretty safe, with the notable exception of your first day out of Grant, I don’t think you took any more casualties with us. But, then you add, “we all knew a tank could drive over these concrete barriers with no problem” you only succeed in showing how ignorant of tanks you are. I’ve been a tanker for years, but I PARKED MY TANK and patrolled with you on the objective. You risk throwing track and doing that in a MEDEVAC may be warranted you might say. But doing it on Vic Mackey would be like inviting a million vultures to a downed zebra: NOT SMART LIEUTENANT. You may feel justifiably proud of yourself for volunteering to serve your country and getting a big shot to promo your book. But you and your couple of months in Ramadi do not make you the heroes who “enabled the Al-Anbar Awakening” YOUR WORDS, not mine. I’m betting CPT Smith would not approve. The F/2-4 Marines I witnessed were the ones who mark everything a PIED and got your company be pulled out of combat for automatically opening fire on anything called a “raid”. Rage Company was full of brave Marines. You exaggerate their contribution and GREATLY exaggerate several of the stories in your book. I was only THERE (meaning IN YOUR PATROLS) for about 3 of those, but ALL of those 3 you have made much more dramatic than they actually were. In fact, I was in the tank on page 70. If I had known you were pulling out a grenade, I would have dismounted to tackle you. We didn’t take any enemy fire all night and I was escorting your company down Baseline. The fire was from outside of our BN AO, not even close to impacting near our friendlies, but came most likely from other friendly units, not knowing you can RANGE THE WHOLE CITY with an M4. If you were pulling out grenades and looking at the rooftops, it shows you were still green at that time and misperceived what was going on around you. I’m sorry to lay it out there like that, but you have some serious growing up to do. I appreciate that you want to be famous and dramatizing every mission by saying things like “tonight was going to be different” will get you down that road, but you have your facts wrong son. And I will offer that opinion to anyone out there who asks me, and several already have. I still remember F/2-4’s motivation and bravery fondly, but this book, while it seems to be your honest opinion, is not written with an eye for anything higher than a 2LT with Rambo aspirations.
I think you are missing a few things here…the most important being that I wrote this book, my thoughts and all, in the sequence that they happened. So, for example, you take me to task for the opening chapter after Jason Heidbreder is shot. Yes, I wanted the tanks to race up to the house the patrol went firm in and I couldn’t understand, at that moment, why Cobra 6 would not send them. However, you are leaving out a key point, pg. 16 at the top Cobra 6 explains to me why he did what he did, in a very similar fashion as you…funny enough…and I follow it with “My earlier doubts about this man’s judgment were instantly erased.” So why you are taking me to task for something that I admit in the book is somewhat surprising to me….
Yes, I would rather walk than ride in a vehicle in Ramadi. Did I recognize that seven minutes into the company’s first patrol: no.
The fact that I say Captain Smith’s leadership enabled the Awakening in the acknowledgments is my opinion. I will not explain that to you or anyone else. Read chapters 10-14 if you want to know why I feel that way.
Pg. 70, me pulling out the grenade. I won’t even try to convince you that we were shot at, because, from the extensive view inside your tank, you are calling me a liar. I understand that my perception is not always reality. I think you should consider the same. However, again I agree with you that I should not have pulled out the grenade. Surely, you read this as it is a mere paragraph away from my description of the event, pg. 72, “I came to the realization that I was reacting to a confusing situation with poor judgment.”
So, what you aim to achieve by hammering me for events that I admit I misjudged is somewhat perplexing to me. In fact, you are making my point in the first eight chapters of this book. Conventional warfare against insurgents results in this: uncertainty, confusion, bad judgment. This is directly compared against the final chapters, in which, we begin to combine our conventional ops with those of ex-insurgents. Look at the results in those chapters, the differences in our missions, planning, etc…that is the point of the book.
I guess it takes a rambo 2nd Lt. to point that out.