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Hussayn's Story

The visual-only sim can be a stomach-churner, but a couple of the IqAF Fling-Wing pilots who have come up here from Taji are pretty tough – the only thing that gets to them is my coffee.

Hussayn was recovering from a cup of my extra-strength double espresso with a bottle of tamarind soda (if you’re curious, take a can of Doctah Peppah and add a couple of ounces of OJ, then sip, cautiously). He gave me a bit of perspective on what it’s like to have Crusader Myrmidons roaming your neighborhood.

“After Baghdad falls to the US, I am cashiered out of the Air Force and take a job in one of the markets in my neighborhood. One night, some of my friends are visiting, and we have a barbecue and are watching videos of cowboy movies. There is a knock on my door. I open it and there is a US patrol. They ask if they can enter my house and I say, 'Sure, come in.' I offer them some barbecue, because we see them on patrol; we recognize them and know how long they are out before they return to base. They say, 'No, thank you. We have eaten recently.'

"Then they ask if I have weapons. One of my friends says to me in Arabic, 'Tell them "No" because they will take your guns and you will be defenseless.' I tell him in Arabic, 'I will not lie to them or they will not trust us.'

"So I say, 'Yes, I have a submachinegun, an AK and a pistol.' The patrol leader says, 'Bring them, please. We need to see them.' So, I bring them out. The patrol leader examines them, the submachinegun, the AK and the pistol. He tells me, 'The lubricant you have been using is bad quality.' But I know he is really checking to see if they have been fired recently.

"Two of his men strip the weapons, clean them, give me new lubricant, show me how to use new lubricant, re-assemble the weapons and return them to me. They say, 'We must leave now – thank you for allowing us into your home.'

"They return every night, the same patrol, and ask if my family is well. I offer them food, tea, they say, 'Thank you,' and sometimes they stay for a bite to eat, or a cup of tea. I see them in the marketplace, we say 'Hello, how are you?' and ask about their families, too. They are friends with all the neighborhood.

"One day, everything changes. The patrols are all in Humvees and they travel fast. The soldiers all look at us with suspicion from the Humvees and we do not understand why. Then I hear of Wahabi in the neighborhood, but I do not report them to the patrols – I cannot, the Humvees travel fast and no one comes to my house any more. More and more, we hear shooting down the street, and one morning a bomb destroys the market where I work. I could get another job in another market, but that market might also be destroyed by a bomb. Only a few Wahabi are where I live, but there is no one to tell – no patrols, no police.

"So I come back to the Air Force. I come back because I want to get the Wahabi out of my neighborhood, get them out of Iraq.

"One month ago, the patrols are back, and they are walking, not in Humvees. Different soldiers from the soldiers in the first patrols, but behaving like them – very courteous, very watchful.

"When the patrol knocks on my door, I say, 'Please come in – I would like some lubricant for my pistol.' The patrol leader looks at me with a funny look, then he smiles, then they all come in and drink tea and I draw a map of where the Wahabi are..."

34 Comments

This illustrates why community policing works, why the Green Beanie, "win their hearts and minds..." works, and why you need SPECIAL TRAINING!!! for this type work. I was a sniper. I DID NOT DO THIS BECAUSE I WAS NOT TRAINED FOR IT! (Hint, hint, Pentagon.)Talking about accurate, up to date intel, the people who trust you will help you. God bless this man and the American troops who treated him with respect. I have seen Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, and some Israelis act this way, but no other troops. Watch your six, CW4BillT. My wife and I keep you in our prayers. (We also remember the rest of the Castle family! ;)) Alan Briley, RN
 
Six is covered, Alan -- my thanks to you and your wife (and everybody else who has been assaulting heaven -- Those Who Know, Know). Prayers are coffee-equivalent to the squad of Guardian Angels trying to keep me intact for the duration...
 
That story brought tears to my eyes--sorrow for the mistakes that were made, joy/pride for the way it's being done right now, and awe for the courage of Hussayn and his countrymen.
 
Chief Bill, I passed on this story which everyone I know hopes is true the writing team of the new Stability Operations Manual and I hope the 'long handshake' makes it in.
 
Called it! Here's what I wrote in June of 2005:
You will never have a perfectly surviveable system. And you cannot turn Humvees into tanks. You will bankrupt the country. No one ever gave a tip to me when I was buttoned up. I never had an interaction with an Iraqi in an armored Humvee with the doors closed and the windows up. (We didn't have grenade screens in those days. Heck, most of my Humvees had CANVAS doors, if they had doors at all.!) Part of the solution is going to lie not in making our vehicles invincible. You CAN'T make it invincible to a triple stacked anti-tank mine. So don't even try. Rather, the real solution to defeating this measure is not going to lie with the vehicles at all, but outside them. Dismount. Get into the communities. Leverage Iraqi contacts. Yes, we're doing that already, as much as we can. But these knuckledragging trogs in Congress are focusing on the wrong things. And the ignorant press is dragging us along with them, and damaging the war effort, by pulling us into a defensive mentality. The insurgency will not be defeated by putting an extra armor on our vehicles. The insurgency will be defeated by dismounts. Dismounts out there engaging with the Iraqi people and collecting real-time intelligence. And THAT is the effort the Media should focus on. THAT is the effort that Congress should focus on. Where is all the heat forcing colonels to jump through their asses to develop HUMINT? There isn't much. All anyone wants to hear about is armor this, and armor that. Fuck the armor. Get out and clobber the enemy, and let HIS sorry ass wish he had more armor. Get back on offense. Close with and destroy the enemy.
Thanks for making the point so directly and vividly. Your should be a must read for every counterinsurgent warrior. Jason
 
what is this, a psy-op blog?
 
Chris - we're a whatever-we-collectively-feel-like-being-when-we-post blog.
 
My DAD a policeman from 1910 to 1943 said, police work is 99% psychological-you can't do that inside a vehicle-God bless your work!
 
Well done, Bill - InstaBlackDeadAnimalsalanche, with a frisson of memeorandum.
 
I think we can safely call that story an excellent summary of both the mistakes and successes of our Iraq war strategy.
 
Good Story, Thanks. Back in the states we know all Iraqis are not Terrorist, but we also know Congress and the Democrats are your worst enemies. And, don't worry, I can't stand McCain because of his Global Warming BS and his Pro-Amnesty Policies, but I'll pull the lever for him in November and thats only because he supports the War. So, Good Luck, God Bless, wear your seatbelts, don't run with scissors and come home safe.
 
Always thought up-armored Humvees were a wrong solution to the wrong problem; neither fish nor fowl, not good at doing anything well. Bet the second patrol leader never forgets that pistol lube/Wahabi swap!
 
"That story brought tears to my eyes--sorrow for the mistakes that were made, joy/pride for the way it's being done right now..." Sadly, humans learn as much from mistakes as from doing things right, primarily because you really don't know what right is until you can compare it to something thats obviously wrong. We are learning how to fight the war against terrorists and we'll win it if we can keep the left out of the White House. In the end we will win by gaining the trust of the innocent and becoming terrorists to the terrorists.
 
Don't concentrate on the Humvees - it could be Strykers or Blackhawks for all that it matters - concentrate on the commander's mindset that put the soldiers in them instead of on foot. Was this the same unit/commander who's troops had been visiting on foot or a new unit that just arrived and had a different attitude/belief in how to patrol? If so, how to we pound into it at all levels of command that this is how it should be done, even through transitions? See what I'm getting at here?
 
"...the only thing that gets to them is my coffee." If you'd stop using the dusty thong as a filter... 0>;~}
 
John Kerry, Teddy Kennedy and Marty Meehan used the death of PFC John D. Hart of Bedford, MA to plant in the minds of the mothers of America the notion that all soldiers are entitled to be bulletproof, that it is cruel and unusual punishment to be required to perform one's duty in an unarmored vehicle, and that US casualties in Iraq are not caused by the enemy but by incompetence, negligence and corruption on the part of the Commander-in-Chief and Secretary of Defense. This was part of the info war. Undermine the will, make casualties unacceptable, make force protection the primary mission, neuter the force. Worked like a charm.
 
Was this the same unit/commander who's troops had been visiting on foot or a new unit that just arrived and had a different attitude/belief in how to patrol? It's been a couple of years between then and now, and Hussayn put the uniform on again over a year ago. He didn't mention specific units, but he knows divisional patches -- if the patrol had been "old friends" he'd have brought it up. My guess is just that the new commander's savvy and so are his troops.
 
If you'd stop using the dusty thong as a filter... A foul canard! You know perfectly well there's not enough material in a thong to filter a pound of coffee grounds...
 
It's Bill's boxers
 
"...there's not enough material in a thong to filter a pound of coffee grounds..." Well, I have heard that a thong is like a barbed wire fence, it protects the property without blocking the view. 0>;~} And I'm guessing that you're using the standard formula -- 48 oz. of water:1 lb. coffee grounds. Wouldn't want to foul the caffeine particle accelerator and seepage system by removing any of the accumulated *flavor enhancing aging agents* off the sides of the pot.
 
And this thread is just impressing the helk out of the visitors... Sigh. Ah well, as I said in response to Chris: we're a whatever-we-collectively-feel-like-being-when-we-post blog.
 
John, you can't expect to clean up the house after the party-guests have already arrived...
 
Kat -- Boxer skivvies are *square*, dig? ...the standard formula -- 48 oz. of water:1 lb. coffee grounds. Geez, Sly, why would I want to *dilute* it? John, my job is to *get* them here -- it's *your* job to impress them....
 
The Iraqi airforce is building up again. My girlfriend is an air-traffic controller at an RAF airfield where some of them are being trained in elementary flying. The best way to get a country on side is to get an honest, uncorrupted military. The best way to do that is if we train them, in the West. Good luck to all those in the Iraqi armed forces!
 
Actually, John, it is impressing the 'helk' out of me. Not every interaction needs to be uber-serious, humour is a wondrous lubricant. All the brave men and women who are out there defending us have my deepest respect. I cannot thank you enough. BillT, boxers are comfortable, my boys don't like to be caged in too tight, they need room to breath. I've been called worse than square, I can take it.
 
We did the same type of policing in Karbala in 2003. Lots of foot patrols, knowing who's who in town, developing leads and trust and we had very little activity. When the Active Army MP unit from the 101st came in to take over from us, they threw everything we did and told them into the trash, told off our guys, turtled up and then proceeded to get shot, rocketed and bombed.
 
Wow. The behavior of the American troops is right out of Field Manual 3-24. They've obviously taken it to heart.
 
Reminds me of all those "elite" cavalry that considered fighting on foot an indignity. True warriors fought on horsies, after all. Course the English longbow kind of put the kibosh on that idea when the French tried to use shock cavalry rather than shock infantry. Technology is always going to first give you the cavalry mount and then neuter it by giving ya a convenient way to take that mount out. We're just in one part of that cycle.
 
The best way to get a country on side is to get an honest, uncorrupted military. Agreed, a hundred percent. Among the latest group I trained was a pilot who wore US Master Army Aviator wings over his right breast pocket. I pointed to them and said, "I wore those same wings for twenty years. A gift from a friend?" He said, "Yes, from my friend who flies Apaches. He went home to his family and gave me his wings as a gift." I said, "That is a good gift for one friend to give another." He said, "Yes. A very good gift." After a couple of seconds, he added, "I miss seeing my friend..."
 
Good story Bill. Keep them coming.
 
Called it! Here's what I wrote in June of 2005:
You will never have a perfectly surviveable system. And you cannot turn Humvees into tanks. You will bankrupt the country. No one ever gave a tip to me when I was buttoned up. I never had an interaction with an Iraqi in an armored Humvee with the doors closed and the windows up. (We didn't have grenade screens in those days. Heck, most of my Humvees had CANVAS doors, if they had doors at all.!) Part of the solution is going to lie not in making our vehicles invincible. You CAN'T make it invincible to a triple stacked anti-tank mine. So don't even try. Rather, the real solution to defeating this measure is not going to lie with the vehicles at all, but outside them. Dismount. Get into the communities. Leverage Iraqi contacts. Yes, we're doing that already, as much as we can. But these knuckledragging trogs in Congress are focusing on the wrong things. And the ignorant press is dragging us along with them, and damaging the war effort, by pulling us into a defensive mentality. The insurgency will not be defeated by putting an extra armor on our vehicles. The insurgency will be defeated by dismounts. Dismounts out there engaging with the Iraqi people and collecting real-time intelligence. And THAT is the effort the Media should focus on. THAT is the effort that Congress should focus on. Where is all the heat forcing colonels to jump through their asses to develop HUMINT? There isn't much. All anyone wants to hear about is armor this, and armor that. Fuck the armor. Get out and clobber the enemy, and let HIS sorry ass wish he had more armor. Get back on offense. Close with and destroy the enemy.
Thanks for making the point so directly and vividly. Your should be a must read for every counterinsurgent warrior. Jason
 
A story worth sharing. Most Iraqis are like this man. I just wish that info made the news. Thansk for posting it.
 
"Change of Unit" is no excuse, nor explanation either. Failure of command is the problem. People say "We are learning" as though this were new stuff. It absolutely is not. The failure of big rich armies to recognise insurgents for what they are and use the time tested means to defeat them is so often repeated asto be easily predictable and a safe bet. Sixty years ago, we WERE insurgents. Not to mention 235 years ago. And we've successfully defeated insurgencies before, too. These things aren't secrets. It's almost as though we need two armies, a CI one and a big international war one. Because once they get that second or third star, general officers turn into that "... group of savages as to how to extract a screw from a piece of wood. Accustomed only to nails, they had made one effort to pull out the screw by main force, and now that it had failed they were devising methods of applying more force still, of obtaining more efficient pincers, of using levers and fulcrum so that more men could bring their strength to bear. They could hardly be blamed for not guessing that by rotating the screw it would come out after the exertion of far less effort; it would be so different that they would laugh at the man who suggested it."
 
That is fantastic! Thank you for that! Keep up the great work! Thanks for all the hard work you do and for fighting the good fight. M