44 Days / Army / Iraq

On Stifled Innovations

I have been spending a lot of time recently reading, re-reading, and talking with fellow captains about an April 2002 paper, ““STIFLED INNOVATION? DEVELOPING TOMORROW’S LEADERS TODAY.” Dr. Leonard Wong, of the Strategic Studies Institute, wrote it. The first time I read it, I cheered. The second time, I stewed. Now, it just gets me thinking, and worrying, about the company commanders to follow. The description of the paper is tantalizing – “The author examines the current company commander experience and concludes that the Army values innovation in its rhetoric, but the reality is that junior officers are seldom

44 Days / Army / Iraq

Coming out of Command

I’ve spent time today rebuilding my main computer, and with that, moving and backing up a lot of files.  I ran across a file, the contents of which are below, from an online interview I did with the folks at companycommand.com, back in 2003 or 2004, about capturing and sharing lessons learned about wartime command.  I’d almost forgotten I’d done the interview.

44 Days / Army

They’re just pictures

But they’re not. The NY Times has a piece today, talking about whether the new Obama administration will change the policy on photos of the caskets of dead soldiers coming home from the war front. After all, the caskets really do show the human cost of this long, long war. And they’re just photos. The photos are what they are. But they’re not just photos. I am unsure if I can really capture in words just how I feel about this. Those aren’t photos, those are men and women making one last journey. In the summer of 2003, when

44 Days / Blogging

The Augusta Chronicle

I was interviewed today by a reporter from the Chronicle. Yes, they are going to do a story, and yes, it’s tied into both my blog and the magazine version of it. Whoa. It’ll run on 02 October. I’ll try and get a link for it. I really hope it comes across well. In getting ready for the interview, I tried to hammer out things I wanted to get across. Like how it wasn’t me. It was the soldiers, and NCO’s and Warrant Officers who made it happen. I happened to be the token figurehead, thrilled to have the

44 Days / Army / Blogging / etc.

Anything for Them: Published

I mentioned awhile ago that I had to blog for this course. After some anguish, I ended up writing this — a piece about what I did during the ground war. Really, what we did during the ground war. I chose that subject ultimately because, after reading everything I could about why they wanted us to blog during this course, I realized that what the Army wanted was a story like this. They think America needs to hear these things. And I think they’re right. For the folks who are in the year-long version of this course, not only

44 Days / Army / Iraq

Sometimes, it sucks to have ice in your veins…

When we were in the middle of high intensity combat, with American and coalition forces racing to Baghdad in an effort to overthrow a government, I had all kinds of strange and odd issues come up. It happens to every commander, in war and in peace, but I had some doozies — the distraught soldier whose wife was cheating on him with another woman; the soldier who I almost court-martialed for treason; soldiers punching each other in the groin, and by groin, I mean genitals. My soldiers had, early on, starting to give me crap for being very unemotional

44 Days / Iraq

Anything for them

It started, I suppose, with some guy named Dogwood. We?d been at war for less than two weeks when someone on the night shift, Silvey I?d bet, came and told me that we had a plane down. An FA/18, Navy, and the status of the pilot was unknown. We had the same drill every time ? resources permitting. We?d do all that we could to support the intel process for a downed pilot. Or, really, anyone out there in a jam and in the wrong place. Were it me, I?d want the same. And so, I barked orders. The

44 Days / Iraq

20 March — Or, The Morning After

I?d worked all night, as usual. Shift change in the morning was, well, different that it had been. I was, like everyone else, flying high on the adrenaline of it all. We were at war. But after shift change, I?d run the night shift out, to go to sleep. You need to be rested for this, the Republic?s hour of need. I don?t recall the soldiers ever moving as swiftly as they did that morning, before or after that day. I stayed a while longer; my handovers always took longer. On the one hand, MAJ Mom and I always

44 Days / Army / History / etc.

19 March: Bubba

I’d like to be able to tell you that the war started for me with a bang, with some significant event that symbolized heading off to war – crossing the berm, lifting off and heading north, firing that first round. It didn’t. It started with a phone call. It could only have been more comical if the word had come via a PowerPoint slide briefing. “She’s turning around,” they said, “heading to an immediate target.” OK, well, that’s unusual. She is, of course, the U2 – the Dragon Lady, my mistress of the night. In the seven or so

44 Days / Army / Intelligence / etc.

18 March

You know that feeling of angst you get on the night before you leave on a trip? Or when you finally og to bed after studying on the night before the big exam? That feeling of, “Oh, come on, get on with it already”? Yeah, well, that was how I was feeling three years ago today. We were in the lull — POTUS had issued the 48 hour ultimatum to Saddam and his boys, and the clock was just slowly ticking away. Work carried on, with us pretending as if this day was the same as every other day

44 Days / Army / Intelligence / etc.

17 March

“All the decades of deceit and cruelty have now reached an end. Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing. For their own safety, all foreign nationals, including journalists and inspectors, should leave Iraq immediately.” Oh, crap was what my inside voice was saying when I heard President Bush give his speech. We are painted into a corner; the US / coalition is going to have to invade. Saddam won’t back down, and he sure as hell isn’t going

44 Days / Intelligence / Iraq

16 March

Three years ago, I was on my last nerve. Every morning, right after the sun would come up, I’d finish my shift of hunting and head off to the morning battle update with the 332d Air Expeditionary Wing. Later, after a little sleep, I’d head into the nightly battle update, before heading out into the last light to prepare to spend another night on the hunt. It’d been like that for weeks. 16 March, the quote was, “Tomorrow is the first day of the war.” COL Cesar Rodriguez had been saying this every day for just a couple of