Thursday, July 29, 2010

A chapter ends

The latest deployment for 1-14 CAV and 3-2 SBCT is at a close. Many of the Brigade's soldiers are now back at Joint Base Lewis McChord with the remaining soldiers either sitting at Al Asad Airbase outside of Ramadi, in Kuwait getting equipment prepped and loaded onto ships, or waiting the last few days at various FOBs as part of a REARVON ensuring everything that is ours gets to where it needs to go.

Relief in place/Transfer of authority, or RIP/TOA as it is known, was quick but smooth. I only had about 10 days with my replacement and while I would have liked to have more time with him to discuss the operating environment and go into more detail about some of our successes and failures as an intel shop and a squadron, I believe 2-14 CAV's S2 will do fine.

As we started RIP I jokingly told my replacement that to really get to understand how we operate we'll need the enemy to conduct some attacks, activity had been quiet for a bit. The insurgents would not let me down and during RIP we had the standard indirect fire against a checkpoint, an IED attack on a patrol, and a VBIED in Qara Tapa. The carbomb targeted civilians and was not something we had really seen our entire deployment so it was an excellent opportunity for both myself and the 2-14 S2 to sit down and try to figure out the puzzle...who and why.

I left Northeast Diyala a little down, however. As much as I am ready to go home and as difficult and challenging as this deployment was, I really felt like the mission was incomplete. There were still pieces of the puzzle that needed placed, key insurgents I should have enabled the capture of, and goals for myself and my section that were not completed. Kurd-Arab tensions are still at the point of breaking out into civil war...but to be fair, there's nothing I believe we as a cavalry squadron could have done or could do to prevent that.

My first deployment didn't feel like that, primarily because we were a military intelligence battalion whose mission was to support the Corps HQ, so when it was time to go it was time to go. The mission was complete. The second deployment we had been in country so long, mentally and physically exhausting, that handing over the battlespace and going home was a relief more than anything.

This was different. I put my heart, soul, and best effort into this. There was some trouble letting go. But at the end of the day I look forward to getting back to my Xbox, beer, and friends.

Good luck 2-14.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Random thoughts on LDRSHIP

There are 7 values in the Army that as professionals we strive to uphold. Those values form the acronym LDRSHIP (everything in the Army must be an acronym).

1. Loyalty

2. Duty

3. Respect

4. Selflesss Service

5. Honor

6. Integrity

7. Personal Courage

My favorite is the last, personal courage. But what exactly is personal courage?

Personal courage is when GEN Ordierno, the commanding general in Iraq, asks you what will happen to attack levels in your battlespace when US forces leave and you give him your honest opinion:

"Sir, attacks will significantly drop. Attacks occur because we are here."

Giving the honest answer, even when it's not popular...especially when it's not the popular personal courage.

This place is hard, challenging, frustrating, and painful. But I leave soon.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

If it's not one thing...

Less than a month left and many of our replacements have arrived. It's actually beginning to feel like we may get to go home. This is always a surreal time for me; I'm still busy doing work but don't want to put too much effort into things because there are new guys here getting ready to take over and I'll be drinking beer and enjoying the States again in about 3 weeks.

However reality likes to remind me that we still have issues to face.

Issues like our ongoing Kurd-Arab tensions which flared up a couple days ago in Qara Tapa...over a parking infraction. No this is not a repeat of May when I wrote about this. Some IA soldiers were wounded in the flair up but overall we are lucky everyone here is such a bad shot otherwise things could have gotten really bad.

The Kurd-Arab tension issue is so much of a problem that GEN Odierno wants the U.N. to send peacekeepers to the region when we leave. Good luck with that.

In other news, 1-14 Cav made the news again, and not in a good way. Nobody stepped on any cultural landmines but some officers said a little more than they should have. Especially CPT Adams and 2LT Dudzinski. Mark didn't say anything we weren't already thinking, although I would argue we had some success in detaining those most likely responsible for the suicide car bombing on June 11th. Jalula is a pain in the ass with the ethnic tensions and a large, hostile, Kurwi tribal population and it's possible we went at that problem incorrectly, but we did what we could. LT Dudzinski, however, should know better than to call out our security partners like that.

I really look forward to forgetting all this.