View Full Version : The Ghosts of Anbar (Part 1)

08-23-07, 05:02 PM
Mike Yon's - The Ghosts of Anbar (Part 1)
Posted By Blackfive

Michael Yon's latest dispatch - The Ghosts of Anbar (Part 1) - is both a look back at the failures of the war and the few success, specifically, in Anbar. It's a prep for later dispatches in the Ghosts of Anbar series about the province and the Soldiers and Marines and Iraqis who have made a difference.

...Many Vietnam veterans fear that our leaders never learned the lessons they paid dearly for. And mostly they are right. However, some of our officers—like James Mattis and David Petraeus—have studied the lessons of Vietnam in great detail. But for a long time, although these two officers realized we were in the middle of an insurgency, it was tantamount to “un-American” to call insurgents insurgents. They were “dead-enders,” and since there was no insurgency, there was scant need for counterinsurgency warfare. Had these two officers been running this war from the beginning, it probably would be finished by now...



08-29-07, 02:35 PM
Mike Yon's - The Ghosts of Anbar (Part 2)
Posted By Blackfive

Michael Yon's second part of his series of dispatches on his month-long embed in Anbar Province with US Marines is now posted - The Ghosts of Anbar Part 2.

Mike quotes from the new Counter-insurgency Manual (COIN) and demonstrates that the success being made on the ground is not due to a surge in numbers of soldiers, but to a complete change in strategy and tactics.

The Marines have really taken the lead on adapting to the new strategy (and shown in Anbar):

...Arrowhead Ripper was merely the latest experience that underlines the Army’s rapidly growing expertise. Yet the Marines have adapted faster and seem poised to win the war in their battle space. In fact, it’s been Army officers who have told me repeatedly over the past several years that nobody is successfully morphing to meet this war faster than the Marines. Of course, Army officers who compliment Marines always say, 'But that didn’t come from me.'...

Mike embeds with the Marines and Iraqi Police:

...The entrances to the culvert were easy for the enemy to reach unobserved, and mines, bombs or other boobytraps could have been easily planted. SSG Lee could have ordered one of the Iraqis to clear the culvert, and I’m sure that an Iraqi would have done so. Many are very courageous. But SSG Lee was mentoring these men, and without hesitation, he entered the culvert himself to check it out. This was my introduction to MiTT 8.

People at home want to know what our Soldiers and Marines are doing in Iraq, and the only way to tell their story is to follow them. So deep inside the culvert, crawling on all fours, using my camera as a walking chalk (it’s pretty tough), I crawled behind SSG Lee who was using his rifle as a walking chalk. The day was hot. The body armor made it hotter.

I said, “I only met you for the first time like 20 minutes ago. What’s your name Staff Sergeant?”

“Staff Sergeant Lee, Sir,” he answered while crawling forward.

“United States Marine Corps,” I said.

“Semper Fi,” he answered, and kept clearing the tunnel.



09-05-07, 11:20 AM
A Marine. A Mentor. A Model Approach.

I did not even know his name when I went on the first mission with Rakene Lee. Yet within half an hour, it was clear that Lee was another example of someone who intuitively understands the basics and basis of counterinsurgency. In Ghosts of Anbar, Part III of IV, the importance of leaders like SSGT Lee is described:

Iraqis in every province I have traveled all respond to strong leadership. It’s a cultural touchstone. A man like SSG Rakene Lee is not someone they would overlook. Physically, the man is amazingly strong. But what is most amazing is the strength of his moral fiber. Whatever the man talked, he walked. After all of al Qaeda’s false promises, the people here have learned a hard lesson about the true value of character.

Leaders such as Rakene Lee, LTC Doug Crissman, LTC Fred Johnson, LTC Erik Kurilla and Colonel Townsend —all of whom have a very strong grasp on how to win this war—are increasingly easy to find because the Army and Marines have morphed to meet this war.

The dispatch excerpted above also contains a brief videoclip showing SSG Lee clearing a culvert where an IED has supposedly been planted. To see more of SSG in action, a longer videoclip, depicting how SSG Lee continued to oversee the incident, watch the clip here:

[Note, the video player may not work well with all browser configurations. The videoclip can also be viewed here.]



09-08-07, 08:56 AM
Ghosts of Anbar, Part IV of IV
“They taught me that no man could be their leader except he ate the ranks’ food, wore their clothes, lived level with them, and yet appeared better in himself.”

T.E. Lawrence, “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom”