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Thread: Iraq vets

  1. #1
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    Iraq vets

    I'm not sure how many OIF/OND vets we have active on the forum here so I'm not sure how familiar the general population in the forum is with this AO. I figured this could be a thread where the vets could pool their experience or where people curious about the actual conduct of the war could freely as questions.

    If anyone is curious, I'd be happy to help.

  2. #2
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    I´m a OEF vet myself.

    What are your thoughts on the Iraq war. Do you believe it was worth it?
    Most European veterans believe the war was a huge mistake and certainly not worth the price.

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    You guys pick up any good recipes?

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    I remember reading about kuridistan in northen Iraq in an article by the late Christopher Hitchens, the story of what they suffered since the first gulf war and the mistakes made by the west then, perhaps the second war was worth it (for the soldiers who went there) even only if to give those people a real chance and it seems the kurds are giving it a good shot.

    Personally, that article alone helped me to mature somewhat regarding my attitude towards the war in Iraq and what is really at stake.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    You guys pick up any good recipes?
    Think I have one or two written down in a notebook somewhere. I´ll try to look for it.

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    I think it was a mistake to go there in the first place, but once we did I felt it was our job to do what we could.

    After my first 2 tours I was entirely bitter and cynical about the how things would turn out in that country. When I went for my third tour there in 2011 I changed my mind. I was working in the northern city of Kirkuk, which had a very heavy Kurdish population. They loved us and we loved them. The rest of the population was split between ethnic Turks and Sunni Arabs. Things were still chaotic at times, still had an insurgency, even if it was much weaker than the one I witnessed spring up and take hold in the first 2 1/2 years of the war. I was happy to see my unit really have some good results working in that area. But, the armed forces agreement wasn't renewed and it was almost as if the ISF resigned themselves to their fate.

    I think we should have left about a 10,000 strong force there to ensure continued development of the ISF. But, we didn't. I left that place in Dec of 2011 thinking a lot of things would have to go right for them to make it. The Syrian war I think is largely responsible for renewing the Sunni extremist ranks which has gradually and now exponentially grown the insurgency to the level it was during the height of the war. Iraq will now turn into a proxy for the Sunni and Shias to kill one another.

    I just hope the Kurds can survive at least, they've really turned Kurdistan into an area for the rest of Iraq to emulate....for now.

    It is too bad, I lost a lot of good buddies over there. It is terrible to see that sacrifice wasted.

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    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    You still think you guys went there for the people?

    I am asking not patronizing.
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

    To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.

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    I don't know why "we" went their. The first time I went I wanted revenge for 9/11. We didn't know they didn't have links to AQ or didn't have the WMDs. After a few months it became quite apparent that line was total BS. I came home pretty pissed off...

    The second time I went, it was to take care of my soldiers. I didn't believe in what we were doing, I simply just wanted to bring my boys home alive...

    After that tour I was convinced that blunt force trauma to deal with insurgencies is counterproductive. Remember, this was during 04-05 which where I was at was the worst place in the country. We destroyed Fallujah to "save it", we were doing the same in Ramadi, just on a much slower time scale. The ISF were nowhere near ready, the people were terrified, the VEN groups seemed unstoppable...it was during this tour that for me, it REALLY did become about the people.

    In the time between my 2nd and 3rd tour I learned absolutely all I could about Islam, their history, their culture, etc. I made sure that when my next tour occurred, myself, and my men would be equipped to fight a platoon level counter insurgency. We assumed the role of protectors no matter the nationality. To protect those who cannot protect themselves. That may or may not have been the job I was sent there to do...but it was the job I did and we had way more success than most. I built informant networks, I patrolled neighborhoods that hadn't been patrolled in years, I gave my Iraqi partners a say in everything we did, I sat for hours doing key leader engagements with ISF commanders, tribal leaders, and local sheiks. I ensured my soldiers were never disrespectful and always fair. I made "drug deals" and took chances on people of questionable character. It worked. We were really making progress, my whole battalion was...and I'm convinced if we could have stayed a whole tour we could have done much more. But we didn't.

    I came home from that tour with a little hope and a lot of closure...now I see it all falling to pieces...and it's those people I worry about. So for me, yeah I did it for the people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doktor View Post
    You still think you guys went there for the people?

    I am asking not patronizing.
    I've never done service in Iraq only in Afghanistan.

    Initially, it was to fight the Taliban. Then it became more and more my mision to keep the lads alive. But the more I learned about this amazing country, the more sympathy I got for these proud Afghans.

    The media are filled with bad stories about Afghanistan. But I know that it is not the whole story. There are also many good stories - stories of the hundreds of Afghans who we have helped over the 10 years, we have completed projects in the country. When you read about the people we have helped, it is easy to forget that each and every one of them represents a unique person with a unique story, and that every one of them would not have had the same opportunities in life, perhaps not been alive if it had not been for our work and our ability to reach out to remote and inaccessible villages. I really feel that I´ve made ​​a difference in these remote villages by teaching hygiene, building water systems, show villagers how to build latrines, teach them improved methods of cultivating the soil, producing honey, keep chickens or help women to organize their self-help groups.

    The answer to your question must be yes. I was there primarily for my brothers in arms and for the Afghan people. The faces, stories and impressions will remain with me for a long time. I want to keep all the good memories along with all the bad stories about the wonderful country of Afghanistan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brinktk View Post
    In the time between my 2nd and 3rd tour I learned absolutely all I could about Islam, their history, their culture, etc. I made sure that when my next tour occurred, myself, and my men would be equipped to fight a platoon level counter insurgency. We assumed the role of protectors no matter the nationality. To protect those who cannot protect themselves. That may or may not have been the job I was sent there to do...but it was the job I did and we had way more success than most. I built informant networks, I patrolled neighborhoods that hadn't been patrolled in years, I gave my Iraqi partners a say in everything we did, I sat for hours doing key leader engagements with ISF commanders, tribal leaders, and local sheiks. I ensured my soldiers were never disrespectful and always fair. I made "drug deals" and took chances on people of questionable character. It worked. We were really making progress, my whole battalion was...and I'm convinced if we could have stayed a whole tour we could have done much more. But we didn't.
    Great initiative, Sir. You have my utmost respect.
    If we are to win in these kinds of wars, then we need soldiers who can exhibit understanding and empathy.

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    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    I think I badly worded the question.

    While I have no doubts most if not all of you made some friends with the locals, and many gave more then expected in order to help/protect the locals, that's not what I had in mind.

    Let me try again...

    "You still think you guys were sent there for the people?"
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

    To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doktor View Post
    I think I badly worded the question.

    While I have no doubts most if not all of you made some friends with the locals, and many gave more then expected in order to help/protect the locals, that's not what I had in mind.

    Let me try again...

    "You still think you guys were sent there for the people?"
    Are you implying that I did or still do think we were ever sent there for the people in the first place? I'm not sure where you're going with this...it doesn't matter why I think we were sent there. The fact is we were sent there, reasons for me when my boots hit the ground are a matter of semantics...they don't mean a whole lot. Civilians and politicians have the luxury of sitting around and debating reasons. Soldiers don't have that luxury.

  13. #13
    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brinktk View Post
    Are you implying that I did or still do think we were ever sent there for the people in the first place? I'm not sure where you're going with this...it doesn't matter why I think we were sent there. The fact is we were sent there, reasons for me when my boots hit the ground are a matter of semantics...they don't mean a whole lot. Civilians and politicians have the luxury of sitting around and debating reasons. Soldiers don't have that luxury.
    You surely sounded (to me) that way. I had to ask, since you don't seem that naive to believe you, your buddies and then some of mine went there for the Iraqis.
    I am sorry if I hit some nerve since this is no doubt touchy theme for you.
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

    To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doktor View Post
    I think I badly worded the question.

    While I have no doubts most if not all of you made some friends with the locals, and many gave more then expected in order to help/protect the locals, that's not what I had in mind.

    Let me try again...

    "You still think you guys were sent there for the people?"
    No, I was sent to carry out foreign policy in my country´s name.

    That´s what we´re here for and that´s what we do, and that´s it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doktor View Post
    You surely sounded (to me) that way. I had to ask, since you don't seem that naive to believe you, your buddies and then some of mine went there for the Iraqis.
    I am sorry if I hit some nerve since this is no doubt touchy theme for you.
    I wasn't sure where you were going. It seemed you were setting up for an axe grinding session and I've been called and accused of all sorts of things for being a veteran of this war. So yeah, I may have been a bit defensive.

    I can say this. After witnessing the brutality of the extremists I knew they needed to be stopped. We may have been there for a bullshit reason, and we may have totally screwed up the peace after taking out the regime...but there were really....REALLY evil guys there that would do anything to have the world their way. After seeing what they do to the people for their lack of compliance or for their perceived collaboration with coalition forces, it became real easy to empathize with their plight. Much of the time we were the only thing that stood between the radicals and the people. And even then we were unsuccessful a lot of times.

    I joined the Army to make a difference. I went over there with that idea. Every time I suited up I did it with the purpose of catching or killing these bad guys. It was also to send a message to the people to see us out there trying to stop the violence. It did get incredibly frustrating. We did have a lot of setbacks. Most the time it felt every time we took a step forward we took 2 steps back. But still, every day I suited up. Every day I tried to make a difference in whatever way I could. Every day I tried to affect instead of infect.

    They took their toll, trust me.

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