Sunday, February 24, 2008

Go big or go home- more articulately stated

A bit ago, after spending again too much time reading the Army's "Early Bird News", I wrote some thoughts about how I'd approach Iraq if I were running the show.

I essentially argued we needed to go all in or all out.

Anthony Cordesman had a piece today that I thought did a nice job of articulating some of my thoughts about it- we need to acknowledge the costs either way.

On another note, I continue my efforts to extend my 15 minutes- Matt LaPlante gives me some love in a recent article.

In another effort at finding a silver lining in this now 13 month long experience, I've met or corresponded with so many interesting people because of this assignment. Like Matt, and other media, for one example.

For another example, last week I was tricked into coming up to my headquarters- "office call" they said... it only lasted a week. Oh, dear. But a couple of notes about it that I really enjoyed beyond touching base with so many friends from the deployment train-up that I hadn't seen because of my remote assignment-

1. Got to see National Police leadership in some truly human and personal moments- and it did me some real good to see it. During meetings with the NP Commander and with one of his senior leaders, I watched them interact with some children- getting them some candy, teasing them, giving them hugs, letting them sit on their laps- sincere and loving affection. At my training location, we don't see anything like that- I don't ever see children at our site. So I got to think of my little ones, and remind myself of the humanity of my counterparts.

2. The NP Commander played "the joke's on you!". As I sat in his office, he commented on the great press coverage of the graduation back on the 21st of January. He specifically asked, "have you seen this one?" And then he held up 3 pages of my blog while he sported a huge cheese-eating grin. I wasn't sure whether to be flattered that the commander of the Iraqi National Police was reading my blog, or to worry if my own military leadership would find out, and light me up for something about it that they found offensive. Once I regained my composure, "Sir, how did you come to find that?" He replied that his daughter in America had forwarded it to him. What a small world, huh? And always know- everyone's gathering intelligence in all kinds of ways. :-)

As I work with the commander and his staff, I can only imagine the burdens and challenges they face- I see so much of it, and know it is only a fraction of what he has to deal with. His is yet another job, like General Petraeus', that I have no interest in taking on. But this country needs strong leaders for such positions, and I am thankful for people like him who step up to the plate.

Shukran jazeelen, saidi!


Anonymous said...

Hi Major,

I’ve enjoyed following your blog. Sitting in South Africa and reading about you experiences in a place that I also called home for a short while seems somehow unreal.

The camp must feel truly isolated without the expats and students there. Are General Sabar and his command structure still with you or have they also been withdrawn until the next cycle starts?

Do you still see the old Professor? He is quite an interesting character. In my world of African Safaris, he would be a great guy to share a campfire with. I guess he’s seen it all.

Keep up the good work and all the best for the remaining days of your deployment. I hope to get the opportunity to see you again before your time there runs out.


Riaan Niemand

Dana said...


Glad you're enjoying the blog- it is lowbrow stuff- just thoughts and experiences so my friends and family can know I'm still around and kicking.

The training center is very quiet right now- Gen Sabar cycles his staff through pulling guard. We're working on kicking things off, getting the Professor back, etc.

Thanks for the sentiments and best to you as well.