CW: Today is July 7th, 2016. I am Cameron Wood here at the Ohio HistoryConnection. I am speaking with Dr. Peter Mansoor about his military experience.
Dr. Mansoor can you please say and spell your name for us?
PM: Peter Mansoor. M-A-N-S-O-O-R.
CW: Thank you.
When and where were you born?
PM: I was born February 28th, 1960 in New Ulm, Minnesota.
CW: Can you describe your childhood a little bit?
PM: New Ulm is an interesting place. I think at the time it was 10,000 Germansand one Arabic family. That would have been us.
My dad was an immigrant from Palestine and he met my mom in high school there inNew Ulm. They married, he went off into the Air Force for a stint during the Korean War, and served in Geoje, in Japan. 1:00
They came back to New Ulm, eventually had five kids. I was the last, theyoungest of five. An older sister and then three brothers, all older than me, lived in New Ulm for six years, and have fond memories of the place, the snow. Of course as a kid that's all good, you don't have to shovel it, building snow forts and sledding and so forth.
We moved to Sacramento, California when I was six, in 1966. That's where I wasraised. I love Sacramento, it's a wonderful place. It has grown incredibly since I was there. I think when we got there it was still a cow town, kind of like Columbus back then. It's had the commensurate amount of growth that Columbus has had. In fact the cities are very similar in certain ways. Both state capitals 2:00and both not he major cities in their state.
I had a wonderful childhood, playing football. I was a very serious student. Wedidn't have a lot of money in my family so when my mom went to the library, she was a school teacher. When she went to the library to check out books for her kids I always volunteered to come along and naturally gravitated to the history section. Finally to the military history section, so I started my second career early on there.
Unfortunately, along the way, around 1973 or so, my parents got divorced.Although I don't remember a lot of hardship, because my mom took are of us, she was a single school teacher raising five kids. That's a tough haul.
When I was considering where I would go to college, because I knew that's what I3:00wanted to do and I had the grades to get in just about anywhere, having someone pay for it was a top consideration. The academies were on my radar screen, but I was a pretty patriotic kid. I watched too many John Wayne movies when I was young so I always thought that it was the obligation of ever citizen to serve in some way. I thought going to the academy and then serving five years in the military would be my way to do that, and get my college paid for at the same time.
I never thought I'd make it a career, and here I am with a 26 year militarycareer behind me now. It was the right decision for me and obviously worked out.
CW: Beyond your father, did your family have a lot of military service in their background?
PM: There's a lot of military service but I'm the first professional, if you4:00will. I'm the first long service professional. My uncles both served in the Philippines as draftees, my dad of course. On my wife's side there's a slew of military service. My mom got remarried, so my step-dad actually was a long serving and Navy career NCO. He retired as a Senior Chief Petty Officer, a plank holder on the Ranger, which means he was on the ships inaugural cruise. He was off Yankee station for a couple tours in Vietnam. He had a big impact on me when I was in high school as well. I'm really the first one in the family to make it a career and stay with it as long as I did.
CW: Do you feel like you were ... West Point is a pretty serious school. Do you5:00feel like you were prepared when you got there for what you were going to find?
PM: I was prepared scholastically. Obviously I graduated first in my class,although I had to ramp it up and part of that was the fact that I just applied myself and worked so hard. When I flew to West Point in 1978 it was the first time I had been east of the Mississippi River, and often when we had time off or weekends off where you could get leave at West Point, I didn't really have anywhere to go. I stayed and studied and made sure ... To me, it sounds like I'm a huge nerd, but to me a good Saturday night was finding a cubicle in the library and doing some research for a paper or whatnot. 6:00
It wasn't all work, I did some trips to New York City and other places. I had acousin and aunt and uncle who lived in Silver Spring, Maryland. I'd go down and visit them for Thanksgiving, and Washington's birthday, but I worked really hard. I earned what I got there.
On the other hand, I wasn't really ready for the discipline aspect, the militarydiscipline. That was really a culture shock, especially the first summer I was there. It was called Beast Barracks, New Cadet training. I had some tough moments the first couple weeks, the first three weeks I would say. I cried myself to sleep a few times, and decided I would grit my teeth and do what they wanted me to do, and get through it. I did that as well. I didn't do too bad on that account. In the end I ended up as a Senior, as a Battalion Commander. I did 7:00all right.
CW: What do you think was the hardest thing to adjust to going into thatmilitary mode?
PM: I was homesick early on. That's part of that first three weeks of beingaway. I had never really been away from home. Then having people yell at you. There was a lot of good examples of leadership, but there were a lot of bad examples of leadership too. I was just not use to that. My football coaches were all very supportive, I'd always pretty much been in a supportive atmosphere with teachers and so forth. To have people who were yelling at you like they hated you, that was a shock to me. I had to get use to it. It actually was useful, in a really odd sense, in that later in my career I would come upon those sorts of 8:00people and they'd try to treat me like that even. They were superiors and I was able to just shrug it off because I had been through it before.
CW: What was your favorite class? You probably had a lot of them, beinginterested in the military history.
PM: No, there was one. It's History of the Military Art, which is a two semestermilitary history sequence at West Point. I was one of the very few people who took it, my second year there at the academy as a yearling. I got an A+ in the course and just really soaked it in.
I had been reading military history, like I said, since about third grade. A lotof the battles and campaigns and wars that we studied were familiar to me. It was just fascinating, I really really enjoyed it. I never thought I'd make 9:00military history a career. In fact I took the honors course in civil engineering because I always thought I'd be a civil engineer. I had done very well at math in high school.
I had taken calculus courses at my local junior college and I always thought ofmyself as an engineer. Having taken that history course, it sort of opened up my eyes and then my professors there at West Point said "You can always be an engineer in the Army. You can join the Corp of Engineers, you can go back. They'll send you back for a Masters degree and whatnot, so why don't you just take history?" So I did.
At the time I could take both, we didn't have majors at West Point at the time.You had a limited number of electives that didn't qualify as majors in the accreditation sense so I spent most of my electives on History. I spent most of 10:00my electives on History, and a smattering of other things, as well. You have to take an engineering sequence, and when the time came, I took the Honors' sequence in civil engineering. It was kind of an interesting combination.
CW: Did you still enjoy the engineering component of it?
PM: I did, but I wasn't as good at it as I was at history, I found out in the end.
CW: Were your parents supportive of your choice to join the military?
PM: I think my mom was proud of me, but I really think that she thought I hadother options, and I did, I was accepted into Caltech. I really couldn't go, because we lacked the funding to pay for it. Back then, the endowments at these private universities are not what they are today, where they can offer you a 11:00full ride. She was, I think, a little hesitant about me going into the military, but over my 4 years at West Point, she became my biggest fan. I'd call her every Sunday, back in the days of payphones, I'd wait in line in the basement of my barracks, and get to the front, and put the coins in the machine, call collect, and we'd talk for an hour. I'd unload all my burdens on her, and then the next week, she'd go, "Well what happened about this?", and I'd go, "That's, like, last week." Whatever had been bothering me was no longer bothering me, I had a new set of concerns. She was very supportive, in the end.
CW: Did you enjoy the camaraderie at West Point?
PM: Yeah, very much so. Now, half of the companies at West Point in my yeargroup shuffled after two years, and they got new company-mates and then half did 12:00not, and we were one of the companies, I-3, the "Polar Bears", that did not shuffle. I was with the same set of fellow cadets for 4 years, and we became very tight, we still have reunions almost on an annual basis outside the official reunions at West Point. Our wives have since become close friends, too. We've got great stories and life experiences to share with each other.
CW: So when it came to choosing your specialty, how did you go about ...
PM: I didn't choose engineers in the end, and as the top graduate, I had thenumber one pick. I think it was the influence of mentors, two of my history professors who I really admired were both armor officers. I had studied a lot of 13:00World War II history where armored warfare had such a big impact, and I think I became enamored with being a tank commander, and so I chose armor. It was very unusual, normally in a class, the top 5 graduates are all engineers, back then. Today, a lot of them would go infantry. In my year group, the number one, three, and five rank cadets all went armor, so three of the five top, it was a big coup for the armor branch. It was a great choice. I like having 67 tons of steel around me when I go to combat.
CW: You have a picking day, and then I can't remember what the terms are calledfor the ceremonies where you choose and then you get assigned. 14:00
PM: You choose your branch, that's done, I wouldn't say electronically backthen, but it's done outside of a big auditorium. Then, they put everyone in the class in a big auditorium, once you have your branch, and now you have a post-selection, so they start with the number one cadet, and they go down to the last one, and you choose where you're going to go. I chose Fort Bliss, Texas, home of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. I knew I wanted to be an armored cavalry regiment. There were three in the Army's organization at the time, one in the United States, two in Germany. I didn't want to go to Germany. This is going to sound funny, but I wanted to meet girls. I didn't know what the 15:00prospects would be if I didn't speak the language, so I chose the armored cavalry regiment that was in the United States, and what, it worked for me, because I met my wife in Fort Bliss, in El Paso, and still had a great time, in a professional sense.
CW: What was it like, going to your first posting?
PM: It was different. El Paso is a high mountain desert, and I had never been inthe desert before, but I was assigned to Delta Company, 1st Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. I had a great company commander, Jeff Kieffer, a wonderful squadron commander, Leonard D. Holder, who commanded the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in the Gulf war, and later retired as a 3 star general. They were exceptional mentors. Jeff Kieffer has become a good friend, I'm godfather 16:00to his daughter, he was in my wedding, and so we've continued our relationship to this day. I loved the training there in the desert, Fort Bliss has an enormous maneuver area, so we got to do a lot of maneuver training, where other posts are often more constrained. We deployed to Germany, for 6 weeks, for what's called a reforger exercise, return of forces to Germany. Had an excellent experience over there, in the German countryside, maneuvering around, dodging civilian cars, crossing farmers' fields. It was all great fun if no one was shooting at you.
El Paso proved to be a town with a lot to offer. Eventually, I did meet my wife17:00in a wine tasting class.
CW: Was that on base?
PM: No, I actually read an article in a newspaper that said "The Top 3 Places toMeet Your Future Spouse". Number 1 was church, I said, "That's probably not going to happen." Number 2 was the grocery store. Since I didn't really spend a lot of time in the grocery store, I said, "That's probably not going to happen." They said number 3 was night school. I go, "Ah, night school." I had just gotten the El Paso Community College catalog in the mail. I'm going down through the courses offered, and I get to "World of Wine, learn how wine is made and tasted." I go, "Even if I don't meet anyone there, it's going to be a pretty good class." I actually missed the first class because military duties. 18:00
The second class, I show up, and there's no one in the classroom. I go to theregistrar at El Paso Community College, and there's only 10 classes, so I missed two of them, I say "I want to drop the class, I need my money back." They go, "Why?", I said, "I missed 2 of the classes, I have no idea where they're meeting." She goes, "Well, don't drop it yet, a friend of a friend of a friend is taking that class, and it sounds really interesting, let me make some phone calls." She makes some phone calls, and she goes, "Here's his name, Mike, and here's his number. Call him in the morning, and see if you can, you know, figure it out, and if not, we'll refund your money."
In the morning, I call the number, and it's like, "Skelly's Gas Station", and inthe back you hear this (makes drill noise), and I go, "Is Mike there?", and they go "Yeah Mike, get over here!" He comes to the phone, and he goes, "What can I 19:00do for you?" I said, "Well, I hear you're in The World of Wine, I know this might seem strange, but I'm registered for the course, and I don't know where you're meeting." He goes, "Oh, yeah, yeah, we're meeting in a local restaurant called The Cinders. Be there next week, it's a lot of fun."
The next week, I show up, a little bit late, and there's a long table, a screenon one end, on the left. On the right is the instructor with his carousel of slides, you know the old slide carousel, and then a couple of married couples next to him are clearly interested in learning about wine. Mike, in the middle, who you could tell from his striped garage shirt and name tag, "Mike", and on the other end of the table, five sorority sisters. I immediately go down, sit right in the middle of them, and say, "Hi, I'm Pete." They all roll their eyes, and they couldn't leave, what could they do? 20:00
They can't leave, what can they do? My future wife, Jana, was sitting across thetable. We eventually made eyes and hit it off and then I learned that she was a history major in college and was interested in military history. That was something in common, anyway that's how I met my bride.
CW: At Fort West, what was your expectation of service abroad? Did you expect tosee combat or were your expectations?
PM: I certainly knew it was a possibility because those were the final days ofthe cold war. The Russians had built up their forces in Europe and those were the days of Regan and the evil empire and we're going to consignment it to the 21:00dust bin of history. This 1983 to 1986 when I'm in Fort Bliss. I knew that war was a possibility, but it didn't seem wholly likely at the time. There was a balance of power on the european continent and didn't think the soviets would be foolish enough to cross the inter-German boarder and unleash Armageddon. It was always in the back of my mind and if not there, maybe somewhere else.
CW: You said you never expected to make this a career. When did that start, didthat start to change early on or was that?
PM: As a first lieutenant, I had thoughts of getting out and going into computerprogramming or one of the high tech industries that was developing. Then I got 22:00married, but, well before that I said, "Well, but I still want to go to Germany." I always wanted to go to Germany but, I always wanted to do it as my second assignment. I want to serve in an armored cavalry regiment over there. Then I got married, now I'm taking my wife with me and we had a wonderful time in Germany. We can talk about those days. At the end of that assignment, now it's what do I did? Well I put in for graduate school, graduate training in military history and now I have opportunity for the Army to pay for a masters degree and go back to West Point and teach. Which I did, well by that time you got twelve years in service and you only have eight more years till you're eligible for retirement pay. Why not stay in? It's this incremental decision 23:00making process that I got involved in.
CW: You mentioned you moved to Germany. What was that second deployment like,moving from Fort Bliss, Texas, newly married-
PM: Not a deployment.
CW: I'm sorry.
PM: Yeah, it's just a permanent change of station move. It was reallyinteresting, my wife and I got married in December, actually we eloped. I needed to get her on my orders to Germany and back then if you weren't married before your orders were processed, you had to go over to Germany alone and then request commands sponsorship which could take three or four months. We didn't want to be apart for that time. She also didn't want anyone to know that we were married before we were married. We drove up to Albuquerque from El Paso, where Jeff and Nancy Keiffer are good friends were in graduate school and we got married up 24:00there before a judge, Judge Tommy Jewell.
We were officially married, I processed the paperwork, she got on my orders. Nowwe could go over together and then we were married in December of 1986. Yeah, that was about ten months later, nine months later. The official church wedding in which everyone said, "You're so calm. Why are you not nervous?" I got to fast forward because Judge Tommy Jewell, actually resurfaces later on. This is now almost sixteen years later, I'm at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and I'm in a small group, my staff group, staff group 13. We're just introducing each other at the beginning of the school year. We're going 25:00around and we get to Hank Abercrombie, a African-American Colonel, I think he was a logistician.
He goes, "I'm Hank Abercrombie, I'm from Albuquerque, New Mexico. He goes on totalk about his military experience and then I piped up, "Oh, that's really interesting. My wife and I got married in Albuquerque. I always remember it's before a judge and we was quite the personality, Judge Tommy Jewell." He looked at me and he goes, "It's my cousin." That is the quintessential, it's a really small world story. Anyway going back, we got married, we went to the honeymoon in Vail for ten days and then went back to El Paso. Soon boarded the plane to Germany and I remember my wife shedding tears as the plane was taking off. I was 26:00like, "Oh my God, what have I done?" Now she was going away from home for the first time. She had been away from home but she'd always stayed in Texas. Now she's going to the other side of the world, that wasn't the worst of it.
We land in Germany and we're getting the van taking us to Bad Hersfeld, my dutystation and it's like we've landed in Siberia. It's the coldest winter in fifty years in Europe. There was ice and snow everywhere and I'm like, "This is the ice planet Hoth," unbelievable. Then we struggle to find an apartment. We finally do find one and almost immediately, a month after we settle in I go off on maneuvers for six weeks, a squadron exercise called War Steed. That was a 27:00real eye opener to both of us. We lived in a building with both officer and non-commission officer and enlisted families. One of the enlisted soldiers was married to a German woman who was certifiably nuts.
Every time he went off for training, she would get mad at him because apparentlyhe wasn't suppose to leave her and she'd throw his clothes out the window into the front yard of this apartment complex. That happened while we were gone. Then for me, War Steed, it was pretty difficult. It was really cold, a lot of the heaters didn't work. One of my fellow officers, I was a personnel officer of the squardron S1. One of my fellow officers, the logistician, the S4, we'll let him 28:00do his job. He had reconnoitered the area for the field trains locations where we were going to set up the logistics base. He put it on top of a mountain. Now putting trucks, lots of trucks on top of a mountain when there's lots of ice and snow on the roads is not exactly the right thing to do.
After a couple of days, maybe two or three days of the exercise, we determine wehave to get off this mountain. There's been lots of trucks sliding into ditches, we can't do our jobs. We decide to jump the fuel trains to a flat area off of a paved road, much better area. Day comes and he is no where to be seen and he's suppose to lead this operation and he has disappeared. He's got a vehicle, at 29:00the time I thinks a Chevy Suburban now or it's called a Cut-V back then. He has this vehicle and he just takes off, I'm not even sure where he is and I'm in a truck, like a deuce and a half.
We try to get down the way we came in and all the big fuel trucks and ammunitiontrucks are sliding off into ditches. The recovery effort is just unbelievable. I just called time out and I say, "Stop, we're not getting down this way. If we do, someone's going to die." I dismount and look at the map and there's another way off the mountain that looks relatively flat but it's a skosh road, it's a trail. I walk the trail all the way up to where it intersects with a paved road. I said, "Hey, we can do this." I walk back, we turn all of the vehicles around. 30:00We're talking about 72 point turns.
Some of these vehicles they huge heavy expanded mobility tactical trucks withtrailers on them. We're trying to back them up into places where they can turn around. We finally get the whole convoy turned around, moving on this trail and there's this one little incline left before you get to the road. It's enough to make vehicles slide back down, so I dismount all the soldiers, I have them get their picks and shovels, break up the ice, throw dirt and pine needles and branches on the road. One by one we gunned the vehicles up the hill, and we finally get them all out of there without killing anyone.
We get down to our new site, but we're now hours late, and I get there, and theSquadron Executive Officer is a Major and I'm a Captain, starts chewing me out 31:00for being late. Now the food, and the fuel, and the ammunition aren't going to be delivered on time, and I don't even bother to tell him what had just transpired because he probably wouldn't care. It's a story that's always stuck with me of an example of how you have to do the right thing even if no one's looking, even if you're not going to get rewarded for it in the end. I don't consider it one of the highlights of my career, but the fact that we didn't lose anyone on that mountain, might have been actually.
CW: As you were talking I was thinking, oh this is maybe where he makes hisfirst mark, but not so much.
PM: Well actually, I was the Squadron Personnel Officer S1 for almost two years32:00which really is unusual, but there was a backlog of Captains trying to get into command, and it took me awhile to get a command position. It was actually a great job because when the squadron went on to deploy to Hohenfels or Grafenwöhr or different training areas, I ended up being the Post Commander as a Captain. All of the civilian staff would report to me and then I would liaise with the Squadron Commander down range. We were at the time, you know you wouldn't see this today, but at the time we were a single armored cavalry squad with maybe a thousand soldiers, and that was our post.
We had our own community, our own officers club, and non-commissioned officersclub, it was just like a miniature Fort Hood for a thousand people and their families. It was really a big responsibility for me to end up taking charge of 33:00the families and the rear detachment, and the post when the squadron deployed. One of the events that happened there, the squadrons at Hohenfels doing training and 58th Engineer Company, our engineer company was doing training with cratering charges. Cratering charges have two safeties, one is pin that you pull and the other is the safety on the clacker so.
The clacker is supposed to have a pin that you can depress it part way and itwon't make contact, and then you give it a good squeezed and it will make contact and the cratering charge will do it's thing. This Sergeant from the 58th 34:00Engineer Company was training his squad on cratering charges and he's showing them these two safeties. The chain of command earlier in the day had gone around looking at the classes that people were teaching, and they warned him, do not pull the safety from the cratering charge. They were using a live cratering charge as a training aid, well sure enough he has too much faith in the clacker safety. Pulls the other one and says, "See there's this other safety." Chick and the thing blows up, and it killed, I think, killed three soldiers outright, there were several that had multiple amputations.
You can immediately see the shit storm that developed from that, it went all theway up the Presidential level and Ronald Reagan actually made a comment about 35:00it. About taking care of the soldiers and their families. That was hard for me I had a lot of Casualty Assistance Officers that I was in charge of, getting them transportation, families coming over. Investigations being conducted, and I was right in the middle of all that. I think the hardest thing was the brother of the Sergeant who had led the training called me from the States. He was just incensed, he wanted people's head on a platter, what's the name of the Squadron Commander, what's the name of the Company Commander, who's the Platoon Leader.
Basically wanting them drawn and quartered, and I was talking to him about whatwas happening in terms of an investigation and so forth. Finally he goes, "Who was charge of that class?" I said, "Your brother was." Complete silence on the other end of the phone, and finally I said, "You know the investigation will be 36:00open to the public when it's complete." I gave him the address to request a copy and he thanked and hung up. Pretty tough to deal with that kind of personal anguish, but again one more learning experience in the quiver.
CW: How were you responsible, compared to the explosion, what was yourresponsibility to that?
PM: Well I was back at the home base, if you will. The families wanted to knowwhat was happening, people and people would call from United States they would call the base, they wouldn't call Hohenfels so I'm fielding a lot of calls and media requests. Trying to get Casualty Assistance Officers assigned to the 37:00families, you know some of the dead their families were there living on base, so we had to take care of them. It made for some long hours, but we got it done.
Ty Pierce: You mentioned you weren't there that long and you had six weeks outin the field, and it was a bit of a wake up call for you and Joanna.
TP: As this progresses and you're put in positions like this where you a prettylarge amount of responsibility at Captain level. How's that interplay between work and home, so to speak? How's you relationship developing and changing?
PM: Well Jana is a great army spouse, she realized that my career came first andI spent long hours at work throughout my career and she managed. That's not true in all cases and it does lead in weaker relationships to divorce, if you have a 38:00needy spouse who has to have you there all the time, the military is probably not for you. That was not the case with us, so she was always supportive and if I had to be at work, I had to be at work. On the other hand I was at least coming home every night as the S1 being on base, while the squadron when it was deployed, they were gone. They were in Germany but they were not there, so we actually considered ourselves fortunate in that regard.
Let me talk to you a little bit about the fun aspects of being in Germany,because my wife and I always remember that being our favorite assignment. Probably because we didn't have kids, we didn't have any responsibilities. When you weren't on duty there were a lot of four day weekends, and we could take 39:00leave, which we did. I was a true believer throughout my military career of actually taking all of my leave every year. When I got to the end, often when you get to an end of a career, people will take 120 days of terminal leave or sell back 180 days, these enormous amounts they've accrued at deployment. I had 26 days left.
That enabled us to do a lot of fun things. We traveled all over Europe, probablydidn't save a lot of money in our first three years of marriage, but I figured you know we're young and vigorous now. We can travel now and when we're in our 70's or 80's, when we have the money we could hobble around live a little bit better. We decided to basically splurge and see Europe upfront, and it was great. We saw Paris, and London, and Copenhagen, and Norway, and Austria, and 40:00Switzerland, and East Berlin. Lots of places in Germany, so it was a blast.
My mom and step dad came over, so we got to have vacations with them in Parisand London. Then there were unit trips as well, ski trips to Austria, and since I was a skier, I would often arrange them to resorts I wanted to go to like Innsbruck and Solden, and then we'd have unit trips to Spanish beaches in the summer. We went to Barcelona and the beach near Barcelona once and these were just really wonderful experiences. Sometimes with the company, so you have officers and enlisted mixed up, and that worked out fine, and the barrier was always kept. Sometimes it was just officers. Officer ski trips, but they were always a blast, people you knew and could have a really good time with. 41:00
Then on post when you were there, every Thursday was pizza night in theofficer's club. Once my daughter Kyle was born, in November 1988, we'd bring her bucket with her to the club, and just put the bucket on a table and all the lieutenants would take turns holding her, taking care of her. You wouldn't even worry about the kid disappearing, because you knew everyone in the place, and so it was really a tight-knit community. People who served during the Cold War, I think, in Germany, remember that tightness of the communities that the mission engendered and the closeness of the families engendered. It wasn't all bad. 42:00
CW: Were spouses allowed on the unit trips?
PM: Oh yeah. Yeah, these were morale welfare recreation trips, and definitelyfamilies were included.
CW: Now were you there when the wall came down at this time?
PM: My tour in Germany was supposed to be three years, but I took command late,and so I extended it by 6 months in order to take command of Mike Company, the Maulers, 3rd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, and that was really the highlight of the first 10 years of my service commanding 60, 70 soldiers, 14 M1A1 tanks, brand new too, so that was nice. We got to get them out of the packing crates, if you will. 43:00
We did a couple of big gunnery exercises in Grafenwöhr and shot high in thesquadron. We had a maneuver in Hohenfels where we did very, very well. I think the highlight though was in November and December of '89 when the wall came down, people remember people chipping away at the Berlin wall. They forget, at the same time, the iron curtain came down, that is this enormous fence that went from Austria all the way up to the North Sea. My company took over border duty in early December, I think it was. It wasn't right when the wall came down. It might have been late November, but it might have been a couple weeks after the wall was opened, but the iron curtain was just opening, and so for three, four weeks, we got to be on the grid iron of history watching and reporting as the 44:00Germans were taking down the fence, reuniting communities that in many cases had not been united in 40 years.
I remember in one case, two sisters who were in their 60's or 70's who had beenseparated for 40 years, right across the border from one another, came and met at the border and hugged one another. Germans celebrating in their typical way with oompah bands and beer and bratwurst and thanking you, the American soldiers, for being there for them and making this happen, or helping to make it happen. It was really a signature time in my early career.
CW: What was your responsibility at the time on the border?
PM: We were responsible for three border posts, observation post India, Romeo,and Alpha. Alpha, OP Alpha now is a museum, it's the last preserved piece of the 45:00old Cold War border. They kept the fences up, the guard towers, they have a museum dedicated to the Cold War, and almost no one goes there because it's in the middle of Germany where it's just not a tourist place. I've actually tried to take student groups from Ohio State there, and you can't get there from here. You realize how remote these places were, where you'd have to spend almost two days of a study-abroad trip to dedicate to that. I'd still like to do it one day, but we haven't been able to make it happen yet.
Anyway, these three border posts, I would have a platoon at each. In some cases,two platoons. We'd park our tanks, so they'd be there in case we needed them, but then we would patrol in Humvees, and we'd send out patrols continuously to report on what was happening, and then we had aviation overhead from the air cav 46:00squadron, and they would be reporting as well on what was happening. The number of openings in the fence that was being reported up through the military chain of command all the way to the National Security Council, it was really very wonderful time, time when freedom reigned for a brief period, at any rate.
CW: Does any of your men get pulled into the festivities?
PM: No. At least not to my knowledge. I told them to politely decline the beer.Actually some of them were presented pieces of the fence, and I still have a piece of the fence to this day. That was neat. That's actually another widget that I should probably offer to you.
CW: Was it part of the ... What kind of piece is it?47:00
PM: The fence was actually made in West Germany. A West Germany company made thefence, they sold it to the East Germans. The East Germans erected, but it's this ... It's not barbed wire or concertina, it's a very close-knit mesh, but tough, with openings maybe half an inch, and it's diamond-shaped openings. Very difficult to climb which was the whole point; they didn't want people escaping. I think the Germans, the West Germans participated in creating that fence, even though the profited from it, I'm pretty sure, because escaping was really dangerous, and they didn't want people getting blown up in the mine fields and whatnot, so making sure that it was hard to escape. Not, maybe, the humanitarian thing to do.
CW: As you're sitting there watching the wall come down in front of your eyes.
PM: The curtain. The wall's in Berlin.48:00
CW: The curtain. Were there discussions going on like, "We don't need to be hereanymore", or "What's our presence here doing now?"
PM: We were ... I was a captain, and people I was commanding were lieutenantsand sergeants and enlisted soldiers, we were just taking in the moment. We weren't thinking longer term. I knew, for me, in terms of career, that the Cold War was over, and that we were entering an inter war period. I didn't realize the Gulf War was only six months away. I decided in an inter war period, the best thing to do is to go back to school, and that's when I put in my packet to go back to graduate school and teach at West Point.
CW: What was it like returning to West Point, but as a graduate?49:00
PM: First I came to Ohio State. Yeah. That was my first experience in a civiliancommunity since I had been in high school. Great experience here in Columbus at Ohio State. My PhD advisors, Allan Millett, Williamson Murray, and other military history instructors like Joe Guilmartin, Joe Kruzel who was my minor field advisor in national security and policy studies, and John Rule, who was my advisor in early modern European history, just wonderful trainers and mentors, educators, and it really opened my eyes to the broader issues at stake in warfare, and not just how to maneuver tanks around a battlefield.
I got some of that at West Point, of course, but it doesn't stick until youreally study it in depth, and the two years here at Ohio State, getting a 50:00Master's degree and going ABD and finishing my coursework for my PhD and my general exams really I think broadened my outlook and that's when I started to think about, "Okay, what next for the United States Army and the nation now that we're out of the Cold War?" Two years here, and then off to West Point.
In terms of my family life here in Columbus, we lived in a condominium up inDublin. My daughter went to daycare, my wife was a paralegal working at a temp agency, but mostly she worked at Ashland Chemical and then down in the US Attorney's office downtown, working on asset forfeitures. We both loved Columbus. When we left here, we thought we'd never be back, and surprise, here we are.
TP: How did the decision to come to Columbus come about?
PM: Yeah, I'm glad you asked because this is a great story. Normally people51:00would say, "I'm going to go to graduate school, let me find the graduate school that caters to my interests or I know the professors are good." None of that was the case in my case. My brother had come to Ohio State between 73 and 78, on a track and cross country scholarship and was the cross country captain his senior year. When he graduated, we all, even while he was there, I shifted my allegiance from the PAC 10 to the Big 10 at the time, mainly to Ohio State, and was sorely disappointed over the next two decades. They kept losing to the PAC 10, but when it came time for me to choose a graduate school, West Point said, "Well, we'd like you to go to Temple. Temple's where Russell Weigley, a very renowned scholar of World War II and the American Army, it's where he teaches. 52:00You'll be his last graduate student, because he's getting up in years."
My wife says, Jana says, "I'm not going to Philadelphia." They said, "Okay,well, you're a west coast person, there's someone at USC who does Vietnam. How about LA?" She goes, "Not going to LA." They said, "Well, how about Ohio State?" She goes, "I guess so, looks like a nice city." I go, "Well, my brother went there." That was the sum total of our decision making process. It was a great decision all around.
CW: Was it just that she wanted to avoid the big cities?
PM: Yes, she didn't want ... Temple's in the middle of Philadelphia. USC's inthe middle of LA, and not necessarily in the good parts either, so the commute would be long for me, the housing is ... Who knows what the housing would be like? We did much better here in Columbus. Great all-American city. 53:00
TP: What was it like ... You had mentioned that you were kind of a militaryhistorian earlier in your childhood even, and yet at the time you didn't necessarily think of that as a career path, but now you kind of have a foot in both worlds. You've got what's going on in your military career, and then getting to exposed to the academic careers of military history and how does those interplay, but what was it like ... You said you started thinking a little more about the larger issues as pertaining to the Iron Curtain coming down, but what's that like personally and professionally as you're going through this Master's program?
PM: Initially, when I was choosing a program, the Army had, they called itfunctional areas. They still have functional areas. A functional area was engineering. You could actually be an armor officer and be a functional area engineer and kind of bounce between assignments. There was a program, I'm going to really uncover my dirty laundry here, there was a program at the time at 54:00Michigan, a place up north, right? Where you could get a Master's in military history and a Master's in engineering at the same time, in civil engineering. I probably would have gone there but the program wasn't ... They had disbanded it or it wasn't no longer in force when my time came to go to graduate school so I ended up on this side of that storied rivalry instead. I had not given up the idea of being an engineer. I think once I was done with graduate school at Ohio State, I realized that that was not going to happen, being an engineer without more training than I had was not a viable alternate career path.
That's when I really gave up on that, but I never thought I'd be a militaryhistorian, either. I knew I would teach it at West Point, but that was going to be a temporary two or three year assignment. I knew I'd study it for the rest of 55:00my life, but I didn't know what I was going to do long-term after the Army and it wasn't necessarily going to being an academic. I certainly never thought I'd be at a Tier 1 research institution as a military historian. Surprise!
CW: As you finished up at OSU, how long did you know that you were going to endup at West Point? Is that always where it was going to lead next?
PM: Yes. They wouldn't have sent me here unless I was on a track to go to WestPoint, so I knew way back in 1989 that I was going to come here.
CW: You had firsthand experience, as you said, that the Cold War was ending. Didyou begin to reassess what was taught at West Point at that time?
PM: No, I taught history of the military art that of course I loved so much as a56:00cadet. It still was a viable course. We were very early on into the post-Cold War era. We had the invasion of Panama to look at. About the only kind of asymmetric operation, if you will, where we were dealing with non-state actors was Somalia and the Night of the Rangers with Farrah Mohamed Aidid, but that came midway through my time at West Point, so this is really in at the ground floor of how warfare might change in the post-Cold War era. We still thought a solid grounding in the military art was essential and I still think it is today for cadets, although interstate warfare isn't on the rise, for the United States 57:00you don't know in the long run if it might not be. We can't forget that part of the military training.
West Point was a great place. It's like living in a national park, which it is.It's living in a national monument. We had a cozy set of quarters up in a place called Stony Lonesome on the top of a hill. My son, JT, was born there in the Army hospital. We had a wonderful time. Jana and the kids remember ... Well, JT probably doesn't remember from this early on, but certainly my daughter Kyle does is that our vacations would always center around looking at Civil War battlefields. We'd go to Gettysburg or Antietam or the battlefields in Virginia. The kids always remember growing up, always ending up at battlefields on family vacations. 58:00
I remember when I came back from Iraq the first time in 2004, we went toNormandy and took the kids to Normandy. Of course it was the day to go to Omaha Beach, and the kids heard the word beach and they show up at breakfast in swimsuits. I said, "Well, it's not that kind of a beach." They look at me and then my wife gives me the stink eye, and I said, "I will just go up and change." We ended up body surfing off of Omaha Beach, right where Saving Private Ryan would have been filmed, had it been filmed there. Very surreal.
Anyway, at West Point, they say there's two graduating classes every year.There's the graduating class of cadets, and then there's the faculty who are now going off to other assignments. That's really true, because you don't really get immersed in a subject until you teach it. Having had two years studying at Ohio 59:00State and then two years teaching at West Point, really became part of the fabric of my being, my professional being at any rate, being a military historian and it's a really valuable aspect of West Point that is often overlooked. That it's not just the cadets who are benefiting from, but it's the people who go back as faculty and then rotate out back into the force.
CW: What it is like rotating back in after you've kind of been out in theacademic world for four years?
PM: My branch manager, Marty Dempsey, eventually became chairman of the JointChiefs of Staff. At the time, he was a lieutenant colonel, and he was the armor branch manager. He was like, "You've been away from troops for a long time." After one year at the commanding general staff college at Fort Leavenworth, so 60:00five years away, we need to get you somewhere where you can quickly get into what was called a branch qualifying position at the time, you have to be a S3 operations officer or executive officer. The same guy that chewed me out, back when I was a captain, when I jumped the field training, I was now going to become him, right. He said, "We're going to send you to Fort Irwin, California, to the National Training Center." I was like, "What?" "You're going to be part of the opposing forces," which had be re-flagged as the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. I'd served in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Germany, and now I was going to be in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Southern California. I remember going back home that night and saying, "Guess where we're going, Jana?" She goes, "Fort Hood, Fort Bliss, Fort Lewis, Fort Carson, Germany, Korea," I 61:00mean she named off every post in the army's inventory. I said, "No, Fort Irwin," and she's like, "What?" The same kind of thought I had.
It turned out to be a great assignment in more ways than one, it was reallyprofessionally rewarding, in that you got to go out and maneuver and practice your field craft every month. That was wonderful, all be it a lot of the things we did were not applicable to what I would be doing later on when it mattered. There were still things that did matter, like how to deal with the heat and how to deal with the environment, and even some of the technical things like principles of reconnaissance and what makes for good surveillance and reconnaissance and so forth, those could be applied in a general way. It was a 62:00lot of fun for me, I got to go out, hook and jab with the rotating units as they came through on maneuvers. Although it was a very dry and hot desert environment, the housing was great, the schools were really pretty good for the kids, at least for Kyle, I think JT wasn't in school yet. We were, I think the hidden benefit, which I didn't realize at the time was we were close to my family in Sacramento.
My mom, I think in '92 or early '90's was diagnosed with progressivesupranuclear palsy, and she was on a slow decline to oblivion, and being at Fort Irwin from 1995 to 1997 gave us lots of opportunities to go up and take family vacations in the bay area in Sacramento and Tahoe. The families, at that time 63:00the families all had young kids so we would rent out a big house somewhere like Bodega Bay, and you'd have five families plus my mom and step-dad all living in the same house, and it was pandemonium. I got to see a lot of mom before she really became an invalid, and I always appreciate that time with her. Because after that time was over in '97 I went to the Pentagon, as Special Assistant to the Director for Strategic Plans and Policy, the J5, on the joint staff. We were able to go home to Sacramento a couple more times I think and take a cruise with my mom and step-dad, but in '99 she passed away.
Anyway shorty after I assumed command of 1st squadron, 10th Cavalry, so I was64:00always appreciative of the time I did get with her before she died.
CW: Was the, you mentioned that some of the training you were doing at FortIrwin wasn't applicable. What kind of training were you doing?
PM: It was largely at maneuvers. If we were going to re-fight the Battle ofKursk it would have been wonderful, but we were not, and they hadn't adjusted the training. Well because they didn't know that they were still modeling after a quasi Cold War model of Russian forces, we called The Krasnovians, because we couldn't called them Russians of course. The Krasnovians would invade some fictitious country and then we'd have a big kerfuffle in there in the desert. 65:00
It was testing out commanders ability to plan and execute maneu-, in theirtactical abilities, the logistician's abilities to resupply and provide medical care. It was, it did test the functions of what it meant to be a armored brigade or infantry brigade, but not wholly applicable to what I had to do. Of course the people were there, who were there in the initial invasion of Iraq, from March to April of 2003, it might have benefited more than I did.
TP: Yeah, I think that people are aware that there's training in the military,but I don't know that they have a good idea of what that looks like. I'm kind of interested to know when you are the away team, so to speak, and the other team-
PM: We were the home team.
TP: Oh. Okay. Okay.66:00
PM: The away team is the army and it's coming into Fort Irwin to, they'reinvading Krasnovia as far as we're concerned.
TP: Oh, okay. All right. This is good, that's a good designation. I guess in howyou, I assume there's some kind of almost a curriculum to how those trainings go, and I'm curious to know if that's true and then also, as the home team, do you, and an aficionado and a student of large scale military history, do you end up over the course of these rotations start, do you have to put like a bag of tricks that you try to deploy?
Because I'm just, I know that seems gauche to say that, but I'm curious to knowhow you go about actually providing beneficial training in this environment? Because I don't think the general public certainly has an idea of what that looks like.
PM: Oh, well, you haven't seen, you haven't lived until you've seen a thousandarmored vehicles on the move. It's just, it's quite the thing. The scenario 67:00would be laid out ahead of time, there's a whole planning team called The Lizards who would do nothing but plan the various scenarios and the battles that would take place during a unit rotation. The opposing forces had some input into that, just to make sure it was doctrinally correct from our standpoint. Then the various missions would be exercised, whether it's a hasty attack, a deliberate attack, hasty defense, deliberate defense. What you want to do is put a unit into a position where it has to execute a mission in its essential task list. That's how it came about, and then we'd used different areas of the Fort Irwin to make that happen. It's an enormous training area, and you could use the, 68:00there were, in general there's three corridors, the southern corridor, the central corridor, northern corridor, and then you could orient the battle field to east-west, west-east, north-south, there's a lot of different way to do it.
It's just hard to encapsulate it in a few words, I remember one of the mostamazing things I did, I was generally, we had 1st squadron, 2nd squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, and you'd alternate rotations as to who, what staff was in charge of that rotation. 1st squadron would be in charge in September, and October the 2nd Squadron would be in charge, and the other squadron would just lay in on top of them as assistants. I was the operations officer, I remember for the 1st squadron, and it was an off rotation for us, so I was just 69:00kind of in the back of the operations order listening to what was going to take place, and then I hear, "Yeah, we should insert an officer with a radio onto that hill mast there, and allow him to communicate with the scouts and the tactical operation center and give us a read on whether that quarter is open. We could probably air assault him in." Then I hear this, "Mansoor. Mansoor, where are you?" I'm like, I was kind of sleepy in the back of the orders group.
I'm like, "Yes, sir," and he goes, "Get your stuff, you're going to, you got twohours, you're going to helicopter in." Within a couple of hours I was on a helicopter flying map of the earth, at night, being inserted on to the top of this piece of high ground. Then I remember literally walking past... Called Blue 70:004. Blue 4 is the visiting unit. In the army friendly units are blue, and opposing units are red. We were the OP4 red.
I'm walking right by a Blue 4 logistical installations. I mean like 10 feetaway. It's at night, no security. I got this backpack and radio. I go up, and I set up my little command post, relaying the information from the scouts all night long. Not more then 50 yards from this communications installation, or whatever it was. I remember, right before I got on the helicopter, a lieutenant from my unit made a Burger King run. He goes, "Here, sir, you'll need this," and he hands me a Whopper which I ate cold in the middle of the night. It was like I've never had a better Whopper in my life. 71:00
In the morning the scouts came through, and they had destroyed a lot of thevehicles ... The Blue 4 vehicles down in what was called the Valley of Death. Appropriately named in this case. In the morning I relayed, "the Valley of Death is open." The entire regimen, several hundred vehicles, come right through very narrow valley which you would never do. It's tactically insane if it's defended, but we had destroyed most of the vehicles down there. We got to the objective almost untouched.
When I say it was fun, I mean this is the stuff that's fun. Dangerous but funtoo. I ended up having 3 of those missions. It sort of became a thing. Inserting Mansoor, Major Mansoor, with this radio by helicopter, with the scouts behind the enemy lines.
CW: What's your home life like while you're doing these maneuvers, because72:00obviously you're ...
PM: Very predictable. This is one of the great things. You knew you were goingto be out. It was an eight day rotation every month except for the month of June. June was leave, but July through May it's... You know that eight days out of that month you're going to be out, and maybe tack on couple more if you want to do some training. We did institute some training. In fact my first rotation in July we ended up losing a battle, which had never happened before. We realised that although OP4 is sort of vaunted as being really well trained and being the home team, we have a big personnel turnover in the summer. We had an enormous personnel turnover, and really we weren't the well trained OP4 that we 73:00thought we were.
At the direction of our squadron commander I ended up developing what was calledthe Black Horse Stakes, which was a small unit training. Always done in the summer time as these new people would come in, so that we wouldn't have that falloff in performance in July that we had that first month I was there. The other 22 days in a month you were home every night. Again, long hours in the office, but as long as you got home for dinner and got to sleep in your own bed, life was good.
CW: How does this ... You mentioned already that you go from this, then to beinga J5 at the Pentagon. 74:00
PM: Special Assistant to the J5.
Speaker 2: The J5 at the Pentagon.
PM: The Army, or actually the Military wants joint qualified officers. It's partof the Goldwater-Nichols Reform Act of 1987. In order to become a general officer or a flag officer later in your career, you have to serve in a joint assignment somewhere during your career. This was an appropriate time for me to do that. I didn't become a general officer later on, but it checked that block in case I made it that far. It was a great assignment. Vice Admiral John Scott Redd and Lieutenant General Anderson were the J5s while I was there. I helped them think strategically. I was in the long ranged strategic plans, so I got to look deep. Like 20 years deep. 75:00
Really, I wrote their speeches and I wrote their presentations, and did someother things. Sort of manual labor if you will. Again, being in that environment where the national military strategies crafted by the J5... You have all the various geographical sections who are dealing at the time with Bosnia and Kosovo, with Operation Desert Fox in Kuwait. You really get an eyeful of what's happening globally. That two years was really neat in that regard.
TP: What was happening globally. You started...
PM: We were into the Bosnian peace-keeping operation, and then the Kosovo war76:00happened right at the tail end of my time in J5. Operation Desert Fox occurred in the last year, while I was there where we bombed Iraq in order to try to make them comply with US sanctions. Those were the three big things, but we also had the emergence of Al Qaeda in the embassy bombings in East Africa. That happened while I was there. NATO enlargement was happening in Europe. Really a pretty busy time. I'd have to be in a position where I could look at all ...
Again, great family life there. Unlike some other desk officers, I had prettypredictable hours. Went in really early, left home at about 6:30 but I usually got home by about 6 in the evening. Now, that may not seem like great hours, 77:00it's like an 11 and a half hour day, that's great for the pentagon. I counted myself fortunate. And rarely worked on the weekends too. We rented ... My aunt. That aunt and uncle who I spent time with on Thanksgiving and Washington's birthday while I was at West Point. They had both past on by that point. We rented their house for my cousin, Mary Jane, who is like a second sister to me. We were there up in Silver Spring, and she and her family lived nearby so we ... Our two families did a lot together. We went to the same church, and kids went to the same church school at the time. It was just really an excellent time for the family. Pretty good situation for them.
CW: Now, being about 20 years out from that time, how are your predictions78:00looking? Were you pretty accurate?
PM: What do you mean? I'm sorry.
Speaker 2: When you were working with the J5 you said... you were makingpredictions 20 years out.
PM: Oh 20 years from there. No, we weren't right at all. I don't think we saw... We didn't see the twin towers. We didn't see Iraq or Afghanistan coming. I think, in the end, we all were a little bit in the fog as to what the future would hold. I remember at the time, the thought was that we were in a revolution in military affairs. That high-tech, very mobile forces would be the order of the day going forward. That information would enable us to see the battle field 79:00and everything within it. That precision gun ammunitions would allow us to hit everything that we saw. Therefore forces could be smaller, lighter, backed by this precision information complex of aircraft and missiles and artillery.
That may be true if we were fighting the United States of America, or someonelike us. It clearly didn't pan out in Iraq or Afghanistan, or any of the wars we actually had to fight. There were people who did see that we perhaps were going down the wrong road, but their voices were pretty muted.
TP: I just wondered, double back, you had mentioned of the conflicts and things80:00going at the time. You mentioned- Bosnia, Kosovo, and Dessert Fox, and the NATO enlargement, and a midst that, you do have this embassy falling in Africa. They have the embassy falling in Africa, and most of those others again, lay person, those strike me still as in this large scale military mode. They're still in that mindset. And then you have this blip of these smaller, non-national factors and I'm curious to know what discussions either you had or what discussions were around that you alluded to as that happened.
PM: We really thought that major combat operations were still possible aroundthe world. North Korea, obviously, was a threat. Iran was a threat at the time. Iraq was still a threat, right? And aside from that, the verbiage was 81:00"operations other than war", which would be like operation provide comfort, helping the Kurds out in 1991, Somalia in '92, Haiti in '94, Bosnia and Kosovo. But a lot of these really were peace-keeping operations, or peace-making operations as we came to call it. They would use armed force to enforce or make peace. That's really what we thought was a very likely possibility, and going into Iraq I remember when I got there as a Brigade Commander, I thought "Okay, this is going to be a big peace-making operation like Kosovo on steroids." Because that was the frame from which I came, and quickly realized it was something far different. That's really what we were focused on. Remember that in 82:00'99, Bosnians were only three years into the Bosnia peace-keeping operation, so that's still sort of the big thing going on. That, and then Kosovo. So that's sort of how we're seeing the world through that lens.
CW: So when you're done with the J5, what was your next move?
PM: I was very fortune to get Squadron Command while I was at J5, and we movedfrom Maryland to Fort Hood, Texas where I took command of the 1st Squadron 10th Calvary The Buffalo Soldiers, a frontier fame. And so named because after the civil war there were four regiments of colored soldiers that were kept in the 83:00inventory, two Calvary regiments, the 9th and 10th, and then two infantry regiments, the 24th and 25th. The 9th and 10th went on to very storied careers in the West ... settling the West. Then later on in Vietnam, they resurrected another 9th Calvary as one of the units in the 1st Calvary division that has a lot of combat experience in Vietnam.
I found the history of the 10th Calvary fascinating. I really reveled in it. Ilove the fact that it originated as a black unit. They were called Buffalo Soldiers because the short hair, curly hair of African Americans kind of looks 84:00like the hair of a buffalo. Another story has that they fought so well and they were so courageous that they were honored like the buffalo, which was a very honored animal in Indian lore. I think the first one is probably correct, but we'll take both of them.
Anyway, I played up the history of the Buffalo Soldiers and we just had afabulous time. Went into Squadron Command and immediately deployed with the unit to Kuwait for four months for what was called Operation Desert Spring. We fell in on equipment that was stored there at Camp Doha in Kuwait, and for four months we did gunnery exercises, maneuver exercises against ourselves, we mapped out potential battle positions if Iraqis were to invade again, sort of developed battle books. Really, it became our new frontier of freedom. Frontier of freedom 85:00being the iron curtain, and this was the new one. I played that up as well, so it was a fabulous, fabulous deployment. We did a lot of great things and I came back with everyone too. I think the history of those deployments isn't very good in terms of safety and we had some close calls, but we didn't have anyone get seriously injured or die on us.
We were the first ones in the desert with Temper Tents, which are Air Force airconditioned tents with a nice floor and everything and that really made life a lot easier for us than previous Army units. Anyway, it was I think an important 86:00experience for me, again, learning how to deal with the environment, learning the environment of Kuwait which is not dissimilar to Iraq, at all. And then for my wife and the folks on reared attachment, dealing with families back home - some of them not very cooperative - and dealing with all the problems that a deployment of that length entails.
My wife was able to use that and I was able to use that to help shape our rearedattachment when we went off to Iraq. We can talk about that a little bit later. Unfortunately, I joined my brigade in Baghdad. I wasn't able to create the reared attachment, I was only able to sort of change it over time and get it running the way I wanted it to run again, based a lot on our experiences in 87:00Operation Desert Spring.
We got back after four months right around December, right around Christmas of'99. This is a big year for me. My book "The GI Offensive in Europe" was published in June on the 55th anniversary of D-Day. That was my dissertation turned into a book with the University Press of Kansas on the effectiveness of American infantry divisions in North Africa and the Mediterranean in Europe during World War II. We had a very successful operation. I took command. Lot of my family came in for the change of command. That was really a fabulous time; my godfather from Minnesota and his family, a lot of my family from Sacramento, my cousin Mary Jane and her family from Maryland, so it was a really wonderful time. Then I went off to Kuwait. We had a spectacular rotation, and then we got back and I realized my two air Calvary troops who had been left behind. 88:00
Well, there was a packet that they had put in for the top aviation unit in theArmy for an award based on their continuing rotations to the U.S. Mexican border where ostensibly they're looking for drug traffickers, but basically they're just reporting any crossings of the borders. They can't surveil people once they cross, course that would be illegal according to the Posse Comitatus Act. What it does is allows them to practice a military mission, which is a screen with live targets, if you will. And that gives them a lot of nighttime flying experience and whatnot. They put in this packet while I was gone and they sent it off to the home of Army Aviation in Fort Recker. And I get back ... And 89:00within a couple weeks of getting back, we are notified that we won the award for the top Aviation Unit in the United States Army - the first time an armored Calvary Squadron had won it.
So, what could I do to top that? This great deployment, this award for myaviation units ... That just kicked off a great two years of command. We were the first to field the M3A3 Bradley Cavalry Fighting Vehicle with its second generation thermal sights, the M1A2 tank, we had some National Training Center deployments where we would go there as part of the digitization experiment. The Army at the time was just getting into what would be the effects of the 90:00microprocessor on warfare and trying to outfit a fourth infantry division as a test bit unit with computers and a wireless internet capability. It's all kind of rough and whatnot but that's what experiments are for.
I remember being at the national training center though, I argued that I shouldgo because I knew I had experience to offer. I was allowed to go much to the chagrin of the OP4 because they're like, "What's he doing?" Well, those are two of my air cav troops there, so I'm the squadron commander.
Funny story getting out. I have a tendency to get air-sick. I decided to flywith my air cav troops from Fort Hood to Fort Irwin, it's a three day journey with multiple stops for refueling along the way because these OH-58 Delta helicopters have really limited range. I remember we're not even to the first 91:00fuel stop and I'm feeling the dizziness and the tingling and I know I'm going to throw up, and I'm with Chad Smith, renegade six, the Romeo Troop Commander, Captain, just pinned on Colonel by the way, this last week. I said, "I'm going to throw up." He lands the helicopter in like a pasture, ranch or something. I get around, walk around, I get up and we're almost to the next fuel stop and I'm like, "I'm going to throw up." We get to the fuel stop and I'm walking around and I see all the pilots like, huddled around a table with this piece of paper, not sure what they're doing- comes back into the story later on.
I get back into the helicopter and we get up in the air and he goes, "Sir, youhave the controls." I'm like, "What?" The helicopter's going all around the ... He goes, "A little more rudder," He's like talking me into how to fly the 92:00machine. All the other helicopters are like ... I end up ... This is clearly not procedure, the army would have killed me had they known, but I fly the rest of the way. I don't take off or land, they're technically difficult and he's always there on the controls in case I mess up. We're just kind of flying from point A to point B, it's not that hard, and the weather is pretty good. That cures my air sickness, completely. To this day because it's kind of like being in charge of the car versus being in the back seat. If you can anticipate what's going to happen, you don't get sick.
We get to Phoenix and Phoenix is like the last big stop before our jump to FortIrwin and we're going out to a wonderful steak restaurant and the senior instructor pilot, who's like the ... This is the standards guy in the squadron, 93:00he's some grizzled veteran CW4, been in the army since the time of Moses, and he goes, "Sir your dinner is on me." I go, "Chief you don't really have to do that, I make more money than you." He goes, "No, no you don't understand," He pulls out that piece of paper and across the top it has "30 minutes before Waco, 30 minutes after Waco, 30 minutes before Tucson..." It's got all the ... Down the side is everyone's name and there's initials for... It's a lottery as to when I would throw up. He's the only one who picked "never", and I didn't. He won like several hundred dollars, more than that. I ended up getting a free steak dinner, he ended up ...
When we got to Fort Irwin, I was able to show, go up with the air cav troops, I94:00was able to show them all the key spots. These little hidden gems that I knew of from the OP4 days, where you could position helicopters and be on the flank of the OP4 as they approach down one of these corridors. I did a whole day's re-con with them. We initially were based out of this dry lake, Langford Lake, I think was the name. I brought a limited number of scouts with me, and some surveillance and some reconnaissance gear. Just enough to protect the air field. I establish this muti-layer defense around the air field, so when it came time for the rotation, sure enough, the OP4 tries to destroy all the aircraft on the 95:00air field, they can't get through the defense. Then it's time for the OP4 to attack and the air cav troops at night get to these positions and they shoot hell-fires, the lasers. They just wipe out the OP4 and we get to the after-action review and they're like, "Yeah we couldn't get through the defense and the air cav troops were really spectacular at this rotation." I was like, "Yes!"
I think in my crew I'm the only one who's defeated the OP4 at both the nationaltraining center and at Hohenfels I'll put that as a feather in my cap. The Hohenfels rotation came later on.
CW: What do you attribute your victories to?
PM: Well, well trained units and, good planning and my ability to read the96:00terrain and my time in the OP4 in the mid-90's which I said wasn't that valuable but certain things were really valuable. Appreciation for the terrain, reconnaissance and security. Those are the kind of things that you can take with you. I would say initially, it starts with a well-trained unit and good leadership. I wasn't flying those helicopters at night, I was back just listening to the results of the engagements on the radio so it was up to the air cav troops to do the dirty work and they did it really well.
CW: As you're getting experience being a commander in this way, how do you feellike you're ... Are you developing your own style of command? 97:00
PM: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, and mine was perhaps a little bit more cerebral thansomeone who would go around and pat the backs of the soldiers, and whatnot. I would get around and meet the soldiers and the non-commissioned officers but I really felt an officer and especially a commander, his duty is to make sure things are well planned, well rehearsed. He's got higher level functions that no one else can perform. I focused on those. It perhaps didn't put me in the mold of George C. Patton, George S. Patton, I'm sorry, but I think it was the right 98:00command style for me.
I remember one of the greatest accolades I ever got from a non-commissionedofficer was my Sergeant major in the First Brigade, First Armor Division. He was in the office next to me and I heard him on the phone, this was in Baghdad, he was talking to a fellow sergeant-major, he goes, "Yeah, I finally got a good one." He was referring to this brigade commander.
CW: We've spoken with Mark Lopez, who was part of the 1st and 10th, while youwere in Operation Desert Spring and he mentioned the Buffalo soldiers to us, so 99:00it definitely came out your ...
PM: We called our cabal Fort Concho. Fort Concho was one of the 10th Cavalry'soutposts in the west so we had a sign, "Welcome to Fort Concho, Kuwait" over the entrance.
CW: He shared with us, a Halloween he dressed up as a sheik and wenttrick-or-treating and evidently interrupted one of your meetings to do so.
PM: All in good fun.
CW: You were ...
PM: That's the other thing we did when we were in Kuwait, we interfaced with theKuwaiti army and some of the government officials. They're wearing their flowing robes, and whatnot. That also introduced me to another aspect of Arab armies, 100:00and that is the inability to lose face. We had taught them how to use MILES equipment, which is the laser tag kind of gear that the U.S. Army uses to train, and the final assault was going to be one of my units in a defensive position and then this Kuwaiti battalion attacking them. The Kuwaiti battalion ended up completely overrunning my unit, I mean, it was like 30 to nothing, they won, it was a walk-over. And, what happened? Because I thought that we'd probably wipe them out.
Well, they had cut the cables to all their MILES sensors so that they couldn'tregister hits, because they couldn't lose face in front of the government officials which were there in attendance. And so I realized then why the United States Army is the best military force in the world, because we have the ability to be self-critical, and not lose face because of it. 101:00
CW: Were they during training when they'd lose face?
PM: When they were just with us and there weren't any higher-ups around, wecould manage and get them to do some good training, but not when there's a big tent of VIPs on a hill overlooking what's happening.
CW: I suppose that was the first time that's ever happened, when anyone's evercheated like that.
PM: I don't know. We were the first ones to introduce MILES equipment to theKuwaiti army. Of course, they had a lot of repairs to make to it, after that battle.
CW/TP: So, this brings us, let's say ... we're starting timing-wise, this isaround '99-2000-ish, right?
PM: 1999 to 2001, is when I'm a squadron commander. And while, during that time102:00I became very close to my division commander and Major General Ben Griffin, who ended up as a four-star general. And he asked me to stay an additional year to become the G3, the operations, plans and training officer of the division, when my time was up. And I was very happy to comply. It's a great position. I think I had the right skill set to do it, and it also, career-wise, it's one of those positions that sets you up for any number of things that can come later.
It was during that time ... of course, he changed command, and I would be nowperforming these duties with a new commander, Major General Ray Odierno who ended his career as Chief of Staff for the Army, at least in the tail end of 103:00that period.
But I remember I had been the G3, lets see, June, July, maybe four months intomy time as G3. And we had just completed a long division run, imagine 14,000 soldiers tromping through Fort Hood led by the division commander. And I, before going home to shower I went to my office just to check email and I flipped on the TV, and there's the World Trade Center that's burning. And they're talking about, "Was this an explosion? Did something hit it?" Someone said a plane hit it and was this a mistake? And then all of a sudden I see the second plane hit the second World Trade Center, and I realized this is a terrorist attack. 104:00
I call up to General Griffin's office, and I get his secretary and I said, "Ineed to talk to General Griffin." And she goes, "Is is urgent?" And I said, "Yeah, I need to talk to him now." And he gets on the phone, I said, "Sir, is your TV on?" And he goes, "No." He goes, "What's up?" I said, "There appears to be a major terrorist attack in New York City. We're at war." And that's when it dawned on us that the next war probably wouldn't be against the Krasnovians.
Although I still had eight, nine more months of working with the digitizationexperiments, that national training center rotation I talked about with the air cav troops. That all came after this. But it was ... you know, while we were 105:00doing this we were planning a command post exercise for the division called battle command training program. And they had this standard sort of thing where they put you into a environment whether it was Europe or Korea or whatnot, and I said, "We want to do the Middle East." I said, "Okay, we'll do basically a repeat of Desert Storm," and I said, "Nope. We want to deploy to Turkey, and we want to come down the Tigris River Valley towards Baghdad." And they actually ... I wasn't able to execute it, but I planted the seed and it actually was the scenario they used for that battle command training program exercise, after I went to the War College. And sure enough, the war plan that the division got, I 106:00wasn't privy to it at the time, but had the Fourth Infantry Division coming through Turkey, down the Tigris River Valley to Baghdad.
So it would have been great exposure for us had it been executed, but as we allknow the Turkish legislature denied access and the Fourth Infantry Division ended up coming in through Kuwait instead.
CW: How did the attacks on 9/11 change ... did they change how you felt aboutwhat you were doing, at all? They obviously changed the way you thought.
PM: The biggest manifestation was post-security ramped up. It used to be youcould just drive into Fort Hood, but now every person had to be checked, every car had to be checked, and there were these enormous traffic jams outside Fort Hood. This was the days before we could just scan an ID card with a scanner. And 107:00we had to have soldiers do it, because we didn't have contractors. So staffing the gates of Fort Hood and getting people to and from work became a major, major exercise.
That was actually the biggest change. We continued to train as usual and planfor future training. Our digitization experiments went on, we looked at what was happening in Afghanistan, but Afghanistan is not a mechanized environment. We were a mechanized unit, so we didn't really expect that to change anything. And what we didn't know was that the Bush administration was thinking about going to Iraq, and this sort of, in my view, headlong rush to war to depose Saddam Hussein. That was ill-considered but was being considered at the time, but we 108:00weren't privy to that so we were sort of continuing our experimentation and training per normal.
TP: So at this point, it sounds as though ... were you having conversationseither professionally or at home, even, about what this might mean for you? Would you be going over it? It sounds as though, based on that comment since it was Afghanistan was the focus, and you guys were armored, that didn't seem very likely. But what other, either family reactions or other conversations you're having at this time, knowing that right after that we're definitely going into Afghanistan, it's just...
PM: Yeah, but that was always going to be a light infantry fight, so we didn'texpect any changes. Probably the biggest opportunity I had, which I did not take, the Army asked if I wanted to go to the Pakistani Command, or War College, 109:00because I'd been selected for War College and I said, "Well, do I want to go to Pakistan?" And it would have been an unaccompanied tour, without my wife and family, and I said, "No, I really don't." I said, "By the way, I don't speak the language." And they go, "That's okay, because the official language of the War College in Pakistan is English." And I was like, "Yeah right. Maybe." I said, "No, I just want to go the Army War College," which is unusual that an Army officer actually wants to go to the Army War College, but that turned out to be a great decision too, I met a lot of great people there.
CW: Tell us about your move to the War College.
PM: As we had in so many other moves, we hitched up a U-Haul trailer to the backof our Jeep Grand Cherokee. We did what was called a partial do-it-yourself 110:00move. You could move your own household goods and get paid for it. You provide the manual labor and you rent the trailer, but we'd make a couple thousand dollars every move off of that. That was a nice thing. We went across the country to Carlisle and I ended up in Staff Group 13 or Seminar Group 13. Seminar of champions. We won the softball championship that year and we won the basketball championship and we almost ... We came in third in the volleyball championship. I wasn't there on an athletic scholarship. That was after class hours.
We rented off-post because at this time now, I had two Siberian huskies, whichwe got while we were in Maryland, moved to Fort Hood. This is now their second 111:00move to Carlisle and they needed a fenced-in yard, which the base housing at Carlisle did not afford. We rented a place in the local community and my daughter went to the local middle school there. My son went to the local grade school.
Yeah, for the family it was just another assignment. Military families, at leastours, at least before the high school years, they get antsy after two years. It's like, when are we moving again? The kids really took the moves really well. For them, it was just a year in another local community and we did our share of battlefield vacations. Gettysburg was only an hour and a half away. We were 112:00pretty close to my cousin in Silver Spring, so she would come up with her family and we'd go down there.
For me, it was a year of getting to study again, the broader aspects of theprofession and national security. I went after the first third of the course into a program called the Advanced Strategic Arts Program. ASAP was basically a hand-picked seminar where they take 13 of us or 20 of us or whatever the number was, and put us into a seminar with like-minded individuals where you could do really a higher order reading and a higher order of thinking and a higher order of discussion. That was wonderful. We did staff rides to Vicksburg and overseas to Normandy. Really got deep into the various aspects of the military profession and war fighting. 113:00
CW: Do you feel like this has given you a somewhat unique perspective as now amilitary historian, being able to be in the military studying military history and fully focusing on military history later on as a career?
PM: Where that really comes into play is when I write my first Iraq war book,Baghdad at Sunrise. After war college, I loaded up the family onto the airplane and we flew to Friedberg or flew to Frankfurt and got into the vans and drove to Friedberg. By the way, we were like Noah's Ark heading over to Germany. That was my assignment, was to take over the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, but they were already down range in Baghdad. Now I'm flying my family into Germany. I get 114:00three weeks to settle them in and then I'm gone for 14 months. They're in a foreign land, albeit one that my wife has been in before with a lot of support around her.
It's pretty hectic. We're like Noah's Ark going across the Atlantic on thatplane. We had Jana and me, our two kids. We had two dogs, who I've mentioned, Siberian huskies. We had two cats as well. I forgot to tell you. Way back when we were in Germany the first time around, we got a couple of cats that had ... They were old campaigners following us around. We used to say that they meowed in Deutch, in German because they were born in Germany. They both died in Germany. We took them over there during my tour there. The second tour there, they both died. They went home, if you will. 115:00
It's pretty hectic now. We were living in temporary ... I think we're in atemporary quarters for a night or two and then we move into our quarters the previous brigade commander and his wife were kind enough to vacate it. We got our household goods delivered and in the midst of all the boxes and so forth, now I'm trying to get ready to go down range, doing all the various qualifications with my weapon and so forth and getting briefings. Trying to figure out what's going on with the rear detachment, which I had no hand in creating. Then flying down range.
One of the things I discovered with the rear detachment, back in that successful116:00deployment, Operation Desert Spring with the Buffalo soldiers, I realized that you have to put really good people in the rear detachment because although they want to be down where the action is, there are so many problems back with the families that if you don't have quality people in charge, things can get really hectic and in fact, I think what the previous units had done is they had taken their weakest officers and then made them the rear detachment commanders.
I ended up having to change two of them out while I was there, while I was inBaghdad. Fortunately, they did leave a really good person in charge, the head guy, the squadron personnel officer and he was fabulous and he was the wing man 117:00to Jana and vice versa during the 14 month deployment. I really can't say enough about him. Anyway.
TP: I wanted to go back to you finding out that you were going to assume commandof ... When you first knew you were going to be deploying to Iraq. How did that news ... How did that assignment come? What was your reaction? What was your family's reaction? Actually, maybe even back up a little bit before that too, to the intent by the US military to invade Iraq in the first place. Because you mentioned with Baghdad and Afghanistan, you're like, oh we probably aren't going to be involved in that and did not know at the time that the administration was looking to go that route.
PM: Because my wife and I had such a great time in Germany the first time aroundand we loved the community, the mission, and so forth, I wanted to go back to 118:00Germany for brigade command. When we found out we were going to take command in Friedberg Germany, we were delighted. We had this expectation that it would be a lot like the first time around, which was not the case at all. I didn't know what ... I was privy to the war plans of the 1st Armored Division. I didn't know that they were slated to head to Iraq and in fact, I think we found out that I was going to Germany well before the decision to war was made, albeit now, the more and more we find out about the Bush Administration's decision making, the more it looks like that decision was made almost a year ahead of time if not, nine months ahead of time. 119:00
We were excited. We go the kids excited about going over to Germany, but it wasgoing to be a different ... It was going to be different this time around with kids and dogs and a different area of Germany and a different mission now with the Cold War being over. It obviously really quickly changed once the Iraq War began and I realized that the unit was going to be a follow on force to Iraq, so now the mindset shifted from, we're going to be in a community in Germany where we're going to get to know the Germans and we're going to do Hohenfels and Grafenwohr rotations to0, now it's going to be more like Operation Desert Spring. We're going to get the rear detachment ready and then I'm going to have to go down range and take command in Baghdad.
TP: What are your thoughts in March and April of 2003, as the announcement was120:00made and the US Army starts rolling across the boarder into Iraq?
PM: I was against the war. Not because I had any love for Saddam Hussein orthought the war was illegal, I just thought strategically it was the wrong thing to do. We had a pretty successful strategy in place of containing Iraq and Iran. It was wearing on the Air Force, but it's what military forces are for, to do the President's bidding and do what the nation calls on them to do. I think that was something that we could have carried on indefinitely had we wanted to. Now, the Bush administration made a big deal about weapons of mass destruction and what if Saddam uses, gives them in the hands of the terrorists. There's absolutely no intelligence that Saddam was giving WMD to terrorists, or that he 121:00was planning on doing it.
He was a rational actor who could be deterred by military means. It was prettyclear that his existential enemy was Iran and not us. I think it would have been pretty foolhardy of him to develop WMD and then give them to terrorists to poke the bear in the eye if you will, or the eagle in the eye. For all those reasons I thought the war was ill-considered, that we should have waited longer to get, if we were going to go in, to wait longer to get international buy-in, which would have given us more resources for the post-invasion phase. Unfortunately 122:00the Bush administration was in a hurry, and we paid the price. A point I made in recent days as I've been on BBC talking about the Chilcot Inquiry is that imagine if all the intel had been correct? That there had been weapons of mass destruction there.
Well in fact, I think the invasion still would have been a mistake, for all thereasons I laid out. It's a nation state actor that can be deterred. There's plenty of other nation states around the world that have WMD, North Korea, Pakistan, Syria, until recently, Libya, and we don't go around invading all these places just because they have WMD. In fact, the one place we did conduct military operations besides Iraq was Libya and it's a basket case now too. I was of, obviously, a couple of different mindsets regarding the invasion. Once it 123:00started I obviously wanted it to succeed and as a professional military officer, it was my duty to take part in whatever part I was given. That turned out to be what I thought would be, it turned out to be the post-invasion phase and what I thought going into command would be, again, a very intense peacemaking, peacekeeping operation like Kosovo on steroids, and it quickly morphed into something well beyond that.
TP: Let's go with that then, how did you start preparing for this? I know in themidst of it you said it was extremely hectic getting family settled in very 124:00short term, on time and getting to Germany and then you were going down range, I think you said, in 3 weeks. As a commander, also, and maybe I'm presuming, but as a student of military history, what are you doing to prepare for what you now know is going to be your time in Germany, which is actually your time in Baghdad?
PM: I started reading. I read a "History of Iraq", I think, by Charles Tripp. Iread the "Shia of Iraq" by Vali Nasr. I read "Republic of Fear" by Samir al-Khalil, I think it's a pseudonym for someone else. I read as many newspaper and magazine articles as I could get ahold of that were talking about what was going on in Iraq. I felt I needed to fill up the intellectual quiver once again 125:00on what was happening there and what the history of the area and of Iraq in particular boded for the future. Before I ended up deploying. I thought that the tactics of whatever we were doing, whether it was patrolling or establishing bases in Baghdad or whatever, that I think would take care of itself, not entirely, but that's what the unit had been training to do. Clearly there would be people focused on that, but I wanted to go deeper to figure out basically what we call today is design, right?
Instead of being given a mission and saying, "Okay, here's my mission, I'm goingto do this and this and this to accomplish the mission," design says, "This is my mission, but I'm not sure what the parameters of the problem are." Let's look at the problem and that may actually influence the mission. Perhaps I wasn't at 126:00a high enough level to have enough of an impact on that, but I think in my area I was able to implement some things that I think tamped down resistance and actually started to get the people on board. Unless it's applied country-wide, which it was not until the surge, then those sorts of things are just, they're experiments. Whether it's Northeast Baghdad where I was, or Tal Afar were HR McMaster was a couple, or a year later, or Ramadi, where Sean McFarland was 2 years later with the brigade I turned over to him in Germany. Well trained, combat experienced brigade that he took down range and did amazing things with 127:00during their tenure in Ramadi.
TP: You've talked and written about some of the things you did, I know when yougot on ground you realized just operationally and quality of life for soldiers, there's a lot of work to be done in that regard. So trying not to cover things I guess you've already covered, I'm interested-
PM: Actually, there is one story I do want to cover.
PM: It bears repeating.
PM: Again, this is where my time in Operation Desert Spring had a directcorrelation to what I was looking at. I remember in Operation Desert Spring the temper tents were great and all of the support was great, but the meals really sucked. We kept being given spaghetti. Again, and again and again. I was, "What is happening?" I finally, I asked what's for dinner that night and it's 128:00spaghetti again and I'm actually away in my Humvee and I get the squadron executive officer on the radio and I go, basically, "What the fuck? We're having spaghetti again? I want you to figure out why we're not getting a variety of meals," and especially fried chicken, which is what we all like. That was really a meal that everyone looked forward to. What he found is that the previous unit didn't like spaghetti either and so they had used all the other rations in the stockpile and basically left all the spaghetti rations for the next unit.
I said, "No, you tell the logisticians we're going to get our fair share ofeverything and they're not going to foist spaghetti on us day after day," so he did and rations improved after that. We developed showers and so forth, same thing. Fast forward to Baghdad, it's the same thing, you always want to improve your battle position, right? Some of this was outside of my control, like we were using plywood latrines, evacuating into tin containers and taking them out, 129:00soldiers would mix it with diesel fuel and burn it. It's a standard technique of field hygiene, but that wasn't very good for the long haul. In the division, or whoever, above us eventually got port-o-potties and they got shower trailers so that's an improvement. I did what I could to improve, I called it the 5 M's of soldier care: Meals, Mail, Money and Medical Care and Moral Welfare and Recreation. I focused on each of them in turn. I went around and inspected every medical facility in the brigade and re-inspected them because they didn't meet my hygiene standards and re-inspected them again until they did. Then the medical facility's were good.
MWR, I said okay. If we're here for the long haul, every three months or so130:00we're going to have like a sports day for every unit. You try to figure out a way to stand down and do some entertaining things for the troops. They did, and it was really interesting, the creative things that units came up with, and the troops enjoyed it.
Mail, that again was outside of my purview, but we did have a postal attachmentwith us. I'd visit them and I'd say "okay, what do you need? What help do you need? How can we get the mail service working?". I was pretty much ... it became automatic. The mail actually worked pretty well.
Money. I had a finance detachment with me. We made sure the soldiers weregetting all the pays they needed.
Meals, okay. Once again, it's like spaghetti, day after day. I forgot what it131:00was ... it might not have been spaghetti, but it was the same two things. Both of which were bad. I got my logistics battalion commander, Lt. Col. Curtis Anderson, great guy ... I said "Curtis, I want you to dig into this, I want to know why we're not getting a variety of meals. I've seen this movie before and it doesn't end well. It ends with me yelling at you". No ... I'm not that kind of leader, I rarely yelled. In fact, I don't think I ever ... I just got exercised.
He went back to the division support command and basically looked at the fooddistribution system. Sure enough it was the same kind of deal. The food comes in, gets dumped. We were the unit furthest away from the flagpole. The units closest to the flagpole would get their trucks there first. They would grab 132:00everything that they wanted and leave and we got the dregs. I said "Wrong answer. Figure out a way that we get our fair share". He did. The food improved and eventually we went away from T-rations, which is what we were eating at the time, to contracted mess halls, which were wonderful.
I focused on solider care ... the housing. Here, unlike Kuwait, I have ForceProtection to worry about too. Some of the units were living outside in tents and they had to put up sandbag barriers. They would get mortar, or rocket fire and I would make it a brigade operation to make sure that stopped. That could ruin morale in a heartbeat, knowing you're going to be under rocket or mortar fire routinely.
We would do massive operations around until we figured out who was doing it.Including firing artillery into vacant fields. People would be coming up to me 133:00saying "Why are you firing at us?" I said "Tell us who's firing the rockets and mortars at us and we'll stop." That did lead to information that lead to a raid. We got the mortar tubes and it ceased. Unless you make it priority, if you just think "Well it's part of being at war and we're not going to do anything about it except grin and bear it," then you are at the enemy's mercy. I refuse to be at the enemy's mercy.
TP: You started to hit on one of the things I wanted to ask you ... was kind ofcoming around to this idea of making tough decisions. Like your position in command, you're in a combat situation even though at the time, initially coming into it you weren't sure what that combat would look like, but an example and something you hit on was Baghdad Island was getting repeatedly attacked and there were different ideas on how to deal with that, oh let's bring 134:00reinforcements over top of us or reinforce buildings and you made the choice, that essentially, the best defense was a good offense.
PM: You have to control your battle space. That's the point I made. We need tobe in control of the terrain around us, not the enemy. I don't know if that would have worked for the long-haul. It certainly worked for the year we were there.
The threat, admittedly, was a little bit less the first year and morphed overtime into something much more dangerous. That's partly our own doing. We allowed the enemy to gain control over the battle space by removing our units from their forward operating bases and consolidating them on these super FOBs on Baghdad's outskirts and that was a severe mistake in my view. We paid the price for it and didn't reverse it until the surge of 2007. 135:00
In terms of tough command decisions ... the very hardest one came later inKarbala in 2008. I don't know if you want to cover that now or later but ... IN the spring of 2004 we were scheduled to depart. The units' 12 months in country was coming to an end and the militia beholden to the fiery cleric Muqtada al-Sadr rose up and seized parts of Sadr city, seized parts of south central Iraq including the parts of the old city of Karbala. My brigade was told to go down to Karbala and basically clean them out. In a series of operations we worked with the Polish unit there in Karbala. Which was very capable it's just ... it's rules of engagement wouldn't allow it to conduct offensive operations. 136:00They had limited utility but we used them for what they could be used for and it worked out well.
Oh by the way, that relationship worked because this Polish brigade had a coupleof battalions from Bulgaria and Romania and Hungary, I forget the exact composition, but they were all NATO members at the time. The only reason it worked is because they had NATO procedures, and they had English was the common language of NATO. We were able to work with them, their Executive Officer was an Army War College graduate, so he understood our procedures and we got along very well.
After basically destroying all of the enemy's installations on the outskirts andthen in the city, we get to the old city, where the shrines of the Imam Abbas 137:00and Husayn are located. These are the number two and three holy shrines in Shiite Islam. If we damaged them, it's going to be a major problem. The enemy was hold up in a hotel right across the street from the shrine and our building. We knew that because in the media they had posed for a picture with their RPGs and machine guns and whatnot, you could see the shrine in the background. You could vector into where that building was.
I actually planned ... we deployed the two battalions in the brigade down toKarbala to camp Lima. I planned this major operation to go in and root them out of this building. It was cancelled at the last moment by ... I think it was 138:00really Ambassador Bremer, who said "No, we can't take the chance at damaging the shrines".
There I was, all dressed up and no place to go. Lots of assets at my disposal.Two battalions ready to go. I had special forces AC-130 Gunships overhead, I had everything ready to go and I just walked outside the tactical operations center and just started thinking. Then I thought "Well, we've got the assets, if we can't go to the enemy maybe we can make the enemy come to us."
I took a tank company and I probed along the outside of the perimeter of the oldcity. We couldn't go into the old city, that was like a restricted area, but I could probe right up to it. Sure enough, probe up the first place, the militia comes up, starts firing at our tanks and then I use the AC ... Because we're in contact now, I can ... I always have the right of self defense, so I used the AC-130 Gunship to kill a lot of them. Then I moved it to the next position and 139:00then the next. I think this tank company ended up going around to about four different positions.
Finally it got to Checkpoint Seven, which we knew was a bad place. If I showedyou pictures you would think you were in Stalingrad because of the fighting that had taken place there between our forces stationed at the Muqim ... in this building, which was misnomer-ed as the Muqim Mosque. It wasn't a mosque it was just a building, it looked like a funeral home and the enemy across the street. They get to Checkpoint Seven and I'm like "Oh, just one RPG from that building, that's all I need," and sure enough the RPG comes towards the tank.
I have faith in our equipment that the front slope of an M1A1 Could take it, but140:00obviously there's some risk to our soldiers, and the company commander rightfully was in the lead tank, so that if anyone's going to take the hit, it'll be me. Then I got the AC-130 gunship, and this was the toughest call, because I can hit the enemy in that building, but if we hit the shrine, it would have the same sort of media impact as Abu Ghraib. That's the best way to describe it.
I get with my enlisted tactical air controller, Technical Sergeant Losher, greatguy, and I explain that we're going to start at the corner of the building furthest away from the shrine, and then we're going to work our way counterclockwise. I said, "Do they have the target?" He goes, "Yes, they have the target." I said, "Let me talk to them. He goes, "That's not Air Force procedure." I said, "Let me explain this to you, we chip one tile on the wall of 141:00that shrine, and we could lose this war. I'm going to talk to them. I talk to the pilots, whatever their call sign is, "This is Ready Sit 6. I want to talk to the mission. You have your aim point. You see the shrine." "Yes." "You see the building across the street. You see your aim point furthest away." I think it was the southeast corner. "You're going to work your way counterclockwise, firing 105 millimeter shells into the building. When you get to your initial aim point, you're going to work your way around the other way till your get to the aim point. Then you're going to go back, and you're going to keep doing that until I get tired."
They said, "Got it." I said, "Okay, fire a test round." They fired the testround. I said, "Any collateral damage splatter on the shrine?" They go, "No." I said, "Okay, fire." You just see for the next half an hour, just boom, boom, boom, and people in the tactical operations center would excuse themselves going 142:00outside, and I didn't know why. Finally my S3, who I'd put to bed because he was so tired from the planning the previous two days and thought that nothing was going go on, he comes in, and he's going, "What's going on?" And I explained to him what I had done. He goes, "You've got to come outside and see this."
At that time, things were pretty well in hand. I go outside, and it's prettyamazing. There's actually a photograph of Baghdad at sunrise with the AC-130 gunship, which you can't see overhead, but you can see these streaks of lightning, basically, which are the 105 millimeter rounds going into this building. Finally after about a half hour of that, there's a group of about 20-30 people that run out of the building across into the shrine, so we obviously can't hit them there, and I have the gunship cease fire, and Tech Sergeant Losher told me it went back onto the base, where I'd basically emptied the basic load of this gunship, which had never been done in recent memory. He 143:00said, "You're going to be a phenomenon in the special operations community after this." That was a tough call, because basically I was not just putting my career on the line at that point. You know that's a secondary consideration, but I'm putting the outcome of the war on the line.
Now, what did we get for it? That Jaysh al-Mahdi group that went into the shrinegot basically taken into custody by the shrine guards, which were from the Badr Corps, an opposing group. The old city was cleaned out, and Karbala became peaceful, and to this day, Karbala hasn't been fought over again. It's been rebuilt. You wouldn't know there was ever a battle there. That's the kind of 144:00intense military operation that even if you're in a counter-insurgency fight, still happens. That's why things that we learned at the National Training Center still apply in spots. In places, they don't.
TP: I wasn't going to go there yet, but you started to go there. You mentionedthat certainly the media impact of what could have happened to that shrine was paramount in that decision-making process. Either generally or specifically, how did the media and really the advent of the 24-hour news cycle, which in my memory kind of was birthed with the coverage of that invasion of Iraq in '03, how did that affect your decisions for Ready First? This was clearly really an example of that, but how else did that play, because we hear that as a recurrent theme even at the soldier level?
PM: I realized you had to feed the media. You couldn't ignore them, and they145:00were pervasive in Baghdad, especially after car bombings. We developed basically a battle drill for how to deal with media. First, put out concertina wire. Get the media congregated behind it, and then I would go and give a statement and then answer some questions.
The first interview I did, I think it was the bombing of the Baghdad Hotel, waspretty disconcerting, because I'd never looked into this huge bank of cameras and masses of reporters. I had done a mock interview with a reporter and camera at the Army War College, which helped. I mean, that was good, but it wasn't like this. They were all jostling for position, and it was hard to keep focused on what I was going to say when you see these guys elbowing each other, trying for the best shot. You can see why you need concertina wire out front. They would 146:00surround you otherwise, which you see sometimes when public figures get surrounded by the media. Well, that's what would have happened.
We got better at that. I got better at that. I remember when the Turkish embassywas bombed in my area. We had all the English reporters lined up, and I went and I said, "Okay, who's here from the Arabic media and Iraqi media?" This was a little bit further on into the deployment. Half a dozen people raised their hands. I said, "Okay, so the first half of this is going to be done in Arabic," and you could hear the groans from the American and British-based media outlets, but you know, it's their land. You do their interview first. Then I did the 147:00English interview second.
I got better at that, and we got better at that, but we also got better andrealizing what was going to be newsworthy and what wasn't. We knew Karbala would be newsworthy, so we got a Fox News reporter embedded. It didn't have to be Fox. That happened to be the person we got, so he was there during these operations. What we found is what other units found, that when you embed a reporter into a unit, you tend to get more accurate coverage, because they know what's going on.
In fact, when I was planning the operation to take the old city of Karbala, Iinvited the reporters into the rehearsal. I said, "you're going to see this. 148:00This is what's going to happen. The first time one of you reports on it before it happens, you're out of the country," and they abided by that. The press was very good about that. I just think the media isn't our enemy. We just have to learn how to work with them and what their needs are, along with what our needs are. Our needs are not necessarily good coverage; it's accurate coverage. Not everything that happens is good, but you at least want things to be held in context and with the right characterization of what's going on and with accurate facts.
TP: Backing up a little bit, Sadr City certainly overwhelmed to the point ofwhat we recognize as insurgency or however you want to term it at that point, 149:00backing up a little bit to when you arrived in Baghdad and you started, you mentioned, working on the 5M's. In combat operations, at what point, or was there a point that you realized this is a completely different ballgame, or it's becoming a completely different ballgame? How did that feel for you.
PM: It was during my first month in command, July and the early part of August.We were doing a lot of raids, trying to find weapons caches that maybe Ba'athist holdouts were using. Then we had the first big suicide bomb attack, or car bomb attack at the UN Building, which was not in my area, but it was near enough that at my headquarters, I could hear the noise and feel the vibration of this explosion, and we sent units down there to help in the aftermath. That was 150:00pretty clear that this was not going to be Kosovo. It was going to be something worse.
The other thing was IEDs, roadside bombs. The first one I thought might be anaberration. When the second one hit, I said, "Okay. This is not an aberration. This is going to be a technique they're going to use, and we have to develop counter measures," and so I developed a ... I remember I initially did it over the radio when I heard that there had been another roadside bomb attack and sketched out a plan for the S3 to formalize in a operation that was ongoing.
I said, "We're going to do this from now until we leave. We need to get used toit, and it's going to be daily patrols to clear specified routes. It's going to 151:00be surveillance in sniper positions to overlook potential areas where people would lay roadside bombs. It's going to be air cover if we could get it," and there was a variety of different things we'd use. I specified the routes that we had to keep clear, because we couldn't keep everything clear. It's too big of a city. We went about that. Over time, the Army responded and the Department of Defense responded with better engineering equipment, where we weren't basically trolling around in unarmored Humvees looking at the sides of the road for a bomb.
Initially you could actually see them, because they were sort of haphazardlyplaced or maybe camouflaged with things that were suspicious, so you could check them out, maybe even fire machine gun rounds at them. You could see wires going 152:00off, but then the enemy adapted, too. They used remote control devices. They'd set them off. They buried them in this reaction, counter action, which is something, again, we'd been taught is the give and take between a friendly and an enemy force. That played out in spades in the fight over roadside bombs.
Eventually the United States put billions of dollars into the effort in thejoint improvised explosive device defeat organization, JIEDDO, but that first year we were on our own, and we did what we could, and we did pretty well. Again, where the threat wasn't as lethal or as experienced as it was later on in the war, but it became obviously a major concern, and I saw that early on. 153:00
As soon as that happened, then I realized that we have car bombs, suicide bombs.We have roadside bombs. This is an organized ... This is not a few deadenders. This is an increasingly organized resistance. If we didn't think that, any doubt should have been taken out of our minds by the first enemy Ramadan offensive in October or November, 2003.
Ironically, President Bush in his memoirs says as late as November of 2003, hewas in a meeting of the National Security Council saying, "I don't want to read on the front page of The New York Times that there's an insurgency. I'm not there yet," and this right in the midst of the Ramadan offensive, which we're busily beating back in Baghdad and elsewhere. Part of this was perhaps wishful 154:00thinking on the Administration's part that this wasn't an organized insurgency.
This is, again, one of the areas where the Bush administration really could haveimproved in terms of looking at the assumptions that they made going into Iraq and then fighting the Iraq War, and having people basically red team the consensus and say, "Well, what if it isn't deadenders? What if it isn't Ba'athists? What if it's a combination of Shiite militias, Ba'athists, and Jihadists coming in from outside the country," and then you could start to direct the intelligence agencies to sort that out. Unfortunately, that wasn't done until far too late.
TP: I think you started to hit on another thing, because it's notable how your155:00time in Baghdad the first go around, you don't mention a lot of ... As far the operations that the Ready First was conducting, certainly a lot of grades and clearance operations, mostly centered around I guess whatever you would find but, it was more of a lot of small arms, more just finding weapons caches, not on the hunt for WMD, and you've talked a little bit about this earlier, but, at the same time, that's what's being messaged out to the broader American populous. I was struck by the fact that you on the ground, you're not being directed to go and hunt that, and some of those CPA I guess was involved in that as well, but I want to put that out there to see ... You just mentioned a disconnect going back up.
PM: I think part of it is that no one expected there to be WMD in my part of156:00Baghdad. We did get intelligence from one Iraqi citizen, and you got to realize Iraqis, there's only one thing faster than the speed of light, and that's the speed of a rumor in Iraq, and they're conspiracy theorists, all of them, most of them, and so we eventually did get one person who said, "Yes, they buried the WMD. It was near this location, and I saw them bury it."
I told my engineers to go dig it up, and the engineer at the time, CommanderJohn Kem, who is a terrific guy, who is now the Provost of the Army University, he's a Brigadier General, said, "This is a waste of time." I said, "I know, but we got to followup the leads." We'd dig it up, and, of course, it's like a septic tank or a water tank or something, or there's nothing there. It happened a couple times.
The fact is that it became a wild goose chase, and the people who really figured157:00out what was going on were from the Institute for Defense Analysis, who got all the documents, captured documents, translated them into English, interviewed Saddam and various other people in the administration, and I'm not sure when it was published, but the Iraqi Perspectives Project, which came out of this, was published I think in the late 2000's, but concluded that, in fact, Saddam had gotten rid of his WMD in the 1990's. He just didn't want anyone to know, because he wanted the threat of WMD as a deterrent to Iran. Again, his major enemy was Iran, and because we looked at everything through our lens and not necessarily through his lens, we had this major intelligence failure, and it was a failure 158:00of imagination. We had the technical means to sort this out, but we simply didn't ask the right questions.
TP: Intelligence, how important did human intelligence become? You mentionedyour time in the joint command, this idea that precision weaponry and striking and information, we could know, we could see, we could pinpoint. Did that change for you?
PM: That was an aspirational goal at the time. I think we went into Iraq with acouple dozen UAVs as a military force. There weren't a lot.
PM: Unmanned aerial vehicles, drones. It's only until the surge the GeneralPetraeus said, "I need more," and Secretary of Defense Bob Gates forces the defense community and the Air Force to put resources behind ramping up the 159:00number of UAV lines, the sorties, that we can generate.
We were on our own. We didn't have any UAVs. We had almost no signalsintelligence. I had nothing to go on, other than human intelligence. We developed some pretty good procedures for human intelligence. We learned over time to be more selective in who we detained, to interview them more thoroughly, because there were fewer of them, and then to send fewer of them up to Abu Ghraib.
We always through that when you sent someone to Abu Ghraib, that we would getmore intelligence back. That people with more time on their hands would be able to wring more information out of these people. We never got anything back, and I 160:00always thought that was strange. Now, of course, we know the reason why because there was a bunch of buffoons and criminals in charge of Abu Ghraib abusing the prisoners instead of using them for their information value. Had I known what was going on with Abu Ghraib, I don't think I would have sent anyone up except maybe the most hardened of jihadists.
We developed a lot of procedures for human intelligence. I developed a programto basically hire local Iraqis to just go around and listen to the rumors in the tea shops and the markets, the souks, and come back and just let us know what's on people's mind. That was pretty valuable actually.
Later, that was institutionalized as something called the mosquito, which was, Ithink, a division led effort to basically collect Rumit, rumor intelligence, 161:00from around Baghdad. Here's the rumors that are going around. We did we could, but human intelligence was the coin of realm that first year. Later, signals intelligence becomes probably the most important aspect of our intelligence. We might have gone too much to the other extreme in terms of relying on signals intelligence being able to intercept various devices. I think we perhaps lost some of the goodness that we had in terms of human intelligence that first year as people became over reliant on the technical means. It's what Americans do best. They rely on the the technology. 162:00
TP: How did you view the relationship between the Coalition ProvisionalAuthority and the US Army from where you were operating?
PM: We, on the ground in Baghdad, said CPA stood for Can't Provide Anything. Ihad almost no relationship with it, had desperately wanted a civilian to help me with the government's aspect of my District and Neighborhood Advisory Councils. I went to all the District Advisory Council meetings and I had Adhamiyah and Rusafa, the two districts in my area. Went to some of the Neighborhood Advisory Council meetings, although that's what my battalion commanders did and company commanders, but I really needed someone from CPA that could be my Emma Sky. Emma Sky is this wonderful British lady who was the civilian in charge of Kirkuk for 163:00much of the first year working with my West Point roommate, by the way, Billy Mayville, who's now a Lieutenant General.
It's funny. At the time, back at West Point, he was the athletic sergeant. I wasthe academic sergeant. We ended up in Iraq together for a little bit. We overlapped, but I needed someone like that who was going to really take the bull by the horns and interface with CPA for me. I thought I had it once when I went to that Adhamiyah District Advisory Council meeting, and there was this young, 20 something person, and I said, "Who are you?" She gave me her name, which I do remember, but I won't repeat to protect the innocent or the guilty, and she goes, "I'm going to be in charge of governments for eastern Baghdad." I said, "Great, this is exactly what I want." She finishes the meeting. I said, "I would 164:00like to give you a tour. We'll do a little recognizance of my area and we'll meet all the key Iraqis and so forth." She goes, "I can't get out of the Green Zone. I don't have the transportation. I barely made it here today." I said, "No problem. I will provide you transportation and security."
My reconnaissance troop went and picked her up, brought her back. I spent anentire day showing her around eastern Baghdad, introducing her to all the Advisor Council members, just really doing everything I could to say, "Okay, this is the beginning of a wonderful relationship, Louis," and dropped her back off at CPA, never heard from her again. That was the end of that. That was CPA in a nutshell, poorly organized, ill-coordinated, not really sure whether their 165:00mission was to hand over the country to the Iraqis or to create a robust occupation to reconstruct the country so that it could be handed over to the Iraqis a year or two later with, I think, a person and the guys of Ambassador Jerry Bremer who acted like a pro council when that's not what was required in the job.
TP: Dr. Mansoor, you mentioned in your time in Iraq around Christmas, aboutthree it would have been, that you had a Sergeant Major who was killed in action. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
PM: Sergeant Major Cook was really the soul of the brigade. He had been in the166:00unit for quite some time. The soldiers admired him. He was married. His wife lived next door to us in Germany. I remember someone once asked Sergeant Major Cook why he didn't have kids and he goes, "Why do I need kids? I have 3,500 of you guys." He really put his whole being into the brigade and to taking care of the soldiers. We were fighting back the insurgent Ramadan offensive in October, November, December time period in 2003, and part of that, we got intelligence that the, this was after the Ramadan period was over, but it was connected with the same general combat actions, the insurgents were going to conduct some sort 167:00of offensive on Christmas day knowing that that's a big holiday for us.
They thought we would be letting our guard down. We thought that we wouldpreempt them with action of our own, so we went into what I call the lower right-hand corner of the Sunni Triangle Zone 18 in Adhamiyah and conducted a cordon and search operation with the entire brigade on Christmas Eve. As part of this action, a roadside bomb was detonated against the convoy in which I was traveling and it hit Sergeant Major Cook's vehicle and killed him. That was a real blow to the brigade. It was tough to continue that night and continue 168:00operations knowing that he had gone, but he had no chance. Once the bomb went off, I patrolled back to his location.
Soldiers had gotten him out of the vehicle and had patched up his head, did thebest to their ability, but there was no way he was going to survive that head wound. I remember the Iraqis in the area looking down and most of them are Sunni in this area and they had no love for the United States because we deposed Saddam Hussein and Saddam Hussein was their benefactor, quite frankly. They were looking down at this stricken American soldier and they were leering. I remember with one guy, a wife-beater t-shirt, on the balcony, on the second story above the scene, and he was just sneering at us. 169:00
I took out my pistol and pointed it at him. I had a laser on my pistol and I putthe laser dot right on his forehead, and he just smiled and turned away. I was thinking, "You fucking asshole." I really wanted to pull the trigger, but I knew better than that. Anyway, we got Sergeant Major Cook out of there and he died at the hospital about 45 minutes later. We continued the cordon and search operation that night. I got back and the next day I had to call his widow who had already been informed that he had been killed. It was a pretty traumatic phone call, and it was even more traumatic for the people back in Friedburg. 170:00
They got news almost right away. My step-father and brother were visiting myfamily in Germany, it was Christmas Eve there, and the official phone rang in the quarters. The official phone never rings in the quarters and my wife had this ashen look on her face. My brother was like, "Oh my God no, it's not Pete is it," and she goes, "No, no it wouldn't be him because if it were him they'd have people come up to the door." She got the phone call and the word that Sergeant Major Cook had been killed, she sank down and started crying.
That night, because Sargent Major Cook's widow was not next door she had gone toWiesbaden to visit her family, my wife, the rear attachment commander Major Kyle 171:00Colbert, and a Chaplin drove at about 1 o'clock on Christmas Morning to Wiesbaden to wake her up and tell her that her husband had died. You can imagine how hard that was for them but just imagine the stress we put our wives under, I guess Jana didn't have to do that but it's sort of expected especially when it's your next door neighbor.
The military asks a lot of spouses and this was a clear example of how hard itcan be. Anyway, we had a memorial ceremony for Sergeant Major Cook in the Martyrs Monument, where our brigade headquarters was stationed, a couple days later. Then some of the senior officers in the brigade; my Executive Officer 172:00Cliff Wheeler, my S3 Mike Shroud, and some of the battalion commanders, offered that I should go back to Friedberg because Sergeant Major Cook's death had really rattled the community. They thought that my presence there for a short period of time at his memorial ceremony back there might be a calming influence on them.
So I conferred with my division commander Major General Marty Dempsey and hesaid, "Yeah, you should go." So I flew back to Germany for about 10 days and spoke at Sergeant Major Cook's memorial ceremony, went next door to see his widow, she really didn't want to have anything to do with me, didn't have any questions. I did that as soon as I got there and I respected her wish to be left 173:00alone and then went next door to my family, got a rousing welcome from my kids and my two Siberian huskies. All of whom were overjoyed to see me after six months away.
I spent the time there in Germany visiting some of the wounded in LandstuhlMilitary Hospital and visiting the various family readiness groups, talking to them about what was going on down range, and resting. After 10 days I went back but this deployment was tough on the families and it would get tougher because we would be extended for three months beyond the twelve month normal tour. The 174:00families held up pretty well but it wasn't all roses and sunshine. You get extra money if you're living over seas, some families redeploy back to the United States without telling anyone because they wanted to continue to get the money for being over seas.
Well that really was an issue in one case when a soldier got killed, it wasn't acombat action. He got killed in a safety incident and we couldn't find his widow. Turns out she had gone back to Puerto Rico without telling anyone, again kind of a monetary thing. It took almost 3 days I think to track her down. There were other incidents of infidelity and even some people who hated their 175:00neighbors telling them that they had heard that their husband had died, just all sorts of crazy stuff that was going on that the rear attachment had to deal with on a daily basis.
But that was the minority, most of the families fared really well. They createdbanners which they hung on the motor pool fences for their soldiers, 'Seargent so-and-so we love you and miss you', and have a picture of him there. The motor pool fencing was just covered with these banners and they got on with life. The kids were in school, they went shopping, they did their thing, and the rear attachment was there to help them. We had to change out a couple of rear 176:00attachment commanders at he battalion level but once we got the right people in place, things went pretty smoothly.
Jana did great work, a full time job for her even though she wasn't paid to doit but it was really appreciated by everyone down range in Baghdad.
TP: You've mentioned her importance kind of in some of those capacities to yourservice and this kind of partnership you had, here you're down range and then she's there with the rear attachment. Certainly this case with Sergeant Major Cook is a poignant example of that, but how else did that take shape and what was that like for her? Also what was like that for your relationship? You guys have been married for quite all of this time, you have two kids but how is that partnership...
PM: Well we had been through this before, you recall operation Dessert Spring,177:00which I talked about in the Fall of '99. So we were pretty used to me being away and her being back with the rear attachment commander helping the families out. She was a conduit for information back and forth to the families and to me, that was really the most important function. But she could help get things done when there were snags, families having problems with this or that, she could bring it to the attention of the military chain of command and make it happen.
I remember they served Thanksgiving dinner back in Germany while we were inBaghdad and the use for a deputy commander came and spent time with them, so she 178:00was sort of the face of the brigade on that occasion. She had her irons in a thousand fires but, was always busy, more than an 8 hour a day kind of job for her. She kind of relished the role, she was great Army spouse, she really enjoyed helping out families, and helping me out as the commander's wife. I would say she did it the right way without wearing my rank on her sleeve, which I've seen other women do which is really distasteful. She wouldn't do that.
TP: How was it like for you after being deployed for six months in combat zone,despite the circumstances of your return to Germany for those 10 days, what was it like for you getting to spend a little time with your family?
PM: Well it was nice but it took a while to climb down off the ledge, if you179:00will. On the way back from the airport, my wife picked me up and I'm looking at the side of the road, I'm looking at the over passes. She goes, "What are you staring at?," I'm going, "I'm looking for ... Oh never mind." I was looking for roadside bombs and snipers, eventually told her that. My experience was not unusual, same could be said of many veterans who came back and had the same kind of reaction because you were so trained to do that.
I also suffered from occasional nightmares, especially after Sergeant MajorCook's death and it was a normal combat stress reaction. They eventually went away over time but can't tell you the number of times I jumped on Jana in the middle of the night protecting her from the ceiling fan that was going to 180:00attack. It obviously startled her. Good thing she has a strong heart because ... Anyway, she was a good sport about it. Like I said, eventually after about six months they went away.
TP: That reaction of you describing driving down the road and safety, and that'svery similar to, as you mentioned, a lot of reactions we've heard from other veterans up and down the chain of command and level of service. I think ... Can you speak a little bit to the fact that you're a Brigade Commander at this point. Sergeant Major Cook was killed that night. Both of you were out on this operation, can you speak a little bit to the nature of modern warfare in that people think ... In World War II, you have the troops and the grunts on the front line, and the Colonel's in the back, and you're moving this line forward. 181:00That night, both and you and he are out there in the convoy on this operation, and when you come home you're having similar reactions to enlisted Soldiers in their first year and their first tour because you're all in the same situation. Can you speak a little bit to that?
PM: Yeah, as a historian I would say it's not that different. Especially at mylevel, brigade level, regimental level, there were plenty of regimental commanders and brigade commanders in World War II who mixed it up in combat. I wouldn't say it's all that different.
TP: What was unique about the experience with Sergeant Cook that hit you so powerfully?
PM: He was my wing man. His office was right next door to mine. We would conferevery morning and night before ... We'd go off in different directions. I would go off and check whatever major operations were happening that day or confer 182:00with commanders, or look at battle positions, and go to conferences and whatnot. He would go off in a completely different direction and look at Soldier's living conditions, patrol with them and see how they were fairing. Then we'd come back. You get to know someone pretty well over a short period of time there. Coming back that night, and he's not there, and it hits you that he's gone forever. It's traumatic. You can't just brush that away as well it's war. It is war, but it hits you personally. It's going to have an impact.
TP: How did you deal with that yourself, and then also how did you communicate183:00or help the Soldiers deal with that because he had mentioned why does he need kids, he has 3,500 of them. How are you talking to the brigade at this point?
PM: Through the memorial ceremony, and then going around and talking to varioustroops, I didn't have a lot of time because I redeployed to Friedburg pretty quickly. It hit the brigade pretty hard. They dealt with it in their own way. Over time, they didn't forget him. We memorialized him in a number of ways. There was a mess hall named after him up in Camp Taji. We initially names Camp Taji after him, but the Iraqis took the sign down after we left. Everyone dealt with it in their own way, and we got on with our lives, but there was some 184:00grieving in the brigade for sure.
It took me a couple of years to really figure out all of the circumstances ofthat night. It really ... It finally came to me when I was writing my book, my memoir, "Baghdad at Sunrise," and I was delving into what happened that night; the orders, the plans, and then I finally pieced it all together. I made some mistakes that night. Other people made some mistakes that night, which contributed to his death, but in the end how I came to terms with it, I realized that I didn't kill Sergeant Major Cook and neither did anyone else. The enemy killed Sergeant Major Cook. I came to terms with that. 185:00
TP: After your time in Germany, you come back around the start of the New Year,right after the start of the New Year, what did you do? How did you get back into Command and into the groove so to speak?
PM: That cordon and search operation in Adamiyah on Christmas Eve was likeputting a pin in a very pus-y wound. It drained pretty quickly. That along with the capture of Saddam and the operations of other units in Iraq at the same time really took the wind out of the sails of the insurgency and the jihadists hadn't flocked into Iraq at this time. Now, the Ba'athist led insurgency had failed in its first major attempt to attack us. 186:00
There was this period of time, January, February, March of 2004 when violencewas actually pretty low. I think had we made another outreach to the Sunnis in a political sense and revised the de-Ba'athification decree and invited some of their officers back into the armed forces, we probably could have nipped the insurgency in the bud right there, but we didn't have very inspired political leadership in Iraq. I think Ambassador Jerry Bremer didn't have the feel for what was going on on the ground, and he just kept on having a committee write a transitional constitution for the nation and trying this very top down approach to putting Iraq back together again when what was required was really a bottom up reconciliation, and bringing the Sunnis back in to the political arena. That 187:00didn't happen.
Nevertheless, we enjoyed the respite while it existed. What we did as a divisionis we trained. Good units train, even in combat. Especially when there's lulls in combat, and there's time to do it. There was a lull in combat. There was time to do it. We created a gunnery range, a tank gunnery range east of Baghdad in a wasteland. We cycled everyone of our Companies through both Bradley and M1A1 tank Companies through this gunnery cycle. Over the course of two to three months we got excellent training. Almost as good as you would get at 188:00Grafenwoehr. That meant that at the end of March, we were a very ... Not only a combat experienced Brigade, but a highly trained one. As I write in my memoir, the enemy didn't know the buzz saw that was going to hit them next.
What came next, of course, were the April uprisings in Fallujah and across southcentral Iraq, which lead to the battle of Karbala. I think I talked about the final piece of that in an earlier part of the interview. The brigade came out of that period, like I said, highly trained, combat experienced. The staff was functioning at a high level, and we were basically ordered down to Karbala to reclaim the city for Jaysh al-Mahdi. Picking up a good portion of a brigade and 189:00moving it a couple hundred miles south, putting it into a camp that wasn't designed for a unit of that size, we actually expanded Camp Lima conducting operations with a fellow NATO ally, the Poles and a Polish brigade, and eventually destroying the enemy in that city.
I don't think another unit ... I don't think a less experienced unit could'vepulled that off. It really was, I think, the high point of our first deployment there. Our first year in Iraq.
TP: Let's back up a little bit. You mentioned something that I didn't have in mychronology, and that was the capture of Saddam. Can you describe you experience of learning that? It doesn't sound like ... Were you involved in that in any 190:00way, and even on the receiving end, what did that do for you? What did that do for the brigade?
PM: You know, it really ... Saddam was captured by Delta Force Commandos workingin concert with my good friend Colonel Jim Hickey, who was the land owning brigade commander there in the 4th Infantry Division. We got word that he had been captured. It was just another day as far as I was concerned. We had some local Iraqis working for us in the Martyr's Monument. The cleaning ladies. They were all jumping up and down and dancing. They were pretty happy about it. We had seen this movie before. We had killed his, you known, the 101st Airborne Division and Delta Force Commandos had killed Uday and Qusay Hussein in July. That really didn't do anything for tamping down the insurgency. I didn't know what getting Saddam would do, but after I got back from Friedberg and this 191:00period of calm had begun, I did ask one of the local Iraqi dignitaries in my area what he thought would happen. He goes, "Well, I think the insurgency is going to now whither away and die.". It didn't, again, because of that lack of political outreach of the Sunnis, but also because the jihadists is flood in from the outside into Iraq really took over the insurgency at that point.
Over the course of 2004, they had a much bigger role in what was going on inIraq than The Ba'athists, and you could see that in the two battles for Fallujah. That took place that year.
TP: In addition to the starting to see those foreign influence, can you talk a192:00little bit, I know we talk about The Battle of Karbala, and can you talk a little bit about the Muqtada al-Sadr? Because that and the Mahdi army really, kind of rose up during your time there.
PM: Muqtada al-Sadr was the son of a very revered and noted cleric. Saddam hadkilled his father and his brothers. He was the only survivor in the family. He wasn't the best of the bunch. He's not the brightest of ... He's not the sharpest knife in the drawer. He had the mantel of his father representing the Shia underclass. Especially after he was left off the Iraqi governing counsel 193:00and left out of any chance to govern, which was a real mistake. I didn't agree. I didn't think creating the Iraqi governing counsel was the way to go, but if you're going to do it, then make sure that everyone is represented inside it. You're leaving this major group out of it.
Well they immediately went into opposition to the occupation. They created ashadow government. They killed an American MP Battalion Commander in Karbala. They started protests around Baghdad and eventually they rose up at the end of March, early April 2004. Even though we defeated them soundly by early June, instead of completing the destruction of the group, Jerry Bremer merely gave 194:00them a cease fire on the promise that they would become a political organization. Well, they became a political organization, but they also re-grew their militia, which over the course of several years grew in size dramatically. It had maybe 10,000 members when we fought them in early 2004. By 2007, it's up to about 50,000. Or more.
If you're going to fight them and defeat them militarily, then defeat themmilitarily. If you're going to try to co-op them, then co-op them. We sort of towed a line somewhere in between those two extremes and did neither. As a 195:00result, they remained a severe problem all the way up until the surge and through the middle of the surge really.
TP: Can you talk a little bit about the people you met? Because you were out inthe community a lot from some of the things you've recorded trying to build, for lack of a better term, not so much political capital. Engaging with the locals, trying to help make this happen. Can you talk about some of that process, those outreaches, and some of the people you met and the relationships that you've built?
PM: Well, I felt that reaching out to the local Iraqi community was the mostimportant thing I could as Brigade Commander. I spent a lot of time with the district advisory councils trying to create civil society. Working information programs, radio shows. We held forums at universities. Open forums where people 196:00could ask us questions. Some of which were really well attended. All of which were highly ... I don't know controversial or volatile. Obviously, there was a lot of angst. It wasn't just people who were interested in talking to us. There was people interested in protesting against us in those forums. I thought that was healthy.
Perhaps the most unique group that I befriended were the tribes. I'm halfPalestinian, I kind of know about Arab tribes, but I didn't know that there were any in Baghdad. They're not very strong, but there are some there. I was visiting my soldiers guarding the Sheridan Palestine Hotel Complex. I had a 197:00platoon there on rotating duty. They were guarding that because that's where all the Western and International media hung out. It was obviously a target so we wanted to make sure it was well protected.
After examining the battle positions of this platoon and making sure they hadfood and water and were cared for, one of the sergeants said "Hey sir, are you going to go in and have lunch with the Sheikhs?". I was like "Lunch? Sheikhs?". This is in the days when we're still eating T-rations and MREs, and so lunch in the Sheridan Hotel sounded pretty good. Sheikhs, you know, that really intrigued me. I said "Well, all right. Lead on sergeant". We went into the Sheridan Hotel, went into the ballroom, and walk in on this meeting and there is 5 or 6 Sheikhs 198:00on a dais and about a couple hundred in the audience all in their Lawrence of Arabia robes. Then, a big sign over the top of the dais that says "Central Council of Baghdad Clans."
I'm thinking to myself, if this is nothing more than the Rotary Club of Baghdad.This is an important group to get to know. The meeting was being televised by TV stations so they obviously had some clout. They figured out who I was, and they invited me to sit at the dais. We went and had lunch afterwards, and basically every Sunday after that. Sunday being like a Tuesday in the Islamic world. I would go there and meet with the Sheikhs and tell them what was happening. Hear their concerns. Sometimes they would have other functions in the evening out in 199:00the city. I would invite some of them to my headquarters and have a meal with them.
It really turned out to be a great relationship. It frayed a little bit at theend because part of the Sheikhs were the beholden into Muqtada al-Sadr, and of course when we rose up they walked out. For the most part, it was a great relationship and I would send this information up the chain of command saying kind of a really important constituency here that the tribes we should do more of them. I think General Dempsey was interested in doing more of them, but absolutely no interest on Bremer's part. This is something I learned later after doing the research. He thought, basically, we had conquered Iraq, we could remake it in a more modern image and the tribes were a thing of the past. They 200:00didn't really have any power anyway so we aren't going to engage with them. Huge mistake. Ironically, it turns out the the tribes were really one of the saviors of Iraq, at least in the short term during the surge in 2007 and 2008.
TP: You've mentioned previously how instinct and feel played in their role inReady First's effectiveness. Do you feel from your experience and also as a historian does that play a greater role, an equal role, a lesser role, when fighting guerrilla forces as opposed to, I guess, traditional movements?
PM: There's something the Germans call "Fingerspitzengefuhl," basically, the201:00feel of the battlefield. If your hand is running across the battlefield you can sense what's going on. I don't think that's any different in guerrilla warfare or counter-insurgency. Just that your feel extends beyond military matters to what's going on politically and in the local community socially, culturally. It requires a much more broad background. Officers need to be much more broadly educated in order to thrive in that kind of environment. Some disagree with me. They say, "No, it's still a military problem. We just need to bash the enemy and leave the remains for other people to sort out." I disagree. I think if you do 202:00that history shows that the chances of success of counter-insurgency operation are about zero. Just look at the Russians in Afghanistan in the 1980's.
TP: Are there other pieces of your time in Iraq, your first tour in Iraq, thatyou'd like to share?
PM: There are some good memories too. We talked about some of the traumaticmoments. I remember being on top of the Martyrs Monument at sunset with Cliff Wheeler and Mike Shrout smoking cigars, and drinking Near Beer, and watching the sunset over the palm trees on a relatively calm night and thinking that this 203:00would be a great place to bring your family if there weren't so many bullets flying around. I remember the dinners of masgouf, the Tigris River salmon. I think it's carp actually but they'd split it open and roast it over an open fire, and I had that on several occasions when people would invite me for meals. I remember dining with the Sheikhs.
I remember walking on the ruins of Babylon, just walking over this severalthousand years of history. There were some moments where you could reflect and say you know this really wouldn't be so bad if they could stop fighting one another. There were some good things to remember as well as the harder things. 204:00Most of all a sense of accomplishment. We knew we didn't do everything, obviously the war continued after we left, but we did what we could. I think during the April uprisings the relative calm in the Ready First Combat team zone, I think was a testimony to what we had done while all around us was chaos.
In fact, when our successor unit, a National Guard brigade from Arkansas wasdriving up, they were supposed to drive through western Baghdad to Camp Taji, and they couldn't make it. They got ambushed and they sort of stalled and the routes were blocked. I always, by this point in time, I realized I always had to 205:00have brigade reserve, I had two or three different companies on a one hour, two hour, three hour, recall notice, and I activated the brigade reserves. They patrolled out of our zone south and then west. Picked up the lead of the brigade from Arkansas and instead of taking them up through western Baghdad, pulled them across to our side of the river, fighting along the way. I had one company commander earn an award for valor in this engagement. We got them into one of our forward operating bases and let them basically hunker down for the night and recollect themselves. Even though they were supposed to be self defending, self supporting, they were not ready for what they encountered. The next morning we 206:00drove them, led them all the way up to Camp Taji.
I thought that was quite amazing. I did that on my own accord and just sort ofinformed the 1st Calvary Division whom we were operating under what I was doing. I think only, again, a combat experienced unit with a veteran commander could have sensed that that was the right thing to do rather than let them continue to flounder in place. There were a lot of accomplishments of the brigade and I think by the end of that year, 15 months, for them, a year for me, 14 months for me, it showed.
I remember on the way out of Iraq, the brigade was going to conduct road marches207:00with the equipment on, heavy equipment transport trailers. All the road march tables were carefully choreographed. They would move at night from Baghdad all the way down to Kuwait and I would fly in a helicopter. I remember flying, it's the middle of the night, looking down and you could see the brigade underneath me, stretched out from Baghdad to the horizon and all the vehicles were spaced perfectly and all of the serials were spaced perfectly. I just, again, had the enormous sense of pride that this brigade was so well trained and combat experienced at this point in time. That it was just a well oiled machine.
We got back to Germany and I think it showed. Although, we lost a lot ofsoldiers to permanent change of station. I'd say about 60 percent of soldiers 208:00remained in the Brigade as the nucleus of a really experienced unit. Later that year, or actually the next spring, when we went to Hohenfels for a combat center training rotation they had reconfigured their operations there to, instead of being just a operation against a high end enemy, was sort of a mix. It was like a hybrid war, so you started off fighting an insurgency and then at the very end you fought the OP4 in a battlement maneuver. We beat them in the counter-insurgency fight and we beat them in the maneuver fight. First brigade ever to do that. In fact, they had this scale of whether you were helping, 209:00whether the community was on your side or not, because they had local Germans acting like they were Arabs basically. We were the only brigade ever to have moved the needle in our favor, where the community felt that what we had done was actually good for them.
Again, I think it's a testament to a well trained unit that was also veryexperienced. Then I was able to turn that organization over to Sean MacFarland, now Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland in charge of the war against ISIS. He would take the brigade back to Iraq and fight the decisive Battle of Ramadi with that brigade. Not sure that the brigade would have been as successful as it was 210:00had it not been for that first tour that it had under its belt before going back and fighting this really knocked down, dragged out fight in Ramadi in 2006, which, I'm sure, dwarfed what we did in 2003 and 2004, but a lot of the same combat principles applied.
TP: We talked with a lot of people about the transition as they are preparing togo home and the new forces are coming in. It's the right side, left side. I'm curious to know, what's that like at the brigade command level? Particularly after this experience of the unit that's coming to relieve you in place, not being able to make it. Not that they couldn't be ready for that but clearly they weren't quite ready for the situation they were rolling into and you guys reach 211:00out to help make that happen. What's that transition look like for you at the brigade level?
PM: I focused on getting my counterpart introduced to all of the major actors inmy area. The District Advisory Council members, the key Imams, the Sheikhs, the members of civil society, who we had befriended. That's what I focused on. I let my battalions focus on the military aspects of operations in their specific zones.
There was a lot of meet and greet. It became pretty clear to me that I thinkunit rotations are the wrong way to go in counter-insurgency warfare. There's 212:00not enough continuity. Even if there is a couple week overlap, the people that you befriended on the ground don't understand why you're leaving and they don't know who these new people are coming in.
If you had a unit that remained and only the people came in and out, there wouldstill be others in that unit who they recognized and knew. They change out over time. Instead, you have this kind of whole sill turnover and I don't think it's the right way to go in counter-insurgency warfare. I think it worked against us. It may be great for combat operations but it doesn't give you the continuity in the social and political realm in this kind of war.
TP: So you are back in Germany, you kind of mentioned... some training exercisestuff but what's it like coming back home to your family after this deployment? 213:00Fourteen months on ground for you.
PM: Well, first, I remember the trip home I got on the airplane and ended upsitting next to my Division Commander, Marty Dempsey, and he asked me what I was thinking. I said, "I'm just wondering how our replacements are going to do and I feel a sense that there is more to be done on the ground." He said, "Yeah, but it's up to others now to carry on from this point. Our time is done, for now."
Got home and, obviously, there is this great sense of joy in the familyreunions. We would fly into Rhein-Main Air Force Base. We'd have trucks there where soldiers would deliver their weapons and sensitive items and whatnot. Once 214:00they got on the bus and got to Friedberg, they'd march into the gym, they'd get a quick, "Thank you for your service," and then have fun with your family. They would be dismissed then pandemonium would breakout as families and kids and soldiers would reunite.
There was a period of time, a week to ten days, where they had to remain on theinstallation. They would be, basically, processed in an administrative sense. Make sure the pays were all straight and so forth. We also had psychologists there, and counselors. We found the most effective counseling was at the platoon level, the squad or platoon level. Small units who you could get into a room and 215:00where an individual talking to a counselor might not open up because the counselor has no sense of what the individual is thinking. Too big of a unit is just too many people.
The small organizations were the perfect grouping to get them to open up abouttheir experiences. That helped before just sending them off for thirty days of leave with a lot of, perhaps, unexplained thoughts in their head. Or like me, having suffered from periodic nightmares, when you talk about it as a group and the counselor talks about what coming down off of a high stress situation is like, you realize that a lot of these reactions are normal. You also realize 216:00what to look for if they're not. That was really important.
A lot of soldiers, at that point, departed. About 40% turnover. We had newarrivals coming in. A lot of people on leave. The month of August 2004 was pretty much zeroed out. We got back in September and went to work training. Building from the small unit up. The training changed. It wasn't just maneuver training and gunnery. We actually found some ruins of a local factory and we turned it into a Jaysh al-Mahdi headquarters and we practiced counter-insurgency. Both counter-insurgency techniques but also practiced cordon 217:00and search operations. It wasn't back to, "Okay, we're back in Europe now we need to relearn how to fight the Red Army, which is no longer in existence". We knew we were going to head back to Iraq within a year or so. We were really focused on that.
Also had the pleasure of meeting the local German mayors. It's reallyinteresting how the experience in Baghdad, meeting the District Advisory Council's, meeting the Sheikhs and whatnot, translated into interfacing with the local German community. In fact, I had my S5 Captain Travis Patriquin, who's actually a fairly famous junior office, I brought into the brigade because I read his Officer Record brief. Former Special Forces guy, spoke Arabic, and I 218:00said, "Well, he's my perfect guy to be the Civil Military Affairs Office, the S5." He came in, of course, he wanted to be, like all Captains, he wanted to be an Assistant S3, Operations Officer. I said, "No, you're going to be the S5." In that role, he ended up being a key player in generating support from the tribal Sheikhs in Ramadi for the awakening, before he was killed by roadside bomb. I had him interfacing with the local German communities just like he would in Ramadi a year later.
We conducted the last maneuver rights exercise, where you take units andactually drive through the German countryside and conduct limited maneuvers on 219:00farmland and folks up at the army level would pay compensatory damages if we made damages. This was part of what the ... There was actually a Maneuver Rights Agreement where we could do that ever since World War II. I think we were the last unit, actually, to conduct a maneuver rights exercise.
We all had Balls. Military Balls. Every battalion, the brigade, the division,you were going to a ball it seemed like, every couple of weeks. They were great fun. A great way for people to let off steam and enjoy themselves. I remember going around to my local community and handing out Christmas ornaments to the local mayors when that season rolled around. It was just good being back in the 220:00land of civilization. My wife and I had enjoyed Germany so much our first tour. This was, although we didn't have that three and a half years like we did that first time, we did have eleven months. She had more than that because, but that first fourteen months were pretty intense with the deployment. The last eleven were a lot of fun and again it culminated in that very successful combat maneuver training center rotation which the Brigade did so well.
I remember when we went there, again the Germans were designated to play Mayorsand tribal Sheikhs and whatnot. The mayor of the town who's German, comes up to meet me and I take him by the shoulders and I kiss him on both cheeks as you 221:00would in Iraq. You would have looked at him and thought he was going to die. Of course, being that close in German culture is really not ... It's frowned upon. He has this sort of recoil. I was doing the right thing and he was the one who wasn't trained. I remember the next time we met he kissed me on both cheeks. Obviously the observer controllers had talked to him.
I remember they held these meetings, you had to go into these meetings withTribal Sheikhs and district advisor counsel members and whatnot and they would throw problems at you. Some of them would try to be contentious and others ... I'd seen this movie before, you know, in Baghdad many, many times. I remember the final meeting, they come in. In most other units the brigade commander is so 222:00intent on what's happening out in the box, you know, because the OP4 is about to attack, then he gets nervous and he tries to leave the meeting. I had already told my S3 and XO you have the battle, this is my battle. I was in there and the meeting goes on one hour, two hours, three hours and then three and a half. Then I say, you all want to stay for dinner? I'll get, we'll bring in food and finally they all get up and excuse themselves and say, "Oh, I have to go." Kiss me on the cheek and off and the observer controllers came up and said, "You just broke the record for the longest meeting by about a factor of six." They said, "Why didn't you try to excuse yourself? You know you've got combat going on." I said, "Because this is where I need to be."
I mean, I had been in Baghdad I had realized that your relation with the local223:00community is everything. This is my battle and they finally realized they weren't dealing with an inexperienced brigade commander. Then I went out and we kicked the OP4's ass anyway.
CW: You end up leaving as Brigade commander. How do you learn about thistransition? Is this always kind of planned or-
PM: It's always planned. It's a two year tour so I knew almost the precise datethat I was going to leave. My replacement was going to be someone else though and I had been feeding this other guy information for almost nine months on the brigade and its status and whatnot. All of a sudden, literally at the last 224:00minute Sean MacFarland is substituted for this other guy and so he comes in with almost no background on what's going on. I'm sure it was fine but it was you know, kind of sudden. Then he took command. We flew off to the United States, to New York, to the Counsel on Foreign Relations and Sean took over the brigade, and like I said, did amazing things with it in the battle for Rimadi in 2006.
CW: Previously you talked about your back and forth with your wife and familyabout where you wanted to go. Did you have that same discourse this time?
PM: You know, I didn't have a lot of options. About the only position that was225:00being offered to me was being on the operations staff up at US Army Europe Headquarters in Heidelberg, which I think would have been pretty crappy. Around November of 04 though, I'm sorry, yeah 04, the Senior Leaders Branch got a hold of me, some major up there was my case officer and he says, "Well you're going up from brigadier general on this upcoming board. We need to get your file ready." I kind of laughed at him because I knew I wasn't going to make brigadier general in that board. I said, "You don't really have to do it because you and I both know I'm not going to make it." He goes, "Well, doesn't matter, we're going to get your file ready." He really took a lot of care. We got the file all ready. I remember I'm talking to him over the phone I'm saying, "You're a great 226:00American major, if there's anything I can ever do for you, let me know. For you to spend and you're a true professional, for you to spend this much time on me when we both know I'm not going to make general was, it really is a mark of professionalism."
Well the board came and went and I didn't make it. Then all of a sudden I getthis phone call in late November, I think, early December. He goes, "Yeah, you didn't make the board, you didn't make general." I go, "Yeah, figured that." He goes, "How'd you like to be a Senior Military Fellow at the Counsel on Foreign Relations?" This is in the category of be nice to everyone because you never know what they can do for you. I said, "Well, what does that entail?" He goes, "Well, you'd go to New York. You'd be there for just a year. So it's a one year tour, a lot of moves for your family but you'd be there at the Counsel and you'd 227:00be the Army's representative."
I went home, talked to Janet, said, "You know it's a one year move so that meansthree high schools at least for my daughter Kyle. It's better than what we have lined up in Heidelberg. We'd be close to West Point which was always one of our favorite assignments." She decided that that would be a good thing. I agreed and off I went to the Counsel on Foreign Relations. Now we didn't live in the city with two kids and two dogs, Siberian huskies, apartment life in the city probably wasn't going to be for us. There was some small military installations like on Long Island. We could have tried to get in there but instead we really 228:00wanted to be upstate and close to West Point so we found a rental home in Cold Spring, New York, which is across the river from West Point and I would take the Metro North Railroad and commute down in the city every day, which was really doable with this job because the hours were whatever you wanted them to be. The commuting time on the train was value added for me because I just read. Got a book read every week just on train time. It worked out really, really well. My position at the Counsel really connected me with a lot of people, many of whom I'm still friends with. Expanded my personal and professional network if you will and was a really great time, to boot.
CW: I just want to ask a clarifying question. You say you knew you weren't going229:00to get brigadier general. Why? That may be obvious to you but how did you know that?
PM: Let's just say I knew that.
CW: As you're working a lot on counter-insurgency and talking to a lot of peopleat this time, you end up on the Counsel of Colonels eventually.
PM: Well first, let's talk about Counsel on Foreign Relations because you know,it's there that I meet Max Boot who's still a close friend. Russell Walter Mead who's got the brain the size of this building. Jonathan Chanis and others in the business community who introduced me to life in the financial and business world 230:00in New York. I got to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Veterans Day 2005. A lot of great experiences and meeting people that, like I said, many of whom are still personal and professional friends and contacts. It's during this time in January that I get a call from Bob McClure who's, at the time, the head of the Business Executives for National Security in New York City, and he tells me that General Petraeus is coming in to speak to BENS at a breakfast and would I be willing to arrange some lunch roundtable because he's looking for something to fill in the rest of his day before heading up to West Point. I said, "Sure." I arrange a roundtable, which are usually 30 people and 231:00this one was over subscribed, we had I think 60 people there. Brought him in and I headed up the roundtable, asked him some pretty tough questions and it was a pretty good event.
He had just gotten back from Iraq as the commander of Multi-National SecurityTransition Command - Iraq and he was talking about training the Iraqi Army and what was going on there. Finally when it was all over, he looked at me, he goes, "So what are you doing here?" I said, "Well I'm a former brigade commander, I was in Baghdad and Karbala in 03-04. Here for a year as a senior military fellow and focusing my time studying counter-insurgency and writing a book on my time in Iraq." Little more than 2 weeks later I get a call from Senior Leaders Branch 232:00saying, "General Petraeus would like you to come to Fort Leavenworth to stand up the US Army and Marine Corp Counter-Insurgency Center." Again, I'd been offered no other jobs, but the chance to work a key position in counter-insurgency and I knew General Petraeus's reputation as a really hard guy to work for, but I didn't really care because it would be an important position.
I had worked with him in the past. In the Operation Desert Spring he was one ofthe generals of the month who came out on a rotating basis to command our CentFor there in Camp Doha and we brought him out to our unit and showed him our training and so forth, so I had rubbed elbows with him a little bit. I thought I could work with him, and it turned out to be the case. I said, "Yeah, I'd like 233:00to do that." We arranged then, after my time at the Council I would go to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas with the family as permanent party, to stand up the Army and Marine Corp Counter-Insurgency Center.
CW: How did your family feel about that?
PM: Oh they love Fort Leavenworth. Love Kansas. It's really a nice, all-Americancommunity, so they were pretty happy. Good schools there as well. We were delighted. Better than the other positions that I could have ended up in.
CW: What was the goal of your position in the Council on Foreign Relations? Whatwas that? Was that building you towards something or ... ? Personally I mean.
PM: Oh personally?
PM: The role of Senior Military Fellows are really to both learn about the234:00business world and the financial world, but also introduce that world to the military. I had, again, my personal goal that year was to use whatever free time I had to study counter-insurgency and write, "Baghdad at Sunrise." I spent a lot of time at the council, at council events talking to council members about the military. Leading roundtables, my wing-man Mark Buckman, an Air Force Colonel and I, led a trip in the United States to Nellis Air Force Base and the National Training Center at Fort Irwin. Then an overseas trip to NATO Headquarters in Mons, Belgium and one of the NATO sub-headquarters in Naples, Italy and then we went over to Kosovo, which was really interesting. Pre-independence Kosovo. It 235:00was really a great time, but I didn't have any grand agenda. Now, as it turned out, perhaps the most important thing I did there was re-connect with a lot of mentors and friends and grow this professional network that eventually led me to my current position here at the Ohio State University.
CW: As you're studying counter-insurgency, you've been to Iraq and you see theway the war's going, did you, in your wildest dreams did you ever expect to be put in charge of setting up the counter-insurgency program at Fort Leavenworth and then ultimately end up as the XO? What were your dreams, what were your expectations? 236:00
PM: I had no dreams. No expectations. At that point, up to that point in my armycareer things were pretty predictable. I was going to be a lieutenant, and a platoon leader, XO, staff officer, I was going to be a captain, staff officer, company commander, I was going to go to graduate school, West Point to teach, I was going to do my time as a major, as an S3 XO, do some Pentagon time, command a squadron via a G3, command a brigade and then the visibility turns into fog because what happened after brigade command was a mystery to me. I knew it involved, obviously would involve a lot of staff positions. I was delighted that coming out of brigade command I got to spend time with the council on foreign 237:00relations versus being a staff officer in Heidelberg. I think it was good for both me and the army to put me there in New York. Then things went at kind of light speed.
My family and I traveled to Fort Leavenworth in late June, I was there for maybe3 months, just getting my feet under the ground, working out what the center would accomplish, conducting some limited training down at the joint readiness training center with the observer controllers there. Interacting with the media. Basically putting the foundation in place for what we would do going forward, 238:00when I get this phone call from General Petraeus. Actually his XO. Basically saying "there is a group of colonel's meeting in Washington, DC", and this was I think Saturday, "You need to be there Monday morning and expect to spend 90 days there." I was, "Can you tell me anything else?" He goes, "No. You're handpicked by General Petraeus to do this." Okay.
I get a plane ticket, I pack a big suitcase and I'm lucky that I have family inthe DC area, my cousin Mary Jane and her family. so I arranged to live with them rather than in a hotel somewhere. I dropped my stuff off at her house and then I show up at the Pentagon and realize that it's this group of 15 US army, Air 239:00Force and Marine colonels and Navy captains, headed up by the Executive Officer to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who has formed this group. In order to help him rethink this strategy for the Global War on Terror. This came about I think because the Chairman was talking to General Keane, retired General Jack Keane, and asked, this is Peter Pace, the Marine Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. General Pace asked General Keane, "Can you give me a grade on how I'm doing so far?" I think Keane gave him an F and Keane said, "You need to get some people in who can think strategically and aren't burdened by day to day activities and aren't 240:00burdened by joint staff procedures. Just bring in the best that you can. He asked services to nominate three guys each. Of course the Air Force in its infinite wisdom sent five. Strength in numbers.
Most of the people there were taken right out of the D.C. area, so they could gohome at night. There were two that came in from the outside, H.R. McMaster, who was, I think, stationed in London at the time, and me. We were deployed away from our families, which was good and bad. Obviously we could spend as much time as we wanted to working. We weren't missing anything. On the other hand, it was obviously time away from our family. My wife always counts those three months in 241:00D.C. as part of my second deployment to Iraq.
We met as a group every day except for Saturday and Sunday. We started lookingat the strategy behind the Global War on Terror. The problem was we could never get past what to do about Iraq, because Iraq was falling apart at the time. If Iraq fell apart, it had some significant implications for the strategy. Finally, after about three weeks of this, we asked the chiefs if we could just focus on Iraq and figure out what to do there. Then leave the rest of the strategy for a follow-on discussion after we figured out what to do about Iraq. About from 242:00mid-October through mid-December, two months, we were focused on Iraq.
Unbeknownst to us, so was the National Security Council under Steve Hadley.There was a group in the State Department under David Satterfield also looking at Iraq. As was the Iraq Study Group. There were at least four efforts, one of which was public. The other three of which were private, or not private, but secret, if you will. The Bush administration was going into the mid-term elections, and it didn't want the public to know that it was having second thoughts about its Iraq strategy. Of course that would have been a political furball. Although everyone knew it. Anyway, the outcome of this was the surge.
Now, I wouldn't say that the Council of Colonels had the major role in designing243:00the surge because we did not. That was the National Security Council. To a lesser extent, the folks at the American Enterprise Institute, Kagans, and I'm forgetting who else was a part of that effort, but they put together a document called "Choosing Victory." This document had some influence with General Keane. General Keane got entree into the Vice-President's office and then into the President's office. I think the National Security Council was already thinking along those lines.
We soon came to the realization that the existing strategy was not working, thatall General Casey in Baghdad was offering was more of the same. The President 244:00wanted a change in direction, and the only way he could get it was to change it from outside, because the military was not going to change it. Casey was not going to change direction. Even to this day, he thinks that his strategy of transition to Iraqi Security Forces would have worked if we had just given him more time. I wholly disagree with that.
Between all these various groups, but mainly the National Security Council, thesurge strategy was developed. It was a provision of more troops to Iraq, five U.S. Army brigades and two Marine battalions. More importantly, these troops would be used differently in accordance with the new counter-insurgency 245:00strategy, or counter-insurgency doctrine, that had been developed at Fort Leavenworth over the previous year and a half and was being published just that month, in December 2006. That's Field Manual 23-4: Counter-insurgency.
The first Army field manual ever to get a book review in the New York Times andbe published commercially by the University Press of Chicago. So there you go. That was huge. It was, as Tom Ricks would say, a gamble. It was the best of a lot of really bad options at that point. It was pretty clear to us that the Iraq War was being lost. The only way to turn it around was with a new strategy and more resources. That's what President Bush gambled his rest of his presidency on. 246:00
He fought against every political wind blowing against him when he did that. Hisown party even wanted out of the War. The Iraq Study Group gave them the opportunity to do that. Just hold some sort of international conference, create some sort of fig leaf that would allow U.S. forces to withdraw and get out. President Bush wanted to win. He kept saying that. "I'm here to win." He saw our relationship with Iraq in a very long-term viewpoint, much like our relationship with South Korea. That's the lens that he used to look at our relationship with Iraq, that we would be there 50 years from now, still helping them and creating this moderate democracy in the heart of the Middle East that would change the 247:00face of the Islamic world. It didn't work out that way, but that was his vision.
Personally, after about the third week of December, we gave our final briefingto the Joint Chiefs. These meetings with the Joint Chiefs, by the way, I've got to backtrack a little bit, were really interesting because they were held in the tank, which is the private conference room for the Joint Chiefs. Normally in the tank are the Joint Chiefs, the chairman, the vice chairman, and maybe the briefer, a couple others, but that's it. It's their inner sanctum. The entire Council of Colonels were allowed in to these meetings when they talked with us. You'd have 15 of us, like a jury, on the side of the room, looking at the conference table.
I remember the Air Force Chief of Staff Buzz Moseley would come in and he'd go,248:00"Good morning, gentlemen." Then he'd look at us. He goes, "Colleagues." Then he'd sit down. It was like the Supreme Court. I remember the rules were anyone could talk. It wasn't that you had to be waited to be called upon. I really applaud General Pace for opening up the Chiefs to criticism. I remember a couple times I was in a one-on-one argument with General Pace on some issue and holding my ground. I think that was healthy for them to get some feedback that wasn't "Yes, sir," "No, sir," "You're great, sir," "Everything's going fine, sir." I think that was important.
We gave our last briefing to them. They briefed the President in the tank about249:00the second or third week of December. Their briefing actually had pretty minimal impact. I think the President already decided on the surge. He did agree to start expanding the U.S. Army and Marine Corps, which was long overdue. We're three years into the war, and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld keeps thinking, "Since it's just a bunch of dead-enders, we don't have to expand the ground component of our armed forces because it would be a waste because this war is going to end pretty quickly anyway." After three years, it's not ending quickly. Now we're three years behind ramping up and getting enough forces in the organization to actually fight the war we have, not the one we want.
Some things came out of that briefing. As for me, I went home to FortLeavenworth. It was now Christmas time. I spent Christmas with the family. I 250:00asked General Petraeus if I could go out to the Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey. I was invited out there to give a counter-insurgency lecture. In the meantime I be spend some time with my family in Sacramento, so I'm doing the family time up front. I'm with my brother hunting in the Central Valley, I get back to my sister's place, and there's like a bazillion messages waiting for me on my cell phone, her phone, the switchboard is lit up. I called General Petraeus's XO, and he goes, "You need to get back here now. General Petraeus has just been nominated to be the next commander of Multinational Force Iraq, and he wants you to lead his transition team." I was like, "Okay, well there goes the vacation."
I get on the earliest available flight back to Kansas, and we start in preparing251:00briefing books for his nomination hearings, preparing his testimony, and we're fortunate in that General Petraeus is a really good writer and a PhD in his own right. He is very hands on with his testimony, and that was great. We're basically flying to DC Monday through Friday, coming home on the weekend to be with the families, but really working polishing up the testimony, putting more briefing books together, et cetera, et cetera. We do this through most of January until finally he has his confirmation hearing, and is confirmed unanimously, I think the vote was 87 to nothing. People saying, "You're the right guy, unfortunately, you're too late." They all thought the war was lost. I 252:00remember in his testimony he said, "Well, the war is hard, but hard is not hopeless." With the confirmation hearings over, it was time to pack up and head overseas.
Now I had always been, well not always, but for several weeks I was going to bethe head of his initiatives group, the SIG, the Commander's Initiatives Group. I was going to be the head of that, basically a think tank, his think tank. He had tagged another officer to be his executive officer, someone who he had worked with in the past, but that person finally had to beg out because his wife had some sort of medical issue. Now he was without an XO, so he calls around to some ... I think he called Mike Meese up at the Social Sciences Department at West 253:00Point, and said, "Give me some candidates to be head of the initiatives group." Meanwhile, he looked at me, and he said, "I need you to be my XO." I ended up being the executive officer, which is kind of the guy that makes the trains run on time, the gate keeper, the guy who keeps the calender, consigliere.
The think tank, the initiatives group, went to Bill Rapp. Bill was a greatchoice. PhD out of Stanford, engineer, really smart guy, solid officer. His only issue was he had just gotten back from Iraq about 4 or 5 months earlier, so now he was going to turn around and go back. His wife was very supportive. She's actually a West Pointer, too. She understood, and their family made a pretty big 254:00sacrifice because we all knew this was going to be a long tour, not just a normal 12 months. The team was set. As XO, I built the team.
CW: When he asked you to be XO, what was your first opinion? Were therecelebratory fanfare in your head -
PM: No, I didn't care. I just, I didn't care. I was going to be in the arenaworking ...
CW: Were you disappointed not to be part of the think tank?
PM: No. I'm very stoic about these matters. It's fine either way. I was going tohave an important position, and I helped build the team. He would have some thoughts on who to bring in, and I would have some thoughts on who to bring in. Then we'd work with the personnel guys to make it happen. We brought in Liz 255:00McNally, a Rhodes Scholar, West Point graduate, as a speech writer. We brought in Derek Harvey as a special advisor for intelligence. David Kilcullen as special advisor for counter-insurgency. Everett Spain would continue to be his Aid and a very junior Aid at that. I think at the time he was maybe only a Captain, and normally a 4 star general has a lieutenant colonel as an aid. He liked Everett, so he kept him on. We brought his driver over from the States to Iraq and hired an enlisted aid and various others, some of whom we inherited from General Casey, the calender person, Hanna Mora, and the Operations Officer, 256:00Kelly Maudlin, Kelly Howard now. They were terrific. We had a really strong team and put it together. Then it was time to deploy.
I remember this was not the normal deployment where you get in a big gym, you'reon a big manifest, you have your weapons and whatnot. We took a van from Fort Leavenworth down to Kansas City International Airport and got on a G5, which is a sweet ride. I had never been on one of these really souped-up jets before. It was quite nice. I enjoyed it. It had short legs though. We were going to London first to confer with the British military there. The British being the other 257:00major component of the coalition. We had to fly to Newfoundland or somewhere and gas up, and then fly across the Atlantic. I was in the front cabin with General Petraeus. He would use every bit of time he could working on his laptop, so we were both on our laptops. I think we were working on his message to the troops. He was crafting a letter that he would put out upon taking command, and I was also working on his counter-insurgency guidance that he would issue upon arrival.
About halfway across the Atlantic, there was a pause, and I pulled out a little258:00poker chip necklace that I had gotten in a gumball machine the night before we left. I went bowling with my family, just sort of a last family outing. My kids, even though they were older at the time, they remember the little machines you put in a dollar or whatnot and you get this little plastic container that had some sort of prize inside. We each got one. I remember opening mine up, and it was this poker chip with a royal flush on it and a necklace. I said, "How appropriate," because General Petraeus had always said that this isn't "double down", this is "all in". We're throwing the last chips of the nation, these reinforcements heading to Iraq into this surge, and if it doesn't succeed, the war's really over. In fact, when he had his meeting with the President in the Oval Office, President Bush said, "Well, I guess this is 'double down' General." 259:00General Petraeus looked at him, he goes, "With all due respect Mister President, this is 'all in'."
I remember pulling out that poker chip necklace about halfway across theAtlantic, and I handed it, or tried to hand it to him. I said, "Sir, I got this bowling with my family last night in a gumball machine, but I thought it was appropriate, so, hey, sir, 'all in'." He kind of looked at it and looked at me and smiled. He didn't take it, so I took it back. From then on, by the way, it hung on my bedpost for the rest of my deployment. I brought it back with me, and it was in my library until just recently when I handed it over to the historical society. There was a point I wanted to make the General Petraeus which I did 260:00make after that sort of light-hearted incident. I looked at him and I said, "You know, sir, the hardest thing for you to do should it come to that, is to tell the President and the American people that this thing is not going to work." I always felt that I needed to be not just a voice of reason, but a voice of caution. The military tends to be a can-do organization. At times you have to know when to cut your losses. I always felt that someone needed to be looking out for that particular moment. He looked at me with this very gray face and just went back to writing. But it registered. He was going to do everything in his power to make sure it didn't come to that. Once we had that moment we 261:00continued our trip and traded documents back and forth and eventually got to London and met with the British military and had a nice dinner with them then off we went to Baghdad.
CW: General Petraeus is known for being difficult, demanding. You said movingquickly maybe this is kind of reflected in his runs which you mentioned in "The Surge." Did you find him to be that way? How did your personal relationship end up being with him?
PM: Yeah. I had a lot of people caution me, "Oh, watch out for him. You're goingto hate working for him." So I went in under no illusions that this would be a 262:00tough assignment. I found him actually a very good person to work for. The fact is is that he wasn't difficult but he was demanding. He was always on top of his game. What some people don't like is the fact that he demands a lot out of them. Perhaps they think that's more than they can deliver or it burns them out or whatnot. But I didn't find I was over-tasked in Fort Leavenworth even before the deployment. Of course, once you're deployed, you might as well work 24 hours a day because there's nothing else to do except sleep, and we'll get to that in a second.
He was intelligent, driven. But you know, he would listen. He didn't sufferfools gladly, but if you had something to say, he would listen to you. He 263:00enjoyed an intellectual debate. I thought that was pretty healthy in a general officer. Yeah, he was ambitious. Tell me a general officer who's not ambitious. Right? They probably aren't a general officer. I didn't hold that against him. In terms of him supposedly being a media star and whatnot, well, it's President Bush who told him to engage with the media and to be out there more as the face of the surge because the President knew he had lost credibility with the American people and General Petraeus still retained credibility with the American people. People are faulting General Petraeus for something he was ordered to do in that regard.
In terms of the running, though, I had a bad knee and a bad back. I hadarthroscopy on my knee in March of 2005. My back was really the issue. I was 264:00never a great runner to begin with. I was an okay runner. I had a medical profile, basically, run at your own pace. On my first office call with General Petraeus I brief him on what I think the Counterinsurgency Center should do and five core functions that we should engage in. He acknowledged all that and he said, "Run with it." He goes, "I'm not going to paint really narrow white lines. The white lines are going to be pretty broad. As long as you're going in the right direction, I'll be happy." And then I looked at him and I said, "One last thing sir. If you want me to run the ridge with you, you might as well find someone else to fill this position right now because I can't do it." He looks at me and he laughs and he goes, "I didn't hire you for your body, Pete." I was 265:00like the only one who got away with basically, I'd start all of his runs and then drop out as the pace got too much for me.
I remember in Baghdad, one of the things I did was re-craft his daily battlerhythm and weekly battle rhythm because it was killing us. It's the one thing I actually inherited from my predecessor, was this battle rhythm. The transition between Casey's team and our team was horrible. They thought we were the smart guys come in to grade their homework. I really didn't get much from my predecessor that was useful. For me, it was all learning on the job. I got this battle rhythm and I showed it to General Petraeus. It looked pretty full to me. 266:00He goes, "Oh, we're going to start with that. Basically, we'll start with that." After two weeks of 14, 16 hour days, I'm getting like four hours of sleep a night, he's getting maybe six. I finally went in to him and I said, "If we continue this for much longer, I'm going to be dead and you're going to be ineffective. So let me slash some of this stuff out of here." He goes, "Well, take a look and run it by me." I cut about two hours of stuff a day out of the schedule. By the way, I learned after the fact, one of these things my predecessor didn't tell me, that this battle rhythm was like a menu from which General Casey could pick. He never did everything on it.
We cut it down to a reasonable amount. I also created ... I knew that physical267:00training was really important to General Petraeus and he had no physical training time. So I created Tuesday afternoon runs, Friday morning runs, and Sunday morning runs. So three times a week, he'd be able to run. The Tuesday afternoon runs I had expected only to go until the heat of the summer ramped up and that he would then cancel. No. He kept on right through the heat of the summer. I remember the hottest run we had on a Tuesday afternoon. It was 127 degrees and about 80% humidity because we had this weird wind come up from the gulf. We had a Humvee following us with crates of water. You just poor water on top of you. You drink a couple of quarts, couple of liters while you were running.
We made it work. We had the very first hot day, we had some people fall out due268:00to the heat in the personnel security detachment, which was a reserved unit out of Chicago. I got ahold of them and I said, "Hey look, you're obviously not hydrating. You're trying to do too much with too little water. I want everyone to hold one or two liters of bottled water in their hands as they go. They eventually learned how to operate on his level and hydrate at the same time so we didn't have anymore problems with heat.
He would run six miles. I would run about the first quarter, half mile with him.I would drop off. I would run four miles. The ending was the same back at the house. I remember, I'd run four and he'd run six and I would beat him by 50 269:00yards. Fast forward to the end of my time. We're doing this hail and farewell where I'm being said goodbye to. We're having a nice little dinner at the house. They handed me a hatchet with my name inscribed on it because my nick-name was "the hatchet man" because I was the disciplinarian for the staff and could get things done with the broader Multi-National Force Iraq staff, basically, because I had credibility. I was the hatchet man. In fact, when they wanted something done, the aid would come in to my office and go, "Ohhh," "What is it Everett? What do you need?" As my part of that going away, I gave a David Letterman top ten accomplishments during my time in Iraq. I think the number one 270:00accomplishment was beating General Petraeus on every Tuesday afternoon run by cutting two miles of the course.
Anyway, just to put a bow on the battle rhythm thing. At the end of the firstmonth, General Petraeus took command on the 10th of February and at the end of February, the last Sunday, it's actually Saturday now, we're in the battle update group brief, the morning briefing that sort of begins the day. The Chief of Staff, "Tango" Moore, Marine Major General, says "As you know sir, tomorrow is the monthly basically siesta. Everyone takes a half day off, and we begin work at noon." General Petraeus looks at me and I look at him, another little 271:00small detail my predecessor didn't tell me about. I shake my shoulders and he goes "All right, but I still want all the briefing slides and I'll look at them electronically." He looks at the briefing slides electronically, he goes for a long run, probably a ten mile run, with his personal security detachment, comes back, showers, eats breakfast, does more email, gets a nap in there, ready to go by noon. I don't run with him but I do similar things, we're all feeling really good at noon.
We realize that this is a pretty good thing. I go into the Chief of Staff'soffice and I go "We should convince General Petraeus to do this every other week." We gang up, we go in to General Petraeus and we go "You know sir, this is really good for us and the staff, let's do this every other week". He goes 272:00"Okay". A couple weeks later I go to the Chief of Staff and go "You know we should really convince him to do this every week" and so we go in and he's like "We're never going to work around here". Then he finally goes "Okay, we will try it out as a test case". If people are falling off the job, and I still want the briefing slides, and so we go to every week basically half day off every week. Staff functioning went way up. The idea that work people harder, flog them to death and you're going to get more out of them, not the case. In this case it gave everyone a catch up day on rest, which if you talk to rest therapists, sleep therapists, is super important. It gave people time, it gave him time, 273:00face time, to do some more deeper reading on stuff.
We'd always begin that day, we'd fly on Sundays to the embassy annex in thegreen zone and we'd spend the whole day there. We'd start the day in Camp Victory, and it would be this deep dive intelligence analysis. We'd have all the spooks of any import in MNFI in the room, and they would just focus on one thing. Then we would engage with them and he would give them taskings for three and four weeks down the line. I want to look at, let's look at the Jaysh al-Mahdi. Give me a deep dive look at what the Jaysh al-Mahdi is all about. Let's look at the oil distribution system in Iraq, and oil smuggling, and what impact that has on threat financing. These kind of deep topics. We'd begin with 274:00a very intellectual deep dive into some intel product and then we'd fly to the green zone and General Petraeus would basically spend the day in various meetings with the Iraqi government. Bill Rapp, as head of the CIG would accompany, would take notes, and I would be in the office, basically answering queries, keeping the schedule afloat, keeping the trains running on time.
I'd get a lot of calls from general officers on the staff saying "What doesGeneral Petraeus think about this?" That way they wouldn't have to bother him with questions that I could answer maybe. It also worked that way in terms of email. They would email me and ask me something and I would email them back but I would blind carbon copy General Petraeus. Then if what I said was right, which 275:00normally it was, just because I knew his thinking, he would give amplifying instructions or come on board and say "Yep, he's right, carry on". If it wasn't right he'd say "No let's tweak that guidance, let's do this and this and this." That was a very effective system because it saved him time. He really liked it because it saved him time. He didn't have to craft the answers himself. I did. All he had to do was read, which he can read much faster than he can type. It gave the staff the guidance they needed and it also gave me great power, which I was careful not to abuse because here are these one and two and three star generals who I'm writing back, and they're assuming that General Petraeus is reading these emails so if I get it wrong, and he's not blind carbon copied, it 276:00could be a real issue. Like I said, I was careful not to abuse the authority and always kept him in the loop. It was a system that really worked well for us.
Anyway, I'm not sure what got me on that long tangent, but here we are.
CW: Do you think there are any really important decisions that you made thatpeople attribute to General Petraeus?
PM: No. No. There was never a decision that I made that I didn't either have himinformed from the very beginning or anything in which he was back briefed.
There were some pretty tense moments. I remember in May of 2007 there were somehuge riots at our detention facility down south, and at one point it looked like the inmates were going to break out and there was a British battalion always on 277:00stand-by to go help the guards out if need be, and I think we actually called the British and had them get ready to send it. I remember looking at him, this is one of my poker chip moments. I remember looking at him and going "At what point do we order them to open fire?" Because the inmates had developed these really effective David and Goliath kind of weapons, sling shots with tea ball, chai balls. They'd take tea and form sand, and they'd end up forming these balls the size of a golf ball, hard as rock. They could use these sling shots to, it could kill guards with them. They would burn down their tents, and so forth. This was a real tense night, I remember. Finally the guards got it under control 278:00and it was clear that something had to change at Camp Ashraf.
Major General Doug Stone, a Marine Reserve Major General, was in charge of TaskForce 130 at the time. He really did make some big changes. He created maximum security facilities to put he more hard-core offenders into these, basically steel containers versus having them intermingled among everyone else in a minimum security facility, creating a jihadist university really, allowing them to evangelize the less faithful. Separating out the 4 or 5,000 worst offenders was a big step. Then he would rehabilitate the rest. He gave them work at a brick factory, stamped on every brick was in Arabic, the words 'rebuilding the 279:00nation brick by brick', they'd sing the National Anthem every morning, they'd have art classes. Most importantly, every six months, their cases were reviewed. This was what most of these people really didn't like. They didn't like uncertainty of how long their detention would be and some of them felt they had been detained unfairly, and so every six months they had a board of officers, military commissions if you will, re-look the cases and they would release a number of them.
When they were released they were released into the recognizance of their tribalSheikhs, their Imams, the local government officials, in ceremony. As a result, the recidivism rate for the people that had gone through this program was less than 1%. We turned what was a net liability, in terms of the housing and the detainees into a net plus General Stone liked to call them "moderate missiles" 280:00aimed back into the community, the people that were released. So those were some tense moments.
I remember another tense moment. We were almost ready to head out back to theUnited States for the September 2007 congressional hearings. These were the first public hearings since the surge began and it was of enormous political import. This is the one where moveon.org took out that full page ad in the New York Times that said, "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?" Which was just uncalled for. But right before we redeployed, all hell broke loose in Karbala during a major pilgrimage. A million Shia in Karbala celebrating the occultaion 281:00of the body. Some gun man from the Jaysh al-Mahdi get into a gun fight with shrine guards, who are probably Badr Corp people, but doesn't matter. Couple hundred people killed. Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, al-Najafi is so incensed, he cancels this holiday. Sends the people home. This would be like the pope cancelling Easter in Vatican Square, right? The Ayatollahs people called Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and basically said if you want to keep your position, you need to get a handle on Karbala.
So we get flooded with phone calls from the government and various others. "Weneed help getting down to Karbala. What's happening down there?" I had fought in 282:00Karbala. I know that there's limited places where you can actually land helicopters. Basically the desert west of the city is about the only place, Camp Lima is very limited. We're working on getting helicopters established and finally the Prime Minister is fed up and he gets in a column of about 70 armored SUVs and heads down. Just drives down. Walks around the city with an AK-47, which someone had given him and a pistol strapped to his hip, arresting people and it worked. I think it worked mainly because there wasn't any entrenched militia or insurgency left in Karbala. My brigade had destroyed them three years earlier and they had never regrown. 283:00
But it worked and so Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki becomes the hero based onthis, and because it works and it works so quickly, I think he thinks, "Oh, this is easy to do. I'll just do this anywhere." He tries it again in Basrah the following March and gets into a real furball down there that he can't control. That's a story for later one.
Anyway, we're dealing with these phone calls. It's pretty tense.
CW: Was this a Sunni or a Shia fur ball?
PM: It's a Shia fur ball. Yeah. Shia on Shia violence. I remember that Iprotected General Petraeus' sleep pretty religiously because I felt it was really important for a senior leader to be rested. So, redoing the battle rhythm, he could have gotten up to eight hours. Of course, he did some night 284:00time reading. "Team of Rivals," I think was one of the books he read. He read about Matthew Ridgway taking over in the Korean War under difficult circumstance. He read about Ulysses S. Grant, "Grant Takes Command." Read that book.
He was reading about other commanders in similar circumstances, so he got maybeseven hours at least, but that's doable. I was the only one who could wake him up, so people would call me and say, "Should we wake him up?" And the vast majority of time I'd say, "this can wait for the morning" or I would call the Chief of Staff and say, "Let's work this out on our own." I think the one time I woke him up was those riots down in Camp Ashraf when the prisoners were about to break out of the confinement. That was one of the few times I woke him up. 285:00
CW: Did you, you mentioned before working with Iraqis was you're real goal inyour previous deployment to Iraq. Did you miss that being the XO? You can't have gotten that much face time with the Iraqi people?
PM: Right. I got almost no face time with the people. I did rub elbows with someof the higher ups and their aids and so forth, just on the margins of meetings and so forth. Occasionally General Petraeus was invited to dinner and they'd say bring your staff. We got dinner at Nouri al-Maliki house once, General Babaker the Chief of their general staff. He had the best chow, by the way. Later on, 286:00when General Petraeus realized that we want to invite people to come to our place and host them, so he did. Then he'd have Kellogg, Brown, and Root, KBR, cater it and after a couple of these, it's like the Iraqis, Sadi Othman, General Petraeus' Senior Advisor, who is a Palestinian and was also his translator, he goes, "You know, they don't want to come anymore." We're like, "Well, why?" He goes, "They think our chow stinks." You know, it's like American food.
General Petraeus is like, Bill Rapp and I are like, General Babaker has the bestfood. We need to find out his caterer or how he makes it. We looked around, found a caterer who could make Arabic dishes right there on site at the 287:00Blackwill Conference Center there in the green zone and we tried to replicate Babaker's meals. We got pretty close. They were really good and the Iraqis started coming in. They liked our food after that.
Those are some important meetings. They ultimately lead to a plan to retakeBasrah from the Jaysh al-Mahdi, which was sort of short circuited by Nouri al-Maliki ordering several Iraqi brigades down there on his own according without telling us in late March of 2008. He went down there and I guess he felt it was going to be like Karbala all over again and it was not. He was holed up in the Basrah palace under mortar fire, his chief of security was killed by a mortar round and he realized that this was a wholly different situation.
It took a lot of help from General Petraeus and multinational force to bail him288:00out on that one. We did. We piled on all sorts of fire support, jet fighters, attack helicopters, and we put an airborne infantry battalion down there, separated the platoons out to work with Iraqi units to call in fire support. We gave them logistics help and planning help and all sorts of reconnaissance. Eventually, were able to overcome the resistance of the Jaysh al-Mahdi and what could have been a catastrophe turned out to be a huge victory for the Iraqi army and for Nouri al-Maliki who was seen as a strong man, someone who could use the Iraqi army to counter the militias, and even counter a Shia militia. Even the Sunnis applauded that. It was a real turning point there in the surge.
CW: How did you feel about Nouri al-Maliki as a leader?289:00
PM: We didn't know much about him when he took over. Of course, he had been inoffice for about 6-7 months before we got there, maybe even 8 months. He was an enigma. He had spent a lot of his adult life outside of Iraq plotting his way back in. He clearly had a very conspiratorial mind set. We felt that if we could overcome that to show that by working together with various groups, reconciling even with some insurgent groups that we could make Iraq peaceful. He could still be a very strong Prime Minister, that we could overcome his hesitancy to work with the Sunnis over time.
That turned out not to be the case. We didn't see that in 2007, 2008, we were290:00continuing to try to work with them. It did seem like we were making some headway, we had a grand bargain politically in early 2008. That seems to break the logjam of legislation. His move against the Jaysh al-Mahdi in Basrah really unified all the political parties on his behalf. When I left in May of 2008, and then General Petraeus left a couple of months later, it seemed that things were heading in the right direction. That politically this could work. Unfortunately, as soon as the crisis was over, Nouri al-Maliki reverted to his true self, which is very sectarian, conspiratorially-minded person, who is not willing to share 291:00power. I think our successor, General Odierno, saw this, warned the Obama Administration and was roundly ignored.
CW: I believe you, on your Reddit...
PM: My Reddit AMA?
CW: Yeah, that Nouri al-Maliki, you've credited recent return of insurgency inIraq to United States supporting Nouri al-Maliki in 2011.
CW: 2010. Right.
CW: What could we have done to avoid that?
PM: The surge worked.
PM: Violence was decreased by 90% from pre-surge levels. If you look at the292:00level of violence from January, February, March of 2004, that period then I said was pretty calm, and we went out and did our gunnery training, the level of violence after the surge was the same. Same level, in terms of number of incidents. The difference was that now we had, I think, politics once again were operative in Iraqi society. The Sunnis returned to the ballot box, the provincial elections of 2009, and in the presidential election in 2010, the Sunnis voted in droves. In terms of their percentage of the population, in greater numbers than the Shi'a or the Kurds even.
They got their fair share of seats in 2009 at the provincial level, and then in293:002010 their candidate, Ayad Allawi, who is a secular Shi'ite, on the Iraqiya List, won. Didn't win by much, won by a couple of seats in the Council of Representatives, but he won. He would have won by more, had Nouri al-Maliki not used the judiciary to disqualify a lot of candidates for office.
What did we do? Here we have democracy in place in Iraq, the political system'sworking, you have the potential for the first peaceful change of government ever in Iraq, and we blow it. Instead of supporting the victor in the election with all the power at our disposal, telling the Kurds you need to support him, finding one of the Shia parties, all you needed was one, maybe ISCI, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, telling them, hey look, your time's coming, but it's not now, support Allawi, and you'll have your undying gratitude. 294:00
Might have been a hard sell, but you never know. All you had to do was get himover the top. We didn't even try. Because we didn't even try, it allowed Tehran to craft a backroom deal where the Jaysh al-Mahdi threw their support behind Nouri al-Maliki. He got enough support from other parties and he became Prime Minister again. He immediately turned on the Sunnis, because he realized he lost the election. If he allows this to continue, he's going to lose the next one, so he immediately turns on his political enemies, jails them, breaks up their protest camps, the torture chambers in Iraqi jails become functioning once again, filled with Sunni young men and some women. It ends whatever chance there is for democracy to work in Iraq, at least in the near term. 295:00
We had crafted a bargain with the Sunnis. The Tribal Awakening began their fightagainst al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Sons of Iraq movement, furthered that fight. We supported both of those movements and basically it was this unwritten agreement that you fight against Al-Qaeda, and we will support you against the worst excesses of the Shia government in Baghdad. Enter the political system and you'll get your fair share of power and resources through it.
They did everything we asked of them, and what did they get? They got screwed.As a result, they lost faith in the system and many of them returned into armed opposition to the government. This had led to the rise of ISIS and where we are today. 296:00
CW: What do you think led to us dropping the ball so badly?
PM: I think it's a change in presidential administrations. The Bushadministration was focused like a laser beam on Iraq. It understood what was happening there. It was involved in Iraqi politics. It viewed Iraq through the lens of South Korea, a long-term ally, one we would be engaged with for decades to come. The Obama administration was elected on an anti-war platform, how quickly can we get out of Iraq. Although they don't follow through on their worst pledges, President Obama's just not interested in Iraq other than leaving. He gives the portfolio over to the Vice President, Joe Biden, who once advocated splitting up the Iraqi state. The Iraqi politicians know this. They're not going 297:00to listen to him.
Then they get bad advice from their ambassador on the ground, Christopher Hill,probably the worst ambassador in American history, who wants to normalize the embassy in Baghdad. I guess you're going to normalize it by eating your dinner off of cocktail napkins and toothpicks stuck into appetizers and write missives back to the State Department and worry about your next cable, rather than realizing that this is a very unusual situation. This is nation at war, a nation is at war because we invaded it, and that things cannot be normalized at this point in time. Hill didn't understand anything about Iraq. Not its history, not its culture, certainly not its politics. He advocates backing Nouri al-Maliki 298:00for another term as Prime Minister, saying, we need to make a better Maliki. We need to change who he is, rather than backing the victor in the election.
I know Ayad Allawi had problems. He might not have been the greatest politicianin the world, but he would have been pro-American. We know that. The fact that we decide not to back the guy that would have been probably the best for Iraq and probably the best for the United States is just, it's beyond me. Somewhere in the link between the ambassador on the ground and the decision makers back in Washington, they really fumbled, badly.
CW: Thank you for that answer. Sorry I kind of moved thematically ahead. Iwanted to... We really enjoyed the story about tower 57, in "The Surge." The one 299:00thing you didn't go into was, it seems like it was set up perfectly to be this problem spot. How did you keep it from becoming, after you fixed it, How did you keep it from becoming a problem spot again?
PM: Right. Tower 57 was this electrical high-tension electrical tower, south ofBaghdad. That was dropped by the insurgents. General Petraeus as part of his battlefield update briefs, you know, electricity was part of what he tracked. He saw that part of the problem was this tower that was down. He was like, let's go fix it, so we ordered, not ordered, but we'd tell the Iraqi government, get a crew out there and fix it. Well they'd go out there, and they'd get shot at, so they'd leave. Then General Petraeus was like, okay, General Odierno, you're going to escort them out there, and fix it. 300:00
This goes on for about six months until finally the tower is fixed in a majoroperation with Apache helicopters overhead and tanks and infantry, platoon of engineers. It's just the amount of effort it took to restore that tower was all out proportion to what a normal situation would be if they weren't being shot at. It was an allegory for the surge really. That things are hard, but hard is not hopeless. We eventually got it back up and that's sort of an allegory for how we viewed the war in Iraq. I think that's why General Petraeus put so much time and effort into tracking Tower 57. Why did it stay up? Because the surge was working and this was by September now of 2007. This area, which used to be called the Triangle of Death had been turned by the 3rd Infantry Division into 301:00the Circle of Life. We would joke, and so the insurgency was tamped down in the area and Sons of Iraq movement developed.
This was all part of the Suni's coming to terms with entering the politicalsystem and, really, that left the jihadists, like Al Qaeda and Iraq, on the outside. They were more and more being hunted down. This was a more hopeful period in the history of the war.
CW: Kind of a strange question, but you compared the graffiti featuring ChuckNorris to the World War II Kilroy.
PM: Kilroy. Yes. It was.
CW: None of our other Interviewees have talked about it, so we were wondering ifyou could tell us how did it appear? Was it his face? Was it just things ... ? 302:00
CW: Sayings. All right.
PM: Sayings. Whenever you went into the port-a-potties in Iraq, wherever youwent, there was Chuck Norris graffiti and I don't know how it started, but it became a thing. "Why are there no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Because Chuck Norris lives in Oklahoma." Things like that. It was just hilarious. I think that was our version of Kilroy is here. Chuck Norris graffiti. Chuck Norris does his credit came to Iraq a couple times and was well received by the troops.
CW: Did you get to meet him?
PM: No. No, he didn't come while I ... I don't think he came during the surge.At least I don't remember. I did meet Toby Keith on one occasion and went to a couple of his concerts with the staff, so that was nice. That was, I think, the only MWR show that I went to, USO show that I went to. 303:00
CW: A few of the interviewees we've talked to who were there at the beginning ofthe surge expressed frustration ... It's obvious to us now that they weren't understanding the shift in what you were looking at a count-insurgency goals and missions and how they were to adopt those. Did you find it hard to get the counter-insurgency the coin down to the guys on the ground? Is that hard to do? Did it just take time?
PM: Most people got it because it works. I remember we went out to one companybase in the middle of Ghazaliya and your pulling these guys off the forward 304:00operating base where life is comfortable and you're putting them in a very primitive conditions where they're living in this Iraqi city, burning their shit again instead of having port-a-potties and working real hard doing lots of patrolling. I remember one, as we're there, one soldier handing the aid a note. The aid gave the note to me and it said, basically, "What are we doing here?" Well, it became pretty clear a couple weeks later as the Iraqis saw that these people weren't leaving and that security was getting better, all of a sudden the intelligence would start coming in on who the bad guys were in the neighborhood. They'd be able to do targeted raids to take them out. All of a sudden, all the roadsides bombs would disappear and then the soldiers got it. 305:00
It took practice on the ground before they, they realized, "Oh, yeah. This isn'tjust winning hearts and minds. This is actually combat." In a different way. You're not just going to patrol through these areas looking for people to shoot at us. We're going to actually secure them. Some people never got it. There will be some commanders who just don't never get it. I mean there's some historians who don't get it. Who've written books saying counter-insurgency is bunk and United States should never try it again. I disagree with them thoroughly, but that's why we have academia to hash out these arguments.
TP: What was it like for you to see this being executed and starting to work? Itstrikes me as a bit rare that you had a hand in starting to craft what this was 306:00and then the academic side and then the application side, as well. What were those moments like for you?
PM: Well first, for the first ... February, March, April, May, four months itwas pretty gruesome and I didn't think it would work. I remember having an officer I knew from the National Training Center come in and he said, "I'm pretty stoked. I got my squadron is on the ground. We're ready to execute this counter-insurgency and I'm pretty optimistic." I remember looking ... Probably shouldn't have said this, I go, "Uh, I think it has less than a 50/50 chance of succeeding." That really was a splash of cold water on his face, but there were some tough times. Ramadi seemed to be working, but I remember there were times 307:00in April of 2007 multiple car bombs in one day. The Jaysh al-Mahdi, the political party affiliated with the was Jaysh al-Mahdi, the Office of the Martyr Sadr, OMS. The OMS representatives and the cabinet walked out, quit. At the same time, the Secretary of Defense announced the extension of all tours from 12 to 15 months. It was a pretty ugly month. Then early in May we had several U.S. platoon ambushed and a couple of soldiers taken prisoner and, eventually, they were tortured and killed.
We found their bodies later. Yeah. Pretty hard moments. What can you do? Youjust put your head down and you continue to drive on. Really, the turning point 308:00was June and July of 2007 when everything looked their bleakest, General Odierno and Multi-National Corps Iraq finally had all the surge brigades on the ground and launched Operation Phantom Thunder, which really changed the course of the war. Let me back track. Back in April, in addition to all the things happening on the ground in Iraq, back in the United States you had the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, saying publicly that the surge has failed and the war is lost. I'm thinking, "We don't even have all the reinforcements in place. This strategy hasn't been implemented, yet, completely." Here one of the senior political leaders in the United States is telling us that it's all for not. I just think there's a special place in hell reserved for Harry Reid because of his forsaking soldiers downrange. Had he said that 6 months later after the 309:00surge had been attempted, I would say, "Okay. Fine. I disagree with you, but you can certainly think that way," but to say it before we had even gotten the 5th Surge Brigade in I just thought that was astonishing. A new low for politicians in the United States.
Anyway, back to Phantom Thunder, they launch a series of offensives in Baghdadand Baqubah and elsewhere, which really delivers a body blow to the insurgency. You could see the number of security incidents decline pretty dramatically in that time period. Then in August it dips down even further after the Jaysh al-Mahdi declares a cease fire as a result of it's gun battle in Karbala, which got a lot of bad publicity. It was just enough success that General Petraeus 310:00could go back and report to Congress that the surge was working, at least as far as he could tell. He put a lot of time and effort into creating accurate metrics that would track ethno-sectarian violence and so forth and other metrics that were germane to whether the surge was working or not.
That was a tough hearing. I remember we were working on that testimony as earlyas July, and we're changing it as the results in the battlefield are changing. I remember the CIG gave the first draft of testimony to General Petraeus. It looked like it had been written by a committee, which it had been, and so he basically hands it … He's like, "This is not what I want." I looked at him I 311:00said, "Why don't you let Liz and I take a stab at it?" Liz McNally the speech writer.
She and I spend a couple quality days together, I say that jokingly because wefought like cats and dogs. We had completely different writing styles. She just wants to put words on a paper then edit them a thousand times, and I am more like, "Once I get a paragraph down, it's done." We seriously revised the testimony, gave it back to him. He liked what he read, smiled and goes, "Okay, send me the electrons." I basically have the electrons which means send him the file, don't release it to anyone and he'll revise it from this point on.
A couple of interesting epilogues, segues. We get to … Well before we get to312:00Washington, I get calls from Central Command, Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense Office all wanting copies of the testimony and I tell them, "No." They all yell at me over the phone and you're betting your Colonel's Eagles, their Colonel. I'm saying, "Fine, you can take no for me or you can talk to General Petraeus I'll put you through to him. He'll tell you no." We beat back all the barbarians that the gates wanting copies of the testimony, I think even the White House wanted a copy and we said, "No." We save them from their 313:00own worst instincts, because the first question that Ike Skelton asked, I think it was Ike Skelton was, "Have you shared this testimony with anyone or is this your own testimony?" We could honestly say we had not shared it with anyone. Had we given it to them, we would say, "Oh yeah we gave it to the White House and Joint Chiefs, and CENTCOM." Then you could just see the political furball, "Oh his testimony was massaged by all these groups, it's not really his testimony." Story number one.
The other story is unbeknownst to us General Petraeus when he took theelectrons, he never saw a good idea that he didn't not like. He kept adding to the testimony various metrics and so forth. We get to Washington and he's doing a murder board, basically a mock hearing in front of this Senate Armed Services 314:00Committee, I forget. Former Secretary of the Army is playing Senator McCain or whatnot. He reads a statement, and the statements should be 15 maybe 20 minutes long. It's 47 minutes long and they're like, "This is not going to work." They're like, "You got to cut it down." Again I say, "Sir, let me just break station with Liz, we'll go down to the basement. We'll work on a new testimony while you do your murder board." He goes, "Okay." We go down and where we had two days before to craft the testimony, now we have two hours to chop it from 47 minutes down to 20, which we did.
I'm just like, "That's what hatchet man really came in." Because I axedparagraph after paragraph. We got it back to him and he gave us a thumbs up, and then we sent it to the printer and printed bazillion copies to hand out the next 315:00day. Very interesting time to be on his staff.
CW: With all this excitement and maybe you could even call this somewhatintrigue. Did you ever stop and look and see where you were and think, "This is a pivot point and …?"
PM: Actually I did, on the way and somewhere around the time of theCongressional testimony in September 2007. I didn't take the long term historic review, but what I told him is that Al-Qaeda in Iraq while not completely destroyed is clearly defeated. At what point do we pivot and start to take out 316:00the Shia militias? Which I think would have been crucial, because had you gotten rid of the independent power base of these Shia politicians, then the only force left in Iraq would have been the Iraqi army and the Iraqi police force. You would not have had the situation you have today where Iran has such a great influence on various political parties in Iraq. Because it advises, trains, arms and equips and funds private militias inside Iraq, we would have done away with them.
I really think the shift from focusing on the Sunni insurgency to focusing onthe Shia militias was the next step. He sort of acknowledged it, but I guess he maybe thought it was too early, or too hard to do. As it turns out, the next 317:00step was getting a political grand bargain in place which happened.
We also had the remains of Al-Qaeda in Iraq up in Mosul, which we always thoughtthat that was going to be a next step in the fight, we never got back up there. All of these things that were the next step and never came to fruition because of the end of the surge have come back to bite us in the long run. A political grand bargain that was never completely sealed. Al-Qaeda in Iraq that was never completely destroyed up in Mosul. Shia militias that were never dealt with and taken off the battlefield for the long-haul. Thereby creating a monopoly of violence for the state, for the national government. We are today, where we are 318:00in part because the incomplete nature if you will of the surge.
CW: How much more time would you have needed do you think to make it stick?
PM: I think Mosul could have been dealt with in a matter of months had we put aconcerted effort into it. The Shia militias would have been a much harder issue, we would have had to have buy in from the Iraqi government. This is something where, had we remained engaged and had we been successful in putting Ayad Allawi into power, we might have been able to do it.
I'm not sure we would have been able to do it under Nouri al-Maliki, possiblebut not likely. Under the Obama administration I just don't see it happening 319:00because of his desire just to leave.
CW: This is a bit of a strange question, it's imagine you're in a Groundhog Daysituation, and you wake up and it's 9 odd years ago and you're asked to be the XO again. Or at some point where you really solidify your position in this counter-insurgency, a surge movement. Would you go back and do it again? Would you do it the same? How would you change it? Would you do something completely different?
PM: I think the problems with the surge came after the surge not during. There320:00might be a few things that change here and there, but surge was wildly successful. Then we blew the political aftermath. Perhaps I would have put more effort into tamping the worst accesses of Nouri al-Maliki. I think what we really needed was a political strategy to compliment our military strategy, and I don't think we really had one.
Americans used to be pretty good at this in the late 40s. We sent guys over toManila with suitcases full of cash, and put Ramon Magsaysay in power, and he 321:00turned out to be good for the Philippines, and good for the United States, and good for peace. Really effective. Somehow we find it beneath ourselves to actually support individual politicians in a foreign country anymore when we used to do that pretty routinely and effectively.
The idea that we could wash our hands of Iraqi politics, even though we were theones that deposed Saddam Hussein. Well, who did we think would ... What would emerge from that. It's going to be whoever Iran wants then, because they're the ones putting money and effort into it. I would put more effort into saying we need a political strategy to accompany our military strategy, and put far more effort into that especially from October 2007 onward when the military aspects 322:00seemed to be in place.
CW: Seems like your officers we've talked to talked about checking boxes orsomething. I don't know if you've made the analogy at some point. They had a career to make the next step. You mentioned not making brigadier general previously, but in 2008 your roles XO must have checked some boxes for you. Did you consider trying again to go on for becoming higher on to continue your military career, or was it always in your mind to move on at this point?
PM: No. I was willing to soldier on. Then fate intervened, and that network Ideveloped at the Counsel on Foreign Relations intervened. One of the people I 323:00reconnected with during that time was Dr. Williamson Murray; one of my PhD advisors. He was living in Fairfax, Virginia, and so I reconnected with him. When I left Iraq for the United States to take part in the congressional hearings in September of 2007, I stayed at his house for a few days. Then I went on to the congressional hearings. He had to leave to go to Notre Dame for a academic conference.
I remember him telling me "I don't really want to do this. I kind of got ropedinto it and felt guilty." So I said "Yes. Well this shows just how chance intervenes in your life." He was sitting next to Rick Herman, the head of the Mershon Center for International Security Studies. They're talking, and Rick is 324:00lamenting how they had a failed search for the Mason Chair of Military History at Ohio State, and that they're looking for a modern U.S. military historian, General Mason who was still alive at the time. Really preferred someone who had been in the arena and mixed it up, in his words.
Man, where we going to find someone like that? Rick Murray looks at him and hegoes "God, I don't know. He goes "Wait. The guy that was just in my basement." I had written an award winning book on the U.S. army in World War II, I had continued to author chapters in books and articles, appear at conferences, and then I had obviously mixed it up in the arena. I get a call after the testimony was over General Petraeus Grant did me my mid-tour leave. I went home to Kansas for a couple weeks, and was literally drinking a martini when I get a phone call 325:00from Rick Murray, and he said "How would you like to be the next Mason Chair of Military History?" I was like well, that's really out of left field. I wasn't thinking of being an academic. Let me talk it over with my wife. She left the decision completely up to me because she didn't want me five years down the road saying "Oh, you made me get out of the military, or you made me stay in."
One thing led to another. I took one day out of my leave and flew to Ohio Stateand met the search committee, and had dinner with the head of the Mershon Center and the head of the history department; Peter Han. Spoke to the history department, spoke to the Mershon Center, met the deans. Did a lot in just one day. I flew back and I said "Okay, well let me know how it goes." They called back and they said "Oh no, no, no. You didn't have a letter of application on file, so we don't consider that an official visit. I said "Okay." I wrote up an application, sent it in. They go "You need three letters of recommendation." 326:00It's nearing the end of my time in the United States, and so I get three really valued mentors to write letters, and they all write them within one day.
I get the letters in and they go "That's light speed." They go "We still don'tconsider your visit an official visit. You need to come for a job talk." At that point I balked. I said "I'm not going to. I leave for Iraq tomorrow. General Petraeus is not going to allow me to leave Iraq so I can go job hunt at the Ohio State University." I could do it via video teleconference if that's what you want; if that's acceptable. Otherwise, I can't do it. They finally said "Okay. Well, that's acceptable." I'm doing this interview at midnight after a sixteen hour day. I'm just smoked. I'm sitting at General Petraeus' office in the headquarters. He's back home sleeping because the little video screen is at his 327:00desk. I do this teleconference, and I say "Okay. Well, let me know how it goes." I told them, because this was now October, and my brigadier general board was meeting in November. I knew that General Petraeus was being called back to be the head of it. It wasn't a sure thing of making brigadier general, but having a friend court certainly would have helped.
I told Ohio State, I said "I need a decision by thirty one October, otherwiseI'm not going to tell you whether I'm going to accept or not until the results of the brigadier general board are out. Because I refuse to put my packet in for brigadier general under false pretenses; that I'm also job searching outside the military. To their credit, Peter Han and the folks at Ohio State got it done. By 328:00thirty one October I had a job offer in hand, and a signed contract. I had not told General Petraeus. Finally he realised that something is up. I think the aid tells him. He goes "Come out on the patio with me." He goes "What's going on?" I said "I'm leaving the military." He got this stunned look on his face. I said "I've been offered a chair in military history at Ohio State, and it's obviously something I'm very passionate about." Making brigadier general is not a sure thing. This is a sure thing, and it's something I can do for the rest of my life. It's the best military history program in the nation, and I can help lead it. I can still be a player in the national arena in terms of discussing key issues of the day.
He understood that. I think most senior leaders would have tried to talk me outof it. What's good for the Army. You stay in. You'll make it eventually champ. 329:00General Petraeus, because he's part academic at heart, he understood. He kind of looks, he goes kind of wistfully like "Man, I wish I could ..." He didn't say this, but you could see him going man, I wish I could do that. He completely understands, and so at that point I sent the note to the senior leader division. Took myself out of the running for brigadier general, and put in my retirement paperwork.
CW: If you had known you were going to ... You were sure you that you were goingto get the brigadier general, would you still have taken the job at OSU?
PM: Yeah. I would have. But, if I had all ready been a brigadier general, no. IfI was all ready wearing stripes. Because at that point I would have felt a 330:00responsibility. Basically, the Army had faith in me to promote me to that level of rank and, therefore, I needed to not break ranks with the Army, but it had happened, so I felt I was a free agent at that point.
CW: Thinking about your life now, are there things that trigger memories ofIraq? What reminds you of Iraq that you have run into, or being in country?
PM: Ironically, it's smells. It's amazing how much smell has to do with yoursense of memory. You'll smell some dust or some fecal odor, or something that just triggers a memory of ... All of a sudden, you'll have this flashback to a 331:00time in Iraq, or elsewhere in my military career, as well, and there's also some things that happened during my military career that have come down and continued to be family lore. One of them is this hand and arm signal we use in my family, this. (raises arms up vertically on either side of his head, similar to the signal for a successful field goal in football) What does this mean? Going way back to my time as a officer in the 11th Army Cavalry Regiment in Germany, I'd given up command.
I was now on the regimental staff, and I was assigned to be anobserver/controller at a gunnery range at Grafenwoehr for platoon gunnery. We're waiting for the day's action to start. If you know anything about tank gunnery, I think the range is open at 8 and at 8:01, you want the first round to go downrange. That's like the mark of professionalism. You have everything ready to 332:00go. Ranges go hot, and you're off and running. Well, 8 o'clock, 8:01, nothing happens. 8:30, nothing happens. 9 o'clock, nothing happens.
At the base of the tower is the Humvee of the squadron executive officer, MajorLee Orveos, a really funny guy from New Mexico, and he keeps calling up to the tower, what's going on? He keeps getting excuse after excuse. It's the targetry, it's the fog, there's this problem or that problem. 9:30, 10:00, 10:30. Finally, about three hours later at 11 o'clock, he gets out of his Humvee, walks to the base of the tower, takes off his Kevlar, slams it on the ground, looks up, and he goes, "What the fuck? What the fuck?" To this day, this hand and arm signal in my family connotes a certain phrase that means, things are pretty screwed up 333:00around here. That's just one of a number of things that we continually refer to things that happened during military service and bring them into our everyday life. It makes a lot of fun and, as time goes on, we remember mostly the good things, and the pain sort of fades.
CW: Is there an aspect of military service that you miss most?
PM: It's the camaraderie. When you're in a unit and you all are focused on themission, you have a lot of social events together. In Bad Hersfeld, it was Thursday night, pizza night at the club and Friday night liars' dice at the club and ski trips to Austria and Switzerland or wherever in the winter, and the 334:00Spanish beaches in the summer. Other places, perhaps not quite so tight, especially if you're in the United States because there's more to offer in a civilian community, but you're still tight as a unit, and you hold ... officers calls and hales and fairwells and dining ins. It's that sense of shared community that you miss the most when you leave the military, and I didn't realize I would miss it as much as I did until I got out.
That first year was pretty traumatic, actually. It really was social media thathelped me out. I reconnected with a lot of friends on Facebook, put together a high school reunion, started to meet people here in Columbus, and got over the hump. Same with my wife. She didn't realize she would miss the wives' community 335:00as much as she did. She had the same sort of journey as I did. We're fully ensconced in Dublin, Ohio now and sinking our roots deep, so we're pretty happy with the way things have turned out.
CW: Are there good aspects about deploying that you miss? I was wondering, arethere things that you ...
PM: Yeah. You have some really incredible experiences. How many people haveeaten masgouf in Baghdad, Iraq? I remember seeing a Facebook meme once, and it had an M1A1 tank with a sunset behind it and said, "Less than 1/10 of 1/10 of 1% of the American people have seen a sunset from a tank? Click here if you're one 336:00of them." There's a lot of things about military service that you look back on and you go, you know, not many people have been able to experience what I've experienced. A lot of it ... Not all of it's tough and hardship or painful. A lot of it's pretty neat at the time. Looking back, it's still pretty neat.
CW: How do you feel that you're... big-picture question question. How do youfeel your military experiences changed you the most personally? 337:00
PM: I don't know if it's my military experience or just getting older, but Iused to be an incredibly type A, type AAA personality, detail-oriented, very driven. Over time, I've become much more reflective and much more strategic in my thinking and somewhat less type A. I wouldn't call myself necessarily a type B personality now, but clearly not as intense as I used to be. Like I said, I don't know if that was the military or just the fact of experiencing and aging but, over time in my military career, I did become ... I don't know if you're familiar with the Myers-Briggs test. I used to be a ISTJ or an ESTJ, and now I'm 338:00an INTJ, which is a very intuitive, strategic-thinking person. I think that was a function, perhaps, of my education at Ohio State and my experiences from squadron command alone that really made the difference there.
TP: On kind of a larger question too, especially now in your role, you end updoing commentary. You mentioned that you had done some commentary for BBC about the recent reports that came out in the U.K. Having been on both sides of the media and where it intersects with modern warfare, how do you view it's effect on modern warfare, I guess both in theater and then also in Columbus, Ohio? 339:00
PM: Watching the media up close and personal, I was a CNN military analyst forabout 18 months. The media, it doesn't have an agenda. It's agenda, if anything, is the story. It wants eyeballs on its product, and it's going to chase that story, no matter where. It's not necessarily looking to make you look bad, but it might be looking for bad things because that's what sells. As long as you understand that, I think dealing with the media can be a very positive experience. General Petraeus, I learned at the hand of the master. He understood how to deal with the media, and he wanted three things, context, factual 340:00accuracy, and the proper characterization of what was going on. As long as the media abided by those things, they could write whatever they wanted to. He used to say our job was not to make sure the stories were good, just that they were accurate and fairly characterized.
I think that's the same today. The media is just trying to tell a story, andit's trying to do its job and inform the public. I know people like to blame the mainstream media for this and that, but I have found that the mainstream media really does not have this huge agenda that people think it has. It just wants to sell it's product and, if the mainstream media had an agenda, then why is it 341:00giving so much coverage to Donald Trump, for instance? If it was really as liberal as some Republicans say it is, then it should be giving the majority of coverage to the Democratic candidate, but it's not because the story is elsewhere.
I have found my experience with the media to be a very positive one.Occasionally, you have a bad experience, but as long as you understand the rules by which the media plays by, you can just tell whatever it is that you're trying to convey. Like I said, my experience with the media has been pretty positive, especially since I've come to Ohio State and I have tenure to protect me. I don't have to abide by the Army's talking points any more, and Ohio State likes me getting out there as a key national security figure. As long as it says the 342:00Ohio State University over my shoulder, they're fine with that.
CW: How do you think your military experience reflects in your work now for LSU?It seems like you naturally kind of gravitated to be a military historian.
PM: Since third grade, remember? Too many G.I. Joes. It helps. It helpsunderstanding what it's like to be on a battlefield. It might not be the same ones that other people have been on, but a lot of things about battle don't change, the fear, the courage, the anticipation, the boredom, and the excitement at times, the horror at other times. That's something I convey to my students at 343:00both the undergraduate and graduate level and, continually, I get comments back on my ratings saying, you really brought this home, this piece of history to life because of your knowledge and experiences and making comparisons, so that helps a great deal. I think it also helps in my research and writing, understanding how the military works, understanding why things happen the way they do, and it really assists in making my writing better. I cringe often when I read military history and someone's got just basic stuff wrong because it's clear they've never served, and they haven't taken the time to figure out how things work. It's helped me in that regard, as well. 344:00
TP: Okay, so you said you've become more reflective. How does it feel now tohave held command in what is essentially the defining conflict of this generation?
PM: I'm always grateful to the United States for having given me command of it'ssoldiers twice, three times. I will always look back on all three of my commands with great fondness and the people in them, people I worked with. I think, even though not every war turned out the way I wanted it to, there is a sense of accomplishment in what I've done.
CW: Given that only less than 1% of our country serves in the military, what do345:00you think is most important for civilians to know about those who served?
PM: Military reflects the society from which it springs. I don't think Americansshould look at people in the military as being something apart from them. They are the best of America, and that's what I think American citizens should realize and take with them as they go about their daily lives.
TP: What do you think people should know about the war in Iraq?
PM: The war in Iraq will continue to be adjudicated again and again and again inour lifetimes. I think there were some serious mistakes going in, but I just, in 346:00talking about the Iraq War, I wish people could separate the decision to go to war from the decisions made during the war. When I talk about these periods where things might have turned out okay, a lot of people naturally default back to, well, but the decision to go to war was flawed. Well, yes it was, but once you're there, what do you do? As PM once said, "Just because you enter a war stupidly doesn't mean that you have to leave it stupidly," and I'm afraid we did. If you could look at what happened inside the conflict and treat that on it's own merits rather than lumping everything in with, it was a bad decision to go to war and we hate the Bush administration because of it, or the Blair administration if you're British ... 347:00
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Segment Synopsis: Mansoor is introduced and he begins to share memories regarding his childhood; including family military background
Mansoor is introduced and he begins to share memories regarding his childhood; including family military background
Keywords: Navy NCO Senior Chief Petty Officer
Subjects: New Ulm, Minnesota Sacramento, California Yankee Station, Vietnam
GPS: New Ulm (MN), United States
Map Coordinates: 44.3170441,-94.5325812
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Segment Synopsis: Mansoor, who was a cadet in Beast Barracks, explains the process as well as some of the challenges of attending West Point.
Mansoor, who was a cadet in Beast Barracks, explains the process as well as some of the challenges of attending West Point.
Keywords: Beast Barracks or New Cadet Training; United States. Army. Corps of Engineers; United States. Department of the Army. Army training and evaluation program
Subjects: West Point (NY), United States
GPS: West Point, NY (U.S. Military Academy)
Map Coordinates: 41.3918372,-73.964692
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Segment Synopsis: Mansoor elaborates on his first posting in El Paso, including meeting his future wife in military school and combat expectations.
Mansoor elaborates on his first posting in El Paso, including meeting his future wife in military school and combat expectations.
Keywords: 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment; Cold War--History
Subjects: El Paso (TX), United States Military School
GPS: Fort Bliss (TX), United States
Map Coordinates: 31.801847, -106.424608
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Segment Synopsis: Mansoor explains the start of his new life in Germany with his wife, Jana, as well as balancing the challenges of training and leisure time.
Mansoor explains the start of his new life in Germany with his wife, Jana, as well as balancing the challenges of training and leisure time.
Keywords: Bad Hersfeld (Germany); Hohenfels (Bavaria, Germany)
Subjects: Barcelona, Spain Copenhagen, Denmark London, England Mountain Turmoil Paris, France Training Accident Travel in Europe
GPS: Bad Hersfeld, Germany
Map Coordinates: 50.861382,9.5808469
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Segment Synopsis: Mansoor describes his interwar experience upon his return to the United States after the Cold War's end and prior to the Gulf War. Mansoor situated himself in Columbus, Ohio at Ohio State and later back to West Point.
Mansoor describes his interwar experience upon his return to the United States after the Cold War's end and prior to the Gulf War. Mansoor situated himself in Columbus, Ohio at Ohio State and later back to West Point.
Keywords: Aidid, M. F. (Mohammed Farah), 1934-; Omaha Beach (France)
Subjects: Columbus (OH), United States Los Angeles (CA), United States Normandy, France Philadelphia (PA), United States
GPS: Columbus (OH), United States
Map Coordinates: 39.9826142,-83.2710139
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Segment Synopsis: Mansoor explains his process of being assigned to Fort Irwin, CA, intense military training foreshadowing events to come later in his career, and experiences as a commander.
Mansoor explains his process of being assigned to Fort Irwin, CA, intense military training foreshadowing events to come later in his career, and experiences as a commander.
Keywords: Al Qaeda (Organization); Buffalo Soldiers; Desert Fox Operation, 1998
Subjects: Commander Tactical Training Developing as a Commander Fort Irwin (CA), United States
GPS: Fort Irwin (CA), United States
Map Coordinates: 35.2572174,-116.6995972
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Segment Synopsis: Mansoor reflects upon his initial perceptions of the Iraq War in early 2003 and his preparations for deployment.
Mansoor reflects upon his initial perceptions of the Iraq War in early 2003 and his preparations for deployment.
Keywords: Hussein, Saddam, 1937-2006; Iraq War, 2003-2011; Weapons of mass destruction.
Subjects: Kuwait Libya Ramādī (Iraq) Tall ʻAfar (Iraq)
GPS: Baghdad, Iraq
Map Coordinates: 33.3113716,44.0757167
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Segment Synopsis: Mansoor describes an assortment of some of his decisions as a commander and tenser experiences during the conflict.
Mansoor describes an assortment of some of his decisions as a commander and tenser experiences during the conflict.
Keywords: Army War College (U.S.); North Atlantic Treaty Organization; Spectre (Gunship)
Subjects: Karbala, Iraq
GPS: Sadr City, Iraq
Map Coordinates: 33.3874573,44.4283349,13
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Segment Synopsis: Dr. Mansoor describes his relationship with Sergeant Major Eric Cooke, and his accident in Adhamiyah, Iraq during a search and destroy mission that killed him. He later goes on to describe the events that followed his death.
Dr. Mansoor describes his relationship with Sergeant Major Eric Cooke, and his accident in Adhamiyah, Iraq during a search and destroy mission that killed him. He later goes on to describe the events that followed his death.
Keywords: Search & destroy; Widowed Wife
Subjects: Camp Taji Ramadan Offensive
GPS: Adhamiyah, Iraq
Map Coordinates: 33.3678489,44.3461202,14
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Segment Synopsis: Mansoor gives a more in-depth understanding of some of the operations carried out, and enemy groups/leaders in Iraq. He also shares additional good memories during his time in Iraq.
Mansoor gives a more in-depth understanding of some of the operations carried out, and enemy groups/leaders in Iraq. He also shares additional good memories during his time in Iraq.
Keywords: 101st Airborne Division Association; Jaysh al-Mahdī; Sunnites.
Subjects: Counter-insurgency operations Muqtada al-Sadr
GPS: Ruins of Ancient Babylon, Iraq
Map Coordinates: 32.6548058,43.9715351
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Segment Synopsis: Mansoor describes when he returned to Germany after fourteen months on ground.
Mansoor describes when he returned to Germany after fourteen months on ground.
Subjects: Counsel on Foreign Relations Heildelburg, Germany
GPS: Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany
Map Coordinates: 50.0319871,8.5681779
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Segment Synopsis: Mansoor describes his options that he was presented with and his decisions regarding where he was to go next in his military career.
Mansoor describes his options that he was presented with and his decisions regarding where he was to go next in his military career.
Subjects: New Role in New York
GPS: Cold Springs (NY), United States
Map Coordinates: 41.4189781,-73.9631905
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Segment Synopsis: Mansoor recaps his experience of receiving a phone call from General Petraeus and being hand-picked by him, also his new role after his time with the Council on Foreign Relations. He began to build a personal relationship with Petraeus.
Mansoor recaps his experience of receiving a phone call from General Petraeus and being hand-picked by him, also his new role after his time with the Council on Foreign Relations. He began to build a personal relationship with Petraeus.
Keywords: Business Executives for National Security (U.S.); Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq
Subjects: General Petraeus' Executive Officer
GPS: Fort Leavenworth (KS), United States
Map Coordinates: 39.3615792,-94.9223309
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Segment Synopsis: Mansoor recaps several of his tense moments while in Iraq, and more involvements with General Petraeus.
Mansoor recaps several of his tense moments while in Iraq, and more involvements with General Petraeus.
Keywords: Camp Ashraf.; Shiites.
Subjects: Karbala, Iraq Nouri al-Maliki
GPS: Karbala, Iraq
Map Coordinates: 32.6073806,43.9415764
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Segment Synopsis: Mansoor talks about the time and effort put into restoring Tower 57 that was dropped by the insurgents.
Mansoor talks about the time and effort put into restoring Tower 57 that was dropped by the insurgents.
Subjects: Circle of Life Tower 57 Triangle of Death
GPS: Tower 57 (South Baghdad), Iraq
Map Coordinates: 33.3116664,44.2858653
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Segment Synopsis: Mansoor gives a more detailed description of the counter-insurgency as well as a few specific tough times and experiences he experienced.
Mansoor gives a more detailed description of the counter-insurgency as well as a few specific tough times and experiences he experienced.
Keywords: Counter-insurgency operations; Multi-National Corps--Iraq
Subjects: Central Command Ghazaliya Office of Martyr Sadr
GPS: Ghazaliya, Iraq
Map Coordinates: 33.3442979,44.2424739,13
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Segment Synopsis: Mansoor describes his initial plan to want to extend his military career, and the moment when fate intervened and he saw his exit from the military.
Mansoor describes his initial plan to want to extend his military career, and the moment when fate intervened and he saw his exit from the military.
Subjects: Academia Ohio State
GPS: The Ohio State University (OH), United States
Map Coordinates: 40.0141905,-83.033103
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