Friday, June 01, 2007

High Noon

Most everyone by now has probably read Michael Yon's dramatic account of the arrest of an Iraqi general inside his own headquarters. The actual arrest was performed by LTC Crissman in a surprise move on Gen Hamid himself. But I want to highlight a few paragraphs in Yon's account of particular interest.

There was no plan whatsoever to arrest General Hamid that day. But events were unfolding, and the proto-neural communication network that our forces and the Iraqis have been establishing around the area was starting to work. Information was flowing about the heartbeat of the city of Hit, and the area, into the JCC (Joint Coordination Center, where our people have a headquarters with Iraqi police). And that information would force LTC Crissman’s hand because intelligence strongly indicated that Iraqi citizens were going to be killed if action wasn’t taken immediately. ...

Although I’ve been in many Iraqi police stations, this was the first time I can recall entering a station and having the distinct impression that for some reason a firefight might be imminent with the police. There are always concerns that one, or a few, police might do something, but I have always seen the police stations as semi-safe havens, except for how al Qaeda and other groups like to mortar IP stations or level them with truck bombs. Our guys seemed ready to fight the police, something I’d also never before seen.

Importantly, none of this was overt. Nobody was pointing weapons at each other or shouting; nothing like that. Nobody was threatening anyone. Unlike the loud ruckus earlier where men had cocked their weapons, and our guys on the roof were aiming just over my head at machine guns I had not seen (making me think one of our guys was aiming at me), I did not sense that a shootout was forthcoming that time. Yet this time there was no posturing whatsoever, but I could smell the danger as clearly as high voltage. ...

Moments earlier, as we rolled up and saw those seven Iraqi Police vehicles filled with men, Crissman had secretly called for a platoon-sized QRF (Quick Reaction Force) backup in Bradley vehicles. ... After about 15 minutes of discussion, we heard the Bradleys rumbling outside. I knew something was going down, but still had no idea what. As I watched Crissman deal with Hamid, I wasn’t getting any clues.

Read the whole thing. I've highlighted some of the paragraphs to illustrate two points. First, the entire decision to arrest General Hamid flowed from a fairly deep and detailed understanding of the political situation. Hamid was a competent officer and was once a hero, before he turned bad. Second, many of the actual tactical decisions made by LTC Crissman were extemporized based on a situational awareness that can only come from experience, extensive networks and practiced teamwork.

As I've often argued in other posts this institutional knowledge is the real weapons system that has been responsible for many of the recent successes in Iraq. Whatever the next Administration does, whether it be Democrat or Republican, the intelligence networks, expertise, etc that have been painstakingly built up should not be cast aside in the chaos of a precipitate retreat. It has cost too much to throw away. Back to the Yon article:

LTC Crissman, acting solely on his own and with no direct orders from above, saw that a bloodbath was about to be unleashed, and pulled a plan out of the sky. Yes, there had been a plan already afoot, but Crissman “fragged” it early, managing to arrest an entire police station without a shot being fired, and using me as a photo-op to distract a proud, some might say vain, general just long enough to disarm him.

These things are never learned from afar.


Blogger 49erDweet said...

Amazing story and great post, w. The intrinsic value of the US military's developing institutional memory is simply beyond compare. I share your concern such a hard-earned commodity not be irresponsibly frittered away by sycophants and silly politicians responding to special interest whims.

6/01/2007 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Wretchard -- it WILL be thrown away.

Dems have decided to appease and surrender. Of course we will throw it away in Iraq, and Afghanistan. No fighting at any time is permissible under Dem rules.

Jimmy Carter's peace index ought to tell you how the Left sees things. America is not allowed to defend itself. Not allowed to build allies and alliances. America is the root of all evil and all evil therefore will cease if we simply withdraw and grovel.

And so, we will go down the path of losing cities, and an Angry Jacksonian revolt that levels nations in response.

But hey, give peace a chance. It sure worked for Stanley Baldwin.

What LTC Chrisman and other courageous officers and men do doesn't matter in the least. It's all going to be thrown away in an effort to pretend really, really hard that the world is made up really nice but misunderstood people.

6/01/2007 08:24:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

One of the reasons for Michael Yon's success with this reader is that expression of what you call institutional memory. Some notion of the development of that knowledge is in every post, whether describing it in infancy in Mosul, the apparent lack of it among the tribes in Afghanistan or the new found wealth in places like Hit.

His ability to read the situation and our soldiers understanding of them, gives these reports a quality lacking in most news reports.

6/01/2007 10:14:00 PM  
Blogger R said...

When one becomes Commander In Chief, doesn't his duties go beyond the immediate battlefield? Perhaps, all the way back to those who sit in the bleachers and "cheer" for their warriors?

I think so, just like when a wife kisses her husband prior to his leaving for work and whispers to him that she loves him. Husbands like and need this; often I think.

All this report does is highlight how we have squandered our energies in this war on terror! Soldiers follow orders. Politicians set them off to battle and see that they are in fact properly supported.

Our politicians have failed in their responsibilities, period!

That is all we, as citizens really need to know. Next, we need to "vote" new politicians into office who will behave more responsibly.

If we have the time.

It is just this simple, really.

Ask the warriors who are being abandoned.

Real power resides in voting. As citizens, we just need to exercise this power, and tell our fellow citizens just how powerful each vote can and should be. Real simple.

Remember "compassionate conservatism" just before you pull the lever in voting.

We owe this to those who have fought on our behalf, don't we?

6/02/2007 04:45:00 AM  
Blogger Ari Tai said...

re: a presidential duty to sell "us"

He has no responsibility, none whatsoever. As a free and informed people, that's our job. He has little enough time to focus on the job at hand. If we can't hold up our end of the bargain of citizenship, shame on us.

And if/when we fail to be adults and free-citizen-peers of the president, we'll deserve the infantilization the left will deliver when we vote them in. We'll get our diapers changed frequently, I suspect.

6/02/2007 05:30:00 AM  
Blogger Evanston2 said...

Big salute to a magnificent Army officer and the readiness and teamwork of his men.

6/02/2007 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Amos said...

Ari Tai,

Don't bet on it:

6/04/2007 12:29:00 AM  

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