This SWJ update is an overview of my trip to Iraq, where I had last visited in February of 2007. The April visit - about my 13th time since 2003 - was my typical month-long trip, focused on the company-level. I accompanied twelve Iraqi and American units in Anbar (Habbineah, Haditha, Ramadi, Saqwaniyah, the Zidon, etc.) and Baghdad (Rusafa, Sadr City, Azamiyiah, Khalidiah, Gaziliah).
While I spoke with senior officers -- General Petraeus, LtGen Odierno and MajGen Gaskin run an open organization that goes out of its way to let a journalist accompany any unit -- they were happy to have me go out and take a look for myself. Appended is a list of those who so generously shared their views.
Below are some observations, with my conclusions under point #18. In a nutshell, for the US to achieve the goal of relative stability in Iraq, by the end of 2007 three battlefield conditions must be met. First, Iraq's predominantly Shiite army must demonstrate a strategy and a momentum against a resumption of Shiite ethnic cleansing in and around Baghdad. Second, in Anbar the Iraqi army and the predominantly Sunni police must sustain the momentum for eradicating al Qaeda in Iraq. Third, in the rest of the Sunni Triangle, the Iraqi Army must prevent al Qaeda from developing sanctuaries.
Background. Iraq's 26 million traumatized inhabitants have few leaders, are rent by religious and ethnic antagonisms, and are slaughtered and terrified by the Grendel-like monster called al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). The reasonable timeline for counterinsurgency and nation-building under such conditions is ten to twenty years. The administration and the Pentagon attempted to complete "full-spectrum counterinsurgency" - i.e., clear, hold and rebuild the key cities - in 2005, transition to Iraqi forces in 2006, and begin leaving in 2007. If accomplished, that would have been the fastest turnaround in history.
In 2006, US troops did indeed fall back into Forward Operating Bases in order to reduce the visibility of Americans. Soldiers on patrol drove to and from the capital in armored humvees, a tactic one colonel said was equivalent "to observing the shoreline through the periscope of a submarine". The murderous AQI bombing campaign against Shiites, though, provoked ethnic cleansing in and around Baghdad by the Jesh al Mahdi (JAM) militia. Baghdad was slowly falling apart as the violence increased and the American soldiers stood on the sidelines.
In response, President Bush, supported by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, surged five brigades into and around Baghdad, and a new commander, General David Petraeus, implemented a Surge Strategy based on classic counterinsurgency principles. The key was deploying American companies throughout the city in concert with Iraqi police and soldiers. It was back to "clear and hold" again.
The surge is off to a good start. It is, however, based on borrowed forces. The US troops were "borrowed" by a (final?) withdrawal upon the good will of the American electorate, and the Iraqi troops were borrowed from the Kurds and from Anbar, both of which will reclaim them. Thus, at the end of the surge, Baghdad has to maintain stability with fewer American and Iraqi forces.
1. Dynamism in April. Iraq is a low-level war with scarcely any firefights above a squad level. In this war, the moral/psychological is to the physical as 20 is to 1. The new American military team has infused the effort with energy and strategic clarity, and seized the initiative. The two primary battlefields - Anbar and Baghdad - share a common characteristic: momentum at the battalion level favors the Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).
In Anbar, the unknown is whether the government in Baghdad, especially the Ministry of Interior, will provide the resources to reinforce the unexpected success. In Baghdad, the unknown is whether Jesh al Mahdi (JAM) leaders will resume attacks. On both battle fronts, American rifle companies are the steel rods in concrete that is just beginning to harden.
2. Energy at the local level. In February, Petraeus divided the city into sectors and immediately set up "combat outposts" and "joint coordinating centers". These are analogous to beefed-up police precinct stations, from which American and Iraqi soldiers and local Iraqi police patrol the neighborhoods - hopefully together. The intent is to bring security to the population at the local level.
American soldiers take to this more readily than do the Iraqi forces. There's tremendous variance from station to station among the size, composition and frequency of patrols. Police in the US are more uniform in their coverage and patrol rates because they've had centuries to develop the system, while only in the past few years has the American military accepted that the mission in Iraq is more a policing than a military task.
Nonetheless, where I accompanied patrols in four different districts in Baghdad, the population did manifest trust in the American soldiers. Their industry and good will had not escaped the notice of the residents. There was less of the sullen hostility that I had encountered in prior visits to Ghazilia and Rusafa, although Adamiah remained the toughest nut. Similarly, in the JAM bastions of Khadamiah and Sadr City, there were not the mannerisms and gestures of instinctive anti-Americanism, perhaps because many top JAM leaders have left for safer locales.
3. What's next at the local level in 2007? Money and a shift in responsibility. When American companies embed in an area for months, they get to know the local civilian, military and police leaders. They see the friction and hear the complaints. Company commanders have some money they can spend on local projects, but the procedures are cumbersome. It would be much preferable to give each combat outpost or joint center a line of credit of, say, $20,000 a month. That way, every month the Iraqi security leaders, local leaders and Americans could meet to allocate something specific, opening a dialogue.
For the Americans to move out, competent non-sectarian Iraqi security leaders must replace them. The police in Baghdad use most of their manpower at checkpoints and lack the training to respond to persistent attacks. They rarely patrol on foot, are mistrusted with good reason by the Sunnis and viewed skeptically by many of the Shiites.
It is not clear if the Iraqi security forces will be substantially improved in quality within the next year. Time, though, does alter conditions. A habit takes about twelve weeks to develop. Better military habits can be transferred over time from the American to the Iraqi units, and the Ministry of Defense is the least sectarian agency and preaches that its soldiers are Iraqis, not Sunni or Shiite.
The police cannot be entirely discounted, but the army is the more credible defense against a resurgent JAM offensive. The local effectiveness of the army is critically dependent upon the battalion commander and one or two aggressive company commanders.
The Americans on-scene will be able to judge that. They know who the bad apples are that must be replaced. At least one three-star Iraqi general, two division commanders and several battalion commanders have been relieved due to pressure, including giving the details to the press. That must continue. The goal in every district has to be an acceptable level of trust between the community and the local Iraqi security commander.
4. 2008: How can success be reinforced while numbers decrease? By enhancing the role of the adviser. In Baghdad, The Surge has generated momentum and optimism. Excepting monstrous car bombings, it is likely violence will decrease. What carries beyond The Surge into 2008 is less clear.
In Baghdad, the police, primarily manning checkpoints, will remain distinctly secondary to the Iraqi Army as a stabilizing force. Among Iraqi and US army units, there is wide variation in the number and jointness of the patrols that are the basic tool for securing the population. One advisory team daily leaves the wire, motivating its Iraqi battalion to conduct ten patrols a day. Another team focuses upon staff improvements, and its battalion conducts four patrols a day. One US unit patrols on foot with the Iraqis; another rides in humvees without Iraqis, etc.
The American military stresses decentralized execution, although force protection measures - such as insisting that three or more humvees travel together at all times - are instituted from the top down. Battalion and company commanders decide how they will operate in their own areas, and operating concepts differ markedly. Some commanders prefer night raids; some stress mounted patrols; others insist on foot patrols. There is not a standardized template for providing security from one neighborhood to the next.
Because the mission of urban policing is foreign to the military, the result is a variation of methods and operational styles that one would not see, say, among police departments in the US. Lacking are generally accepted quantitative standards or criteria, like arrests or clearance rates, by which to measure achievement. Even the definition of "patrol" is highly elastic. There is, though, the trustworthy judgment of American company and battalion commanders - the "I know it when I see it" factor in evaluating the degree of security in a neighborhood. So what you have in Baghdad is training by example - the offensive tempo set by American units is being copied by Iraqi units.
This variation does not gainsay a likely diminution in violence; increased numbers of armed forces do reduce criminal activity. That brings us to 2008. Assuming security does improve, how is it sustained as US units leave? The burden shifts to an advisory corps that must sustain by example a non-sectarian, offensive attitude in Iraqi battalions, without the comforting presence of a "partnered" American battalion. The adviser is the coach. He is also the one who receives the best information whether the unit is doing its job. He's in a tough spot, but a highly rewarding one if done with the right attitude. (I urge all advisers to read Once a Warrior King, because that is what they are, for probably the only time in their military careers.)
The implication for 2008 seems obvious: the advisers will be glue holding stability gains together. The adviser team leaders will be chosen this summer. To entice the best, the US Army and Marine Corps must offer commensurate incentives. To do so is an old and sore point that will provoke debate inside both services.
5. The national level - not the local level - is the critical impediment. The heart of the problem is that Iraqi society is extraordinarily hierarchical, and the top level is failing. Under the current circumstances, what occurred in Anbar is likely to repeat in Baghdad: security will improve as the Iraqi security forces turn to the Americans as their natural security partner, rather than turning to their own government.
How they can be extracted is the challenge that looms in 2008. It may sound like I'm getting ahead of myself. But we all do that with the stock market. That is, we absorb and discount the present value as we try to anticipate the future. The Petraeus strategy makes sense. While he will not report until September, it's not too early to ask: what happens if there is more stability by summer's end? What then?
The Iraqi army at the battalion level - and many police units - is advancing at an acceptable pace; it is the performance at the national level that is unacceptable. The Shiites govern defensively and reactively, as if they expected to be stripped of their huge majority. Yes, the ministries lack competence due to the dismissal of the Baathists and the flight of the educated class from Iraq. Lack of capacity, however, can be compensated by the activism of advisers and American logistic skills. Currently, for instance, many advisers pick up and supervise the payrolls of Iraqi battalions and police, fuel is routinely provided when it technically shouldn't be, etc.
As distinct from a lack of capacity, however, there is no means of compensating for determined sectarianism or corrosive obduracy. Iraqi Army officers who do not hesitate to arrest Shiite militia are too frequently relieved of command and shifted to other duties. It is no secret which ministries and personalities have failed and obstructed too often to be tolerated. Some senior people have to be removed from power. This is the key challenge facing the State Department, requiring remarkable skill, cunning and, above all, a sense of urgency.
The American tendency to try to prevail while tolerating malfeasance within the Iraqi senior ranks - viz. MoI or the Oil Ministry - is defended as realpolitik. But we cannot excuse inaction by blaming the political system we imposed. Nor should we compare, as General Abizaid was fond of doing, the Iraqi cabinet to our Founding Fathers, who risked their lives, families and fortunes, led in battle and endured all privations alongside the common soldiers - without the refuge of the Green Zone, without gangs of bodyguards with murky backgrounds, and without mortgage-free flats in fashionable London as an escape hatch.
History offers scant solace: Countering an insurgency without the ability to promote the competent and fire the disloyal and the disastrous is an uphill battle.
6. Peeling-the-onion strategy. The Surge Strategy appears to have four components. First, bring security to the population on a local level. Second, infuse local projects so the residents see some economic gains. This is lagging. Most glaring is the failure - due to connivance among corrupt officials, criminals and insurgents - to deliver propane and fuel so that the population can move about and commerce can circulate. Third, peel away the irreconcilables - prominently al Qaeda and JAM death squads - by shooting or imprisoning them. Fourth, reconcile the majority of Sunni insurgents and Shiite militia through government reforms, legislation and compromise.
Based on the talent, candor and experience of our military leaders and strategic staff now assembled, flaws in that strategy should not be a major concern.
As for the house-cleaning necessary for unity of effort on the Iraqi side, it is not clear whether the State Department will dispatch to Ambassador Crocker a team of tough diplomats with the mission of driving into exile those Iraqi officials who are working against their nation's interests. Of the top 150 Iraqi political, ministerial and military leaders down to battalion commanders, perhaps 25% should be dismissed and ten percent must be fired.
And while national-level legislation such as the hydrocarbon law is necessary to provide assurances of national unity and acceptable proportionality of resources, it is not clear legislation will motivate many insurgents and militia to desist. Local deals will still be necessary, and they are more likely among the Shiite militia than among the Sunni insurgent groups that are more mobile and lack a defined home base. To date, the thousands of Sunnis who claim to be "the honorable resistance" have laid out absurd conditions, suggesting that productive negotiations reflect results on the battlefield. If other insurgencies is a guide, guerrillas accept political terms only when losing.
So while the strategy is clear and logical, the challenges are immense.
7. Imprison the irreconcilables. At the same time, the irreconcilable Sunni insurgents and Shiite militia must be killed or captured. There's a big problem here. The number of insurgents killed is quite low. Iraq, especially Baghdad, is not a shooting war; it's a police war, and police keep order by arrests, not by shootings. But since the scandal of Abu Ghraib, the American military has sought to get out of the arrest business and turn all prisoners over to an Iraqi judicial system that does not exist.
By most historical measures, Iraq - if on the path to prevailing over the Sunni insurgency and the Shiite militias - should be holding 50,000 to 75,000 or more. The current numbers are far less: Americans are holding roughly 19,000 and the Iraqis are holding around 20,000.
A major debate is raging about the rights of the individual arrested versus the rights of a society at war. Since 2003, the American military has released about 43,000 prisoners. Many of those released should never have been locked up, particularly not alongside hard-core extremists. Advocates of more releases point to a re-arrest rate of 11% as evidence of very low recidivism. Opponents claim that recidivism is likely to be above the US rate of 60%, and that the few re-arrests point to the prevalence of intimidation, leading to the passive support of the population wherever the insurgency or JAM puts down roots.
In the midst of a war, lip service is given to the phrase "rule of law", meaning that Iraq should abide by the strictures of a Western liberal society. A new prison for 6,000 is being built in Baghdad, to be staffed with live-in judges. There are multiple levels of review of the evidence for holding a detainee. Most detainees are released prior to appearing before a judge.
In reality, the American system judges whether a detainee should be incarcerated for the long term. If the answer is yes, it asks an Iraqi judge to confirm the decision. Iraqi judges still release 45%, despite the evidence against the accused that persuaded the Americans. Opponents of release therefore argue that the more insurgents brought before the judges, the more will be released, resulting in more attacks against Americans.
Some Iraqi and US officials favor another mass release of several thousand, while other officials are adamantly opposed. Since the Surge Strategy began, both US and Iraqi forces have been imprisoning more detainees. As a result, the American and Iraqi prisons are stuffed full, and there are no plans to build more immediate capacity proportionate to the scale of the war. This issue is unresolved and will not fade away. If mishandled, it will gravely imperil the war effort. It makes no sense to release those who will kill you.
8. Concrete barriers are imperative. The suicide bomber is a long-term terror. Americans tolerate millions of hours of inconvenience daily at airport security checkpoints. Barriers to reduce the bloodshed from murderous bombers should have been erected years ago in Baghdad. That such protection has been limned as an offense to civil rights reflects poorly on the instincts of too many in the press.
9. Tracking the battle lines. Surprisingly, I saw no citywide photo map that showed the forward lines - Sunni houses in one color, Shiite in another and abandoned in a third. Yet at every outpost, the watch officers pointed out the lines on their local photomaps. In northern Ghazilia, ethnic cleansing had oozed forward a bit - a few more Sunnis evicted and Shiite families had moved in since my last visit; in Rastamiah, families had returned. It would be relatively simple to aggregate these battle lines once a week.
10. Anbar has improved due to years of persistent effort in fighting, an increase in forces and the swing of the tribes. A year ago, the Sunnis in Anbar were in denial, fearing al Qaeda in Iraq, yet hoping to regain the power they had enjoyed under Saddam. For years, I watched American regimental commanders warn the sheiks and local councils that one day the Americans would be gone and al Qaeda would rule, unless they stood up. Now some of the tribes are doing so, and Sunni recruits for the police are standing in line.
11. Neuter the Ministry of Interior. The Ministry of Interior, with adequate money, will not release the funds to hire more police in Anbar and to reinforce success on the ground. Senior Iraqi leaders are aware of the situation, yet tolerate the inaction. The MoI's prejudice against Sunni Anbar hurts the war effort.
MoI is so dysfunctional that many officers told me it should be neutered as an organization, becoming the paymaster for the provincial governors who would raise and direct the police outside Baghdad, while inside the capital the police would gradually be placed under military supervision.
12. Greatly increase the Iraqi forces in Anbar. Terror coexists with progress in Anbar. For instance, in Habbineah, I watched a father refused treatment for his son, saying he would be killed if he accepted medical help from the Americans or the Iraqi soldiers. In Haditha, residents who are now secure insisted to me that the irahibin (al Qaeda in Iraq) would return to rout the police, if the Marines left. In Fallujah, city leaders are routinely assassinated and Iraqi forces have stopped patrolling the Pizza Slice/Blackwater Bridge in the trouble-plagued Jolan western end of the city. What is called the Murder and Intimidation (M&I) strategy of AQI is flourishing.
One reason is that Iraqi forces are instinctive raiders who prefer defensive strong points from which they sally forth in large numbers, especially when they have a fixed target. Patrolling in small numbers to hold those neighborhoods where they have no relatives - in other words, securing the population - does not come naturally.
A second reason is that the US has never designed and implemented a police strategy to identify the population and take away the insurgent's ability to move by car from locale to locale, murdering and escaping. This defect is addressed at point #12 below.
In addition, the American emphasis upon force protection has affected risk-taking by Iraqi forces. Four armored humvees are required for each US patrol; every soldier and Marine wears layers of protective armor, etc. This has conveyed a message to the Iraqi forces: casualties are to be avoided. When human life is held equally dear but one ally invests ten times the capital, then the ally with less resources adapts more conservative tactics to balance the scales; e.g., not patrolling in areas where there are snipers.
They cannot fight the war the way we do. Yet the more we patrol together, the more they become accustomed to our style, our constraints and our supporting logistics. The solution is not to believe that the ISF will, on their own, patrol like Americans if given another year. Instead, add recruits to the ISF and associates like the tribal forces and let them do what comes naturally: prevail by hugely greater numbers at the point of attack.
In Anbar, for instance, today there are about 18,000 Iraqi and 33,000 Coalition forces. Given the vast distances and an insurgency that numbers over 10,000, several officers suggested a goal of 40,000 Iraqi soldiers and police by the end of 2008. The Marines have so developed their linkages with the tribes that such numbers are credible. Lacking such numbers, these officers implied a need for some highly mobile US battalions launching company-sized operations for years to come.
13. An insurgency cannot be won if the insurgents cannot be identified. The lack of an identification system and census tied to individual houses remains the single greatest technical failure of the war. After four years, the Pentagon is distributing handheld devices to take fingerprint and iris scans. There remain two basic technical flaws. First, the devices called HIDE are not tied directly into a large common database. Unlike the devices used by the US border patrol and Chicago police, a squad on patrol cannot send a print over the radio and get an immediate response Instead, the squad has to bring the suspect back to its combat outpost for further identification, if his fingerprint is not already resident in the small database inside the handheld device.
Second, thousands of man-hours have been wasted by hundreds of rifle companies taking separate census without a common framework to pull the efforts together and pass the data from one company to the next. In the US, Google can be queried re criminal offenders, and maps of every city will reveal the locations of the offenders and their past history. Nothing similar has been instituted in Iraq. Yet photomaps exist that detail every house in Baghdad and all other cities in Iraq. To replace the current random catch-as-catch-can effort requires a concept of operations that concentrates the HIDE devices in specific districts to conduct a full census whose data can be displayed on a geographic map.
14. Iran's influence is malign. Probably in reaction to accepting in 2002 intelligence assessments about Iraq that proved false, the press has bent over backward not to link the central government of Iran with explosive devices, money transfers and Iranian agents active inside Iraq. I was surprised how frequently both Iraqi officials and American officers told me that Iran was in essence waging a proxy war against the US. Whatever the extent of its actual influence over and through the Shiite militias, Iran is widely perceived as a malign influence and the US has found no strategy to compel Iran to desist.
15. Beware the Thieu syndrome. Congressional expressions that the war is lost are unhelpful, and not just because they encourage the enemy. From 1973 on, the Thieu government lost faith in American support and clammed up. Without American knowledge, Thieu ordered a pullback from the central highlands. This precipitated panic and disaster.
It seems obvious that Mr. Maliki's confidants are bruiting scenarios that consolidate Shiite power and territory, unchallenged by an American rebuttal that explicates the folly of foolish thinking. (Indeed, an explicit narrative in Arabic detailing how and why blood would continue to be shed ought to be circulated widely throughout the Assembly.) By the end of 2007, the United Nations must pass another Security Council resolution approving the Coalition's actions in Iraq. This requires prior negotiations that could be touchy if, like Thieu, Mr. Maliki privately believes he must gain the authority to rearrange sectors to hedge against American withdrawal. There may, for instance, be a temptation to retrench in Anbar. The danger lies in unintended consequences that ignite a cascade of emotions such as occurred in the first week of April, 2004, when catastrophe was narrowly avoided.
The Americans didn't see it coming with Thieu. It would be prudent to examine now Thieu-type precipitate actions by the GoI.
16. Citizenship deserved. The US could not achieve a satisfactory end state in Iraq without the courage of the Iraqi translators who live with every American battalion and risk their lives every day. Many of them are men without a country. Because they have been so loyal to us Americans, they are distrusted by many in the Iraqi police and army. They remain alive by hiding their identities. Their numbers are few, perhaps 4,000. Surely DoD and the State Department can persuade the Congress to pass legislation enabling citizenship, if so desired, for all translators who are recommended by their battalion commanders.
17. Dedication. I've read about our army being "broken", and certainly much more time at home for the units is deserved. I'm not Pollyannaish; I heard the complaints about the extension, etc. But I was out with enough different units to attest to the energy and mission focus of our soldiers and marines. These are good guys and they understand the strategy Petraeus has laid out. The core of our strength lies in our battalions and at that level it has positively infected the performance of the Iraqi battalions and the local police.
AQI are mean bastards, but they can be broken. That means they have to be put away permanently when caught, or put in the earth.
18. Standing back. From this trip, five variables struck me.
1. The sense of momentum that the surge strategy and leadership have infused into the effort.
2. The biggest challenge is at the top level of the Iraqi government, to include the National Assembly. It is very uncertain whether the higher ranks of the Iraqis can rise above the concept that seniority means privilege and can compromise with the Sunnis, when past oppression has been so real and pervasive. If the top persists in passive or active anti-Sunni manifestations, the effort is doomed.
3. The persistence of the murder and intimidation campaign. An increase in the number and the certainty of imprisonments is needed. More broadly, given that in Fallujah and elsewhere the numbers of Iraqi forces have not been enough in themselves, a police-based strategy is needed for rooting out the assassins. The root of the dilemma is the American insistence upon strict rules of law that are foreign to the Iraqi culture and have not been supplemented by American detective methods as a substitute for the old Iraqi way of doing business.
4. The vast distances versus the modest mobility and sustainability of Iraqi forces favor the mobile insurgent. An identification system - not episodic gestures - is imperative. That way, the mobility and anonymity of the insurgents are limited. Identification, though, also means trust in the ministries of government - a problematic assumption.
5. AQI must be beaten psychologically. Both JAM and AQI prey on the weak. They don't fight each other or the Iraqi army. The Iraqis in Special Forces units scorn the AQI and literally chase them down during night raids. The jundi don't express any particular fear of them. Yet AQI has a mystique of ferocity among the people, too many of whom believe AQI zealotry will overwhelm the Iraqi security forces.
The Iraqi Army must break that mystique by picking fights, by venturing into areas like the Zidon, by publicly mocking and humiliating the AQI and by smashing it.
In appreciation for their guidance and insights, I wish to acknowledge:
Maj Doug Dudgeon
LtCol Brian Alexander
Maj Richard Wallwork, UK
Maj Tom Ziegler
LtCol Jeff Smitherman
Mr Jim Soriano
Alex al Bayaa
MajGen Rick Olson, (ret)
Maj Jeff Sutherland
Capt Jeremy Anzevino
SSgt John Wear
Col Jeff Witksken
Maj Abdul Farouk
Col Mark Martins
Maj Sly Sylvester
Mayor Abdul Hakim
LtCol Howard Feng
Capt Scott Gilman
LtCol James Bierman
SgtFC Christine Thompson
Capt Bo Dennis
MajGen Bill Caldwell
Maj Bruce Vitor
Cpl Randy Ortiz
Col Steve Boylan
"Joseph" from Jordan
LtCol Bob Peller
Lt Roger Hollenbeck
LCpl Alex Bartoli
Col H.R. McMaster
SSgt Kevin Buckley
LCpl Luke Kern
LtCol Muhamed Nashmi
Namk Nuri Kaleb
Col Phil Sternhagen
MajGen Walt Gaskin
Capt Mike Armsted
LtCol Kenneth Beebe
LtGen Raymond Odierno
SSgt Robert Hays
LtCol Brian Durant
MajGen Mark Gurganus
Lt Andrew Duncan
Col Mary Ellen Jaddick
MajGen Abdul Salam
Capt Ty Barger
LtCol Doug Mason
Sheik Hamid al-mhana
"Mario" al Sadria
Deputy Police Chief Kareem
Maj Mike Manning
Sgt Jason Fabrizi
MajGen Hamad Showka
Col H.S. Clardy
Capt Fahed Zoher
BG John Allen
Maj Brian Ellis
Gen David Petraeus
BG Hussein Wahed
Andy from Beirut
LtCol Bill Jurney
Capt Jay Stewart
Sammy Basam Khazivya
LtCol John Reeves
Lt Jared Towles
Mayor Sa'ad Awad
Lt Michael Stempfad
Capt Casey Moes
Dan (spec ops)
Capt Kyle Sloan
SSgt Dale Dukes
Joe (spec ops)
Spec. Gene Matson
SSgt Stuart Toney
Police Chief Faisal
Capt Jody White
Maj Eric Stetson
Sheik Abdul Ikthar
Lt William Patrick
SSgt Vincent Clinard
Cpl Weiser Tyler
LtCol Salam Abbas
Sgt Robin Johnson
Maj Todd Sermarini
LtCol Rafea Alawani
LtCol Josslyn Aberle
Capt Ahmed Sharki
Maj Dan Rouse
Maj David Zappa
Capt Cecil Strickland
LtCol Joe L'Etoile
Amar Dahan Nael
Capt. Nathaniel Waggoner
Maj Jeff Pool
MasterGuns Luis Hernandez
1stSgt Kenneth Hendrix
Lt Barry Edwards
SSgt Nicholas Pelter
SSgt Jeff Harilson
Sgt Ryan Wood
Capt Jonathan Riggs
Col Peter Mansoor
Gunny Tim Ybay
SgtMaj Michael Barrett
Mr David Kilcullen
Capt Scott Gilman
Sgt Brian Johnson
Maj Joel Rayburn
ILPO Jim Riley
Capt George Hassetine
Maj Pat Proctor
Maj Robert Hunter
SSgt Marquis Franklin
Lt Sam Cartee
Capt Eric Peterson
Sgt James Moore
Sheik Hamid Aymen
Sgt Robert Thompson
Lt Clint Gebke
Spec Joshua Simpson
Pvt Cody Stewart
Pfc Michael Moses
LCdr Buzz Mason
LtCol Brian Alexander