To: Company Commanders
From: Company Commanders of 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division (Iron Horse)
Deployments to Iraq may have ended, but deployments to the Arabian Peninsula have not. Last December, we - the troopers of 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division - were among the last American forces to depart Iraq. Reunions with our families were postponed for six months, however, when. we received the mission to become the first brigade to partner with Kuwaiti forces in support of Operation Spartan Shield.
We immediately established our footprint on Camp Buehring, Kuwait, and began to partner with all four maneuver brigades of the Kuwaiti land forces [KLF] as well as its field artillery regiment. On our own initiative we put together a book as a way to share what we've learned with the commanders who will follow in our footsteps. What follows are excerpts from our Iraq and Kuwait Commander AAR Book [after action review].
CPT Michael Gensert
I was surprised by my interactions with the Iraqi people. During my first two deployments most of my interactions with the populace were not positive. The local populace did not want us there and they let us know it. This time, however, the number of positive interactions with the populace was astounding. Many of them genuinely appreciated our presence, were thankful for everything that the United States had done for Iraq and wanted the United States to stay longer in the country.
CPT Timothy Martin
The general attitude of the Iraqis toward U.S. forces during the final days of Operation New Dawn was a sea change from previous deployments. The general feeling was that the Iraqi security forces [ISF] were trying to "hedge their bets" in advance of the U.S. withdrawal. Also, as the CERP [commander's emergency response program] funds began to disappear, the Iraqis realized that there was little to gain through assisting U.S. forces, so they thought to mitigate their risk by disassociation. In previous deployments, the prospect of infrastructure development projects forced the ISF to be engaged; this deployment was significantly different.
CPT Douglas McDonough
The defining moment for me during this deployment was the tactical road march out of Iraq. It was significant on multiple levels. First, it was a time of reflection. The seven years of my career have been consumed by the conflict. I have lost friends and Soldiers. I have seen the extremes of humanity - moments that made me extremely proud of my fellow man, and moments of shame and despair. There are memories from Iraq that will stay with me for a lifetime: the day the gunner of my truck was killed by an IED [improvised explosive device] strike after he volunteered to go on a mission with another platoon; the days spent training the Sons of Iraq; the smell of cooking oil as an Iraqi family prepared dinner while I searched their home with my platoon.
Iraq changed me as a leader and as a man. I matured as a leader. Iraq forced me to make tough decisions, and it forced me to discipline my Soldiers. In garrison, I had shied away from discipline, leaving that to my NCOs [noncommissioned officers]. In Iraq, a lack of discipline results in a significant emotional event (e.g., mass drug use, lost sensitive item, casualties). I quickly realized that all leaders have a part to play in ensuring good order and discipline within their formations. I no longer shied away from making on-the-spot corrections, and I conducted my PCCs/PCIs [precombat checks/precombat inspections]. I found that my Soldiers and NCOs respected me more for enforcing good order and discipline rather than for being the nice guy.
On another level, the road march was a source of great pride. We closed out Iraq with dignity and honor. There were no images of helicopters being …