Magazine article Army

Iraq and Back: Inside the War to Win the Peace

Magazine article Army

Iraq and Back: Inside the War to Win the Peace

Article excerpt

Iraq and Back: Inside the War to Win the Peace. Col. Kim Oison, USAF Ret. Naval Institute Press. An AUSA Book. 213 pages; black and white photographs; index; $26.95.

In the spring of 2003, Col. Kim Olson faced an impossible task: to help Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, U.S. Army retired, rebuild Iraq with inadequate resources and authority in the wake of the Coalition forces' entrance into Baghdad.

In Iraq and Back Olson tells the story of Garner's efforts to perform his job against insurmountable odds. The book is also a memoir of Olson's rise through the ranks of the Air Force (one of the first female jet pilots) and her subsequent retirement.

With only a handful of contracted South African guards (the Army could not spare any soldiers), Garner led his team through the streets of Iraq, stopping at homes, businesses and hospitals to engage the Iraqis one-on-one. Garner, a legend in Kurdish Iraq for helping secure the Kurds' safety during Operation Provide Comfort, understood what he was up against and worked to make Iraq self-reliant, but it was not to be. After three weeks as the head of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), Garner was replaced by L. Paul Bremer III, another example of the Bush administration's preference for ideology over experience.

Bremer, against Garner's advice, dismantled the Iraqi Army and dismissed the Council of Seven, a group of Iraqi leaders Garner had brought together to keep Iraq functioning under its own powers until elections could be held. …

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