Noah Schachtman at Danger Room has a brief post on the transformation of a unit from traditional warfighting to being effective at counterinsurgency. I’ll be brief as well, but not as brief as Noah, who gives the heads on an Army Times article ‘Our unit is the transformation’: Unexpected mission leads battalion to be a constant presence on the streets of Tikrit.
The second caller of the day sounded drunk. He demanded to know why the Americans had not built new schools or hospitals.
Turns out, he also was blind.
he began losing his sight five years earlier and couldn’t find a doctor.
“Now I can’t see a camel,” he told Lt. Col. Rick Rhyne, who was sitting in a cramped radio studio along with an interpreter and the show’s host, a gregarious fellow known only as Mr. Lebanon.
The blind caller blamed his failed eyesight on the U.S. presence. Rhyne, commander of the 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, told the caller about the new construction and other activities coalition forces had provided that were aimed at improving lives of the locals.
The article gives some good examples of the value of personal contact and the product of building trust at the tactical level.
There is payback on the morale of our forces as well:
Pfc. Ellis Branch, also a member of the engineer unit, actually wants to be in the city.
“I like it a lot better. I can’t stand sitting in one truck for more than 10 hours up and down [Main Supply Route] Tampa,” he said. “Being boots on ground feels like you’re accomplishing something.”
One last comment: a dollar says LTC Rhyne won’t, even if scheduled, appear at the DoD Blogger’s Roundtable.
Subtitle for this post: America’s public diplomacy wears combat boots…