Screaming Eagles Passing Along Knowledge to Successors
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
MOSUL, Iraq, Dec. 18, 2003 The soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division here are working to give their follow-on unit -- a multinational division -- a head start, division commander Army Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus said Dec. 17.
During combat operations in March and April against Saddam Hussein's regime, the 101st fought from Kuwait up through the west of Baghdad and into the north of Iraq. The unit is due to rotate back to Fort Campbell, Ky., in January and February.
The soldiers of the 101st have gained some hard-won lessons, Petraeus said, and they already are working to pass those lessons along to the unit that will replace them here. The general said it is important the follow-on unit recognizes that coalition forces in the region are not only doing counterinsurgency and stability and support operations simultaneously with a rifle in one hand and a wrench in the other but also is doing counterterrorism operations.
To combat threats of former regime cells, the unit has put together a joint interagency task force that fuses all of the intelligence and operational assets available in the Mosul area. "That has enabled us to get the kind of target resolution that you need to conduct precise raids, so you are not just on fishing expeditions and can go right to the place for that individual and get him," Petraeus said. It is lessons like this that the next unit must take to heart, he added.
Mosul is a complicated area. Mixed in ethnicity, the city is the second largest in Iraq, with 1.5 million people. "It's incumbent on us to set our successors up for success, and to do that we have to share our knowledge," Petraeus said. Mosul's local elections in May were the first in Iraq. The division has patrolled the area since moving in at the middle of April. The 101st worked with special operations personnel to kill Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay.
"What we have to do is a very thorough hand-off in a relatively short period of time to get them to understand the main players, the ethnic groups, the political parties (and) the other interests groups that are here," he said.
It's also important the new soldiers understand the current issues and how the coalition got to this point in the region. "Somehow, we've got to transfer that knowledge to them as best we can," Petraeus said.
The advance party elements will arrive in Mosul this week. "It is a challenge," the general said. "But the units that are coming in here have been studying the area for months. They already know the vocabulary and the landscape. What we've got to do is get them immersed in it and living it so they can just take off and take it to the next level, instead of having a lull before they can move out."