Copyright 2004 The Federal News Service, Inc. Federal News Service
September 8, 2004 Wednesday
SECTION: CAPITOL HILL HEARING
LENGTH: 24414 words
HEARING OF THE HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE SUBJECT: PROGRESS IN THE
RECONSTRUCTION AND REHABILITATION OF IRAQ
REPRESENTATIVE JOEL HEFLEY (R-CO)
COLONEL MICHAEL LINNINGTON, USA, FORMER BRIGADE COMMANDER,
101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION;
LIEUTENANT COLONEL JEFFREY
SPRINGMAN, USA, FORMER COMMANDER, 3RD BATTALION IN SUPPORT OF THE 4TH INFANTRY
DIVISION; CAPTAIN PATRICK COSTELLO, USA, FORMER ADA, 101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION;
LIEUTENANT COLONEL BRYAN P. MCCOY, USMC,
FORMER COMMANDER, 3RD BATTALION, 4TH MARINE REGIMENT; CAPTAIN MORGAN SAVAGE,
USMC, FORMER COMPANY COMMANDER, 3RD BATTALION, 4TH MARINE REGIMENT
LOCATION: 2118 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON,
REP. JOEL HEFLEY (R-CO): If our witnesses would take their places and
the members take their seats, we will begin this hearing. Our chairman, Duncan
Hunter, is unfortunately detained at the White House. So I'll be filling in for
him for the time being.
Our guests this morning are
Colonel Michael Linnington, former Brigade Commander of the 101st Airborne
Division, Lieutenant Colonel Bryan McCoy, of the U.S. Marine
Corps, who is a former commander of the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment,
Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Springman, former commander, 3rd Battalion in support
of the 4th Infantry Division, Captain Patrick Costello, former Air Defense
Artillery commander of 101st Airborne Division, Captain Morgan Savage, U.S.
Marine Corps, former company commander, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment.
Welcome, gentlemen, to our committee. We look forward to your testimony and
appreciate your willingness to appear before us this morning.
Today's hearing is a bit of a departure from the conventional Armed
Services Committee hearings. Today we will hear from these military officers
directly in charge of commanding our men and women in uniform who are performing
with bravery, honor and effectiveness in multiple theaters around the world in
the fight against global terrorism. While we normally hear from generals several
steps removed, today we will hear from those with the most direct experience in
how the American soldier and Marine is carrying out this important mission for
This hearing is about the selfless work
of the American military in Iraq. It's about how we acknowledge the efforts of
our troops who are deployed halfway around the world. It's about how future
generations will remember this generation of Americans called to serve their
country in global war on terrorism.
Now some may think
this is merely another attempt to justify the war in Iraq. I happen to
personally believe that the American people are safer with Saddam Hussein out of
power and in jail. And I think that our efforts to bring democracy to the Middle
East will discredit, demoralize and undermine our terrorist enemies. Others may,
and I am sure, actually do disagree. However, I trust that we can all agree that
the vast majority of Americans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are answering
their country's call to service with bravery, dedication, integrity and
Tomorrow, we will have two full committee
hearings on the abuse of detainees in the global war on terrorism. What happened
in those instances was inexcusable. But it is hardly representative of the vast
majority of our military personnel in Iraq. The misdeeds of some soldiers at Abu
Ghraib prison and elsewhere must not be allowed to define worldwide perceptions
of our armed forces.
Thirty years ago, a generation of
Americans fought in another foreign war. Because the war was controversial, some
people who opposed it sought to tar all Vietnam veterans with the crimes of a
small handful. We can't allow that to happen again. That's why we're here, to
hear from individuals who have returned from the battlefield about all that
they've accomplished and why the American soldier, Marine, sailor and airman
still represents the best that this country has to offer.
Gentlemen, thank you again for appearing before this committee and we
understand that you don't set national policy. Our purpose here today is not to
pull you into these debates. But you know your soldiers and Marines. You know
the challenges they've overcome. You know the courage they've demonstrated in
combat. You know the seriousness with which they take their mission and you know
the hard work they've done to help the abused people secure a democratic
The American people need to know it too. We all
look forward to your testimony. But first let me recognize the committee's
ranking Democrat, Mr. Skelton, for any remarks he might like to make.
REP. IKE SKELTON
(D-MO): Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman. Let me join you in welcoming our
witnesses, Colonel, two Lieutenant Colonels, two Captains. It gives us the
opportunity, speaking for those we represent as well as the entire American
people, to say thank you to you and to all who wear uniform that are engaged in
the challenges in Iraq. Cicero, the great Roman orator, once said that gratitude
is the greatest of all virtues and we want to, before we do anything else today,
express our gratitude and our thanks to you for your service, your devotion to
duty, for your patriotism and for your professionalism and for that we thank
you. And it's a pleasure to have you.
when I woke on Labor Day morning, I heard the disturbing news that seven Marines
were killed outside of Fallujah. Needless to say, that news saddened me more
than I can tell. My heart sank further still yesterday when we passed the
symbolic but distressing milestone of 1,000 troops who have died in Iraq. Of
course, I think every congressional district has felt that pain, including mine.
This number represents 1,000 families who have paid the highest price for the
war in Iraq. When the price is this high, what exactly do we have to show for
the sacrifice of our sons and daughters.
But we've made
a commitment to a free Iraq and I've maintained from the beginning that we must
see that commitment through. We must have a strategy and a plan that takes
account of the lessons of history. It's no surprise to the members of this
committee that I have been reading and studying history nearly all my adult life
and I'd like to share some of my thoughts with the gentlemen before us today.
We ignore the lessons of history at our peril.
Unfortunately, that call for some of us who called for detailed planning for the
post-war period, those proposals and urging of plans were ignored in the months
leading up to the war. I sent two letters to the president on this, one in
September 4th, 2002 and one a day before we went in to attack in March. I am not
convinced that we have a viable exit strategy.
look at Monday's attack on the Marine convoy near Fallujah, I can't help but,
gentlemen, think of Vietnam. In that war, we allowed the enemy sanctuaries in
Cambodia and Laos to exist only to suffer the consequences later when they came
back to fight another day. So I ask the question, have we not learned the
lessons of denying the enemy sanctuary? With a political agreement from the
Iraqi government, Marine patrols have not entered Fallujah since April, allowing
it to become a safe haven for insurgents and likely, allowing guerilla leader
Abu Zarqawi to use the city as a base of operations.
fears about our withdrawal last April sadly have been confirmed. Sadr City has
also become another sanctuary for insurgents and we must have a plan for
developing viable and strong Iraqi forces. Lieutenant General Petraeus, who some
of you, I know, know, is giving that mission his all. That's a long-term
mission. We can't risk sinking further into a quagmire while we wait for these
forces to be fully trained. We need a strategy now to force the insurgents from
their holes, from their sanctuary holes. We cannot afford to surrender the
cities of Iraq to the insurgents and then sit by while they attack us from these
Allowing the NSB to establish sanctuaries
didn't work 35 years ago in Vietnam and it doesn't work today in Iraq. It
doesn't please me to say this, particularly with such fine examples of American
valor sitting right here before us. We owe the men and women of America who
serve this nation in Iraq, in Afghanistan and around the world a strategy
befitting their service. We are very proud of all you have accomplished. It
speaks well of our nation that our troops are shouldering the burden of this war
and have carried our country so far for so long.
concerned, however, that we are asking a great deal of our troops when we
continue to deploy them into combat with no end in sight. Some of these
witnesses have deployed multiple times in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm sure they
will deploy again. How long can we continue this pace before we do irreparable
harm to our military's readiness, our retention of our troops' morale, I don't
An interesting visit with the Adjutant General of
the Reserve National Guard the other day and to hear him tell about the lowered
end strength of certain National Guard units in Missouri, he tells me that many
people are not joining or they're getting out. It's a serious problem for the
National Guard in my home state. We are stretching our force too thin.
We are the finest military in the world. The finest the
world has ever seen is represented today by the soldiers and Marines who, Mr.
Chairman, will testify before us. So we owe you the very best we can provide.
That's the purpose of this committee. It's also the purpose of this committee to
ask tough questions. Second place in Iraq, second place in Afghanistan doesn't
count. All your efforts, your valor, valorous efforts will be for naught. Let's
hope we have true success and we learn the lessons from the past, particular
past from Vietnam and thank you again for being here.
REP. HEFLEY: Thank you, Mr. Skelton.
Linnington, why don't we start with you and then we'll move down the row here.
Without objection, your complete statement will be put in the record. And if you
would like to summarize the way you'd like to, you have the time.
COL. MICHAEL LINNINGTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Good morning. Mr. Chairman, Congressman Skelton, distinguished members, good
morning. I am here this morning with my brothers in arms, Lieutenant Colonel Bryan McCoy, formerly Battalion Commander in the 3rd Battalion,
4th Marine Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Springman, formerly a Battalion
Commander in 3rd Battalion 29th Field Artillery of the 4th Infantry Division at
Fort Carson, Captain Morgan Savage, formerly K Company commander in 3rd
Battalion, 4th Marines and Captain Pat Costello, on the end, formerly company
commander of the C Company, 2nd of the 44th Field Artillery and 101st Airborne
Division at Fort Campbell.
Before coming to the Joint
Staff in early July, I commanded the 3rd Infantry Brigade in the 101st Airborne
Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. During my command, I was privileged to
serve in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Most recently, from February 2003 through
February 2004, as part of the 101st Airborne Division's efforts in support of
Operation Iraqi Freedom. My brigade departed Iraq after transferring authority
to the 1st Battalion 14th Cavalry Stryker Unit, from the Iron Horse Brigade out
of Fort Lewis last February.
I'd like to thank you for
this opportunity to talk about our soldiers and also for your tremendous
support, concern for our troops and specially your visits to soldiers deployed
throughout Iraq and Afghanistan. I had the opportunity to meet many of you in
this room over the past year that visited us in Iraq. And I thank you personally
for your visit. The support of the American people and our elected officials is
very important to our soldiers. Nothing makes me prouder than to have the
opportunity today to talk about our soldiers and the great job they are doing
throughout the full range of military operations.
the early days of combat, my soldiers crossed by air and ground into Iraq,
fought in al-Hilla in South Baghdad and after the fall of the regime, moved with
the 101st Airborne Division north to the Nineveh Province centered on the city
of Mosul. My brigade was responsible for the area west of Mosul, centered on the
city of Tall Afar and out to the Syrian border, south of the Tigris River. My
brigade performed a wide range of operations from warfighting to stability and
support operations, often conducting both within blocks or hours of each other.
It was not uncommon for my soldiers to be rebuilding schools and medical clinics
during the day and conducting mounted and foot patrols at night or fighting
insurgents in one part of town while assisting in elections in another.
In all of these operations, our soldiers performed
magnificently with courage, dedication, selflessness, compassion and respect for
the Iraqi people. That made me very proud to be their commander. Our junior
leaders, in particular, made me especially proud. Our junior leaders displayed
tremendous maturity in their leadership and tackled responsibility that is
normally reserved for those much more senior in rank.
It was not uncommon in my zone for young lieutenants and sergeants to
be conducting traditional infantry tasks like raids, securing key infrastructure
and conducting foot patrols with newly trained Iraqi security forces. What was
unique was that my young leaders also conducted nontraditional missions like
supervising harvests, restoring key infrastructure, especially oil and water
facilities. They settled land disputes. They retrained city and border policemen
and they assisted in local elections.
performed all of these operations, as you mentioned, Mr. Chairman, with courage
and integrity. They bravely fought side by side with loyal Iraqi police and
security forces in an effort to maintain peace and security for the Iraqi
people. I can recall countless incidents of heroism by our young soldiers and
our young leaders, in intense fighting, in dark and dangerous streets and back
alleys and in uncertain conditions where they knowingly exposed themselves to
danger in order to accomplish their mission because that is our primary task,
accomplishment of the mission.
They were also
impressive for their innovation and the initiative. I'm happy to have one of my
company commanders with me this morning on the end, Captain Pat Costello,
commander of an Air Defense Artillery Battery that was attached to my brigade
combat team in Iraq. In normal life, Pat's unit was responsible for providing
air defense coverage and early warning for my 4,000 plus soldiers. In Iraq, once
we transitioned to stability operations, Pat became my emergency response
program coordinator, responsible for all the humanitarian and rebuilding
operations in my portion of Iraq, over 700 projects valued at over $7 million,
all designed to improve the quality of life for the average Iraqi citizen.
Pat's unit of about 120 soldiers quickly transitioned from
their Air Defense Artillery task to convoy and fuel escort missions, traversing
hundreds of miles daily from the borders with Turkey to Baghdad and from Mosul
to the western border with Syria, all helping get fuel, primarily propane and
benzene, to the families in the remote regions of that country. Pat's innovation
and leadership are examples of the many diverse and challenging tasks we asked
our young leaders to perform daily in Iraq.
our soldiers are serving with compassion and respect for the Iraqi people and
genuinely care about the cultural sensitivities in this largely tribal
This relationship goes far beyond the
things you might expect, such as respecting local customs and traditions. It
goes as far as coordinating delivery of donated school supplies from American
families sent in the mail to needy Iraqi school children or fixing playgrounds
and soccer fields on soldiers' off time or donating food and money for sick and
poor Iraqi families. Acts of kindness both from and toward our soldiers is
rarely reported in our news media but they are everyday facts of life in
For my part, I spent a great deal of time of my
last eight months in Iraq meeting daily with Iraqi governmental and ministerial
leaders, tribal elders and border Customs and security officials. We used all of
these opportunities to work together to identify issues, come up with joint
solutions and work together for the betterment of the people of Iraq. In all of
these interactions I had, 99 percent of the Iraqis I met with were happy for
American presence, concerned with improving the quality of life for their
citizens and dedicated to the future prosperity of their country.
Mr. Chairman, in closing and on behalf of our soldiers, I
again want to thank you for all you did in supporting us during our deployment
and our families during our absence. One of the things that keep soldiers going
is knowing their families are well cared for while they are deployed and will be
well provided for if they don't come home. Again, thank you for this opportunity
and I look forward to answering your questions this morning.
REP. HEFLEY: Thank you, Colonel.
COL. BRYAN McCOY: Good morning,
Chairman, Congressman Skelton and distinguished members of the House Armed
Services Committee. It is my distinct pleasure to be here with you today and
assist you in any way possible. My name is Lieutenant Colonel Bryan McCoy. Prior to being assigned to the National War College,
I was the commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines from May 2002 until
July 2004. During this period, I had the privilege to lead that battalion
through Operation Iraqi Freedom One and Operation Iraqi Freedom Two.
During OIF-1, we were among the initial battalions of the
1st Marine Division that crossed the Kuwait-Iraq border on 21 March 2003. We
fought at the Basra International Airport and destroyed the 31st Brigade of the
51st Mechanized Infantry Division. We fought up Highway One at places like Afak,
Diwaniyah, al Kut, al Zafaraniyah. We forced a foot crossing of the Diyala River
and were the first Marines to enter Baghdad. Two days later, we were the
battalion at Firdos Square that liberated the Palestine Hotel and assisted the
Iraqi citizens in pulling down the statue of Saddam.
that day, 9th April 2003, we immediately transitioned to stability and security
operations and, for the next two weeks, worked around the clock restoring water
and securing vital infrastructure. We patrolled markets and neighborhoods and
made vital human to human contact with the citizens of Baghdad, not from armored
vehicles or from even behind sunglasses. We made eye to eye contact with the
average Iraqi and communicated our intent that we were there not to harm but to
Our young Marines were amazing in their
ability to transition from Phase 3 combat operations to the much more ambiguous
mission of security and stability operations. These young men, in many cases,
were last year's high school seniors. They instinctively knew what to do and
demonstrated great compassion on a people that had known only terror and fear.
The effect of their efforts was electric. To see the faces of the tormented
people, many of whom had never known anything but being ruled by Saddam and his
brutal regime, was overwhelming.
As we gained their
trust, nearly every adult or child had a story to tell about how they had
personally suffered under Saddam. They told of family members dragged off in the
middle of the night to be tortured, raped and murdered. Many showed us their
scars, mutilated limbs, sightless eyes, burnt and scarred bodies. The stories
were not difficult to believe. On our march up, nearly every police station we
entered, we found torture rooms complete with photo albums with before and after
pictures of victims. This is more or less a show and tell book so when the Baath
Party officials from Baghdad visited, they would be able to show their good
The relief visible on the faces of the average
Iraqi was all I needed to know just how horribly the Iraqi people had suffered.
Despite being in a city of 5 million people, we managed to bring a majority of
the looting under control in a few short days. The Iraqi people were grateful
for our presence in their neighborhoods since the U.S. Marines meant safety and
security. Prior to that, a uniform meant only lawlessness and oppression. We
soon had the Sheikh Omar marketplace open and people were able to return to
mosque. We were relieved in Baghdad by elements of the U.S. Army's 1st Brigade
3rd Infantry Division and by June returned to Twentynine Palms, California, to
begin refitting and retraining.
We began our second
tour in Iraq in February '04. We relieved the U.S. Army units in the western
parts of the Al Anbar Province. Our battalion was responsible for the cities of
Haditha, Anah and Rawah. Heading into this deployment we continued to train at
the high intensity level but also developed the tactics, techniques and
procedures required in security and stability operations. We had select Marines
and sailors attend intensive language training. We all underwent training to
attune us to the Iraqi culture and the religion of Islam. We also employed the
new operating principles of the 1st Marine Division, First do no harm. Those
were our watchwords as we went about our mission. We would not inflict any more
harm on a people that had suffered for 30 years under Saddam Hussein.
Our mission was to build on the incredible good work of
the 3rd ACR which we had relieved. In short, we were to maintain the rule of
law, build the capabilities and confidence of the Iraqi security forces and
identify resource projects to aid the recovery of Iraq. We aim projects funding
at buildings for schools, government institutions, infrastructure such as water
pumping stations and electric substations. Above all else, we offered the Iraqi
people a chance at a better life not so much by what we could do by our hand but
by Iraqis doing for Iraqis. We were simply enablers.
Learning from our experiences in Baghdad the previous year, we again
sought to make that critical human to human contact with the Iraqi people. We
engaged the Iraqi police as equals. Under the leadership of Captain Matt Danner
(ph), a reinforced rifle squad moved into the Haditha Police Station and lived
with them 24/7. They were the only permanent U.S. presence in the city. By
living and working side by side with the Iraqi people, this small handpicked
squad earned their trust. Soon the human intelligence vital to counter
insurgency was flowing and we began to make a real impact on the criminal and
terrorist elements in that town.
Captain Danner's squad
was also served as a mirror and a window. As a mirror, they provided valuable
insight into how our battalion's actions or inaction were perceived and we were
able to adjust our posture when needed in order to project the right message. As
a window, that squad provided me with valuable insight into the often Byzantine
world of local Iraqi politics, their personalities, feuds, alliances and debts.
More importantly, they were a constant reminder to the Iraqi police that we were
not leaving them alone and we were committed to their future.
Our work was interrupted in April when we were called to Fallujah to
participate in Operation Vigilant Resolve. Once again, the Marines and sailors
responded brilliantly, transitioning from security and stability operations to
high intensity urban combat. By mid-May, we were back in our former area of
operations and picked up where we had left off. Earlier in our deployment, the
Haditha and Anah police stations were weak, demoralized and easily intimidated
institutions that did not hold the respect of their adversaries, the people,
even of themselves and they labored under the stigma of the old police force or
as American lackeys.
By the time we finished our
deployment, they were confident, proactive departments that were respected and
not feared by the average Iraqi citizen. And they dealt with the anti-Iraqi
governmental forces on equal footing. Our presence was that of a close friend
and partner not as an occupier. This change did not come about overnight.
Success was almost imperceptible, much like a tide coming in. We made some very
strong bonds with the Iraqis there. I can tell you there are some very brave and
stout-hearted men who are just as passionate about their country as we are about
When it was time for the battalion to rotate
home, I was petitioned by the mayor of Haditha and the chief of police to allow
Captain Danner and his squad to stay on. Captain Danner was made an honorary
member of the Jaraffa (ph) tribe which is the largest tribe in Haditha. He even
received a few marriage proposals to marry the daughters of a few of the
policemen. On the day that Captain Danner and his Marines did leave, they
slaughtered a goat and had a feast in their honor. There was a celebration. That
was almost unthinkable the five months when we first arrived in country.
Perhaps the biggest impact we made was on the children.
Marines and sailors love kids and the relationship was an easy one to forge. The
children are the future of Iraq. They no longer have to fear for their parents
being murdered or raped by their government. We have done and continue to do
great things in Iraq. We are doing side by side with some very brave and
dedicated Iraqis. I can tell you stories about the chiefs of police that are out
there personally disarming IEDs so we don't have to.
The young Marines have demonstrated incredible courage, endurance, will
and compassion on a daily basis all to make a better Iraq and I believe we're
being successful. Thank you for this opportunity and I look forward to your
REP. HEFLEY: Thank you, Colonel.
JEFFREY SPRINGMAN: Mr. Chairman, Congressman Skelton and distinguished members
of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to
share with you my recent experience serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. I
currently serve as a member of the Army staff in the Pentagon. I participated in
Operation Iraqi Freedom from early April 2003 to late March 2004 as the
commander of the 3rd Battalion 29th Field Artillery, taskforce pacesetter, part
of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division from Fort Carson,
Our unit began combat operations north of
Baghdad. Next we operated near the Iranian border then in the vicinity of Kirkuk
and for the last nine months in the Sunni Triangle between Balad and Samarra in
the city named Abdalluyah. While we performed many tasks, our major missions
were controlling an area of over 750 square kilometers to include providing
security alongside local security forces and repairing or rebuilding
infrastructure suffering from years of neglect.
provide artillery support through the brigade combat teams' entire area. We
moved over 6,000 captured enemy bombs from the airbase we used as our forward
operating base. And we operated the brigade holding area. I had the privilege of
leading some of America's finest young men and women and some of the world's
finest soldiers. In addition to U.S. Army artillery, infantry, military police
and engineers, we had an infantry platoon and an explosive ordinance detachment
from the Republic of Moldova attached to us. They were with us for their entire
Thanks to our mid-level
noncommissioned officers, lieutenants and captains, we performed our task to
standard and despite having soldiers wounded, we suffered no deaths to enemy
action or accident. I feel we were able to bring all of our soldiers home
because the young leaders performed magnificently, making good decisions and
ensuring their soldiers were ready. Daily, I witnessed artillery lieutenants and
sergeants leading patrols to the same standard as infantry leaders, yet quickly
switching back to their artillery duties without a missed step.
These same leaders performed duties as civil affairs officers.
Additionally, we have soldiers alive because their immediate leaders ensured
they were properly trained and maintained uniform standards despite the extreme
conditions. One of our soldiers earned the Silver Star after being wounded. I
have no doubt he would have been killed or too seriously wounded to continue
fighting if he had not been wearing his body armor and helmet properly.
I am extremely honored to be here and want to thank you
for this opportunity. Thank you.
REP. HEFLEY: Thank you
very much, Colonel.
Captain Costello. Or Captain
CAPT. MORGAN SAVAGE: Good morning, Mr.
Chairman, Congressman Skelton, distinguished ladies and gentlemen of Congress.
My name is Captain Morgan Savage, currently the Academics Officer at the Officer
Candidate School. I had the privilege of serving in 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines
for two years, from the summer of 2002 to the summer of 2004. We did one
deployment Operation Iraqi Freedom as the H&S Company commander and the
second deployment, I had the opportunity to serve as a Rifle Company commander
in Lieutenant Colonel McCoy's battalion.
you perspectives on both deployments, OIF-1 and OIF-2. Operation Iraqi Freedom
One, we had a clear mission from the beginning. Standard to our Marine ethos,
locate, close with and destroy enemy forces, whether it be the Saddam Fedayeen
or the 51st Mechanized Infantry Division. Essentially, as we all know, it was a
20-day sprint that ended in Baghdad with the battalions and companies
transitioning from offensive operations to stability and support operations to
help the Iraqi people.
At that time, the Iraqi people,
regardless of what they had suffered for many years, were in a state of
euphoria. This is demonstrated by the fact that, as we patrolled the streets of
Baghdad, we would constantly be met by Iraqis be it vendors or families coming
out of their homes to offer us fresh baked breads, sodas or artifacts from their
personal life, things from their personal life that told us the story and
sometimes they didn't have to offer us anything. We could look at them and see
perhaps that either through service to their country or through torture, what
some of their experiences had been.
As we operated in
Baghdad, the Iraqi people were also willing to help us locate enemy forces which
demonstrated the fact that they understood our intent and what we were trying to
do for the common Iraqi person. We were there to help them and that paid off as
they added to us setting a secure environment for the battalion, for our
respective companies and for themselves.
for six months, a little under six months, and focused heavily on stability and
support operations. Going back to Iraq in February of 2004, our mission was
twofold. It was eliminate the conditions that allowed anti-Iraqi forces to
operate and continue to feed an environment of instability to the Iraqi people
and number two, quite frankly, to kill or capture anti-Coalition and Iraqi
forces that would seek to do us harm and the people of Iraq harm.
The second aim was self explanatory. Those who had sought
to engage us or whose actions fell within the rules of engagement were either
engaged and killed or detained for intelligence value to further roll off
targets on our high value target list. Hence part of our ethos in the 1st Marine
Division, No worse enemy. The first part of our ethos, No better friend, helping
to eliminate the conditions that allow terrorists and anti-Iraqi forces to
operate was what we spent most of our time in Iraq doing for Operation Iraqi
Freedom Part 2.
This translated into working with
various police agencies in Haditha, Haqania, Anah, the Iraqi National Guard and
also numerous civil affairs projects that demonstrated that we were good for our
word, that we are there to help the Iraqi people and that we are not there with
just our rifles. We are there with a sense of compassion and dignity for the
Specific examples to demonstrate the
Iraqi resolve and willingness to be successful at the current task at hand. We
constantly received assistance from the Haditha Police Station to help us
execute our raids that included intelligence or in essence what the word of
mouth was from the street. The use of sources to help us identify targets that
were either moving against Coalition forces and zone or working the destabilize
the zone itself. And this was done at great loss to several members of the
Assistance from various police stations
in keeping our Marines out of harm's way by letting us know routes or specific
data were fairly secure or towards the end of our deployment, using their
policemen, not our explosives ordinance disposal technicians but their
policemen, to disarm improvised explosive devices. I watch an Iraqi police
captain personally disarm an IED because he did not want to wait for three hours
for our EOD techs to show up because they are a dime a dozen on any given day in
Iraq. Mind you, after the fact, I was amazed at his commitment to keep our
Marines out of harm's way and I can tell you that was the best pack of
Marlboroughs I chain smoked with that police captain.
Towards the end of our deployment, we were conducting offensive
operations in the area of Rawah and Anah. Kilo Company, within the battalion
scheme of things, had the mission of conducting roll offs on high value targets
in Anah. We thought, ladies and gentlemen, we would spend the day kicking
Instead, we conducted several knocks on home
of suspected high value targets and the rest of the afternoon, the police chief,
Colonel Mohammed (ph), would use his men to round up those suspected
individuals, send his men out in harm's way and had the bulk of my company staff
in the police station trying to entertain us with tea and flat bread, the point
being he was willing to send his people out in harm's way.
And I had the bulk of my company staff and the police station trying to
entertain us with tea and flatbread. The point being he was willing to send his
people out in harm's way to do a job that ultimately he felt was his
responsibility. And then last night in Haditha, as we pulled our last squad out
working with Captain Danner, we came under intermittent small arms contact.
The police captain, Captain Samir, looked at me shamefully
with regret. The fact that, 10 days away from going home, we had to still work
under those conditions. And I know for a fact, given the bravery of the Haditha
policemen, that they would have given their lives to see us get home safely to
our families on July 12th.
In conclusion, the Iraqi
people are a very proud group of people. They progressively took over more of
the security responsibilities of coalition forces and 3/4 Marines specifically
had been charged with towards the end of our second deployment. They
progressively put themselves in harm's way more and more to outdo our level of
commitment. They took the task serious and they took us serious because we were
committed to the task at hand. And our actions are what spoke to the Iraqi
Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for the
opportunity to speak here today. I look forward to your questions.
REP. HEFLEY: Thank you, Captain.
CAPT. PATRICK COSTELLO: Mr.
Chairman, Congressman Skelton, distinguished members, good morning and thank you
for allowing me to participate in this morning's hearing. My name is Captain
Patrick Costello. I'm currently serving as an evaluator for the Army Test and
Evaluation Command. My most recent assignment was as commander of Charlie
Battery, 2nd of the 44th Air Defense Artillery at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
During my 18 months in command, I served in Iraq from February of 2003 to
February of 2004 as part of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division
in support of Iraqi Freedom.
I value the opportunity to
speak this morning not only of the actions of our great soldiers, but also to
say thank you for your support, the support of the American people, and most
importantly, the support of the soldiers, both those who served under my command
and those who continue to serve overseas today.
my year in Iraq, my battery was asked to perform a myriad of missions, both
doctrinal and non-doctrinal. As an air defense battery commander, I had anywhere
from 85 to 105 soldiers under my command on any given day. Our primary mission
was to provide the 3rd Brigade Combat Team air and missile defense and early
warning. By the end of April it was evident that our mission had changed and
there was no threat from aircraft or tactical ballistic missiles.
I assumed a civil affairs role during our month in
Baghdad, coordinating with various humanitarian organizations to bring much-
needed assistance into our brigade area of operations. By the beginning of May
2003, the Brigade Combat Team relocated to Tel Afar, Iraq under division control
from Mosul. I expanded my new job by managing the Brigade Commander's Emergency
Response Program funds. Designed to improve the quality of life for Iraqis,
under the program in a little more than seven months I spent more than $7
million on reconstruction projects and salaries to the new Iraqi police, border
guard and facility protection forces.
It was not
uncommon for me to travel hundreds of kilometers each day to hire Iraqis to
restore the flow of electricity or water to many cities, towns and villages, to
rebuild government buildings, hospitals and schools. As time progressed, the
program evolved, and by the time that we redeployed, we had completed over 700
projects and project selection and payments was no longer being decided by the
Army. It was being handled exclusively by newly-elected officials.
As I performed a non-doctrinal mission, so did my
soldiers. Each day they would drive hundreds of kilometers to pick up and escort
fuel trucks to gas stations and areas in need to help alleviate the fuel
shortage. Simultaneously, they conducted perimeter security missions, convey
escorts, mounted/dismounted patrols, and numerous other nontraditional air
My soldiers are just one example of
the great work being done by our military on a day-to-day basis in Iraq.
Missions that we completed are a testament to the flexibility and ingenuity of
our soldiers and I'm proud to serve with all soldiers. I'm proud to have
returned each and every one of my soldiers home to their families.
Thank you again for the opportunity to speak this morning,
the support that you have shown our soldiers, and I look forward to answering
any questions that you have.
REP. HEFLEY: Thank you,
Captain. I thank each of you for your very excellent testimony.
Before we get to questions, I'd like to recognize Mr. Skelton to speak
out of order.
REP. SKELTON: Mr. Chairman, thank you.
And let me speak out of order for a moment, if I may, for the purpose of
welcoming our newest member to this committee, the gentleman from Texas and my
good friend, Charlie Stenholm. We thank you for joining us today.
Mr. Chairman, the
House just acted to appoint Charlie Stenholm to our committee, the Armed
Services Committee, and we couldn't have a finer member in the United States
Congress. Charlie Stenholm came to Congress two years after I did, in 1978, and
of course we've been fast friends ever since. He's a man of the highest honor,
strongest integrity. He presently serves as the ranking member of the
Agriculture Committee, but known to so many of us for his cool knowledge of
federal rules and for his fiscal conservatism. He's been strong for a strong
balanced budget through the years.
I also know he
supports a strong national defense. He also has worked and does work in a
bipartisan fashion, which is what we like to have here on this committee on the
defense issues that are being considered. So I'm extremely pleased, Mr.
Chairman, to welcome Charlie Stenholm to the Armed Services Committee and we
hope you enjoy your work here as much as we do. Thank you.
REP. HEFLEY: Charlie, I too would like to welcome you to the committee.
And I can tell by watching you, you were wondering why none of the witnesses
were talking about wheat allotments and the dairy situation. But we do get into
some other things here and we think you're going to enjoy this. Most of you know
Charlie has represented the 17th District of Texas since 1979, and it includes
Dyess and Goodfellow Air Force Bases and, as has already been mentioned, he's
been very, very active on the Agriculture Committee. And, Charlie, we welcome
you to this committee.
As you -- as the members ask
questions, since we do have five witnesses, if you would try to direct your
question to a witness so they don't feel they have to go down the line and
answer everybody's question all the way down the line. It might be helpful to
give more members the opportunity to ask your questions.
Mr. Skelton, I'd recognize you first for questions.
REP. SKELTON: Let me ask each of the captains, were either or both of
you trained in (a) civil affairs, or in urban counterterrorism combat before you
went to Iraq the first time? Either one of you.
SAVAGE: Sir, I'll go ahead and answer that first. For civil affairs we were not.
For urban combat and urban environment, yes, sir, we were. Our battalion spent
the better part of six months knowing that Operation Iraqi Freedom was a matter
of time, and part of that work was training in an urban environment, working
from Tutes (ph) and Victorville to things that we could do in the backyard,
basically what we call downtime.
have the Marines work through the barracks and talk through, chalk through, and
then exercise tactics, techniques and procedures for potentially every possible
mission that we might come.
One of the reasons why we
didn't focus on civil affairs, Congressman Skelton, is because civil affairs has
its own separate groups that they detach to every infantry battalion
specifically. And what the rifle companies and the Marine Corps would often
provide is security for the Marines in the civil affairs group to go and execute
work in various projects, or as they perform negotiations with Iraqi business
REP. SKELTON: Thank you.
CAPT. COSTELLO: Congressman Skelton,
as far as civil affairs goes, I received no training before we deployed. I don't
think I personally understood the scope for the need of civil affairs over
there. It quickly became evident. And I received a lot of on-the-job training
from the civil affairs detachment that was attached to our brigade.
REP. SKELTON: Was that a battalion company or what?
CAPT. COSTELLO: No, sir, it was a section.
REP. SKELTON: Okay.
CAPT. COSTELLO: Each
brigade received a section of civil affairs. As far as (MAL ?) training goes,
sir, we train on that home station. And the Army CTCs, combined training
centers, JRTC, NTC, do a great job on training on mount operations and dealing
with civilians in different roles that they may play. So not so much, as Colonel
Linnington said yesterday what to think but more how to think.
REP. SKELTON: Good. Thank you.
I have one
question for Colonel Linnington, and I know others have questions so I'll limit
mine. Colonel, you've been deployed in both Afghanistan and Iraq. And I
understand that you have performed with distinction, and we thank you for that.
Do you see any signs of deployment fatigue in any of the soldiers in anywhere
you've been deployed?
Congressman, coming back from Afghanistan, we had a very short break between
when we got back to Fort Campbell and then when we deployed into Iraq. I think
because of the mission we were given and the soldier realization that it was an
important mission and wanting to be part of the team, part of the 101st team
that went from Iraq, there was overwhelming consensus among them that they
wanted to go.
After coming back and being gone for, in
some cases, 16 to 18 months out of two years for some of the soldiers, they were
happy for the predictability that came with being home and getting these
schedules at Fort Campbell that allowed them to stay for what's now looking like
it's going to be over a year or two years. We measure troop fatigue in terms of
morale and reenlistment, and I'm proud to say today that in my unit that was in
both theaters. We overwhelmingly exceeded our reenlistment rates in all
categories the whole two years I was in command. I think that comes from
soldiers, realizing they're doing what they joined the Army to do and realizing
the importance of the mission. So in my unit I would say no.
REP. SKELTON: I think that also speaks well of you. Thank you.
REP. HEFLEY: Mr. Bartlett.
ROSCOE G. BARTLETT (R-MD): Thank you very much for your testimony. As you know
from reading our press, particularly most of the word media, written media, you
get the impression that the average Iraqi sees us as a occupier rather than a
liberator. I would just like you to go down the line to give me a percentage,
each of you, as to your estimate of the percentage of Iraqis that see us as
liberators and the percentage that see us as occupiers from your contact with
the Iraqi people for the months that you were over there.
COL. LINNINGTON: Congressman Bartlett, I'd say from my contacts,
being up north in Nineveh Province, it was about 99 percent looking at us as
liberators verse occupiers. Of course, those that saw us as occupiers were
usually trying to kill us, so I didn't see very much of them. I would say if you
took the Iraqi people in whole, it had to be greater than 90 percent saw us as
liberators. And they were routinely happy for our presence.
REP. BARTLETT: Thank you.
McCOY: Sir, I would have to concur with that. I would say in excess of 90
percent saw us as liberators, not occupiers. They very well saw what we were
providing for them and were happy to have us. I'm sure they're down a road. They
want to have their country back. There's no denying that. Who wouldn't? But they
definitely see us as liberators.
SPRINGMAN: Sir, I served in the Sunni Triangle, and even there I would agree
with the 90 percent figure seen us as liberators and as the best hope for the
future, working with us.
CAPT. SAVAGE: Sir, I would say
well above 95 percent. And if ever there was a perceived indifference from the
Iraqi people, that can be contributed to a spike in anti-coalition and
anti-Iraqi force activity. Essentially an element of coercion perhaps changing
the perception of the Iraqi people. But they understood why we were there, and
it was to help them and it was as liberators, not conquerors.
CAPT. COSTELLO: Sir, I have the disadvantage of sitting at the end of
the table, but I also agree that about 90 percent saw us as liberators and not
REP. BARTLETT: Mr. Chairman, it would be
nice if this last two, three minutes of testimony could lead the news this
evening, because what you gather from our newscasts and from the print media is
that we're mostly seen over there as occupiers rather than liberators. It would
be nice if the testimony of those who have been on the frontlines over there
could reach the American people rather than the news that does reach the
Let me just ask you again, very
generally, your response to the media reports of what's going on in Iraq
compared to what you saw in Iraq. Do you feel that there is a difference in what
the American people are being told and what you saw over there? And let's just
go down the line again and answer quickly.
LINNINGTON: Mr. Congressman, I think because the loss of any American soldier or
marine is significant, that will dominant the news, and it should, because the
American sons and daughters are our most precious resource. Unfortunately, the
good news stories in a lot of cases don't make the news because it's dominated
by the more tragic events.
We had the opportunity when
we came back to Fort Campbell to get out and visit local communities, VFWs,
PTAs, church groups. In fact, I even talked to Dell Computers about what was
going on in Iraq and showed some video and talked about some of the good news
stories that were going on. And a lot of American people didn't realize that was
going on, frankly, and they were happy for it because they're obviously the ones
that pay our salaries and they wanted to know that what we were doing over there
was worthwhile. And I would answer your question from that perspective, being
that whenever there's loss of life, it must dominate the news, but there are a
tremendous number of good news stories that offset those sacrifices.
REP. BARTLETT: But those aren't getting in the media, are
COL. LINNINGTON: Not from my experience,
COL. McCOY: Sir, the good
news doesn't make the news. It's the shipwrecks that make the news, the Abu
Ghraib and casualties are going to dominate the news. I think this is the fact
of making good coffee. I can tell you on a daily basis there are good news
things happen that are being conducted by our Armed Forces members over there
every single day, and doing it for the betterment of the Iraqi people. And
they're serving with honor, courage and commitment.
REP. BARTLETT: Thank you.
SPRINGMAN: Sir, I also agree that while I serve there, I don't think the good
news was being put out. There was a lot more good news than bad news. That's
all. And I wish, you know, the news media could have seen the towns that we went
into as we went into them, and then a year later when we left to see how active
business was and how secure they were compared to the time we moved in, sir.
CAPT. SAVAGE: Since returning from Iraq on July 12th, I
haven't spent a lot of time watching headline news and CNN and Fox News to
decompress. I haven't seen any good news stories about what soldiers, Marines,
airmen and sailors are doing. And part of our mission statement, part of our
battalion commander's intent from Colonel McCoy was, win one family at a
time through dignity and human respect -- the average Iraqi person, the average
Iraqi family. And it's too bad that a lot of members of the press aren't over
there to see one family member, one community at a time being one over, because
that's what happens on a daily basis, aside from the vehicle-borne IEDs and the
negative things that make the news.
Sir, in the six months that I've been back from Iraq I find it very difficult to
watch the news because I think it's a complete misrepresentation of what is
actually going on there on a day-day-day basis. I think this is tied to your
last question about the percentage of Iraqis that see as occupiers or
liberators. And watching the news now, it makes it seem like it's 90 percent of
the Iraqi people don't appreciate what has happened for them and see us as
occupiers. Every experience that I had in Iraq was completely to the
REP. BARTLETT: Thank you all very much for
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. HEFLEY: Mr. Ortiz.
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ (D-TX): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First of al, let me say thank
you for the outstanding work that you have done. We're proud of you. I would
like to touch a little bit on the rules of engagement.
I have a letter here from a Navy Corpsman who's serving along with the
Marines. And this is what he says. The only foreign missions the officers
approve are all out of range. And they know that when they approve them, the
higher up is really botching this up and it's got to stop.
He says, please write our Congressman and tell him we need to either do
this or get off the pot. They're just letting them shell us. We're not allowed
to do much about the insurgent activity.
It may be our
battalion. It may be higher than that. I don't know. But people are going to die
unnecessarily, and the enemy will only get bolder if this keeps up. Please tell
Congress there's no polite way to fight a war. And despite whatever the hell
they're thinking, this will not save the government any face. In fact, it will
do the opposite.
If this show of force -- they are
laughing at us because of the show of force that we are supposed to be showing
around, and they're dropping rounds on us and escaping without a single shot
being fired at them. It's entirely within our means to stop this. And then, of
course, his father comes by the office and gives us the complaint of one of his
sons. He's got two sons in Iraq.
I can remember when I
went to Lebanon when the village containing 245 Marines were killed. A group of
this committee, I think you were with us. Ike, myself, the late Bob Stump and
others were there. Two days, three days after the killings of these Marines we
felt secure because we saw the soldiers carrying their weapons to later find out
that the weapons they were carrying did not have any ammunition because they did
not want to create an international incident.
want to ask you if any of you have had this problem where even small fire is
coming at you and there's an order given not to fire back. Have you had any such
experience like this, to any of you that can answer this question?
COL. LINNINGTON: Congressman, that was not my
experience. I know that when our troops come under fire, they return fire
accurately and within the rules of engagement. One of the things General
Petraeus did tell us, however, was that in all operations, offensive, defensive
or whatever we were doing, his principle and the principle we operated under was
that we did not want to create more enemies than we took off the street. So as
we conducted offensive operations, or even as we conducted routine searches, or
even as we conducted routine searches of Iraqis' homes, looking for weapons of
things like that, we did it under those conditions.
Sometimes we would -- there would be an attempt by the insurgents to
bait us into producing or returning overwhelming fire, which would create more
enemies than we take off the street. And in those cases it's really a leadership
decision, where the young leader at the point of the spear makes that decision
and executes according to how he's been trained.
ORTIZ: That decision did not put any of our young soldiers in harm's way?
COL. LINNINGTON: We're always in harm's way. We
understand that. And I will tell you that, without question, when our soldiers
were being engaged, we were fighting back. I can't remember an incident where we
sat and took fire and did not return fire because of a restriction on the rules
REP. ORTIZ: And one of the reasons I
bring this up, in South Texas just Monday, we had our 10th soldier killed. He
was home two weeks ago and returned back and died. I'm just concerned. I want
you young men and women to come back alive. We value your life. We value the
life of your families. And I'm just concerned that if we have any flaws in the
rules of engagement, we want to know so that we can tell the higher ups that we
cannot continue to have young men and women die just because we do not want to
create an international incident. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. HEFLEY: Thank you.
REP. WALTER B. JONES (R-NC): Mr. Chairman, thank you very
much. And I want to thank those of you on the panel today. I have the privilege
to represent three bases: Camp Lejeune Marine Base, Cherry Point Marine Air
Station -- actually four -- New River Air Station and also Seymour Johnson Air
And I do have a question but I want to
share with the committee also that I have great respect for those of you who are
fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. I, two years ago, had the humbling experience
and a spiritual experience of attending the funeral of Michael Bitz, sergeant
Marine killed at Nasariyah. There was a reason that I was involved, because
Congressman Elton Gallegly had called me and said, "Walter, a Marine was called
that was my constituent, and his wife Janina had twins born after he was
deployed and would need help with her mother visiting from Australia to extend
From that I felt my responsibility as a
member of Congress to attend the funeral. And it's not been the only one but
it's one that, again, because of the circumstances, will be a spiritual
experience because Janina read the last letter she received from Michael. And
Michael talked about loving his family, proud to be a Marine, and that whether
he would see his wife on earth or in heaven would be God's will. And I share
that because, like many on this committee, we know that there is a reason and a
purpose. And you've said in your statements that you believe that we need to be
there and we need to fight this war and win this war. And we want you to have
all that you need to win. And I just wanted to make those statements.
And, by the way I did attend the ceremony to award the
wife, in memory of her husband's service, a civil star down at Camp Lejeune last
And General Roberson, I told him afterwards
I'd never heard such eloquent comments about our men and women in uniform and
about the need to have those of you who are so brave to serve this great nation
and put your life on the line.
About three weeks ago,
the secretary of the Navy and Marine Corps -- and I hope that the committee will
stand strong on that this year and we end up naming the secretary of the Navy,
Navy and Marine Corps. It's the right thing to do. The secretary of the Navy and
Marine Corps visited Camp Lejeune and New River and Cherry Point about three
weeks ago, and he had occasion to speak to the 8th Marine Regiment. And this is
my question, both to the United States Army and to the Marine Corps. I was
pleased that the leadership down at Camp Lejeune would allow the troops who are
assembled at parade rest to -- at ease I should say -- to ask questions.
The one question that I have not been thinking much about
myself, nor probably would I, came from a young Marine that asked the secretary
of the Navy about counseling. And I could tell that the question kind of caught
everyone there a little bit by surprise, mainly in the leadership as well as
myself and secretary of the Navy. Mental fatigue, I cannot imagine the stress
that the troops are under, quite frankly, day in and day out in such a chaotic
situation as what's taking place in Iraq. So this would be my question. What
type of mental fatigue are you seeing in Iraq and also what are you doing to
help the troops coming back from Iraq or Afghanistan as it relates to trying to
help them to readapt to the American way of life. So now I'll stop rambling and
give you -- please answer. The two colonels probably would be the best, Army and
COL. McCOY: Sir, I'd
like to handle that one first. Our junior leaders are trained to recognize
combat stress while in a combat environment. When a Marine or sailor does not
behave himself, we pick up on the indicators, changes in his personality, and we
can immediately intervene. Initially at the junior leadership level, we have the
chaplain and medical officer that are there. Often all that is needed is to
remove that Marine or sailor from the immediacy of the fighting, not to take him
back to an installation, because once you do that he starts to lose touch with
reality. But to keep him there with the unit in a secure area, where he still
has the fraternal bonds of his unit to help him through that.
We teach our Marines that it's okay. Just as when you're in a
firefight, it's okay to call for air support and artillery. This is a fight of a
different nature and it is quite all right to call for help. And we're very
compassionate about that. Before returning, every Marine had 96 hours of
de-stress time back in a secure area. We went through extensive seminar-type
discussions led by the junior leaders that we had trained on what it would be
like to reenter. We did this the second time. About 6 percent of my unit were
returning veterans coming back after the second tour.
That said, we explained, these are the symptoms, these are the feelings
you're going to have. This is what is normal. This is what is not normal. We
also took post-deployment surveys. And they're fairly anonymous, only seen by
our medical officers. We were able to identify Marines we thought were at risk
or were not at risk. That wasn't the end of it. If those people had issues, we
proactively sought them additional guidance by trained professionals.
Upon returning, before we went on leave, we kept the
battalion there for another three weeks before we released back out into the
wild, so to speak. We stayed there, where we had the structure of a chain of
command in place, and to get them back in a routine. Things like sleeping,
eating, regular PT, regular food. All those things were very important for our
reentry. The short answer to your question, Congressman, is we took a very
deliberate and measured approach to how we brought our Marines and sailors back.
And they all have the numbers of the people that they need to call if they're
having troubles. They need to call in fire support, so to speak.
Additionally, we proactively identified people that may be having
trouble. Marines coming back with either too much money or not enough money.
People that had had marriage problems before. Maybe they had had alcohol
problems before. Those people were all identified as at- risk, even though they
hadn't shown any symptoms, either in combat or in their post-deployment survey.
And we got them preemptive counseling, if you will. We took -- combat stress is
very real. They estimate about every one coming back, depending on where you
were and what you were doing, carries about 30 days of post-traumatic stress
disorder, or PTSD, inside them.
If you add up all the
time, we spend about 30 days treating that in-country and when we got back,
before we went on our block leave. So you can never weed it all out but I can
tell you, from the commanding general on down, we made a very intensive effort
REP. JONES: So pleased to hear that.
Mr. Chairman, could the Army answer that question as
REP. HEFLEY: Briefly.
COL. LINNINGTON: Congressman, a very similar approach to what
Colonel McCoy said in the Army. Help professionals on site at our base in
Tel Afar. Psychologists with the forward surgical team that was there. Chaplains
in every unit as well as trained medical officials. More important, a trained
and caring chain of command that knows how to recognize soldiers that are
undergoing stressful conditions and getting them to the right professionals.
Very similar to the Marine Corps, we had training programs before we came back
to Fort Campbell, both for the soldiers and for their families that were at
Campbell, awaiting our return.
And then after we got
back to Fort Campbell, a lock-in period of at least 10 days, and in some cases
as much as two weeks, where predictable schedules were in place for soldiers to
reintegrate with their families and make sure things were okay before they went
on leave. High-risk soldiers identified by the chain of command and, again,
given to professionals to work through those issues. So a very similar
REP. JONES: Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
HEFLEY: Thank you.
REP. GENE TAYLOR (D-MS): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I especially want to
thank our panel for being here, and I think it is a particularly good move to
have some of the younger officers here to hopefully speak frankly with us. We
very much appreciate your service.
On one of my trips
over there I was amazed by the very large number or percentage of the casualties
that were the result of improvised explosives. And you guys have already figured
this out. We don't tell how you to take a hill on this committee. We hopefully
buy the things you need. I did not feel like our nation was putting the right
amount of emphasis on trying to jam some of those signals.
I know that when I traveled and my colleagues traveled over there, we
were protected 100 percent of the time. And I don't feel like you were. So I
would like to hear from you as quickly as possible what percentage of the
casualties you units experienced came as a result of improvised explosives and
what percentage of your troops do you think were protected on a daily basis as
they went out on patrol that could have been protected, were protected. I
realize it's not there for everything.
LINNINGTON: Congressman, very early on we did not have the up-armored Humvees or
the armored protection we needed to conduct routine patrols, especially given
such a large land area we were responsible for up north. We did not have a large
IED problem initially so that wasn't really an issue with us. But as the IED
problem started to surface and migrate from the south to the north, we had to
take precautionary measures to protect ourselves. We knew the Army was coming
forward with additional up-armored Humvees and the armor plating kits to augment
our light vehicles with some protection.
But what we
did in the interim was we started outfitting our own vehicles with local
contractors in the local community that provided us armor shielding on the side
of light-skinned vehicles, floor boarding to protect from explosives coming
through the floorboards, and (pimples ?) to mount machine guns on those vehicles
that didn't have it. So I would agree with you, we did not have enough armored
vehicles, up-armored Humvees initially that we needed.
But as things got along, we got more and more of them.
REP. TAYLOR: Well, what percentage of your force do you think was
adequately protected by the time you left?
LINNINGTON: By the time we left, everyone was, because it became a requirement
that no vehicles would leave our forward operating base unless they had some
form of ballistic protection on the sides and the force.
REP. TAYLOR: This is February '04?
LINNINGTON: This was March '04, yes, sir.
COL. McCOY: Sir, I'd say 75
REP. TAYLOR: Colonel, excuse me.
COL. McCOY: -- 75 percent of my
casualties were due to IEDs. Of those, nearly all of them were returned to duty.
The wounds were superficial. And the reason they were superficial was that I had
100 percent of the force protected with SAPI plates, ballistic goggles and
additional armor on the Humvees.
REP. TAYLOR: What
about the jammers? What percentage of your force do you think had some form of
COL. McCOY: The only
REP. TAYLOR: -- for the vehicles.
COL. McCOY: -- that we had in our area,
sir, belonged to the EOD personnel. We did not have any jammers.
REP. TAYLOR: Okay. And you left Iraq when? Most recent trip.
COL. McCOY: I left Iraq in July, sir.
REP. TAYLOR: Okay. Colonel?
COL. SPRINGMAN: Sir, I left in March of '04. I had on one killed
by IEDs; however, about half my wounded, about 11 or 12 guys were probably due
to IEDs. And by the time we left, I believe everyone was adequately protected.
We all had proper body armor and we even got the body armor for the Maldovans
who were supporting us, sir.
REP. TAYLOR: What about
some form of jamming device?
Sir, we actually had a Warlock. I used it, just one, when several patrols out at
any time. What we used it for was our logistics patrol that was less protected
in vehicles, and it always went with our logistics patrol out and back, sir.
REP. TAYLOR: Well, what percentage of your vehicles -- or
let me straighten it out, since you don't need one for every vehicle I'm told.
But you certainly need one for every patrol. What percentage of your patrols
actually had some form of device to jam the signal of the IEDs?
COL. SPRINGMAN: Sir, we probably had 12 patrols a day, 10 to 12,
and one of those would have the device.
REP. TAYLOR: So
COL. SPRINGMAN: Correct, sir.
REP. TAYLOR: Captain?
SAVAGE: Congressman Taylor, to amplify Colonel McCoy's remarks, all the
casualties from Kilo Company were direct fire. We did receive two IED attacks,
one on March 5th and one on June 9th, both of which had the Marines and had the
side armor for the Humvees. Had they not been wearing their ballistic goggles,
they probably would have suffered several WIA and at least one KIA in each
incident. As they would have it and as the leadership imposed, we have to do
pre- combat checks and inspections on our Marines, making sure they have the
The Marine Corps did not buy those
ballistic goggles to look cool on top of their helmets. The Marines wear them
for a specific reason. If they're getting ready to do an entry into a house that
requires an explosive breach, whether it be night, day, whatever the conditions,
they have to wear every bit of protection they have. And as far as the Humvees
that we drove around in, it wasn't until April that we started doing
company-sized missions, and by the time we were doing company-sized missions,
the battalion would task organize.
One company might be
in all 7-tons with side armor panels. Another company might be in all Humvees.
But every mission that we went on, every Humvee or every 7-ton would have side
armor on it. And then so it was never really a concern, given the fact that a
lot of our movements were platoon sized missions. And it works. I know first
hand that it works.
REP. TAYLOR: What percentage of
your conveys had some form of a jammer along with you?
CAPT. SAVAGE: Zero. We never saw it at the company level, sir.
REP. TAYLOR: Okay. Thank you, sir.
CAPT. COSTELLO: Sir, I had one
soldier injured by an IED explosion. Until we received the up-armor kits for the
Humvees, we relied on soldiers' ingenuity, fabricating steel plates, sandbags,
anything that we could do to protect ourselves. As far as personal equipment, we
were 100 percent protected. And as Colonel Linnington stated earlier, there's a
requirement to leave the forward operating base, that the vehicle was completely
up-armored and had some former protection. As far as jammers were concerned,
sir, I left in February 2004 and I never saw one.
TAYLOR: Thank you all again.
REP. HEFLEY: Mrs.
REP. HEATHER WILSON (R-NM): Thank you, Mr.
Chairman. And I wanted to join my colleagues in thanking all of you for serving.
Very much appreciated and thank you for your leadership of your soldiers. I
wanted to ask you a couple of things. One was -- and I'm not sure who is the
most appropriate, but you can flip a coin if you want to. Did you have the
resources that you needed, either interior to your units or attached to your
units that you needed for the civil affairs work that you did, both financial
language specialists, those kind of things, or were you hampered in any way in
the projects you were trying to accomplish?
LINNINGTON: Congresswoman, I'll hit that first briefly. We had a civil affairs
detachment with us. It quickly became evident that we needed to augment them
with some additional assets, and we used other MOS's like Captain Costello's
folks that helped us administer some of the CERT (ph) money for projects and
programs. And where we lacked the number of translators that we needed, we hired
more from the local economy and entrusted agents, as well as CPA- directed folks
from Titan gave us a large number of interpreters to accomplish those missions.
So it was a lot of ingenuity on soldier's parts initially to get where we needed
to go, but we got there pretty quickly.
COL. McCOY: Ma'am, our civil affairs group, we had a team
attached to us. They're from our Reserve component. I cannot think of trying to
accomplish my mission without them. They were vital in everything that we did.
We did augment them, but only in terms of security and interpreters that we,
again got from Titan or our own Marine interpreters that happened to speak the
COL. SPRINGMAN: Ma'am, as an
artillery unit initially we were not task-organized with the CA detachment.
About 30 days after we took over our own area, we received at detachment. In the
meantime, I created my own using artillery officers and NCOs. They continued to
work in that, even after we received our civil affairs detachment. As far as
interpreters, as far as civil affairs went, we used all local contract that we
had hired from the local populous and used the official military interpreters
for other duties.
REP. WILSON: What about our
captains? Did you have what you needed?
Yes, ma'am. We had our civil affairs detachment within the battalion, that we
had a specific mission that required the presence. We were able to tap into
them, and if not, our platoon level leadership, our platoon commanders and
platoon sergeants received paying agent authority. Some of the basic skills that
our civil affairs teams perform, that if for whatever reason, they were employed
elsewhere, the platoon commander or platoon sergeant, myself or company XO could
perform, if needed. To answer your question, yes, ma'am.
CAPT. COSTELLO: Ma'am, I think the only civil affairs resources that we
were short was the fact that there weren't enough school- trained civil affairs
soldiers there. I have no doubt in my mind that every one of us at this table
played some sort of civil affairs role at some point in time over there, as does
every soldier. As Colonel Linnington said, we had plenty of translators. They're
augmented by soldiers. I had a young private, first class, who spoke fluent
Arabic, and he would augment the teams, depending on what was needed.
REP. WILSON: Thank you. And the other question I wanted to
ask you, you know, soldiers are great at adapting. American soldiers are. And I
know that you've all kind of dealt with this situation and adapted. But there
are always lessons learned and things that you want to pass onto the guy that's
coming into your job that you didn't expect when you showed up, and so you
wanted to pass those things on. From your experience, what were the things that
you didn't expect that you want to make sure you take back as lessons learned
for the American Marines or American Army, or even just for your successor
walking in when you walked out? What did you not expect and how can we better
prepare our soldiers and our Marines?
Ma'am, the one thing that surprised us was really I think the scope of
responsibility at the very junior level and the responsibility of junior
soldiers to be involved in the civil affairs mission. We trained extensively, as
the other services do, at our combat training centers, particularly for a late
unit at the Joint Readiness Training Center. We tend to sometimes get put in
situations at that training center that are very ambiguous and, you know, you
don't quite know how to handle them. And then you get home and you try and learn
how to do better in those situations. And we did a lot of that before we
But then to go over there and find ourselves
thrust right into those situations, really we were all having kind of flashbacks
about the width and breadth of the responsibilities at the junior level. We
captured all of our lessons learned as we came home. The Army did a good job of
sending our teams of scholars and trainers that picked up the things that we
were doing and brought them back to the United States prior to the deployment of
the unit that replaced us. And then when the Strykers came in from Fort Louis to
replace us in the northern portion of Iraq, we spent a full two and a half or
three weeks with them to give them the ability to become familiar with the
terrain, meet all the local officials that they needed to know about, and there
was a pretty seamless transition. So we were happy for that time period that we
were allowed to transition.
McCOY: Congresswoman, we had a taste of what SASO, or stability and security
operations, would be like with our final bit of OIF-1 being in Baghdad at the
beginning of phase 4 operations. We took those lessons home with us. In addition
to that, we went through, as I mentioned in my statement, intensive language,
cultural training. We also had a very dedicated professional military education
program, taking oracles written from across the spectrum from periodicals and
newspapers and then discuss those in a guided discussion format down at the
squad level, led by often the company commander or the platoon commander.
After that, it was a matter of taking our tactics,
techniques and procedures and applying them to the specific AO that we had.
TTPs, if you will, tactics, techniques and procedures, that may work in Babil
wouldn't necessarily work in Al Anbar. So you had to adjust those specifically
to that. I cannot say that there is anything that surprised me.
REP. WILSON: Do any of the other there have particular insights on
that? I know I'm out of time here, but if there's something -- is there
something that you particularly want to share?
COL. SPRINGMAN: Ma'am, we went through similar process as has
been described. The one thing I emphasize to both the unit that was coming in
whenever I could, and once we returned was junior leaders having to maintain the
standards and discipline, be that the uniform or just how they act and interact
with Iraqis. And if the junior leaders were involved, they can make the right
decisions and their soldiers would be both more secure and able to accomplish
REP. WILSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. HEFLEY: Thank you.
REP. SILVESTRE REYES (D-TX): Thank you, Mr.
And thank you, gentlemen, for being here. We
definitely appreciate your service and the hard work that you've done. And as I
ask each one of you, please pass on our appreciation to those that served with
you and for you. We appreciate everybody's service.
Having said that, Mr. Chairman, are we going to have another -- Mr.
Chairman, are we going to have another panel on this performance of our
military? Is this it?
REP. HEFLEY: This is it.
REP. REYES: The reason I -- I want to express some -- or
maybe just make a recommendation that in the future we include enlisted
personnel and minorities and women. Because I've been to Iraq five times and
Afghanistan about nine times and each one of those trips I've seen what America
looks like. And I just -- no knock on our panel here, because I respect and
honor their service, but I do think we need enlisted personnel, women,
minorities represented at the table as well.
talk about our military, it's reflective of our country. And certainly
representing a border district, the 14 casualties that we've suffered in our
area, most have been minorities. So I just offer that as an observation and I
hope a recommendation that will follow in the future.
I've got a number of questions that I would like some of you to comment
on. Over this August break I had a couple that approached me and tell me that
their son was very troubled because in the recent action in Iraq, his best buddy
had been killed. It was a firefight where there were RPGs and small arms fire.
But this individual was driving a Humvee and that broad-sided by a truck
apparently and got killed. And yet his death was categorized as non-hostile
because it was, I guess, a vehicle accident. That's a huge problem. This isn't
the first time that I've heard of that and I would ask you to comment.
The other thing that I would ask to comment on, when you
were there, did we have these no-go areas as we have today and what are the
consequences both in being able to have a presence that reinforces the good news
that you've testified here today about the liberation of the country and the
fact that we're there standing to help the Iraqi people and most importantly,
the $21 or so billion that we authorized for projects to improve the quality of
life of the Iraqi people. How can we administer into those areas if there are
these no-go areas that we're not able to service, to protect or to be with the
Iraqi people? So if you can comment on these two things, I would appreciate it.
COL. LINNINGTON: Congressman Reyes, we had
no-go areas in my area of responsibility except for the mosques where the
cultural sensitivities of non-Muslims in the mosque, we abided by that. And what
we would do is we would work with our security officials that were trained and
walk in side by side with us into those areas.
REYES: So is this a recent phenomenon of the no-go regions or areas that we're
COL. LINNINGTON: We didn't
have any in my area, in the 101st area.
COL. McCOY: I can speak for
my area. I didn't have any no-go areas. Just as Colonel Linnington said, mosques
obviously are protected sites. When we did need to go in a mosque, we did it
with Iraqi forces.
COL. SPRINGMAN: Same, sir. I
have not heard the term "no-go area" used then.
CAPT. SAVAGE: Sir, again, to echo
Lieutenant Colonel McCoy, we did not have no-go areas but we were trained
that, if we had to, we would have Iraqi policemen or Iraqi National Guard so as
to not incite the civilian population.
Sir, other than cultural sites and things like mosques, there are no no-go
REP. REYES: Thank you, Captain. I would be
remiss. I have known Captain Costello for over eight years, the son of our
commander there at Fort Bliss, and with El Paso ties, an El Paso young man. We
are very proud of his service and we're pleased he's here today, Mr.
CAPT. COSTELLO: Thank you, sir.
REP. REYES: Do I have -- no, I'm out of time.
REP. HEFLEY: Thank you. We will stand in recess. Can you,
gentlemen, wait for a little bit? We will stand in recess. We have one vote and
possibly two votes coming up here and then we will reconvene.
REP. KEN CALVERT (R-CA): The hearing
will please come to order. The next person to ask questions is Congressman
Calvert, who is temporarily the chair. And I appreciate, gentlemen, for coming
today and I certainly want to be one of those who thank you for your service. I
recently returned from Iraq. Also I was there with Chairman Hunter and
Congressman Reyes and we certainly saw evidence of all the good that the
military has done and continue to do every day. Unfortunately, that is not being
conveyed to the American public but certainly we're very appreciative of that.
But one problem that, when we were in -- one part of
the theater was Fallujah and I probably want to specifically ask the Marines
this question. But certainly you guys are there and obviously April was a very
tough month. We suffered significant casualties not just in Fallujah but in
other parts of Iraq. But that seems to be the crossroads of insurgency at this
time and certainly we got some bad news over the weekend of what's occurring in
Fallujah. So I'd like to get, starting with Colonel McCoy, your feelings
about how do we deal with Fallujah. Is that a problem that you think needs to be
resolved in order for us to stop the transshipping of not just individuals but
bombs and other paraphernalia that's being shipped apparently through
COL. McCOY: Sir, my
involvement with Fallujah lasted about five weeks when we were called from
Western Al Anbar into Fallujah and participated in Operation Vigilant Resolve.
The thrust of your question, respectfully Mr. Chairman, is really outside of my
line. As a battalion commander, I execute tactical tasks. That's exactly what I
did. I executed tactical tasks while we were there in Fallujah and frankly, we
took the fight to the enemy. And that's pretty much where my lane ends, sir.
REP. CALVERT: Staying on that vein, the enemy in Fallujah,
what did you see there? Define insurgency. Was it mainly a local insurgency or
is it some foreign fighters also?
McCOY: I think we were fighting, from my experience, we were fighting this
insurgency which at large actually has a few components to it. There are the
foreign fighters that were there to further their cause, turn Iraq into the next
Afghanistan, Baghdad into the next Beirut.
CALVERT: Is there a percentage that anecdotally you can share with us? What
you've seen in the field, what percentage of foreign fighter versus --
COL. McCOY: It would be pure
speculation. Since I wasn't able to take a census with these guys, it's hard to
tell who's shooting at you, whether he's one of the criminal elements that are
out to make a buck or if it is a former Baath Party regime or a hard-core
terrorist. I will tell you, in Fallujah, you can tell when you're up against a
guy that has a little more formal training and you have to make sure that your
tactics are very precise when you deal with them.
are much more accurate, much more lethal than if you're going up against the guy
that's firing an RPG at you for a couple of hundred bucks. When you deal with a
professional terrorist, you know it. Their fire is much more accurate and you
need to be much more careful.
We did run into a
combination of all three, I believe, in Fallujah. There were very well trained
insurgents that we fought. They fought from four to five houses that were
constructed in a textbook manner and we also fought against those that were not
REP. CALVERT: The criminal element, are
these folks being paid for by former Baathist or foreign fighters in order to
COL. McCOY: Yes,
sir. When we follow the money, it's coming from former Baath Party, where they
get their money, or from foreign terrorists that are also kind of extending
their reach, their operational reach if you will, by getting some surrogate foot
soldiers to do some of their bidding.
REP. CALVERT: Any
other comments from the panel in regard to the insurgency. The insurgency, in
general, the components of the insurgency movement today and what kind of
progress? I think, Colonel, I'll talk to you and then we'll talk to the
COL. LINNINGTON: Mr. Chairman, one of
the things we looked at was money as ammunition. In a lot of cases, the
unemployment issues in Iraq were what fed the insurgency because especially some
of the young men are looking for ways to earn money and one way, of course, is
to attack Americans, if you are paid by former Baath officials or foreign
extremists. So as we use the money this Congress provided us to rebuild the
infrastructure of Iraq, we tried to hire as many folks as we could so that we
remove that opportunity to hire poor Iraqi young men specially to participate in
the insurgency. So we appreciate your support there.
REP. CALVERT: Colonel Springman.
SPRINGMAN: Sir, I believe we saw very similar. There were definitely those who
were just being paid off the street to attack and those who are better trained.
And I would agree with the last comment, the more we got back to work either
through our projects or through just the economy itself rebuilding, the less
good being paid to attack us -- like to them especially with the inherent
dangers there. And the attacks became fewer from the people just being paid to
attack us, sir.
REP. CALVERT: Captain, you just got
back in July. How do you see that?
CAPT. SAVAGE: Sir, I
look at it from two perspectives. One was a constant fight for the 80 percent
gray. Ten percent are committed to doing aligning with us. In other words, those
that could go one way or the other, that's where creating the conditions for
them to understand our cause and understand that we're there to help them get
back on their feet was so critical because if these conditions existed, a sense
of despair existed among the disenchanted youth, then the concern is that there
would be more enemy. That's why getting out there with the civil affairs
projects was important.
The second part to that is it
seemed those that were better trained, whether they be foreign fighters or
former Baathist members, could definitely spark or ignite a certain sense of
euphoria. I think the term in RCT-1 headquarters was "drunk with jihad" but
after getting smacked down and after they got punished quite severely, I think
that would go a way and you'd be left with those that are diehard committed to
killing Americans and the rest would be like, it's not so cool to jump on the
REP. CALVERT: Captain Costello.
CAPT. COSTELLO: Sir, I'd like to echo what Colonel
Linnington and Colonel Springman said. The big difference is the money paid in
keeping those potential guys on our side of the fence.
REP. CALVERT: Thank you.
REP. VIC SNYDER (D-AR): Thank you, Mr.
Chairman. I think in the interest of time, I'll just direct my questions to you,
Colonel Linnington and Colonel McCoy, and get an Army and a Marine Corps
perspective on a couple of questions I have. I have visited Iraq a couple of
time and was there I think three weeks ago. And we visited the 39th Brigade
which is attached to the 1st CAV. And when we first arrived, we had a meeting
with Ambassador Negroponte and Ambassador David Nash.
Then we got to talking about Ambassador Nash and I asked him about the
flow of development dollars, giving funds to everyone so they can do the SWET
projects, sewer, water, electricity and trash pick-up, the kind of things that
make neighborhoods better and safer, so raise neighborhood morale. And we were
assured at our meeting with the civilian leadership that the money was flowing,
everything was great, the development projects were progressing. You know, it
was just wonderful, never seen anything like it.
we got into the Blackhawk and went out to the 1st CAV and were picked up by one
of the generals and the leadership and heard from a couple of different generals
about it. I hadn't been in the vehicle for two minutes until we started hearing
a plea from the leadership, please, please, please help us get more money for
development projects. And in fact, one of the generals we were talking to, it
was his opinion that, if you took a map of their area and mapped on it all the
areas where they were getting hit with RPGs and IEDs and small arms fire that
you could overlay a map over that where there is raw sewage on the streets. They
may have a sewer plant but it's not hooked up to each house. Where there was not
clean water, to where electricity was poor to where trash is accumulating.
And his anecdotal experience -- and he used the word
"anecdotal" -- he said that, in our experience, in those neighborhoods where we
have gone in in the months they had been there and worked on those projects,
that the attacks went down. We have gotten very unsatisfactory answers since
we've been back here about where is the problem with funding getting to folks
probably at your level or higher in terms of parceling out the projects. Was it
your experience? Forgive me, I forget when you all came back.
But, Colonel Linnington and Colonel McCoy, if you could just
comment, do you have any knowledge about could you have used more money for
those kinds of neighborhood improvement projects?
COL. LINNINGTON: Congressman, a consistent theme by my boss,
General Petraeus, was to get as much money as we could into the economy as
quickly as possible and get folks back to work and improve the quality of life
for the Iraqi people. Success breeds success. Areas where we were successful at
getting projects going and getting people working, we tended to then get
information from the local people who were happy with us being there about any
insurgency activity that was going on in the area and then we would tend to
conduct raids or whatever to stamp those out.
agree with your premise that where the infrastructure is being rebuilt and where
the country is developing, those tend to be the areas where we don't have
problems. It's the areas where money is difficult to get, either get it there or
get folks into that area to conduct reconstruction, those in my opinion seem to
be the areas that we have difficulty. We had consistently good support, money
support both through CPA, Coalition Provisional Authority, and our higher
headquarters to do all the reconstruction projects we wanted. And that's why in
the areas we were in we had relative success.
SNYDER: When did you come back?
We came back at the end of February.
Right. And I had visited -- my first trip over there was the 101st and I think
money may have been flowing a little more -- freewheeling at that time.
Colonel McCoy, do you have any comments?
COL. McCOY: Yes, sir. I would tell you
that there was severe degradation of the infrastructure across Iraq, based out
of Saddam's 30 years of rule. In most cases, we were able to take that
infrastructure and develop it so it exceeded pre-war capabilities. Iraq is a
very big place. There are many, many towns that we -- small fishing villages if
you will along the Euphrates that we probably didn't get to. It's a matter of
time and we put our money or effort towards the larger population areas that
would breed some of this dissent. I never had problems getting access to money.
Any project I put forward was certainly approved. We did try to be good stewards
of that money. We didn't arbitrarily approve projects until we had gone on
REP. SNYDER: And when did you get back?
COL. McCOY: I got back in July of '04,
REP. SNYDER: July of '04. And second question for
the two of you, if you don't mind. Another issue that I've heard about
intermittently, both by -- you know, we all have friends. They're just a split
second away by e-mail now that serve and then I ask some questions about over
there. The problem with parts primarily for vehicles. Did you feel like your
supply lines were well maintained, that you were able to maintain your vehicles
and keep them up and running and the other kind of equipment you need?
COL. LINNINGTON: Initially it was a challenge and I
think that was primarily because we moved as quickly as we did and there was
some frustration with getting the parts, especially tires and rims that we
wanted. It's very rough terrain and we were going through tires and rims on our
vehicles very quickly. Our problem was visibility of where those parts were. And
in some cases, we ordered in double order parts and then after we had been there
four or five months, all of a sudden, we started getting -- parts were just
coming out of the sky.
REP. SNYDER: The delay is what I
COL. LINNINGTON: Yes, sir. The Army has
done a lot of work on making sure that we have what we wanted. We have priority
over repair parts across the Army and that was beneficial. It was just we ran
very quickly in the early stages. It took a while to get the infrastructure
REP. SNYDER: Once you got settled into
Mosul, it was better?
COL. LINNINGTON: Yes, sir.
REP. SNYDER: Would you agree with that
general assessment, Colonel McCoy?
McCOY: I would agree with that, sir. For OIF-1, during the march-up, I
arrived in Baghdad with 15 of 15 Abrams tanks and 49 of 50 of our Amtraks.
Supply parts were short but we had done a 600-mile movement to contact, if you
will. OIF-2 was easily able to maintain above a 98 percent readiness rating for
all my rolling stock.
REP. SNYDER: Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
COLE (R-OK): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Gentlemen, let me again by just echoing the opinion, I'm sure,
everybody on this committee has. We very much appreciate your professionalism
and what you've done and what you're doing. It's just awesome. I had the good
fortune to be in Iraq and Afghanistan recently, guided by your colleague to your
rear, Colonel Simcox. But extraordinarily impressive performance by American
soldiers across the board.
Let me begin by asking you
-- I'm going to kind of exclude, if I understand your responses, Colonel
McCoy and Capt. Savage, because I think you both spoke to this in your
remarks about Iraqi forces and security people that you were working with. And
as I understood it, the improvement is impressive. I'd like to direct really the
same question to you, Colonel, and then just across the board for the others.
What was your impression and your interaction with Iraqi security forces and
armed personnel? Were they getting better? Just your overall impression.
COL. LINNINGTON: I had a favorable impression,
We actually had so many young Iraqi men,
some former military and some obviously not, coming forward, wanting to
participate as Iraqi security forces. Our difficulty in the early days was
getting all of them the equipment and the training they needed quickly and
getting them working either on the border with Syria which is where I was
responsible for or in security protection forces or even in the police forces.
So over the period of about six to eight months, we ran several border training
academies. We ran half a dozen police training academies, in Tell Afar and we
started to establish the infrastructure for training of the Iraqi military
forces. And they got better and better as time progressed.
Initially, it was all us and then progressively it became us and them.
And then, you know, people have asked me how do you determine success or how do
you measure success? Success for me was, three weeks before we left, an Iraqi
border patrol of all Iraqis interdicted a smuggler coming through the border,
tracked him and chased him into an Iraqi town, where an Iraqi police checkpoint
was established and those two Iraqi forces with vehicles and radios and
communicating with each other, apprehended those individuals.
And that, for me, was success because that was definitely not there
when we got there. So it progressively got better and better. And I think,
reading the paper and seeing what General Petraeus is doing with the training of
the new Iraqi military forces, I think it will progressively get better and
better and be a good news story for all of Iraq.
COLE: Colonel Springman.
COL. SPRINGMAN: Sir,
when I saw down in the Sunni Triangle, my area, initially the police were fairly
poor. There were one or two that were pretty good policemen. And when we first
started to form the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, we had six members and we were --
by the time we were done, it was very successful and we had over 250 members
that we had trained. I had the sergeant major train them and these six were
actually a great success story. No one wanted to come forward. These six did
relatively poor and we trained them. They went on patrols with us. When we were
attacked, they came to our aid and the success came when one of them was
attacked by himself and we went to his aid. Then the word started to spread that
they were equals and working with us and the numbers started to increase.
And I saw that as a success story. They did all the
patrols with us at the end. They secured some of their own buildings themselves
and they helped capture some of the local raiders who were attacking us simply
because they were Iraqis and can do it better.
COLE: Captain Costello, do you have any experiences?
CAPT. COSTELLO: Sir, I saw a little bit of this. There was definitely
an improvement through my time there for the border guard and the police and the
facility protection forces. I could see a big difference in the folks as they
came through because I was responsible for paying all their salaries. I had a
lot of contact with them. You know, they started off with just a basic school.
It issued a weapon. Sometimes there was a uniform. Sometimes there wasn't. By
the time we had left, we had leadership academies run by NCOs to help train
these forces more.
As the money started flowing, we
were able to equip them with the uniforms that they needed. It helped them more
mentally, I think, to build their confidence and legitimize them in the eyes of
the other folks from the town. You know, they see the uniform and they know that
this guy is not just another guy just carrying around a weapon or something like
that. So with the new equipment and training and a little more confidence, I
definitely saw an improvement, sir.
Terrific. My time is running a little short but let me address a question,
Colonel Linnington, to you and also to you, Colonel McCoy. And if we have
time for the others, that would be great. As was alluded to earlier on, we've
seen -- you know, it's been pretty tough couple of days, to say the least. And
we're moving into the height of the political season in this country. Do you
have any speculation as to whether or not we're seeing intensified activity
partly to impact public opinion inside the United States. I'm not asking you to
draw parties but just impact American morale and determination at home or do you
think this is just happening independently of our own political timetable inside
COL. LINNINGTON: Sir, speculation
on my part. But we saw similar spikes in activities as we are approaching the
election period in Iraq. And I think with the elections coming up in Iraq in
January, it may be more tied to their election period and trying to destabilize
the country for their election period than our own. And that's, again,
speculation on my part.
REP. COLE: It's a very
COL. McCOY: One coincidence that may be there is that
we are doing troop rotations. We experienced, when we rotated back in for OIF-2,
an increase in enemy activity as they introduced the new unit to the AO, so to
speak. That is going on with the 1st Marine Division right now in Fallujah and
out west in Al Anbar Province with units that are doing what we call (Left
C/Right C ?) that's just part of the relief in place process. That has
historically been a window when the enemy attempts to increase their operations
and exploit a seam in command and control, a perceived seam.
REP. COLE: My time has expired. Unless somebody else has an observation
-- did you have one?
COL. SPRINGMAN: No, sir.
Not to add to --
REP. COLE: Well, just, again, thank
you, gentlemen, very much for your service. It is deeply appreciated.
at this time, Congresswoman Susan Davis of California.
REP. SUSAN A. DAVIS (D-CA): Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you to all of you for your dedicated service and
particularly I think the way that you have addressed your ability and, I'm not
sure it was your training, but something in you that allowed you to work as
closely with the Iraqis as you did and have some success as a result of that. I
wonder if you could talk a little bit about that success. I think we know that
success is really dependent in having the Iraqis take charge to police force or
security, counter insurgency. And you have addressed that somewhat. But can you,
without giving any specific timelines and so on, a worst and really a best case
scenario, what is your sense of how that is going in terms of some kind of a
timeline, what it will take and what you saw in terms of going from six to say
250 soldiers who were adequately trained?
of Iraqis in service are quite large but the numbers, as I can tell from the
figures I've looked at, that are actually trained and able to do the work that's
required is still a relatively small number. How do you assess that? Give us
some better idea about those numbers.
LINNINGTON: Ma'am, I can't put a timeline on this, to be honest with you. I know
that the more that the Iraqi security forces and army forces are trained up, in
place and operating and gain that experience of providing security for Iraq,
then the better it will be. I think it's important that we stand side by side
with them to train them. And that's really what our responsibility was when I
was there, was to help get them trained, be they border security or police or
even the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps folks that we trained, of all ethnicities.
Then they were confident because we were there
training them and we always conducted our training so that we had the
opportunity afterwards to talk about it, get feedback from them and then take it
an extra step.
I know we're still on the road to
training the rest of the forces, Iraqi security forces and I can't speculate on
how long that will take to accomplish that.
A third of the way there or halfway there? How --
COL. LINNINGTON: The numbers I've seen indicate that we're about
50 percent or so in training and filling the ranks of Iraqi army soldiers and
probably little less or greater number dependent upon whether you're talking
about border security or force protection security that are guarding key
infrastructure or city police. I think it's important that the training take
place, the whole gamut of training that they go through because it makes better
on the job and then they can obviously train themselves after a certain point
and they don't need us around to conduct that training.
REP. DAVIS: Anybody else want to comment on that?
COL. McCOY: Yes, ma'am, I'd like to and Captain
Savage may be a little closer to this than I since he worked very close with
Haditha police. In December, just before we arrived -- the police station at
Haditha was frankly overrun by local thugs and bandits -- confiscated the
weapons from the police and released all the prisoners, all this really without
firing a shot. Over the next seven months, that changed dramatically. There was
now a police force that just didn't sit in the police station and try to defend
itself and occasionally surrender. They actually went out and patrolled and had
adopted our police, American police, mindset of just serve and protect.
When two police officers can walk into a crowd and arrest
two men, that signaled a sea change and the respect that the local people had
for the police and the confidence the police had in their training. No longer
when they make an arrest, does the family come down to the police station, you
know, large extended family and intimidate the police into releasing them. The
police were the authority and the final authority in that town. That, to me,
spells more -- is a greater indicator than the number of police we have on the
force. We had maxed out our cap with the number of police.
The Iraqi National Guard, another element of the security forces, was
also dysfunctional, if you will, when we first arrived. I will tell you that,
after the transfer of sovereignty, there was a -- as if a light switch had gone
on and that force had spring in their step, a little swagger in their step and
became very, very dedicated under some very strong Iraqi leadership that stepped
forward. And we, of course, encouraged that and reinforced it every chance we
They intend to expand that battalion to a brigade
size, to add another two battalions to that. That's when I left in July. That
was still in the works. So, in that case, I guess we are a third there for
Western Al Anbar, my part of it. We have made great strides and a lot of it is
really not quantifiable. But we can certainly qualify that success with their
performance and the fact that the Iraqi police were definitely in charge. Maybe
an indicator of that was soon after we left, that police station was targeted
for a pair of suicide bombs as well as the Iraqi National Guard headquarters.
They were very close to each other and they had operated together very well.
That may have been an indicator that they were having more effect than the bad
guys liked. They were able to minimize the damage to that suicide bomb and then
conduct their own investigation and rounded up the people that were responsible
REP. DAVIS: Thank you. I appreciate that.
Perhaps in the interest of time, quickly, if you would like to address the
intelligence issue. Is most of the intelligence coming from people in the
community? Are you getting intelligence from the outside? Could you give us a
sense of that and also the issue of the numbers of foreign fighters? Is that
diminished greatly? Is it still about where it was? What are you hearing, I
guess, from the street or what were you hearing from the street and where does
the bulk of your intelligence come from?
LINNINGTON: Ma'am, 80 percent or more of our intelligence came from human
intelligence came from Iraqis, just based on the human to human contact with
American forces, would tell us where the caches were or where the pockets of
insurgents were in our area. So in that regard, it was important for us to
maintain close personal relationships with all of the folks in our area. And
thus the importance of all the things we were doing.
terms of foreign fighters, being responsible for a large portion of the border
with Syria, that was my concern and there has been a long standing debate about
how many foreign fighters are coming from Syria. I can tell you that I did not
see a lot of foreign fighters coming from Syria. But I can only speak to the 270
kilometers that I was responsible for. And part of that reason, I think, was
because we quickly trained up border security forces and ran a lot of patrols,
American patrols along the border. And I think they know where we are and they
know where the security patrols are from the Iraqi side. So it was probably not
a big port of entry, if you will, for the area I was responsible for.
REP. DAVIS: I know my time is up, Mr. Chairman. Perhaps
someone else can follow up on that. Thank you.
HUNTER: Thank you very much.
And next up is a proud
Marine, Congressman John Kline of Minnesota.
KLINE (R-MN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
gentlemen all, for being here. Thank you for your leadership and for the
outstanding performance of you and your Marines and soldiers in Iraq. We are all
so proud of you. I was interested to hear that all five of you felt that over 90
percent of the Iraqi population looked at our presence there, the U.S. presence,
the Coalition presence as liberators and not occupiers. And I particularly
thought, Captain Costello, when you said that you didn't like to watch or listen
to the news since you came back because it was so out of proportion, the news,
to what your perception of what is really happening in Iraq, I think that's very
helpful for us to hear that from you.
I'd like to take
just a minute and kind of follow up on what my colleague from South Texas was
getting at with rules of engagement. So I'd like to go to where the rubber meets
the road and start with you, Captain Savage. Can you tell me what your Marines,
what their understanding was and is of when they can shoot and when they can't
CAPT. SAVAGE: Yes, sir. Very plainly, if
somebody in the population or in the process of executing a mission identifies
himself as a target, meaning they demonstrate a hostile act, they are either
shooting at us, preparing to shoot at us or they're doing something that
indicates that they are going to make us a target, the enemy had a very
significant indirect fire threat over there. So if we were in an area that was a
known indirect fire target, essentially a target reference point for the enemy,
and there was somebody on rooftops, on buildings that had not been engaged
before with a pair of binos, we could engage that target.
The right to self-defense is inherent in every unit commander down to
the squad leader and fire team leader. So at no time were the rules of
engagement unclear. They were echoed before every mission, sir, and every
op-order and every back brief, every pre-combat check and inspection. I mean if
we had time to do nothing else, we talked through the mission at hand, what
we're getting ready to do to make sure that Marines understand the key points,
you know, what are our keys to success, our main effort and what are --
essentially, where can we really cause catastrophic failure.
As a company commander, I'd venture to say I never had a concern about
Marines not understanding the rules of engagement or being able to pull the
trigger when the time was right. I was more concerned about having somebody that
was overzealous, pull the trigger on somebody unnecessarily. And you know, as a
subordinate commander, I am responsible for every round. And I'd venture to say
we are fortunate that that never happened.
it was rule number five. Safety rule number five. Know your target and its
backgrounds because for every person, hypothetically, that we may have killed
that didn't need to be killed, then that would create probably 20 or 30 more of
the enemy or simply people that would try to kill us, just to avenge a death in
REP. KLINE: Specifically, I think I heard
you say this clearly. But I just want to underscore it for the purposes of the
None of your Marines had to wait to be shot at
before they could return fire. Right? If they perceive the threat to themselves
or the force, they could shoot?
CAPT. SAVAGE: That's
REP. KLINE: That was made clear, Captain
CAPT. COSTELLO: Yes, sir. That's correct.
REP. KLINE: Right answer, folks. Thanks very much.
And in the faint hope of setting an example for my
colleagues, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
Thank you, Congressman Kline, and certainly questions in the great Marine
Next up we have Congressman Frank LoBiondo
of New Jersey.
REP. FRANK LoBIONDO (R-NJ): Thank you,
And gentlemen, I echo the comments of all
my colleagues and thank you for serving your country so well, for making us so
proud, specially Colonel Linnington. Relationship with your brother for about 20
years now. So I feel special kinship towards you. A couple of questions that I
have. On a local South Jersey talk radio show which I'm on pretty frequently and
open up to questions to callers, there's one particular caller -- it's easy to
tell from his comments where he's coming from -- but he's insisting that he has
a contact with a friend that has either a son or a grandson that's been in Iraq.
So that's where his connection is coming from. And he is continuing to insist
that -- a couple of things -- not all of our troops in harm's way have body
armor. You talked about the up-armored Humvees and I think I've got your take on
that. And that also morale is nose- diving, that it was okay for a while but now
that the rank and file troops believe that they shouldn't be there, that they're
not getting the right equipment in all cases, that there is more that we can be
doing as a nation to support them and that, if the truth be known according to
this individual, that morale is really a problem.
Colonel Linnington, could you start with trying to make some comments
COL. LINNINGTON: Congressman, that's
about 180 degrees out from my experience. As I left the 101st, morale was at an
all-time high. We were exceeding enlistment rates and our equipment was getting
refurbished and refit amazingly quickly, primarily due to the resources that
were given to us by your committee and by the United States Congress. So I
Body armor was not an issue in our
unit. Everybody had it when we got there and we left it in Iraq when we came
back home for units that were replacing us. And the things that we had, the
up-armored kits for our vehicles, we left all that in Iraq as well so that units
coming in would have it when they came in. We didn't take any of it home. And as
we refitted our equipment upon return, part of the refit of the equipment is
replenishment of the stocks and the things that we left in Iraq.
There's lots of indications of morale in a unit. And the biggest thing,
I think, is troops wanting to stay in the unit and stay in the Army to do what
they are doing. And overwhelmingly, our troops' morale is high. There is no
other way I can justify the comments of the caller that talked to you on the
REP. LoBIONDO: Okay. Any --
COL. McCOY: Yes, sir. I'll address the body armor
question first. I'll restate for the record that 100 percent of my Marines and
sailors had both the SAPI plate and a separate vest and ballistic goggles. With
regards to morale, I can assure there is no sense of victim-hood, from where I
stand, in my battalion, my regiment, my division, a few individuals
notwithstanding. The families where you would expect to see the first cracks in
morale, since our families in my battalion endured 13 out of 18 months were
deployed to Iraq. We came back for five months and then redeployed. They are
solid. We are as proud of them as they are of us.
Finally, we're doing what Marines do. This is why we joined. It's an
all volunteer force. Marines join to do this, to fight and win their nation's
battles and that's exactly what we're doing.
I had the opportunity to go to Bethesda to visit a Marine, Corporal Peter
Bagarella (ph), from Cape Cod. He wasn't one of my Marines but he was a Marine
from 1st Battalion, 8th Marines that relieved us in Haditha. This Marine had
lost a foot and his eyes to an IED.
He's going to
regain his eyesight. What was significant and striking was this young Marine's
morale was sky-high. And even though he knew, you know, he had lost his foot,
his first concern was to get back to his unit and to get back to his
We believe in our mission. We trust in our
brothers, and we have fought with a happy heart. To suggest that there is
dissent in the ranks is, again to echo Colonel Linnington, is 180 degrees out
from my experience, sir.
REP. LoBIONDO: Colonel.
COL. SPRINGMAN: Sir, I saw high morale also. Again,
reenlistment rates were over 100 percent. Soldiers knew they were doing what
soldiers do. Families. I had several soldiers reenlist in Iraq who said the main
deciding factor was their wife was happy with the support she was getting and
everything was going well back here in the States as well as with the soldier
deployed, sir. Also saw soldiers who were wounded drive on with the mission that
day, drive on with patrols because they didn't want to leave their fellow
soldiers out there. Of course, the more seriously wounded were evacuated right
away. But we had soldiers continue.
PSC Chapman (ph) I
remember was hit and his Interceptor body armor stopped it. He had a black and
blue mark. But it probably would have killed him, had he not been wearing his
Interceptor body armor. Got up and drove on with the mission a few minutes
later, sir. I saw morale high while I was over there, sir.
REP. LoBIONDO: Captain, your experience the same?
CAPT. SAVAGE: That's correct, sir. I would say morale and happiness do
not always coexist. Getting ready, standing at the gates to do a grim task
doesn't mean that you're happy about it, but at the same time, Marines volunteer
to be tested.
And at the end of a deployment, if the
Marines are fortunate enough to come back to our families, we know how we did.
And for the five and a half months we were in Iraq, or the seven months we were
gone, Marines constantly sought to be tested. And the worst thing for a Marine
was to spend time away from his unit, as I know personally, sir.
REP. LoBIONDO: Captain Costello, any different?
CAPT. COSTELLO: Yes, sir. Similar thoughts. First of, 100 percent of my
soldiers had body armor. There was never a time that there was a body armor
shortage within my unit. I think the caller that you referenced may be confusing
morale with being homesick. There's no doubt in my mind that every soldier
that's over there right now would rather be back home.
And, you know, some of the e-mails or phone calls that family members
or friends may receive some time may be not so optimistic or not so happy and
things like that. But I did not witness any morale problems. I had one
discipline problem in a year that required an Article 15 for almost 100
soldiers. You know, my guys had smiles on their face constantly. Would they
rather be home? Yes.
REP. LoBIONDO: : Thanks.
Mr. Chairman, could I indulge for another minute?
REP. HUNTER: Yes.
Just real quickly. And I'll just ask Colonel Linnington and Colonel
McCoy. When I was -- when I visited -- as you know, they arranged for us
to have meals with the soldiers -- one of the comments I heard was that most of
our troops get to watch Armed Forces Network, which is basically our cable
And along the lines that we heard before that
you were mentioning, none of the good news stories are basically making the TV
networks. Do you think that the troops that are watching that at the time over
in theater recognize that? And is that causing any kind of a problem that
they're seeing good things happening on the ground and then are watching TV when
they're coming off duty and saying, you know, where's the good story? Do you
hear any of that? And I know I'm over time, so I would just ask the two of you
to comment briefly.
COL. LINNINGTON: Troops tend
to watch football games and wrestling and boxing and things. And, believe it or
not, as Pat said earlier, we tended to leave the news off while we were in
theater. So it didn't affect them.
Didn't affect them that much.
And the ones it did, I mean, you know, they understood the importance of the
mission and took pride in what they were doing. So they took it for what it was
REP. LoBIONDO: Okay.
COL. McCOY: I concur with that statement.
REP. LoBIONDO: Okay. Thank you, again. Gentlemen, thank you very much
for your service to our country.
REP. HUNTER: Thank
you, Congressman LoBiondo.
And next up we have Dr. Phil
Gingrey, congressman of Georgia.
REP. PHIL GINGREY
(R-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And, gentlemen, let me
first of all join with my colleagues in thanking you. Thanking you from the
bottom of our hearts for your service in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation
Enduring Freedom, and your continued service to our country. We are deeply
appreciative. And you enjoy, as you know, I hope, 100 percent support of this
committee from members on both sides of the aisle in a very bipartisan
I want to address my first question, I think,
to Colonel Linnington, Lieutenant Colonel McCoy and Lieutenant Colonel
Springman. And this is a little bit of a follow-up on what Congresswoman Davis
from California asked a little earlier about the Iraqi troops before the handoff
on June the 28th. It's certainly, I think -- I'll have to admit, I had the
impression that we were dealing with some keystone cops over there. And when
that first handoff in Fallujah, when our Marines pulled back, we didn't have a
very good experience there and their performance was less than exemplary.
And I'm just wondering. We had a couple of -- three months
ago, our chairman, Chairman Duncan Hunter, arranged for us to have a
videoconference with General Petraeus. And of course, his heavy lift is a tough
job to try to stand up that Iraqi Army. And I'm still concerned of how we're
doing, how are they doing, now that we indeed are in an advisory role to them,
how are we doing in regard to recruiting? Are we able to reach into the Iraqi
civilian population and get good people and get them well-trained. Just if the
colonel and lieutenant colonels could comment on that. And then I have a short
question, Mr. Chairman, for our captains.
LINNINGTON: Mr. Congressman, we had an abundance of folks volunteering to serve
in the positions, Iraqi security positions in our area. And I can only talk up
through the time we left, which was about mid-February when we got home. When we
left in February, we had trained up all of the border guards that were in place
along the Syrian border. Two hundred and seventy kilometers of the border in my
area were 100 percent Iraqi. And we had come off those positions at the
completion of their training, and they had that wholly on their own.
We were initially guarding lots of key infrastructure, oil
refineries, water distribution centers, the dam, a lot of other key facilities,
and in the six or eight months that we had recruited, trained and equipped Iraqi
forces, by the time we left, they were 100 percent in control of all those
facilities as well, without issue and without incident. I can't speak to what's
happening in Fallujah or with the establishment in training, equipping of the
Iraqi Army, because we had left -- my unit had left Iraq prior to a lot of those
forces standing up.
I will tell you, however, that when
it came to recruiting young Iraqi men for those positions in the Army, there was
an overwhelming response by the Iraqi young men to participate and become
soldiers for the new Iraq. And that's how they called it. So I would suspect, as
I've seen General Petraeus quote it, that it will take time. But based on the
enthusiasm of the young Iraqi men to become part of the future of Iraq, that can
only get better over time.
McCOY: Mr. Congressman, we've found that the key was Iraqi leadership.
Recruitment was never an issue, but finding dedicated and courageous Iraqi
leadership to fill those billet positions was the crux move, if you will. The
battalion commander in our zone was arrested in late May for being corrupt. And,
based on his testimony, we've found body armor, radios, uniforms in his
possession in his house that he was probably selling on the black market. He was
arrested. Most of his chain of command was sacked along with him. And he brought
in young lions that we had identified in the ranks, and promoted them up. Most
of them had military training or police training in the past. Mostly
That too is like a light switch going off,
and that unit turned around overnight and began to operate on its own, to
conduct checkpoints on their own, and to closely work with the Iraqi police in
our sector. That was the crux move, just swelling the ranks with numbers. The
rank and file is fine, but the key is identifying and nurturing those young
leaders and backing them up. And it was under Iraqi leadership those national
guard battalions were fantastic.
Lieutenant Colonel Springman, do you want to comment on that?
COL. SPRINGMAN: Yes, sir. I left in late March. Recruiting
initially, when we were in the Sunni Triangle, was a little difficult. We
started with six members of the ICDC, or the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, then
eventually got up to 250. These six were what I would call poor Iraqis. They did
not have family position, nor did they have money. And actually I think this
became an opportunity for them because they became leaders, and a way for them
to show their leadership ability. They quickly took charge, those six. They took
charge of the others as they came in. By the time we were done, they were
conducting operations very well at the squad and platoon level, sir. And I think
a lot of the, for lack of a better word, disenfranchised Iraqis saw us as a
means that was not going to -- as a means for them actually to advance and have
a part in the new Iraq.
In our area, I was on the
Tigris River. There were two bridges across. It was the true lifeline from my
area to the outside, and they guarded, along with the police, those bridges and
the other entrances to the area. They additionally operated at several sites in
RAO that were likely ambush sites or mortar or rocket attack sites just to keep
those out of the hands of those who wanted to attack us or attack them, sir.
They were operating 24 hours very, very well I thought.
REP. GINGREY: Gentlemen, thank you.
Chairman, if you will indulge me just for another second, I think I'm the last
of the Mohicans here and I did want to address a question to Captain Savage and
Captain Costello. I can't remember -- it's been three hours since the hearing
started -- which of you in your formal remarks said that when you first --
Operation Iraqi Freedom 1, that you were greeted with jubilation by the Iraqi
citizens. And, indeed, I think one of you mentioned that they brought fresh
bread and flowers and were very, very happy to see you. Now, my question for
both of the captains is, in your second rotation, this more recent Operation
Iraqi Freedom 2, did you see the same attitude from the Iraqi citizens, or had
there been any significant change from the time that we got there and were seen
as liberators and not occupiers? Has that changed for the worst up to the
CAPT. SAVAGE: Dr. Gingrey, sir, to
address that question, our second rotation from March 1st to July 12 was out in
the Al Anbar Province and that was a new area for us. They had not seen -- they
did not get the attention that a lot of areas in Fallujah and Baghdad and Ramadi
had gotten. And initially we were greeted with skepticism because there wasn't a
great coalition presence out west initially.
demonstrated to them that we were serious about the various civil affairs
projects, the water treatment plant, a slaughterhouse, the things that were
important to their community, once they saw us getting to work, getting those
things established, the skepticism gave way to support. And it may have just
been passive support and in some cases it was active support, be it intelligence
support, or just, if nothing else, a change in mood from let's say a patrol in
March to a patrol later on in May -- dismounted patrol through the city.
That I hope answers your question as far as a change in
attitude. And then the fact that it just took time. It just took time, being a
new battalion on deck, to start implementing these projects, but once the
projects got underway.
REP. GINGREY: Little slower.
After a year had transpired. But once they could see what you were doing, the
support was there.
Captain Costello, your
CAPT. COSTELLO: Congressman Gingrey, I only
spent one rotation there for a year, so I can only speak to the change or a
perceived change in attitude during my time there. At first people were all over
the streets. I think what happened was the excitement died down as they got used
to seeing Americans over there. You know, I don't think their hope for a change
I do think there was a lot of impatience. A
lot of people expected things to change overnight. A magic switch that would
turn on all the electricity in the country. Start digging sewers in the sewerage
system to help clean the streets and things like that. But you would see the
excitement again when we would repair a medical clinic, or reopen a hospital or
a school or a government building. You'd have, you know, thousands of the
townspeople out there and it was like when we first came into the different
REP. GINGREY: Mr. Chairman, I know I'm well
beyond my time. I thank you for your patience with me and I appreciate it. Thank
you, gentlemen, for your service.
REP. JOE WILSON
(R-SC): Thank you, Dr. Gingrey. And indeed there is a last Mohican, and it's me.
I'm very grateful. I'm Congressman Joe Wilson from South Carolina. And I just
want to want to let you know how much I appreciate your service. I appreciate
your service, and in lieu of a question, I just want to let you know I
appreciate your service as a member of Congress, as a veteran of 31 years with
the Army National Guard, and as the parent of three children who are serving in
the military. And so what you've done is just so important for our country and
I'm very, very grateful.
I'm particularly grateful
because I think it's historic, the service in Afghanistan and Iraq, liberating
two countries, over 50 million people. And all of it, from my perspective,
really is to protect the American public. And you are protecting the American
people. And as you well know, there are no longer any training camps in
Afghanistan or Iraq where terrorists could be trained. And we had the chilling
reminder of what terrorists can do with the action in Russia just this last
week. Just how terrific and how barbarous these terrorists can be to target
innocent children. And, of course, they would not hesitate, as they did on
September the 11th, 2001, to target the civilian population of the United States
who they have declared as their enemy.
have had the opportunity to visit Iraq three times. A year ago, I'm very
grateful that the ranking member here, Ike Skelton, included me on his
delegation. And we saw first hand the civil action projects and it was just so
inspiring. And I know that there have been 27,600 civil action projects working
with the people of Iraq to build a civil society, which again benefits the
Another highlight I had that you all
reiterated is that on our visits to Iraq, also to Afghanistan, we had the
opportunity to meet with all ranks from our home state at breakfast, lunch and
dinner. And they stated, just as you did, that they were patrolling by foot, not
speeding through communities. They were talking with the people. They were
finding support ranging from 70 to 90 percent. As an elected official, we are
very happy with anything over 50 percent. So I can assure you, the number 70 to
90 had an impact on me.
Another point I want to make
too, my oldest son is serving in Iraq. I'm very grateful of his service there.
He's, in fact, joined the son of the chairman of our committee, Duncan Hunter.
And so we are very grateful that our sons are there. And I receive daily e-mail
photos from Iraq, I received satellite phone calls from him, e-mail every few
minutes practically on the progress that's being made to build a civil society.
And what you did today, I regret the media coverage, but being a former
reporter, the statement is that good news has no feet and bad news has wings.
But putting it all in perspective, I grew up my whole life
being told that we couldn't win the Cold War. That communism, in fact, was the
wave of the future. But we persisted, we persevered. We won. The irony to me,
I've had an opportunity to visit Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Karshi Khanabad,
Uzbekistan, Bagram, Afghanistan, former Soviet airbases designed to destroy the
United States, now American and coalition bases fighting terrorism. And then
I've had the opportunity to travel to Bucharest, Romania and see people living
in democracy who didn't have a chance 15 years ago. So I'm just really
encouraged, and I want to thank you for your service.
At this time, I believe Congressman Taylor may have another question,
and I would certainly want to consult further with Congressman Skelton.
REP. TAYLOR: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And I do
want to thank the panel for staying so long. You've been very generous with your
Colonel, I mentioned at the beginning that I had
a chance to visit with one of our mutual friends when I was in Mosul. I would
prefer not to mention his name over the air for a couple of reasons, but I do
know him well enough and know that he wants to spend a career in the Army and
that he's certainly I think a great soldier. Something that he said in
September, and I took him at his word, was something to the effect that well,
we've got this place -- I said how is it and he said something to the effect
that we've got this place licked or something like that. I don't think he said
it in an offhand manner, I think he meant it. I'm just curious if you could kind
of walk me through -- and I would really ask the panel to walk me through. We've
had several highs and lows, several of us happened to be over there shortly
after the capture of Saddam Hussein. At that time there was an increase in the
level of violence. It was attributed to some of the hotheads, maybe one last
dash on their part trying to do something or their frustration at the capture of
Hussein. And obviously like every American grieve at the 14 young marines that
have died just the past few days.
I very much
appreciate the comments of the some of the panel that said well, we see a rise
in casualties to correspond with the swapping out of units and that stands to
reason. But I guess what I would like to know and what I think the American
people would like to hear from you experts -- not the folks in the media but you
people who are actually there, what do you attribute the most recent rise in the
level of violence to? Do you see this as a short term thing, and if you were
sent back tomorrow would you feel safer or less safe than on your previous
COL. LINNINGTON: Congressman, I'll take
the question. I haven't been in Iraq in several months. I can only get -- I can
only tell you my experience, and I do still have contact with those that are in
Iraq. I can tell you how they feel. I think as we progress to Iraq for Iraqis
and putting an Iraqi face on the success of that country -- and this is my
opinion again but it's based on first-hand experience of watching Iraqis step up
and take charge of their own affairs, I think things will progressively get
better. I'm not sure why the attacks have spiked or even if the percentage of
attacks have spiked recently as compared to what it was six months ago. It may
be a percentage thing, I'm not sure, or there may be a whole host of different
reasons. The only thing I can say is the guys that are in Iraq right now, the
soldiers that are in Iraq right now, they have the same enthusiasm for the
mission and the same dedication that we had when we were there.
And that is palpable, tangible and documented, and their morale is as
high as our morale was. So they're prepared to do the mission for as long as it
takes, but I don't know how long it will take. I can just tell you that
soldiers, marines, airmen, you know, will be there until it's over.
REP. TAYLOR: Since you were in Mosul about a year ago and
since you, in my estimation, had a very firm hand on what was going on there and
things under control, would you have that level of confidence in the Mosul area
today as you had about a year ago?
LINNINGTON: I would because I think the way we had co-opted a governing council
for the Mosul province and the way we had co-opted the tribes and ethnicities in
our area collectively to work for solutions is still in place. Our biggest
challenge was the multiple ethnicities, Kurd, Arab, Yazidi, Turkoman and all the
different tribes in all of those ethnicities were all vying for power back when
we got there because they all wanted to be -- to hold primacy in the governing
body that was elected by Iraqis. The same city council that we elected -- that
Iraqis elected -- when we left is still in place. A few members have stepped
down and a few others have stepped up, but I'm confident that the framework that
we built when we departed is still in place and operating well. And I think
that's clearly indicated by the fact that we were replaced by a smaller force
yet it's still, in relative terms, seen as a safe and secure environment in the
northern portion of the country.
REP. TAYLOR: Again
I've had an opportunity to visit the colonel over there and in the area where we
was, so I'm going to ask each of you again to, if you would, talk about your
most recent deployment there and whether you would feel as safe, less safe or
more safe going back to that area if you were sent there today.
COL. McCOY: Congressman, I returned 12 July of '04. I
would feel just as safe going back there today as I would the day I left. As I
mention in my statement, this is much like a tide coming in, so success is
almost imperceptible, it's in bits and pieces. And as Captain Savage said, we're
doing it one individual, one family at a time, and I believe we're winning and I
believe that with all my heart. Why are we winning? We have demonstrated to the
Iraq people there is a better way of life, and the insurgents that we're up
against don't have a better message than we do. They haven't painted one school,
they haven't repaired one bit of infrastructure, and the people see that -- that
their way is another life of terror and repression and they understand that.
Why is there a spike in violence? I think every day the
Iraqi government exists the insurgents are one day further from accomplishing
their objective. Once the elections have done and there's free and fair
elections, they're even that much further away from their goal of upsetting the
balance there. I think that that is why we're seeing a spike in it. Part of it I
think is because there's new units rotating in and it's an opportunity, because
there's also going to be increased traffic out as units are conducting
reconnaissance of their areas. So the percentage of opportunities for the enemy
to hit folks is greater and they're not as attuned to the area. But I feel that
you are going to see a spike, not based on U.S. elections, that's speculation,
but based on their own elections that you'll see a spike there as they try and
derail the democratic process that's going on in Iraq right now. And every day
it's alive and well, they're further and further away from their objective.
REP. TAYLOR: Thank you, Colonel.
Yes, sir, Colonel.
COL. SPRINGMAN: Sir,
I left in March of '04 and I can only speak about my area while I was there. I
can tell you if I went back now, especially with the same soldiers I served with
then, I would feel just as confident if not more confident. What caused spikes
in attacks in our area? It varied. Some was tied to money, and thanks to good
work from a captain on patrol, Captain Loren Johnson (ph), something looked
strange about a chicken coop and we actually went in and found a money making
machine and the people operating it, sir. That stopped some of the attacks. Some
were just young men wanting to prove their manhood I think. They weren't very
good at it but they caused some of the attacks. And also if they had some
success, that would inspire some other young men to do it. So the quicker we put
it down, the more the other young men knew that was a bad idea and to stay
I also feel we're winning. Things looked -- in
the town of Abdalluyah when I left -- when we first got there stores had very
few products, people were hungry. Rice shipments, other grain shipments were not
regular, gasoline shipments were not regular. They were at the time we left.
Stores had an abundance of both food and products from cell phones to satellite
dishes to cars, the economy was picking up. And a lot of that was just generated
on the economy's success on its own, sir. So I felt and would feel very
confident going back there.
REP. TAYLOR: Thank you,
Congressman Taylor, the -- I can't recall at any time that anybody ever took --
speaking for Kilo Company -- the area as being safe but we were secure. And
staying offensive, staying active, actively patrolling, actively conducting
raids against anti- coalition and anti-Iraqi forces, quite frankly, was our
greatest safety and our greatest security. I think having the opportunity to
spend over five-and-a-half months there this time, you could see the progression
from the day that we got there, March 1st, to the time that we left on July
12th, the change in what the civilian population had done in western Iraq. And
that, if nothing else, I think should give everybody greater confidence that
these people are well on the way to getting back on their feet.
REP. TAYLOR: So you would feel the area is as safe or more safe? I
realize that is a relative term. Would you ask your marines to be more alert
then they were then?
CAPT. SAVAGE: Sir, I don't know if
our approach would change because we always approach it from the highest threat
and if it turns out that we're not engaged, we're not engaged. I think what
happens is when met with successes, when coalition forces are successful or the
Iraqi authorities -- legitimate Iraqi authorities are successful, then that puts
perhaps the ball back in the enemy's court to do something desperate to counter
that success. And it may be Iraqi elections coming up and it also may be things
-- strategic surprises, things that occur like we were surprised in Kilo Company
on June 28th at 1200 when the transfer of authority had occurred and we were all
scratching our heads like, wow, that was pretty good. And then tactical things
that we do at the tactical level which just totally threw a curve ball in what
enemy forces can expect.
I would feel no more
threatened or no less threatened going back over there tomorrow if tasked to do
so. It's just something that you're always on your highest level of alert and
you take everything, everyone seriously because each of our marines, all of our
lives depend on it.
REP. TAYLOR: Thank you, sir.
Congressman Taylor, to answer your first question, I got back in February of '04
and I can't really speak to the recent surge in violence over in Iraq. If I went
back today I think I would feel safer than I did the first time that I went, for
a couple of reasons, the most important just having the knowledge that I know
after being there for a year. You pick up a lot. It's the adventure learning the
first time going through it as it is the first time going through anything. With
that being said, you never become comfortable or complacent with anything over
there. And as Captain Savage said, you're always at your highest state of alert.
But between the knowledge and the equipment that's overseas now, the things that
we are just getting and just getting fielded as we began to leave, I would
definitely feel safer going back now.
Again, thank all of you gentlemen for what you've already done for your country,
I presume what you will do in future years.
Chairman, thank you for giving me a second chance.
WILSON: Thank you, Congressman Taylor.
conclude with Congressman Skelton, at his approval I'd like to recognize a guest
that we have with us in the audience. We're very pleased to have with us a
person who has been a member of the Senate of the Republic of Romania. Indeed
this was a country that was a dictatorship like Iraq, and just within the last
15 years has emerged obviously into a developing democracy, a member of NATO, an
ally of the United States. And so with us today we have with us Mrs. Norika
Nicholai. (ph) Please be recognized, thank you.
And at this time, Congressman
REP. SKELTON: Just a special thanks to each
one of you, to those troops you have commanded, those with whom you work. You
make us proud.
REP. WILSON: And at this time as we
conclude, we've been joined by our chairman, Chairman Duncan Hunter from the
State of California.
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R-CA): Thank
you, Mr. Chairman. You did a great job running this hearing.
Many thanks, gentlemen. We look forward to seeing you again, but it's
been I think an excellent hearing for our members. Please excuse my absence here
in the early part of this hearing.
REP. WILSON: And
there being no further business, the meeting is adjourned. Thank you.