This week’s auction to benefit Soldiers’ Angels has begun! The auction started about four hours ago at $199.99 and has already jumped up to $355.00 which makes this Redshirt producer jump around with joy! Soldiers’ Angels will benefit a great deal from this auction!
To make Rage Company a little more exciting to all of you, how about a little excerpt? This portion is from chapter 10 of the book is right where I am now. I promise this book will grab you by your eyeballs, drag you in, and not let you go until you’ve finished reading. It is an amazing read full of awesome stories. I can’t tell you how excited I am to have the author, Tom Daly, on next week. Grab a drink, a small snack, and then sit back and enjoy this short excerpt of Rage Company, A Marine’s Baptism By Fire.
A Marine’s Baptism By Fire
by Thomas Daly
Excerpt courtesy of John Wiley & Sons, Inc., publisher.
Now available online and in stores nationwide.
For more information about Rage Company, visit www.thomaspdaly.com.
After two months of conventional operations in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, the Marines of Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines came across an unlikely ally: Iraqi militiamen. The following is an excerpt from Rage Company: A Marine’s Baptism By Fire (Wiley, April 19, 2010), by Thomas P. Daly, describing the first interaction between the two groups in January 2007.
January 25, 2007
Looking for the American adviser, I scanned the stationary Iraqis through my NVGs. The silent group appeared to be in formation. One of them, a tall figure out front, was smoking. A Kalashnikov hung over his chest. The rest of the group carried similar weapons. Most of the men each also held what appeared to be a small sack or blanket to combat the low-forty-degree weather.
An extra set of hands appeared around the tall leader, and I quickly spotted the American on the opposite side of the towering but skinny Iraqi. I walked directly in front of the group and took the opportunity to stare at each face as I strolled past, knowing that from their point of view, I was nothing more than a shadow floating through the dark night.
Collectively, the Iraqis were old. Every face was worn with wrinkles and lines. None was younger than thirty. It dawned on me that they were Saddamists, Iraqi veterans experienced through decades of conflict. I would come to find out that their perspectives were an even mix: half were officers; the rest, senior enlisted. Some had fought in the Iran-Iraq War; most, in the Gulf War. Nearly all of them were the soldiers who put down the Kurdish and Shi’a uprisings in the 1990s and the Ba’athists whom the United States faced in March and April 2003. Now they were forsaking their goals as nationalist insurgents to assist their notorious enemy in facing a greater threat to their social structure: the danger from al Qaeda.
I stopped between the smoking Iraqi and the one American. “Major, sir, Lieutenant Daly,” I said, extending my hand to the adviser. He shook it and introduced himself. Then he turned to the Iraqi, whom he referred to as “general,” and introduced me. The two of us exchanged greetings in simple English.
“General, you and your men can get on this truck,” I said, pointing at the vehicle behind me. The seven-ton was stationary opposite the group on the far side of the road. The senior Iraqi barked orders at one of his men, and the disciplined formation broke ranks and moved toward the vehicle.
As the Iraqis went past, the American major leaned over and spoke softly. “Lieutenant, treat this guy like an American general,” he said. “Do not make him ride with his men.” The simple words would become the most important advice I ever received in Iraq.
I spotted the general counting his men as they climbed onto the seven-ton. “Sir, I have a seat for you in my truck,” I told him.
“Okay, Daly,” he replied. He directed one of his men to take over counting. Then the general moved next to me at the front of the seven-ton and yanked a small laminated card from his left breast pocket. He gave it to me.
I pulled back part of the infrared lens covering the headlight and read the piece of plastic paper, roughly the size of a Community Chest card from the game Monopoly.
“This is to certify that ______ is a member of Thawar Al Anbar.” Below, it continued, “courtesy of 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines.” I looked up at the general. His broad smile revealed the immaculate trimming job on his thick, black mustache. The card was his offer of cooperation. He informed me that all of his men had the same card. Although I understood how dangerous it was for the general and his men to carry such an item, it was not going to be enough to convince my fellow Marines to trust him. Twenty-five random Iraqis, all of them armed and none screened or vetted, were not going to be welcomed by many at COP Rage.
We walked together to the head of the convoy. I opened the door to the seat directly behind me for the general. He was immediately captivated by the map of the surrounding area displayed on the monitor next to my green chair. I didn’t hear his questions about the map; my thoughts were hovering around the fact that the truck behind the Iraqis, seven-ton two, did not have a machine gun. I put my headset on and keyed the radio.
“All victors, this is Mobile Actual; stand by for change in convoy order. Gun truck 3, I want you to move between the seven-tons to—” I paused, thinking that the general might understand English more than he was letting on and would take offense to my orders of moving a machine gun to cover his men. I didn’t want him to know my thoughts about the twenty-five Iraqis possibly assisting in a complex ambush of our convoy. “To better protect our cargo. Acknowledge receipt,” I said, finishing the radio transmission. Once the vehicles were in order, we began another trip to COP Rage. As the convoy went through the arches, the general pointed toward the north, the Sijariah crossing, and stated, “Al Qaeda neighborhood.” I pretended to be surprised by his information.
When my vehicle turned onto Ruby Road, it immediately halted. A column of tanks and Pathfinder vehicles were at a stop, occupying the hard-packed dirt path. Their pause in route clearance meant that they had found something.
“Daly, there is IED near mosque,” said the general. “You should move on this road.” The general pointed to the left window of the vehicle. He was referring to Irish Way.
I could not follow his advice, because in our push into Julayba, Pathfinder had never cleared Irish Way. The engineers had focused on the Ruby–Nova–Orchard Way loop that followed the region’s perimeter. Irish Way was a risk I did not have to take. The general might know the area better than I did, but I was willing to wait and follow Pathfinder.
The tank in front of us began to spin its turret. In seconds it stopped, the 120mm cannon pointed directly at my vehicle.
“Convoy on Ruby Road, this is Warlord Blue 1, identify yourself, over,” said a voice on the battalion net.
The Marine manning my truck’s turret flashed his middle finger at the tank. I, too, was upset. For the last ten minutes I had been the only voice on the radio, passing my convoy’s location to battalion. Only moments earlier, I had stated that the convoy was turning onto Ruby Road. The tankers were probably sleeping and spooked by our presence. Their actions, however, gave me an excuse not to respond to the general’s advice.
“Warlord, this is Rage Mobile, convoy is en route to COP Rage. Recommend you orient your turret to an exposed flank, over,” I said. The tankers moved their turret and informed us of a pending controlled detonation 100 meters north on Ruby. I assumed that Pathfinder had found the IED outside the mosque. After the blast, the convoy moved agonizingly slowly through the Nasaf Marketplace and along the dimly lit Route Nova to COP Rage. The snail’s pace allowed the general plenty of time to give me his version of an intelligence update on the local area. I was impressed.
* * *
A few tense hours later . . .
* * *
Eventually, Captain Smith asked the general about his plan.
“They did not show it to you?” replied the general, continuing with, “I was told they translated it into English.”
From Captain Smith’s expressions, I could tell he and I were thinking the same thing: that’s your plan — a list of fifty targets and a map of where they are? Captain Smith explained to the general that we needed more detail. He described the coordination that was required for helicopters, tanks, and other assets to be used properly.
The general was caught off guard. “There is no time for that now. We have to leave in one hour,” he said.
Captain Smith laughed. “The mission is tomorrow night,” he said. Our two groups were clearly not on the same page.
The general turned to our interpreter, Jack, and let fly a few short bursts of Arabic that were accompanied by a successive chopping motion with his hands. The interpreter spoke English about as well as the general did, so we didn’t even bother to let him translate.
“General.” It was the first time Captain Smith referred to the senior Iraqi’s status. “I do not have all of my men and equipment. The mission must be tomorrow.” Two out of the three squads for Rage 1 and Rage 3 were occupying platoon patrol bases roughly 1,000 meters from the COP. Their lieutenants took the other as an escort to the COP to execute mission planning. Rage 4 was due to arrive that night after a few days’ rest.
“Smith, understand my men live here. They have been gone three days. Wives and neighbors expect them to be home yesterday. How would they explain their absence? If we wait to do the mission, everyone will know it was them that helped the Americans.”
Captain Smith leaned back in his chair. He went to stretch his long arms into the air, but his right forearm knocked his spit bottle off the desk. It flew a few inches past Albin’s resting head. The crashing of the plastic bottle was followed by the proverbial “Fuck!” as a saliva-and-tobacco mix seeped onto the floor. A quick-acting Albin grabbed some paper towels out of the desk and began to wipe it up. Captain Smith leaned over and tried to clean what he had created, but Albin insisted. Accepting the rebuke, Rage 6 returned to the conversation.
“The timing of the mission is nonnegotiable. It will be tomorrow night,” said Captain Smith, who paused and looked around the room.
There was no response from the general. After making eye contact with each of the platoon commanders, Rage 6 asked, “How do we want to do this? . . . Daly, what’s the total number of scouts? ”
“Twenty-five, including the general, sir,” I said.
“And we are going to have two squads from Rage 2, 3, and 4. So that would be six four-man teams, one for each squad, and the general will go with headquarters. Will your squads be comfortable with that? ” said Captain Smith. He directed the question at Lieutenants Thomas, Jahelka, and Grubb. Each of them nodded in agreement but did not comment.
“Shearburn, operating from your patrol base, you will be the company’s reserve,” continued Captain Smith. Shearburn looked annoyed. He wasn’t used to being a reserve. Rage 1 was always the main effort. He didn’t question the order; instead, he recommended that his patrol base, recently named OP Jack Bauer in honor of the 24 character, be made into a permanent fighting position. Captain Smith said he would think about it and returned his attention to the near fight.
“Now, each of these teams of scouts needs a leader. General, do you have six men you can depend on? ” asked Captain Smith.
The general was confused by the question. “I am the leader, and I have more than six men,” he said. It literally took a notepad and a few sketches of the structure Captain Smith was proposing to get him to understand — although once he did, he informed us of some crucial facts. The general already had cells of fighters in each of the neighborhoods who not only knew everything about the local subtribe but were actually members of the tribe. The leaders of these cells were already here.
With this information, Captain Smith took out his map, which had the fifty targets labeled on it, and identified six objective areas — one for each squad. He showed the areas to the general and asked him to marry up each of his leaders with one of the objective areas. At the same time, we assigned one of our squads to the same objective. Then the general went and got his chosen men.
The six scouts came into the room and sat at a few empty chairs or stood around the map. The general did not introduce them, and Captain Smith had to ask who was for which objective. As the scout for each objective was revealed, he was introduced to the platoon commander he would work with. The two men shook hands, but the scouts did not speak. After the first three behaved in such a manner, Captain Smith was becoming agitated.
“Well, what are their names?” he asked the general.
“They do not want to tell you; your men may say it in front of the people,” the general responded.
“Not their real names. I want to know their aliases, their fake names.”
As the general translated what Captain Smith wanted, the tension eased out of the room. The scouts began to smile and joke with one another. Two even argued over who was going to be “Abu Ali.” The general resolved the dispute. There was another round of introductions, followed by the details of the plan.
Unlike on previous missions, where we left as soon as it was dark, the scouts advised that we wait until midnight. They said at that point, the terrorists would have decided nothing was happening and would have gone to bed. Once under their blankets, they would be too lazy to run when we showed up. We took their advice.
At midnight, Lieutenant Jahelka would take two squads from Rage 3 and hit the two western objective areas in Julayba. The majority of his targets were along Orchard Way in the vicinity of the Al Risala mosque. Rage 4, Lieutenant Grubb, took the central objective areas that followed along Route Nova to the north. Captain Smith and I would move with Lieutenant Thomas and Rage 2 to the northeast. Their targets rested near the Albu Musa mosque. In another striking contrast to our previous missions, it took Captain Smith only thirty minutes to come up with and brief the plan. The abbreviated process was a result of the meshing of our planning style with the scouts’. They knew where the targets were and would have simply walked to them. We usually took a day to coordinate aerial and tank assets, as well as brief our superior and adjacent units. The result was the banditry I had envisioned outside the headquarters of 1-37 Armor two months earlier. There weren’t going to be any tanks, helicopters, or Pathfinders on this mission, just the scouts and our infantrymen.
* * *
Hours later the Iraqis and Marines conducted their first of a series of raids together. Within weeks dozens of al Qaeda militants would be captured. By April, the insurgency would collapse. Rage Company is the street-level look at the emergence of the Anbar Awakening that achieved this success."
About the Author:
Captain Thomas Daly joined the Marines following his graduation from the University of Rochester in the spring of 2004. During his career as an artillery officer he held a multitude of billets, ranging from Forward Observer to Intelligence Cell Leader. His unique perception of the battlefield has been shaped while operating with units of the United States Army, Navy SEALs, ANGLICO (Air, Naval Gunfire Liaison Company), Iraqi Army and Police Units, and anti-Al Qaeda guerrillas. This diverse interaction with multiple styles of warfare, coupled with the dramatic effect it had on the city of Ramadi, has provided the author with an unusual view of Iraq; a viewpoint of success against the modern insurgent.
For more information about Rage Company, please visit www.thomaspdaly.com.