Commentary: The end of OIF brings a “new dawn” to Iraq, redefines 2nd BCT mission, mindset

| September 23, 2010 | 0 Comments

Col. Malcolm Frost 
Commander, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division

FrostDIYALA, Iraq — As the sun came up, here, Sept. 1, the day looked no different from Aug. 31. The new dawn does not mean a light switched on or off in Iraq. This day did not mark a change from black to white. I view the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the beginning of Operation New Dawn through several lenses that appear as shades of gray over time. The transition from OIF to OND reflects seven and a half years of combat, struggle and sacrifice, lows and highs, the abyss of failure and the surge of success.

The transition to OND means all those who have ever served in Iraq can feel a sense of pride in bringing this day about. 

The Iraqis taking the lead in fighting the insurgency is a monumental achievement. 

Many remember the dark early days of the surge. Today, attacks are down more than 90 percent and the Iraqis are responsible for managing their own security. Attacks are down more than 50 percent here in northern Iraq, in the past year alone. 

These facts were dreams just a few short years ago. Step back for a moment to see the truth in the context of staggering progress, reduction in threats and great successes that have occurred through the efforts of U.S. Soldiers and the Iraqi security forces.

There has been much talk about the difference between combat brigades and advise-and-assist brigades. 

The brigade that I command today has the same combat and combat-support Soldiers who have served multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq in the past nine years. Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. recently said the AABs in Iraq are “as combat-ready as any in our military.” 

What makes us an AAB is defined by changes in our training, mission, mindset and capabilities. Instead of being focused on combat operations, our primary mission is now to conduct stability operations and civil security. 

We have been moving in this direction for years. This mission involves providing for the safety of the Iraqi population, including protection from internal and external threats. 

We support, advise, assist, train and equip the ISF, who have full responsibility for security in Iraq. Additionally, as the U.S. military takes the backseat to diplomatic efforts, we support the U.S. Department of State Provincial Reconstruction Teams, as they advise and work with local and regional Iraqi governments in civil capacity, economics and governance.

Iraq can still be a dangerous place. Every once in a while, a devious enemy avoids confrontation and prefers to “hit and run.” This has happened a few times to the brigade I command, including the first U.S. Soldier deaths since Sept. 1. No doubt, there will be more casualties in the future – it is simply the nature of this environment right now. Every instance of a U.S. Soldier wounded and killed is tragic, difficult to understand and impossible to put into perspective, but this is the nature of our service to the nation. 

This is why our task here continues to be so important. 

We must continue to support the Iraqis as they close the aperture on the insurgent’s hopes and capabilities.

The weight of responsibility is great, and we must follow through to the very finish. We must close the U.S. military mission in Iraq with honor and dignity for ourselves and all of our predecessors, and do all we can to ensure the partnership between the United States and Iraq endures for decades.

(Editor’s Note: This article was printed by permission of the author and was first printed in The Washington Times, Sept. 14.)

Col. Malcolm Frost Commander, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry DivisionDIYALA, Iraq — As the sun came up, here, Sept. 1, the day looked no different from Aug. 31. The new dawn does not mean a light switched on or off in Iraq. This day did not mark a change from black to white. I view the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the beginning of Operation New Dawn through several lenses that appear as shades of gray over time. The transition from OIF to OND reflects seven and a half years of combat, struggle and sacrifice, lows and highs, the abyss of failure and the surge of success.The transition to OND means all those who have ever served in Iraq can feel a sense of pride in bringing this day about. The Iraqis taking the lead in fighting the insurgency is a monumental achievement. Many remember the dark early days of the surge. Today, attacks are down more than 90 percent and the Iraqis are responsible for managing their own security. Attacks are down more than 50 percent here in northern Iraq, in the past year alone. These facts were dreams just a few short years ago. Step back for a moment to see the truth in the context of staggering progress, reduction in threats and great successes that have occurred through the efforts of U.S. Soldiers and the Iraqi security forces.There has been much talk about the difference between combat brigades and advise-and-assist brigades. The brigade that I command today has the same combat and combat-support Soldiers who have served multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq in the past nine years. Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. recently said the AABs in Iraq are “as combat-ready as any in our military.” What makes us an AAB is defined by changes in our training, mission, mindset and capabilities. Instead of being focused on combat operations, our primary mission is now to conduct stability operations and civil security. We have been moving in this direction for years. This mission involves providing for the safety of the Iraqi population, including protection from internal and external threats. We support, advise, assist, train and equip the ISF, who have full responsibility for security in Iraq. Additionally, as the U.S. military takes the backseat to diplomatic efforts, we support the U.S. Department of State Provincial Reconstruction Teams, as they advise and work with local and regional Iraqi governments in civil capacity, economics and governance.Iraq can still be a dangerous place. Every once in a while, a devious enemy avoids confrontation and prefers to “hit and run.” This has happened a few times to the brigade I command, including the first U.S. Soldier deaths since Sept. 1. No doubt, there will be more casualties in the future – it is simply the nature of this environment right now. Every instance of a U.S. Soldier wounded and killed is tragic, difficult to understand and impossible to put into perspective, but this is the nature of our service to the nation. This is why our task here continues to be so important. We must continue to support the Iraqis as they close the aperture on the insurgent’s hopes and capabilities.The weight of responsibility is great, and we must follow through to the very finish. We must close the U.S. military mission in Iraq with honor and dignity for ourselves and all of our predecessors, and do all we can to ensure the partnership between the United States and Iraq endures for decades.(Editor’s Note: This article was printed by permission of the author and was first printed in The Washington Times, Sept. 14.)

Category: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *