Army Chief Warrant Officer Chris tells Iraq like it really is.
HH: Pleased to welcome Chief Warrant Officer Chris to the program. Chris has completed three tours in Iraq. Thank you for your service, Chris. What’s on your mind?
Chris. Thank you, sir. Well, I wanted to comment on your last, and a number of other callers. His first point, to keep the soldiers in the Green Zone, and your counter, keep them on other bases, not an option. As soldiers, we know that it’s not a safe job. If we wanted a safe job, we’d do a checkout at a grocery store or some similar job. We know it’s a dangerous job.
HH: Chris, can I interrupt you for a second?
HH: I just don’t want…don’t misunderstand me. I was dismissive of the second option as well. It will not work.
Chris: No, I understand you were.
HH: Okay, go ahead.
Chris: But we know it’s a dangerous job. That’s what we do. It’s our job.
Chris: Number two, his separation idea really…it’s ludicrous, not to be mean to him or anything. But in a lot of instances, well, as you pointed out, number one, is the diversity of the city, but number two, there’s a lot of relations, marriages, between Sunni and Shia, Kurd and Sunni, Kurd and Shia, interrelations between the different groups. So that would be another reason that you could not take that option.
HH: Yup. That’s well put. There are many Shia-Sunni marriages, are there not?
Chris: Oh, there absolutely are.
HH: And Baghdad itself is a network of warrens that sometimes overlap, but are often…you just can’t separate them.
Chris: It’s impossible to separate them. It quite literally is impossible.
HH: All right.
Chris: And in most instances, those people get along quite well.
Chris: But we don’t see it in mainstream media, because it’s not popular, it doesn’t sell news. So those are the things that would like to be seen more by us. Another thing, two of my tours were in Baghdad, one was up in Tal Afar, up in north..west of Mosul. And…
HH: Were you there with Colonel McMaster?
Chris: I certainly was, with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. Col. McMaster, just a brilliant guy.
HH: You guys have set the standard from which a lot of this is pivoting. My hat’s off to you. Tell people what happened in Tal Afar, and you Col. McMaster is.
Chris: Col. McMaster originally became known to the public as a hero in the first Gulf War, when his battalion defeated an entire Iraqi Army brigade, tank brigade. He’s gone on to write a book, he’s contemplating another book, based on our experiences in Tal Afar. What happened in Tal Afar was we were…we inherited that problem after we got to Iraq. We initially were in Southern Iraq, we got there, the command decided you know what? We can better utilize you up north, because Tal Afar’s a huge problem, primarily Kurd and Sunni, however there was a lot of Shia being moved up there, increasing the ethnic strife between the different groups. Col. McMaster came in and number one, he realized before we even left the States that in order to resolve the issues in Iraq, we had to train the Iraqis. So he put his focus, his main focus, on training the military and the police forces within the Tal Afar area, primarily, and embedding his forces with those Iraqi forces, living with them, sleeping with them, eating with them. We were side by side with the Iraqis. And those guys, after Col. McMaster’s emphasis, became almost as good as American troops. I say almost as good, because I am a little biased, but I think we’ve got the best troops in the military anywhere in the world.
HH: But after you departed, did they not maintain the peace, more or less, in Tal Afar?
Chris: After we departed, and once again, based…he’s a brilliant guy, I can’t say enough good things about him. Because he had pumped a lot of money into training, recruiting and building up the infrastructure in that area, so that it was able to number one, get a foothold for security, and then because of the infrastructure he had built, to maintain that security within the region. And it’s still extremely safe, extremely secure, and the 3rd Iraqi Army division is in control of that area, and they’ve taken over from the Americans for the responsibility of the security in that area.
HH: Now I’m talking with Chief Warrant Officer Chris. Which branch are you in? Are you in the Army then, Chris?
Chris: I’m an Army intel officer.
HH: All right. Let me ask you this. This is sort of an emotional reaction. Do you like the Iraqi people?
Chris: I love the Iraqi people.
HH: When you hear people talk about withdrawing and let the chips fall, does that strike you…
Chris: It infuriates me.
HH: Tell me why.
Chris: Because just as in America, Iraq has their bad seeds, their bad eggs, whatever you want to call them. But it’s a minority. It’s a very small percentage, but just like anywhere else, that very small percentage makes the most noise, and therefore, they’re the most noticeable. Most of the Iraqi people that I’ve dealt with would give you the shirt off their back if you ask for it, not even needed it, not wanted it. If you just ask for it, it’s yours. You show interest in something of theirs, it’s yours. They’re very giving, they’re very kind, they’re very smart, and they just, just like us, they want a chance. I’m biased, because I have spent one heck of a lot of time with the Iraqi people. And by and large, they are one heck of a good group of people.
HH: Warrant Officer Chris, we’ve got about a minute left. Can we win there?
Chris: We can, but it’s going to take some resolve, and we know…like I said from the beginning, we know it’s a dangerous job, but we accept it. There’s going to be deaths. We know that. Everyone in the military, just about, knows someone that’s been killed over there. But it’s a volunteer army. We can do it, we can…it won’t be easy, it won’t be quick. But with support from the American people, we can do it.
HH: Chris, I think you’ve done more in the media war than 20 other guests, and I appreciate it. I hope you’ll send me an e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org, on how I can send you a note and stay and touch, as well as contact info for Col. McMaster, as I would love to have him on the program as well.
Chris: I’d be happy to.
HH: Hats off to you, thanks for your service, sir.
Chris: Good talking to you.
HH: I’ll be right back, America. You know, there are tens of thousands of Chris’. Not often do they get through, or are as articulate, or as energized as Chris, but they exist, they are real. Listen to them. Listen to them.
End of call.