Monday, October 8, 2007

The Soldier and the Sheik: Lest We Forget

Army Captain Travis Patriquin was killed by an IED during an operation near Ramadi in Iraq’s Al Anbar province on December 6, 2006. Sheik Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, a Sunni Muslim, was also killed by a bomb in Al Anbar nine months later, on September 13, 2007. The two were connected to each other in this life, and share a connection that will continue after their passing.

BLACKFIVE provides the background on Capt. Patriquin. He was a remarkable man, conversant in Pashtun, Dari, Arabic and Urdu. He was Special Ops trained and was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor device for his part in OpAnaconda in 2002, when he was attached to the 101st Airbirne in Afghanistan.

In 2006 he was in Al Anbar Province in Iraq. In 2005, the top Marine intelligence officer in Al Anbar thought the province to be all but lost to the terror-insurgency. Capt. Patriquin was one of those men with an affinity for understanding other cultures and seeing things from their point of view. He understood the dynamics of why Al Anbar was intractable.

He had made a PowerPoint presentation that has since widely used by the Army in Al Anbar. Most of us who have been in business for some years or decades understand the PowerPoint presentation to be something of a dumb-downed thing. It’s meant to be. Generally such presentation intends to highlight and drive home a few important points, facts or understandings.

Capt. Patriquin’s presentation is all at once funny, dumbed down so that a fourth grader or a “General in the 4th Infantry Division” could understand it and yet it made more tactical and strategic sense than we’ve heard from almost any politician for years.

Be absolutely sure that you view the presentation,”How to Win the War in Al Anbar”, available here in pdf, before proceeding. It’ll only take a minute or two.

There is a good chance that the sheik in the presentation is based loosely (or not so loosely) on Sheik Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, whose tribe occupies the area in and around Ramadi. Capt. Patriquin and Sheik Sattar Abu Risha worked together to turn Al Anbar around. It was their relationship that largely led to Capt. Patriquin’s realization that the Sunnis would join the police, from which organization they could protect their families, rather than the army, which could send them away.

WaPo recently reported that 30,000 tribals, overwhelmingly Sunni, have volunteered to work with the Iraqi police, army and coalition forces, and that is spreading to other areas of Iraq. Capt. Patriquin didn’t live to see what he had begun come to fruition. Sheik Sattar Abu Risha did not live to see AQI completely defeated in Al Anbar. Both men, though, gave their lives in giving others hope and a path to fulfill that hope.

Last August, in Tameen, a district in heavily Sunni Ramadi, the police station was named after and in honor of Captain Travis Patriquin.

This last month, a school in the Shia center of Iraq, Nejaf, was named after and in honor of the Sunni Sheik Sattar Abu Risha.

What is going on here? Sunnis name a place in honor of an American soldier who gave himself for Iraq, and Shias name a place for a Sunni who did the same. Does that sound like what we’ve been hearing from the Democrats? Sunnis and Shias can’t get along, so let them have their civil war! Iraqis hate us, and want us out! The presence of our troops fuels the insurgency and recruits terrorists! Brave men have put the lie to those claims.

Remember John Kerry’s statement to college students:

“You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

Kerry was not speaking of President Bush. He reads his own press, and well knew that it had been reported more than a year before that his college grades and those of President Bush were almost the same, with a slight edge to Bush. He meant the soldiers, and the members of the 1/34 Brigade Troops Battalian of the Minnesota National Guard serving in Iraq knew it.

Senator Schumer did all he could to besmirch and denigrate the efforts and memory of men like Captain Patriquin and Sheik Sattar Abu Risha.

Senate Democrats, wedded to the liberal notion of liberal elites making decisions for those simple folks down below, all but frothed at the mouth about this idea of improvement and solutions coming from the bottom and working up! Such is an inconceivable and threatening concept to them

Capt. Travis Patriquin and Sheik Sattar Abu Risha were better men, and smarter men, than the bunch of them. They died giving people hope and a way out of misery. Those Democrats just want a way out.

When I was a child growing up in the Bronx, NYC, I got interested in early American history. I don’t remember exactly when I put it together that all those street names were clues left to me, so that I could learn about people who had done things noteworthy to those who came before me. I would go to the public library, and look up those names, and read about them: Webster, Decatur, Marion, Bainbridge, Lafayette, Rochambeau, Hull, Perry, Sedgewick, Sherman, MacClellan, Sheridan and on and on.

That’s why people name places and things after others. So that those who come later will know that someone did something, something you are well served to know about.

In the 1949 classic John Ford movie “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”, John Wayne played the aging and about to be forced into retirement commander of a calvary company, Captain Nathan Brittles. On the day of his retirement, the old officer leaves his billet and finds his troops assembled as if on parade. They give him a present they’ve all chipped in for, a silver watch. The captain looks at it, and nods and smiles at the troopers he is about to leave. One tells him that there is a sentiment engraved on the watch. Sheepishly, Brittles puts on his spectacles that the men have never seen before and reads the words ‘To Captan Nathan Brittles...”.and his voice cracks as he reads “Lest we forget.”
To Captain Travis Patriquin and Sheik Sattar Abu Risha, whose names will be known to many thousands who will see the buildings named in their honor, and to the rest of us who should know of them – lest we forget.


NAMedic said...

Just read your article at American Thinker on the WSI.
Re Turse' so-called research, please read this:

Denis Keohane said...



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