2nd Draft

2nd Draft Ch 18 – Training and Deployment for Ramadi 231 May

Chapter 18 — Training and Deployment for Ramadi 2

“When you’ve lived through a war, you never forget. Memories haunt you.”
– Barbara Mujica, Frida

38 15′49.41″N 119 14′09.17″W elev 1977 m Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, CA
Date June 2006

Lt Col Turner had made a major decision. The Battalion would go back to the basics. The Battalion went back to Korean War table of organization. It went back to conventional training at Bridgeport, California, a high mountain training center where the Marine Corps maintained the only working mule course in the entire Department of Defense. There were no vehicles. The Marines walked. The Marines got back into the best shape. The Marines worked on marksmanship. The Marines honed their light infantry skills. Between August and November, 2006, the Battalion focused on Fire Support Coordination Exercises, and excelled at the basics of 3d Generation, Manuever warfare.

LtCol Turner switched the battalion’s focus to 4th Generation Warfare tactics after November, 2006, only after establishing a strong base of 3d Generation Warfare skills. The logic behind LtCol Turner’s progressive training schedule between Ramadi 1 and Ramadi 2 was that he felt that a unit had to master 3d Generation Warfare skills before moving on to 4th Generation Warfare tasks. In order to succeed in 4th Generation Warfare, the Marines needed to be absolutely proficient in 3d Generation Warfare skills. As Major Quinn, who had been promoted and who moved to the billet of Battalion Executive Officer put it, “can you be secure enough to not kill?” In the subsequent deployment to Ramadi again (“Ramadi 2″) in 2007, Doug Halepaska would take photos of Major Quinn, dancing, arm in arm with Iraqi Police with Glock pistols in their hands, fingers wrapped around the trigger (the only safety on a Glock is a small indent on the trigger). In this and so many other countless ways, the Marines high level of confidence and competence in basic weapons skills would make them “secure enough to not kill.”

As the months wore on in the last half of 2006, Lt Mujica-Parodi reflected critically on his experience in Ramadi 1. He wrote an article for the Marine Corps Gazette’s Chase Essay Contest, entitled, “The Conduct of War,” which was published in the April 2007 Marine Corps Gazette. In the article, Mujica wrote that, “The insurgent’s center of gravity is his capacity to camouflage himself within the general population and therefore dictate the tempo of battle.” In Manuever Warfare, the “center of gravity” was the aspect of the enemy’s coalition that held everything else together. In the last half of 2006, as Lt Mujica assumed command of another platoon, and command of Lima 3/7 changed from Captain Quinn to Captain Lewis, and Lt Lars0n moved up to be the Company Executive Officer, Mujica delved deeper into the literature on counterinsurgency. He read about Mao and Che Guevera, and studied the structure of Army Special Forces A-Teams.

34 14′00.00 N 116 03′19.07″ E elev 562m 29 Palms Marine Air Ground Combat Center, 29 Palms, CA
Date December 2006

By December 2006, 1st Lieutenant Mujica had developed his understanding of counterinsurgency into a 100-slide PowerPoint presentation. He knew from experience that if he was going to make his case to his Marines, he would have to be prepared. He had to know his material, backwards and forwards. Moreover, Lt Mujica was intentionally developing talent within his platoon — not just for the normal infantry missions which might be appropriate for 3d Generation War, but rather for the 4th Generation counter insurgency missions which he sought to excel in. Among his Marines, one stood out — Corporal Brandon Humphrey. At 26, Humphrey was older than Mujica. Humphrey had been to college, with a few years of coursework before he enlisted. Humphrey had humility, an essential character aspect if Mujica was to thrust more authority upon him. In time, Mujica would note that Humphrey “was better than me” as a platoon commander. Mujica wanted Humphrey to be prepared to take over the platoon because he recognized that either he could be killed, or the platoon would be split into smaller elements to function in a counter insurgency environment. Mujica began to read intently about a concept called, “distributed operations,” in which a Marine Company of 180 was spread out over a large geographic area into teams of 13 Marines. Those smaller teams of 13 would be self-sufficient to a higher degree than the current practice.

34 14′13.38″ N 116 03′18.73″ W elev 572m Officer’s Club, 29 Palms, CA
1230 Hours Local 15 Jan 07

Lt Mujica-Parodi invited his squad leaders, including Corporal Humphrey to lunch. The NCOs had assigned readings which they had to write reports on. Corporal Humphrey’s publication outlined insurgency from the 1880s to the 1930s. The other NCOs had similar readings which addressed other historic insurgencies. The assignments were not optional, but the conclusions and the convictions with which they were held were each man’s. The lunch was somewhere between a college seminar meeting and a required training session. Corporal Humphrey took the lead. He grasped the material almost immediately, and thoroughly. His broader pre-Marine Corps education, as well as his greater maturity — again, he was older than Mujica-Parodi — gave him the perspective to understand the importance of understanding counterinsurgency.

Over the coming weeks, Lt Mujica-Parodi would brief his 100 slide PowerPoint presentation to the entire platoon. Lt Mujica-Parodi had to have the support of the squad leaders and NCOs if his plan to execute A-Teams — he hated the term, “augmentation team” because he felt it was not “sexy” — was to bear fruition. His company commander, Captain Lewis, however was not in support of the A-Team concept. So, Lt Mujica-Parodi briefed his plans to Major Quinn. Like Dick Winters in Easy Company in Band of Brothers, Rory Quinn had made the jump — a rarity — from Rifle Company Commander directly to Battalion Executive Officer. Yet, Quinn was still a confidant of his two combat veteran platoon commanders, Lts Larson and Mujica-Parodi. Lt Mujica-Parodi briefed Quinn because he wanted “top cover” — in case he needed support from a more senior officer for his plan to deploy in dispersed A-Teams. At the time, in January 2007, he still did not know the extent to which the Iraqi Police in Ramadi had changed.


Marcus Mainz was a collegiate champion wrestler, who competed at a national level in the mid 1990s. He went to Officer Candidate School in July 1995, and immediately “fell in love” with the Marine Corps, the team work, the selfless-ness. It was an organization that was similar to his wrestling team in the emphasis on physical fitness, and dedication to certain principles which he aspired to. He completed the Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) program, one of several OCS options, and went through Marine Basic School and Infantry Officers Course in 1999, where he met Captain-Instructor George Schreffler, who became a role model.

Mainz was assigned to 2/7 at 29 Palms from 1999 to 2002. He commanded a Combined Anti Armor Team (CAAT) Platoon, which consisted of both heavy machine guns and TOW, long-range anti tank missiles. He would go out to the training areas aboard 29 Palms and use Soviet vehicles for training. In exchange for doing maintenance on the threat vehicles, he could use the actual vehicles that his men were training to kill. He knew the base intimately, and he knew weapons. His platoon developed a high level of decentralized execution based on “commander’s inent” — to the point where his Marines knew which enemy vehicles they could engage without positive authorization from their platoon commander. He credits his commanding officer with setting this climate, and the common theme of the impact of 29 Palms itself runs through this description of a decentralized command climate. Mainz thrived on the expansive base, which allowed for junior officers to exercise extensive initiative. This view on mission orders stayed with Mainz as he progressed in his career. Mainz was one of those officers who read the manuals of all his weapons — how to set the head space and timing of a machine gun, how to do preventative maintenance on a hummer.

“I’m a books guy,” says Mainz. “I read the doctrinal publications. I read the technical manuals. I’m the guy who will read the technical manual and take the pain up front.”

Marcus Mainz was promoted to the rank of Captain and went back to Quantico, VA, for his “b-billet” at The Basic School, where he helped train new Marine Lieutenants. Then he was assigned to Expeditionary Warfare School (EWS). While at EWS, Mainz also was involved with several seminars. One of these seminars was lead by William Lind, a defense policy intellectual and think tank member who had gained some notoriety as one of the proponents of 3d Generation, “manuever” warfare. Lind had been a driving force in the Marine Corps’ adoption of Manuever Warfare in the late 1980s, and early 1990s. Manuever warfare grew out of the work of a Colonel Boyd, USAF, who had a number of “Acolytes,” among them Chet Richards, G.I. Wilson, and a number of others who had helped to champion important weapons systems, like the F-15, F-16, and A-10. Another seminar that Mainz entered was Quatrofoil 2, which was lead by a retired Marine General Droudy. Through these seminars, Mainz met and interacted with another Marine General Van Riper, whose son served with 3/7 in the early 1990s, and who himself served in 3/7 during Vietnam.

In these seminars and reading, Mainz came to understand counterinsurgency doctrine, but also to realize the short comings of the current publications. “Here is the conundrum that we were in. The Small Wars Manual has some good stuff, but it was designed for how to come in and take over a small, jungle-like country, but it wasn’t giving me what I needed to turn the corner. Some of those things [from the Small Wars Manual] are enduring, but they are not as enduring as we want them to be. It’s just that it was the only manual. Now, I would say, the Small Wars Manual is the most quoted, least read book, especially in the Marine Corps. The Small Wars Manual was like the Bible — you couldn’t say anything too [critical] about it.” Mainz wrestled with these limitations while an instructor at TBS then IOC at Quantico, all the while participating in semi-formal seminars lead by veteran Marines like retired General Droudy.

“The turning point book for me was War in the Shadows, a 3000 page book — a book about how counterinsurgency is the prevalent form of warfare. If you pair that up with Max Boot’s The Savage Wars of Peace, you come away understanding that America has been fighting counterinsurgency more than we will ever really know — or at least Small Wars.” Mainz goes on, “we are so JV [junior varsity] studying the big battle.”

“If I could sum up what any officer does, I would sum it up as risk-gain assessment, then acts,” says Mainz. “If you look at the percentage of all wars fought, probably only 20% of the time it has been the big, pitched battles with tanks and manuever, but 80% of it has been this Small War, nip-tuck, hit here, hit there, fighting the insurgency.” This was Mainz’ “a-ha” moment in his military education. “I’ve been spending 90% of my time on the thing that is least likely to happen.”

“General Droudy taught me that training is education for the known, like learning to shoot a rifle,” explained Mainz. “Education is preparation for the unknown. For example, you read something from Max Boot’s Savage Wars of Peace, for ideas about how techniques from the Small War in Nicaragua in the 1930s might apply to Iraq 70 years later. How do I get to the right guy in Iraq, pin him down, let him know my eyes are on you.” Captain Mainz describes how to influence the critical individuals — what Tipping Point author Gladwell calls the mavens and connectors — in order to tip an insurgency. “Once I understood that I was reading to understand patterns that would apply on another battlefield, that’s when it all snapped into place for me. I was going to have to train my Marines, but I was going to have to educate my NCOs, Staff NCOs and officers. I pushed really hard for education myself at that point.”

During Expeditionary Warfare School (the Marines’ Captain level career school), Mainz particularly focused on his education. Halepaska, the former 3/7 machine gunner and military historian, asked, “Is this when you started studying Scharnhorst?”

“Ah, Scharnhorst is the Prussian military theorist who basically describes why our military looks like it does today. He came up with the idea that officers need to be broadly educated, and he came up with the military education society that met socially over wine to discuss a variety of military topics. There was one of these seminars, Quatrofoil, going on at Quantico. It was started by Van Riper, and other generals. Van Riper is a guy who made a huge impact on me,” recalled Mainz. “He’s one of the most educated officers I know, and he’s an out of the box thinker. He’s the one who started mentioning Van Creveld, and that we are going towards this other form of warfare [4th Generation Warfare, which depends in part on several of Van Creveld’s books on generations of war].”

“One of the things that [Van Riper] taught me is, ‘quit looking for order.’” Mainz had met Van Riper at EWS and the seminars at Quantico. “Van Riper was against the military going towards effects based operations.” In the best selling book Blink, Gladwell devotes an entire chapter to Van Riper’s leadership both as a company commander in 3/7 during Vietnam, then fast-forwards to the General’s leadership of Red Forces in a 2002 wargame, Millenium Challenge, during which Van Riper defeated the Blue Forces, who relied on an effects based approach to fighting. “His approach was, ‘Oh hell no, it is never going to happen that way twice.’ You have to be so flexible — make a decision, re-assess, make a decision, reassess — Boyd’s old theory. The OODA [observed, orient, decide, act] loop is the only way. You’ve gotta be adapting continuously, you can never stop changing yourself to model on the enemy. [Van Riper] taught me that type of theory. And in a counterinsurgency, it is worse, because you are not trying to affect his tanks, you are trying to affect his mind.”

In fact, Mainz was familiar with Blink which he noted as a “brilliant book,” and he had talked to Van Riper about the lessons described in the book several times. Mainz noted that in the Millenium Challenge exercise, Van Riper did exactly what would be the most dangerous course of action for the Blue Forces — and when that succeeded, they cut him from command.

Mainz credits the advanced warfighting seminar lead by William Lind as the “best thing at EWS.” In the course of these seminars, Captain Mainz undertook the project of writing the 4th Generation Warfare Tactical Decision Game (TDG) manual together with a group of other Student-Captains who met every Friday in the early morning. “That was all driven by Bill Lind. TDGs are how you get someone to think differently.” Lind and others had written a new field manual for 4th Generation Warfare. While Manuever Warfare was the accepted doctrine of the US Marines, 3d Generation Warfare and 4th Generation Warfare were not accepted Marine Corps, much less Department of Defense, terms. But, these terms were widely discussed among Marine Officers. Lind’s 4th Generation Warfare manual, therefore, was a piece designed to elicit discussion and change. “Lind will be the first to admit, 4th Generation Warfare is a title designed to get people to talk.” Mainz wanted to know, how do I apply these materials? This lead him to the work of writing the 4GW TDG manual. This exercise lead Mainz to a emphasis on the populace. He also read books on the rise of Small Wars, such as War in the Shadows and Max Boot’s The Savage Wars of Peace. Mainz was familiar with the Combined Action Platoon concept (in which a Marine Rifle Squad of 12 Marines joins at least 2 indigenous Rifle Squads to form a “combined action platoon”). Mainz read about this during Vietnam in books like Bing West, The Village, and he knew that the CAP concept dated back to the Banana Wars of the 1920s and 1930s (Nicaragua, Haiti, Dominican Republic). Mainz wanted to know, however, how do we do Urban CAP? To answer this, he read about the example of Uruguay in the 1970s. He found a manual written for the Uruguyan insurgents who operated primarily in urban areas. The manual advised that the primary goal was simply to create chaos. In that insurgency, a very small group of insurgents created so much chaos that the democratic government over-reacted, thus alienating the populace. “They robbed banks, they shot politicians, they attacked the police. So the democratic government became more and more oppressive.” I this environment, the insurgents presented the alternative — communism — as a appealing alternative. Armed with this background, Mainz returned to “the Fleet” in late 2006.

34 14′44.76″ N 116 05′25.99″W elev 569 Base Housing, 29 Palms, CA
Date Dec 2006

“So what are you going to do?” Mainz wife wanted to know? Captain Mainz was sure to pick up a rifle company. 3/7 was going back to Iraq. Men had lost their lives, and others had lost their limbs in the last deployment. She wanted to know what her husband would do when he picked up his Rifle Company.
In response, Marcus Mainz went to think for an hour — a challenge since he had 4 young, active sons running around the house.

“Find my own bad guy,” said Marcus Mainz to his wife. “That’s going to be my focus, the idea that I take from all these courses and seminars at Quantico.”

Uh huh, OK, sure, thought his wife.

34 13′57.66″ N 116 03′14.71″W elev 565 Change of Command Ceremony, Lima Company Barracks, 29 Palms, CA
15 February 2007

Captain Marcus Mainz grasped the Lima 3/7 guidon firmly as Captain Lewis handed it to him, then he returned the colors to 1st Sgt Lanpolsen. He made certain remarks, then the company returned to its routine, with a new skipper. Lt Larson had been doing the jobs of 3 men, including that of the Commanding Officer. Captain Lewis joined a Military Training Team or “MiTT” of 12 Marines that would assist an Iraqi unit — an important mission, but the truth is that LtCol Turner had decided to put Captain Mainz in charge of Lima Company because of Captain Lewis’ short comings. In any case, Lima Company, along with the rest of 3/7, was set to deploy again in perhaps 60 days. There was little time for the new commanding officer to take charge of the unit. Captain Mainz gave the Marines a brief speech, then he started a timer on his oversized GShock watch, which would run continuously throughout his tour as Commanding Officer, marking his time in command down to the day and even minute.

Captain Mainz — a solidly built, former college wrestler — sought out the toughest Marines and challenged them to man-on-man combat in front of the entire unit. He wrestled Sgt Mejia — maybe the best ground fighter in the company first. A series of other Marines followed. Captain Mainz had a philosophy that training was what Marines did for the known, and education was for the unknown. He immediately wanted to know the status of weapons proficiency for every Marine. Finding that the Marines had not battle sight zero’ed or qualified on many of their basic weapons, he ordered a 9-range, basic weapons qualification package.

34 18′20.27″N 116 07′06.24″ W elev 559m Range 109, Marine Base 29 Palms, CA
19 February 2007

Lima Company was cycling through 9 ranges on “range road” North West of the main base. Captain Mainz had a philosophy that training was for known threats, and education was for the unknown. He was one of those officers who read the technical manuals. When he first took command of the company, he found that most of the Marines were not currently fully qualified on their weapons. This two day training package was designed to remedy that situation. The unit was able to order large allocations of ammunition for qualification. For example, in order to qualify the company’s 27 M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) gunners, Lima had 20,000 rounds. The machine gunners stitched tight patterns across paper qualification targets. Each range had multiple lanes, expertly organized by Lt Larson and the Lima Company leaders, most combat veterans.

At Range 109, Lt Larson and Lt Mujica — the two combat veterans among the Lieutenants — approached Captain Mainz. They had a tactical problem for their new commanding officer. The two combat veteran Lieutenants initiated a conversation with Captain Mainz about their perspective on counterinsurgency operations from their tour in Ramadi 1. They asked him what he would do if he encountered a house occupied by insurgents.

“Well, gents, I’d manuever to isolate the house. Manuever itself is a weapon,” replied Captain Mainz.

Lt Larson and Lt Mujica argued against taking any kind of threatening action against a house with known insurgents because the secondary effects outweigh killing the enemy with any kind of weapon, especially a large weapon. Mujica and Larson were suspicious of their new Company Commander because, although he had clearly studied counterinsurgency at Quantico, they had in fact been in the middle real engagements in Ramadi during the same timeframe. Larson argued that the Marines in the scenario should never enter into a building with a known enemy because the cost-benefit is not worth it.

“If you enter into the building,” said Luke Larson, “Marines get killed, and maybe you kill a few enemy and, in the end, the status quo remains largely the same. The best answer would be not to go in to the building at all, and hand out soccer balls.”

Captain Mainz, a muscled wrestler who had a combative streak from before his Marine service, was trying, maybe, to provoke a more aggressive response. “Wouldn’t you suppress the house with small arms, maybe hit it with a thermobaric SMAW, then call in a LMAV,” referring to a laser guided Maverick missile from a AV-8 Harrier.

Larson and Mujica didn’t take the bait, and declined to be the straw man to Mainz’ invitation to overreact. “No, Sir. Bad idea,” Larson stood his ground, Mujica nodding his agreement.

“OK, right. If you LMAV the house, then you are doing what the insurgents want you to do — you are overreacting. You are playing their game,” replied Capt Mainz. Marcus Mainz’ extensive education in counterinsurgency in Quantico was consistent with the real-world, hard-won experience of his two senior Lieutenants, who declined to make the case for using overwhelming, kinetic force in the environment to which they would soon be returning.

Captain Mainz’ education at Lind’s seminar on 4th Generation War, and his involvement in the Quatrofoil seminar, now came into play. Although he was himself an imposing physical presence, and he was a stickler for weapons proficiency, Mainz knew that restraint was the key to winning a counterinsurgency. In a sense, he had an advantage in advocating restraint over his two combat veteran Lieutenants because they had developed muscle memory in the expert use of combined arms in an urban environment during Ramadi 1. Both Lieutenants had lost Marines and friends to death and catastrophic injuries, like Lt Hendricks — a good man, they regarded as a friend and brother.

Mainz had in mind his reading on the question of how to extend the idea of Combined Action Platoon (CAP) to Urban operations. In Uruguay, a relatively small number of operatives — 1000 to 3000 — had started to provoke the national police and army into over reacting against not only the insurgents, but also the people. The people had, in turn, turned against the government.

“Gents,” said Captain Mainz to Lt Larson and Lt Mujica, “you always have to be primarily concerned about 2nd and 3d order effects of using the LMAV. Sure, we can level the house. But if we kill or shock the people, then we have accomplished the goal that the insurgents are trying to accomplish.”

Over the coming days and weeks, Captain Mainz briefed Lima Company on a “Commander’s Intent” based on a modified version of Maslow’s Need Heirarchy — a pyramid describing basic human needs through several stages, culminating in “Love” and “Self-Actualization” at the top of the pyramid. Captain Mainz modified the lower parts of the pyramid to include topics that were more appropriate for counter insurgency operations — Security (the base of the pyramid), Civil Military Operations, Economic Development.

Mainz reduced his intent to a PowerPoint presentation which described his intent, and he disseminated the presentation among Lima Company. He also disseminated a “Ten Commandments of Lima Company” which summarized his command philosophy:

You are the chosen ones of the Marine Corps. You will seek combat and train yourselves to endure any manner of test. You are the Marine warrior incarnate. To you battle shall be fulfillment.

1.Make your self hard to kill. This occurs every day in and out the combat zone but the methods are the same. Your focal points should be Physical, and Mental toughness, along with Technical and Tactical Proficiency.

2. Cultivate a true brotherhood, for by the aide of your fellow Marines you will conquer or die.

3. Men act while boys chatter about past actions and bravery. Chatter with out action may bring you to the grave.

4. Be calm and prudent, strong and resolute. Valor and the enthusiasm of an offensive spirit will cause you to prevail in the attack.

5. The most precious thing in the presence of the foe is ammunition. He, who shoots uselessly, merely to comfort himself, is a man of straw who merits not the title of Marine.

6. Never surrender or let the fear of death override your duty to your fellow Marine. To you there are worse things than death.

7. You can triumph only if you can kill the enemy. See to it that you submit yourself to this law; I will care for and master first my weapons, my gear then myself.

8. You must grasp the commander’s intent of every mission, so that if your leader is killed you can yourself fulfill it.

9. Complacency kills. Never let yourself or your fellow Marines fall into the death trap, that you are already ‘good enough’. Find and fix every flaw and be ever vigilant against laziness.

10. The enemy is always watching. Make no plan, no action, and no movement that does not deceive him to your true course of action. Through our use of cunning and deception the enemy will fear to make any move against us.

For Captain Mainz, the most critical elements of winning a counterinsurgency were commander’s intent and the OODA loop — Colonel Boyd’s terms for Observation/ Orientation/ Decision/ Action. Captain Mainz had expressed his commander’s intent through the modified Maslow pyramid of human needs, and he was ready to make fast adaptations of his company to the situation that he found on the ground. Mainz evaluated the human talent in his unit, and made certain appropriate assignments and modifications to the usual table of organization. Lt Larsen, he knew, had been operating at or very near the capacity of a human being to function over the previous 8 months — in effect triple hatted as not only the XO, but also the CO and maybe the Company Gunny as well. He wanted Larsen to embrace his commander’s intent and implement it, and Larsen showed signs of doing just that, quickly.

Mainz summarized Lt Mujica’s personal qualities with three broad strokes. First, Mujica was a rogue — this was a reputation that was already established among the Lima Marines. Second, Mujica was well educated — his Georgetown degree in political economy was the perfect background for the kind of insurgency that the unit expected to fight. Third, Mujica had a sense of divine right — if Mujica decided to do something, he would not be dissuaded. It was as if the Jesuits at Georgetown had blessed Mauro Mujica-Parodi with some kind of divine privilege to buck the system towards whatever ends he wanted to pursue. Accordingly, Captain Mainz assigned Mujica to be the A-Team — or Augmentation Team — platoon, in case the conditions in Ramadi favored the use of this technique.

Captain Mainz assigned Sgt Mejia to be the Police Sergeant, which is normally the assistant to the Company Gunnery Sergeant. But, in this role, Sgt Mejia’s role, in effect, really became that of Company “Gunner.” He was the designated Marine in charge of internal security for the Lima Company positions. He maintained the weapons discipline among the Lima Marines. With Mejia’s long-standing relationships among the Marines in Lima Company, as well as his high degree of professionalism, Mejia was extremely well suited to be the Company’s equivalent of a weapons expert.

34 13′59.94″ N 116 03′20.01″ W elev 561 Lima Company Offices, 29 Palms, CA

1900 Hours 5 March 2007

Corporal Brandon Humphrey asked for the meeting. Over the past month, he had come to be a strong advocate of the counterinsurgency education that Lt Mujica was force-feeding to the leadership in the platoon. Corporal Humphrey thought that if he and the other NCOs went in to Captain Mainz and showed that they understood and supported the distributed operations ideas that Lt Mujica had, it would send a much stronger message to Captain Mainz than if Lt Mujica went in and made the case by himself.

Four Marines filed into Captain Mainz’ office — Lt Mujica, Corporal Humphrey, and the other two squad leaders in the platoon.

All the counter-insurgency theory that Marcus Mainz had wrestled with at Quantico, however, could not be immediately applied as a Rifle Company commander. The CAP program would be described by Captain Mainz as an outsized risk for the reward from the normal military perspective. “When you put a CAP out there, you are trying to win the war,” noted Mainz. With the sensitivity to casualties, Mainz noted, “I could not get my mind around who was going to let me put small bands of Marines in the city…. I could never solve that problem in my mind.”

“So, what’s on your mind, gents?” Captain Mainz asked. Captain Mainz was looking at Lt Mujica, waiting for him to begin.

“Sir,” said Lt Mujica. “Corporal Humphrey has a few thoughts about how we operate in Iraq, when we go back in a few months.” Lt Mujica turned to Corporal Humphrey, and nodded.

“Sir,” started Corporal Brandon Humphrey. “We want to live with the Iraqi Police. We want to brief you on our thinking on using the technique of combined action platoons — CAPS — in the urban setting in the pattern of distributed operations. We have been reading some items supplied by Lt Mujica in our platoon. We believe that we can execute distributed operations. We want to organize as A-Teams of 13 Marines, and task organize with several squads of Iraqi Police or Army.”

Humphrey went on for several minutes, laying out the training that 1st Platoon had been executing. The platoon had been drilling urban combat skills — MOUT, or Military Operations in Urban Terrain, as the Marines called it — early in the mornings. The NCOs had been reading Lt Mujica’s assigned readings on counterinsurgency. Humphrey and the other NCOs could speak knowledgeably about different examples of counterinsurgency.

“Well, Gents, I appreciate your reading, study, and thinking,” replied Captain Mainz, studying the men. “But I can’t approve your plan at this time.” Every commander constantly makes a risk/ reward calculation. Is the possible gain worth the risk that I am taking? I could benefit from having a squad of Marines with each Iraqi Police station. On the other hand, I could have an entire squad of Marines killed or captured without being able to support them. In March 2007, the information that Captain Mainz was getting from Ramadi — where he had friends, who emailed him regularly — still indicated that the environment was too hostile to put squads of Marines outside the safety of Marine bases — the Marines called them “firm” bases.

Looking back on the pressure from Mujica-Parodi and his squad leaders to use the CAP technique, Mainz recalls, “I knew that what I needed was social power, not military power. I knew the Augmentation Teams greatest strength — if they worked — was going to be social power. ”

During the rest of March, Captain Mainz was closely monitoring the situation in Ramadi. Battalion 2/5 was supposed to relieve Battalion 1/6 in Ramadi, but that plan was changed and Mainz received detailed information from the advance party from 2/5 about Ramadi. He knew that that the situation was “non-kinetic” in the language the Marines.

34 14′50.57″ N 116 01′19.90″ W elev 619m Mojave Viper Non Live Fire Combat Town

2200 20 March 2007

Lima 3/7 was rotating through Mojave Viper — the Marine Corps’ training program to prepare every deploying infantry battalion for service in Anbar Province, Iraq. On the other side of the ridge from “mainside,” Gunner (retired) Tim Gelinas had built an Iraqi town out of connex boxes, buried tubing to create sewer systems, and plywood. The town measured 800 meters by 300 meters, with several districts. A Company could walk to the town in under an hour, on the way to Range 400. During Mojave Viper, the town was occupied by real Iraqis, who spoke their native language. Marines were evaluated on their ability to interact with the population, using their language and cultural training as much, or more so, than their weapons training.

Lt Mujica was on the radio, controlling Corporal Humphrey in the town. Corporal Humphrey was in command of an A-Team. Lt Mujica created an impossible situation — Corporal Humphrey’s Marines were injured, and the trucks sent to evacuate the injured Marines failed. Then, Mujica put the handset on a table, and laughed at his “aide de camp” — as he had designated Corporal Humphrey.

Humphrey’s fist clenched white around the hand set, as he almost shouted into the black, plastic radio handset. “Lima 6, Lima 6, this is Lima 1. The trucks are non-operable. Request medevac.” Humphrey sent the call out over and over.

5 minutes passed, then 10 minutes.

Finally, Lt Mujica came back on the net. “Helicopter CASEVAC available,” he informed his frustrated Aide De Camp, whom he was intentionally training to be a platoon commander.

Corporal Humphrey called in a Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) request for a helicopter from memory — Lt Mujica had drilled all of his NCOs on certain procedures, including call for fire, close air support, and MEDEVAC.

The Battalion staff monitoring the exercise were not pleased with the episode. Lt Mujica was criticized for it. But he had his own plans for Corporal Humphrey, and this episode was one of many in which he was grooming Brandon Humphrey to step up beyond his current rank and billet.

34 14′50.57″ N 116 01′19.90″ W elev 619m Mojave Viper Non Live Fire Combat Town

0300 21 March 2007

A hand clasped over Brandon Humphrey’s sleeping face while he was inside his sleeping bag. He woke to a rushed whisper in his ear: “Get your gear on, now.”

30 seconds later, he was running behind Lt Mujica. Mauro Mujica-Parodi’s sister was a medical professional who had helped him to develop certain theories about sensory overload and deprivation in relation to combat stress and effectiveness. Mujica believed that it was either the overload of sensory input or the deprivation of sensory input that lead a leader to fail to function. Some of the training at Infantry Officer’s Course had reinforced this belief.

The two ran a mile into the desert. The blood worked into muscles which had, minutes before, been recovering from a day of patrolling in the heat and dust of the simulated, high desert, Iraqi town.

“Sit down,” ordered Mujica. Brandon Humphrey sat down, cross legged. Moments later, he could feel another back against his own. He did not know who it was. The two sat, back to back, for ten minutes. The desert is a place of extremes in temperature. It can get very hot — above 110 in the Summer — and it can get very cold, all in the space of a few hours. Unit leaders learn to start movements at 4 AM, and to plan to be in place by 8 AM, and under protective shade for the mid day heat. As the two sat back to back, the heat quickly dissipated from the suddenly inert bodies.

Equally suddenly, Mujica ordered, “Using the rules of Marine hand to hand combat, FIGHT!” Humphrey fought. The opponent was another Non Commissioned Officer from the Platoon. The two Marines grappled in the sand, dust and scrub pushed up into nostrils. The fight went on for 20 minutes — a long time for a fight at any time, but especially in the middle of the night.

“Stop!” Mujica shined a SureFire light into Corporal Humphrey’s eyes, dilating his pupils. Mujica grabbed Humphrey’s arm, and lead the Non Commissioned Officer to a ground mat with a disassembled radio on it. “Put it together! Now!”

His vision ruined, Brandon Humphrey assembled the radio by feel. He screwed the antenna onto the set. He replaced a battery.

“Call for fire,” promted Mujica.

“You this is Me, adjust fire, over.”

“Me this is You, adjust fire, out.” Mujica played the part of the mortar or artillery section.

“Grid 123456. Troops dug in. HE Delay in Effect. Over.”

“Grid 123456. Troops dug in. HE Delay in Effect. Out.”

“Direction three-two-hundred. Over”

“Direction three-two-hundred. Out.”

“Shot, over,” shouted Lt Mujica.

“Shot, out,” replied Corporal Humphrey.

“OK.” The test was over. “Not bad,” conceded Mauro Mujica-Parodi. He knew that what had just happened might be considered hazing. But, Corporal Brandon Humphrey did not consider it hazing. Indeed, Brandon Humphrey said as much when Lt Mujica recalled the incident as the two sat next to each other for an interview in February, 2008. But Lt Mujica was more concerned about whether his leaders could function under stress. Corporal Humphrey understood this, and accepted the test for what it was — a practical evaluation of his ability to function in certain combat related tasks under an intentional stress situation.

34 17′48.39″ N 116 08′50.90″ W elev 600m Lima 3/7 Bivouac during Mojave Viper, Camp Wilson, Expeditionary Air Field

0700 25 March 2007

Lt Mujica had left an article from the Marine Corps Gazette on “Distributed Operations” on Capt Mainz rack — his bed. Lima 3/7 was going through Mojave Viper and CAX. This was perhaps the most important pre-deployment training exercise for infantry units in the Marine Corps. Combined Arms Exercise (CAX) had been watered down somewhat since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom — did anyone know which OIF they were actually on? — by deleting the extensive desert, manuever portions of the exercise, but adding the Mojave Viper parts of the exercise in the simulated Iraqi Town. During CAX/ Mojave Viper, even the units resident at 29 Palms lived out in these camps next to the Expeditionary Air Field, where the transport helicopters and attack aircraft that supported the exercise operated from in Spartan, arid, desert conditions. Sometimes, exotic desert trucks and bikes used by allied forces, such as the British, showed up in the aluminum shelters nearby. Mujica was not subtle. The Marine Corps Gazette article laid out the concept of “distributed operations,” which argued that a Marine Rifle Company could be broken down into 13-Marine units and could operate over much larger distances than normal. Captain Owen West had written one of these articles, and Colonel Robert K. Dobson, who had commanded 3/7 in the mid-1990s, had written a thorough critique of the strengths and weaknesses of this concept of operations. The major advantages of “distributed operations” included the ability to cover a much larger geographical area, and the ability to fully use the ability of junior Marine leaders — such as Corporal Humphrey — to coordinate fire support. Captain West, whose father, Bing, had been involved in the development of independent Stingray teams in Vietnam, advocated the broader use of distributed operations based on the success of these independent, 6-Marine teams in Vietnam, and in the Marine Force Recon community. On the other hand, the disadvantages of distributed operations included the logistics obstacles to supplying widely dispersed elements of a Marine Rifle Company. Also, the risk was that a squad of 13 Marines could be over run more easily if it did not have mutually reinforcing Marine units nearby. The critics of Distributed Operations pointed out that Infantry Marines were not the equivalent of Special Forces soldiers. Lt Mujica thought his Marines could step up into a role close to — if not entirely the same as — the special forces soldiers who formed A-Teams. Indeed, he used the special forces manual to help train and develop his concept of A-Teams.

“Hey sir, did you see that article?” asked Lt Mujica.

Captain Mainz was multi-tasking at the rapid rate. “Yeah. Subtle. Noted.” He knew that Lt Mujica was a good writer, who had published an entry in a professional writing contest in the Marine Corps Gazette. Mainz wondered whether Mujica would be a good career officer. Then, he wondered whether what he really needed was good career officers, or a little bit of a rogue.

34 18′25.80″N 115 58′46.05″W elev 726m Range 400

1100 26 March 07

The attack was done. The Coyotes of the TEECG — Tactical Exercise Control Group — congregated on a road that ran down the middle of Range 400. The Company Commander, the Platoon Commanders, the Squad Leaders, the Mortar, Machine Gun, and Assault Section Leaders gathered around. The Coyotes wore protective vests identical to those that the Marines wore — except that their vests were colored bright orange. The Coyotes were all experienced Captains, Warrant Officers, and Staff Non Commissioned Officers from the Infantry Military Occupational Specialty. They all had one thing in common — they were good at using the Marine Corps’ infantry weapons — particularly in combination with each other. They were safety fanatics, always aware of Surface Danger Zones — the areas behind a target where a projectile could bounce and kill someone, often miles away.

As the Infantry Marines cycled through Range 400, which was part of CAX/ Mojave Viper, the Coyotes kept the Marines from killing each other with dumb, friendly fire. They graded the units on many aspects — the time that certain tasks required, the accuracy of the weapons employed, the ability to use certain weapons together.

“Gents, that evolution ranked in the top 5% of runnings of Range 400 we have seen. Here is what you did right,” the head Coyote — a Lieutenant Colonel — started. He read from his notes, and his experts who followed certain maneuver elements, or who supervised certain weapons like the mortars or machine guns amplified his points.

Corporal Humphrey had commanded 1st Platoon. Lt Mujica had run the Fire Support Team — known as the “FiST Team”. The entire Company had excelled. It was a solid performance. LtCol Turner had watched the attack, along with the Battalion Sergeant Major, from a perch high above “Machine Gun Hill” where the Scout-Snipers usually started the attack with precision rifle fire from their .308 and .50 caliber sniper rifles, while also calling in and adjusting the mortars.

The desert was a place not without its own arid beauty. The Marines had slept in their bivouac just south of the road that ran East to West at the South of Range 400. LtCol Turner had run Range 400 — like almost every Marine Infantry Officer in a few generations — as a platoon commander, and as a company commander. He had noticed the small things that Lima 3/7 did well, along with the Coyotes. As the sun rose, the mortars tucked into a fold in the earth across the box canyon thumped out their registration rounds. “Shot, over,” the mortar section intoned over the Company Tactical Net. “Shot, out,” acknowledged the Scout Snipers. Lieutenant Colonel Turner had watched the violent ballet from earshot of one of the snipers. Now, 3 hours later, he stood behind the Lima 3/7 staff as the Coyotes detailed what he had already noted in quiet exchanges with his Sergeant Major.

Doing well at Range 400 gave Lima 3/7 credibility in 3d Generation, Maneuver Warfare. Whether the Marine Corps was 3d or 4th Generation was a question for Bill Lind and a bunch of guys with no rank. But whether a Rifle Company could do well at Range 400 was what the business consultants called a “core competence.”

34 20′55.72″ N 116 03′09.86″ W elev 805 The Delta Corridor, 29 Palms Marine Base
0921 28 March 2007

The 26-ton Amtrac rolled up on a piece of high ground. Lt Mujica and his Fire Support Team un-assed the track. He had a commanding view of the next 7 kilometers, North from his current position, all the way to the Delta T, where the Delta Corridor ended. Between his current position and the Delta T were a series of intermediate objectives. Mujica had target reference points, artillery targets, mortar targets, and on-call close air support missions stacked up. North of him, and slightly below him, the rest of Lima Company pushed ahead into the attack.

There was a near and far ambush, then an assault on a town.

As Mujica ran the fire support, Lima Company rolled forward in the attack in the back of Amtracs. Sitting in the troop commander’s hatch next to the small turret with 1st Platoon was Corporal Brandon Humphrey, the 1st Platoon Aide De Camp — whatever the fuck that was. Humphrey was the platoon commander. As such, he commanded not only the three squads of 13 Marines each in the 3 Amtracs which 1st Platoon owned for this attack. He also commanded the 3 Amtracs, which had 3 turrets, each of which had a .50 caliber machine gun and a 40mm fully automatic grenade launcher. With the weapons on the Amtracs, Humphrey could hit targets out to 1830 meters — almost 2 kilometers, and over a mile away.

Lima Company again excelled in this brief mechanized attack (The CAX schedule prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom could include mechanized attacks lasting half a week, and extended to the full length of 29 Palms Marine Base, the largest base in the Marine Corps.) Lima Company took all of its objectives. More importantly, the execution of the attacks was efficient — the units did not get bogged down at any one objective. Humphrey, commanding a platoon, had done his job well. They were “getting out and getting some,” joked the Marines, in the parlance of the Grunt.

The Coyotes again noted the proficiency, as did Capt Mainz’ seniors in the chain of command. This gave Lima 3/7 credibility.

33 26′00.55″ N 43 16′33.23″ E elev 55m Ramadi, Iraq
1500 Hours 14 April 2007

Captain Mainz selected a non-standard advanced party — Mainz, Larson (the Executive Officer, who normally remained with the main body), Gunny Hatch (the company logistician), Sgt Mejia (the most proficient tactical Marine). Mainz himself went to a 5-day COIN School that was mandated by General Petraeus — a school that Mainz thought was excellent.

Back at the Stumps, Lt Mujica was the acting Lima Company Commander. He had been ordered to organize his 1st Platoon into a Mobile Assault Platoon or MAP. He was 3 days into the task of organizing the MAP. Corporal Humphrey had just come off of leave and expected to be boarding aircraft to Iraq in 8 more days.

Then, Marcus Mainz saw that the situation in Ramadi had changed — radically. He made a bold decision. In terms of the OODA loop — Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action — he cycled through the process of recognitional decision-making in a very fast time frame. Just 2 months earlier, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines (1/6) had turned a corner and started to occupy Joint Security Stations with Iraqi Police. For the first 5 months of their 7-month tour, 1/6 had battled Al Qaeda in Iraq just as kinetically as 3/7 had in 2005 and 2006. But then the situation changed, and became more permissive. Under the command of LtCol Jurney, 1/6 had re-occupied important locations within Ramadi, such as the 17th Street station. Captain Mainz and Lt Larson agreed: it was time to implement the A-Team concept that Lt Mujica had wanted to do. Instead of the plan that Lima 3/7 had developed back in 29 Palms, Lima 3/7 would organize according to the major 5 — and eventually just 3 — lines of operation or “loos.”

Captain Mainz emailed Lt Mujica over the secure miltary email: halt the current plan, organize the Company into A-Teams as you had planned. You are coming over, and bring Corporal Humphrey. Bring Lieutenant rank for Corporal Humphrey.

Two days later, the second advanced party from Lima 3/7 was on the flight to Iraq. Despite the fact that Humphrey was not expecting to deploy for another 8 days, he too was included. The second advanced party consisted of all of the remaining Lieutenant platoon commanders — and Sergeant Humphrey (he had just been promoted from Corporal to Sergeant). Around the world from March Air Force base, the chartered 747 flew. The Marines carried rifles on the flight, and stayed in segregated areas at airports when they stopped. They welcomed a stop in Shannon Airport, County Galway, Ireland, at any hour, for a last drink — a last touch of Western Civilization. Aboard trucks the Lieutenants and the Sergeant went. In Ramadi, Sergeant Brandon Humphrey became 2nd Lieutenant Brandon Humphrey. Mujica pinned the bars onto Humphrey’s uniform with some pride. Over the previous few weeks, Mujica and Humphrey had been “shedding bodies” in 1st Platoon — that is, getting rid of Marines who were overtly opposed to the counterinsurgency teaching that had been force fed to the unit, or who were judged to be not appropriate for operating in an A-Team. “They went to other platoons, and went on to do great things,” Brandon Humphrey recalled. The Marines who were shed to other platoons were not bad Marines, per se. They were just not the Marines who would do best in the A-Team mission. Mujica — an avid traveler himself — selected Marines with extensive travel or foreign experience.

“OK, Brandon, try not to totally fuck this up,” joked Lt Mujica as he admired the gold bars on his former Aide De Camp.

“Don’t worry, Mauro. I’ll try not to embarrass you,” replied Lt Humphrey.

Instead of “Lieutenant Falk” or “Sir,” Lt Falk became, simply, “Sayce.” Lt Humphrey called all the other Lieutenants by their first name.

Captain Mainz needed 7 A-Team leaders, which meant that he needed Brandon Humphrey to become “Lieutenant Humphrey.” 11 months later, Captain Mainz would describe Brandon Humphrey as “the best platoon commander in the battalion.” Like Lieutentant Neal stepping up to wear Captain bars upon the death of Captain Gannon, and like Gunnery Sergeant Carpenter commanding a platoon through most of the 2004 Qaim deployment, Sgt Brandon Humphrey stepped up to a new rank and billet.

Source: HumphreyMujica1.mov

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This is a website for writing a book about Lima Company, 3/7, during 4 deployments to Iraq between 2003 and 2007.


This is a website for writing a book about Lima Company, 3/7, during 4 deployments to Iraq between 2003 and 2007.