2nd Draft

2nd Draft Ch 20 – May to Nov 07, Ramadi JSS Operations/ Realizing Success and Going Native31 May

Chapter 20 – Realizing Success and Going Native

It was a bad time to be a foreigner. Mexico was in the throes of revolution, and the masses were out to get Diaz and his band of alien cronies.
– Barbara Mujica, Frida

“3d Generation Warfare is like algebra where you have one unknown and you are looking to solve that [unknown]. 4th Generation Warfare is like differential equations, where you have multiple inputs and multiple outputs and you have to analyze all of these in order to figure out what the solution is going to be.” – Luke Larson

Originally, this book was designed to be about the 1st Marine Division in Operation Iraqi Freedom. But, shortly after starting the research in 2004, I was struck by the story of Lima 3/7 in Husaybah because the XO, 1st Lieutenant Neal, took over command of the unit due to the death of Captain Gannon. I had been the XO of Lima 3/7 in the early 1990s. Later, I learned that Dominique Neal went to a rival San Francisco Catholic high school. Neal, among many other Marines “stepped up” to a higher level of responsibility due to the demands of combat during the long counterinsurgency in Iraq. Carpenter taking over command of a platoon; Link serving as a Platoon Sergeant — these were other examples of Lima Marines “stepping up” to responsibilities above their rank. In this 4th deployment in Ramadi, both Bellmont and Mejia would also step up to responsibilities usually exercised by members of a 1200 Marine Battalion staff. Sergeant Humphrey was serving as a Lieutenant.

As I went back through the interviews we had done, one in particular illustrated particularly well just how much the entire Rifle Company, in effect, “stepped up” to act as a hybrid Battalion. This interview (Larson 12) with Lieutenant Luke Larson, who was also the XO of Lima Company at the time, fully expressed the main theme of this book — the transformation from 3d to 4th Generation Warfare. One of the memorable things about serving as a junior officer in the Marine Corps is the high level of authority that one gets. Luke Larson illustrated much of this in this interview, in which he describes the internal dynamics of the Company which allowed the unit to “step up” to act as the core of a hybrid Battalion, composed of Lima Company together with Iraqi Army companies, and stations of Iraqi police.

One of the reasons that I focused on the shift from 3d to 4th Generation Warfare in writing this book is that I felt that I had learned some very valuable things about decision-making during my officer training and service from the age of 19 to 25. 3d Generation Warfare — or Manuever Warfare — had just been adopted by the Marine Corps in the late 1980s, when I was going through Officer Candidate School. Manuever Warfare was used by the United States generally (AirLand Battle), and by the Marine Corps in particular (1 MEF invading Kuwait) during the First Gulf War. Although Marines are not often given credit for a scholarly approach to warfare, this shift in doctrine was an important intellectual backdrop for my own experience in the Marines in the early 1990s. But, at the same time, authors like G.I. Wilson and William Lind were proposing a new, 4th Generation of Warfare in a series of Marine Corps Gazette articles. Now, in 2005 to 2007, I could see in the reports coming back from Iraq, that my own former Rifle Company, Lima 3/7, had in fact participated in this shift from 3d to 4th Generation Warfare. It wasn’t a shift that was documented by long scholarly articles in military journals, but rather by 25 year old Lieutenants and 30 year old Captains, who took all of the available literature, and applied what worked to the specific situation in Ramadi. Here too, is an important characteristic of the Marine Corps culture of success in combat. Just as author Malcolm Gladwell is at first surprised by the large amount of books in General Van Riper’s attic, the general public may be surprised to learn that many Marine leaders like Marcus Mainz are voracious readers who conducted an exhaustive survey of the literature of counterinsurgency to augment what they were given by the military. Part of the reason that the Marine Corps has a culture of success in combat is that there is a scholarly bent to Marine leaders, and an institutional willingness to let those junior leaders exercise appropriate initiative. In the case of Lima 3/7 in Ramadi 2, this was facilitated by the command relationship between Lieutenant Colonel Turner and Captain Mainz (and aided by Major Quinn’s presence on the Battalion Staff); and then in turn by the relationship between Mainz and his Lieutenants, including Humphrey.

Luke Larson begins an extended explanation in his videotaped interview (Larson 12) of how Lima Company stepped up to act as a combined actions battalion with a discussion of the planning process. “When we are looking at the situation, normally Marines are taught to conduct a METT-T [Mission Enemy Terrain Troops Available] Analysis. The problem is that METT-T is not broad enough to cover all the stuff that you need to conduct the 5 LOOS [Logical Lines of Operations from the new Petraus Counterinsurgency Publication]. So, one of the gaps that we saw is that we need a much broader mission analysis to figure out all of the information that we are going to need to conduct these counterinsurgency operations. At the Marine Corps higher level [meaning higher ranking officers], they have a doctrine, MCPP, which is the Marine Corps Planning Process, where they go into greater depth on mission analysis. Not all Company Commanders go to EWS [Expeditionary Warfare School], and no Lieutenants go to EWS, so at a company level, we were at a deficit of how we figure out this information. In an attempt to best conduct operations, we took a hard look at Mission Analysis. The way that we studied what we needed to do was to use a modified Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. [The Maslow’s Pyramid] stands for the conceptual needs of the populace, which is slightly different from Maslow’s Pyramid, but it is very close.”

“The most important thing is basic needs. In Iraq, most people were able to provide their own basic needs. They were able to get water, food and stuff like that. The enemy used that as a tool to get power but after the Iraqis stood up and kicked out Al Qaeda, the people were able to get their own basic needs.”

“Security is the most important thing. If we don’t have security, we can’t move up the pyramid. In 2005, since we didn’t have security, we could not move out into the city. In working with the IPs [Iraqi Police], first you need security, then you can move up the pyramid.”

“In looking at our mission analysis, traditionally [in a 3d Generation Warfare, Manuever Warfare mindset] Marines would have surfaces and gaps,” says Larson. In Manuever Warfare, the goal is to quickly reach a decisive outcome by attacking one of your opponents gaps in order to reach a center of gravity. “Traditionally, you would look at this in a very tactical way. We have a gap in our defense. Well, we were looking at this overall picture [of 4th Generation Warfare], and saying things like I have a gap in my defense because I don’t have water running. It’s the same manuever warfare concept but we’re now using it for other purposes other than the tactical level.”

If there is one idea in the entire book that we would like to emphasize, it is this idea that Larson is hitting on. The same thinking and training that is developed by the Marine Corps’ doctrine of 3d Generation, Manuever Warfare, applies to 4th Generation, Advanced Counterinsurgency Warfare. “How do those surfaces and gaps apply in 4th Generation Warfare,” I asked.

Larson replied, “It’s the manuever warfare theory based on Boyd’s OODA Loop Decison-Making Process, which is Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. That model is still effective in 4th Generation Warfare. You just use it towards different objectives and different missions. In a 3d Generation Warfare model, you’re setting up bases and defenses, and you are doing mission analysis about people, and terrain, and tanks — almost like a board game. In 4th Generation Warfare, you are still doing the 3d Generation Warfare analysis, but then on top of it, it is like Sim City [the video game]; now you have water pipes, and all this other stuff. When you are doing that mission analysis, the surfaces and the gaps are not two-dimensional anymore, they are four-dimensional. And so a good analogy that sums that up is as follows. 3d Generation Warfare is like algebra where you have one unknown and you are looking to solve that [unknown]. 4th Generation Warfare is like differential equations, where you have multiple inputs and multiple outputs and you have to analyze all of these in order to figure out what the solution is going to be.”

It is therefore in a broader context that the Marines used the 3d Generation Warfare ideas of surfaces and gaps. Larson continues, “That’s where we define surfaces and gaps. You could have your security tight, and that’s a surface [from the standpoint of 4th Generation Warfare]. In that situation, the way that Al Qaeda is going to find a gap is not through security, but through essential services. So they might blow up, or take away something else on the ladder, which would be something like water or electricity or commerce or something like that. They are looking to find a way back into the city. You are basically in a struggle for the people. Who ever has the people wins. In 4th Generation Warfare, you need to focus on the people. The people are the center of gravity, not the enemy. What you are taught in Officer Candidate School and and all the way through SOI [School of Infantry] is focus on the enemy, and you will win. Turn the map around, figure out what the enemy is going to do, and you will win. In 4th Generation Warfare, you’re still doing that. In 4th Generation Warfare, your objective is still to beat the enemy, but it is not to kill the enemy. Some people have a hard time making that jump. You don’t need to kill the enemy to win, you just need to have him not obtain his objective while you obtain yours. To win in a counterinsurgency, you need to get the will of the people. The way you get the will of the people is through the 5 LOOS [Logical Lines of Operation] of Essential Services, Economic Development, Governance, and the way you do that is by mission analysis of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.”

“During [our last deployment to Ramadi], the new Petraus counterinsurgency publication 3-24 came out. But it is a book that hasn’t been [fully digested. We were supplementing] it with these texts to determine how do we employ this in an actual situation. We were not only using the counterinsurgency publication, we were printing out Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we were printing out propaganda publications that the Nazis used. On thing that is not in this diagram [Maslow’s Modified Hiearchy] is information operations, which is touched on in the book, later… when the Iraqis play Saudi Arabia in the Asian Cup [for Soccer]. It was a huge win for the United States that the Iraqis won because it showed that the Iraqis were excited about this sports team. This was in July or August of 2007.”

Next, I asked Larson to explain the role of Sergeant Bellmont and Sergeant Mejia during the Ramadi 2 deployment. As background for his answer, Larson starts, “In the 3d Generation Warfare model that we trained to, you have all of your traditional tasks [for a Rifle Company]. Now, in a 4th Generation Warfare model, these traditional [tasks] do not go away, you just get added more tasks. So, you have 10 tasks you have to focus on instead of the 5 you have in traditional warfare, and you don’t get more people to conduct them. So a lot of the stuff that we are doing we are training to do, we haven’t been trained to do. So, we are doing economic development. We decided that the people who are best to do things like that, like research economic development is one of the Lieutenants who have an economic degree from Georgetown and Cornell. We’d be stupid not to put them on economic development. We have guys that have business degrees, and stuff like that. So we are trying to maximize our strengths with our officer’s degrees. So we put them on a lot of this academic type of research. Guys are doing what we would call reach-back program. For example, my Grandfather is a civil engineer. I am calling him and asking, ‘How do you do the slope on a sewer?’ He is giving me tips, and we are spending US Tax Dollars based on that conversation.”

“With all these new responsibilities that we have, the Marines still need to be focused. They still need to be doing their continuing actions with general operations. We really had a gap in leadership because we pulled all the Lieutenants to be Augmentation Team leaders. So, who is running the Marines? The way we filled that gap, is we created a mini-Gunner position. We reorganized our Company Staff to look like a mini Battalion staff. One of the billets we called a ‘Force Protection Officer’ was Sergeant Mejia. Sergeant Mejia was the Force Protection Officer. To win in a counter insurgency, you still want to focus on the enemy, and beat him, but you are not focused on his kinetic actions. If you only focus on the enemy’s kinetic actions, he will beat you because he is fighting on all 5 planes. To match that, we are now fighting on all 5 planes. But, now 1/5th of our energy is focused on the enemy, whereas before, all of it was. So, Sergeant Mejia’s sole focus was to go around and to keep the Marines sharp. He was doing all the tactical evaluations for fields of fire and weapons employment, and analyzing situations to keep the Marines from being in these escalation of force situations like we were in 2005. Sergeant Mejia was invaluable in the knowledge he had. [He could say,] ‘I’ve seen this before in Baghdad, Karbala, Husaybah, Ramadi, and now Ramadi again.”

In Blink, Gladwell devotes a chapter to “7 Seconds in the Bronx” to make the point that good policing essentially boils down to procedures for de-escalation which minimize or eliminate the need to use deadly force. Lima 3/7 were, in effect, the super-cops of Ramadi — a unit with superior weapons, training, and organization that would multiply their effect through leverage through the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police. Mejia filled the essential role of the top Marine tasked with systematically de-escalating the need for the use of force through proper cover, weapons siting, and other weapons employment procedures at the Joint Security Stations throughout central Ramadi.

Larson continues, “Sergeant Mejia filled the role of fixed site security officer and force protection officer. He was essentially a mini-gunner going around and checking how our force protection was set up at our various sites.” A Gunner is a Marine Weapons Specialist who normally fills a billet at the Infantry Battalion, Infantry Regiment, and Division level. Gunners hold the rank of Warrant Officer of various grades. Carpenter had gone on to become a Marine Gunner and held that billet for Battalion 3/7. “This is now more complex,” continues Larson, “because we have the Iraqis living with us so the gates have people coming in and out. Before, in 2005, no civilians were allowed on our bases, unless they were detainees who were blindfolded. We had to meet with these people. We had to do Sheik engagements. In 2007, our bases are town halls. They are functioning police stations. Because the police were running them. So Sergeant Mejia had to engineer force protection where people can be allowed in and out, where people are walking through metal detectors and stuff like this — like Airport metal detectors, back scatter vans that are x-raying people. The security at some of these bases is similar to walking through an airport screening. This is not what Marines are taught at SOI [School of Infantry], so he is learning this with an x-ray machine manual. Then he is taking his 4 deployments worth of experience, and laying down how am I going to emplace barriers to best keep the Marines out of escalation of force situations. He is also employing new weapons systems, like the Mark-32 40 millimeter Six-Shot Revolver Grenade Launcher. He came up with a plan to put cheese puffs, which are training practice rounds [into the Mark-32]. So, if you shoot a training practice round at a vehicle, it is just going to put orange dust on the vehicle. So, the grenade launcher would be loaded with 4 of the training practice rounds, and the last two rounds would be high explosive rounds. He is coming up with all of these techniques to keep the Marines out of these escalation of force procedures.”

Regarding non-lethal capabilities, Larson recalls, “We lacked enough non-lethal weapons. There is a direct link between non-lethal weapons and counterinsurgency. On the high end of the spectrum [of violence], you are trained to kill, and you’re going to kill people. On he low end of the spectrum — which is where we are operating — you are faced with situations where if you take an action, you need to have an alternative between kill or be killed, and you need some grey area. We weren’t given the non-lethal tools that we needed. Sergeant Mejia was making this stuff up as he went.”

“On a Battalion-level,” continues Larson, “Gunner Carpenter filled that role for the Battalion. He focused on the enemy for the battalion. More than the Company Commanders did, Gunner Carpenter really was focused on the enemy. Carpenter was kind of Sergeant Mejia’s Chain of Command. Those two men together have more combat experience than anyone in the Iraq war, because between the two of them, they have eight deployments to Iraq.”

“Sergeant Bellmont filled the role of Intelligence OIC [Officer in Charge]. In a Rifle Company task organization, there is not an intelligence cell. You take all of the information and pass it up [the chain of command]. This is a very ‘fighting the Russians in a Cold War’ [3d Generation Warfare] model of intelligence. In this new model, you need an intelligence cell [at the Company level], and they have to do more than focus on the enemy. They need to focus on atmospherics, and all the stuff with economics and essential services. Your intel cell is really your information management cell. So, they are gathering maps of the sewer systems, [and similar data]. It would almost be like your city hall representative for administration. They have all kinds of information that they need to track, like how much does a fruit cost.” This function would be similar to the US Government function of compiling a consumer price index (CPI) used to measure inflation data used to calculate inflation indexed US Government Bonds. Larson agrees with the analogy to Bellmont taking information comparable to the US Goverment CPI. “They are doing that at the Company level with a high school education, which is phenomenal, and they are doing an outstanding job.” Bellmont, then, was filling the role of a Company Level S-2 [Intelligence staff role], collecting economic, among other indicators. “Currently, the Marine Corps is developing the Headquarters Platoon in a Rifle Company to include what they call a CLIC and a CLOC which is a Company Level Operations Center and a Company Level Intelligence Center. None of this had come about when we were on our second deployment to Ramadi. They are developing this from after action reports from units like 1/6, 3/7, 2/5 and 2/7.”

Next, I asked Larson in his video taped interview (Larson 13) to describe in detail each Augmentation Team (A-Team) deployed in each Joint Security Station (JSS). Larson, who was the Company Executive Officer (XO), or second in command, during this deployment, describes each station in detail. On a weekly basis, he toured each station with Sergeant Mejia. Larson would focus on Civil Military Operations (CMO), and Mejia would focus on site security on these tours, during which they were battle buddies. During each description, Larson is also scrolling into a small scale view of each site on Google earth in the video taped interview (Larson 13).

IP [Iraqi Police] Station Warar.

“The person running this station was Lieutenant Chase Reeves, with a 10-Man Team. He was in Lima Company the previous year before. The police station was run by a police chief named Waqadum Achmed. The person who was in charge of Warar before Achmed was an IP named Waqadum Salam and Al Qaeda assassinated him.”

JSS Sabatash

“At JSS Sabatash, we had Corporal James as an Augmentation Team Leader. This is where Lima Company was located with myself, Captain Mainz, Sergeant Bellmont, Sergeant Mejia. We all lived in JSS Sabatash. Myself and Sergeant Mejia would go on road trips every week. So on Monday, we would be at Warar, on Tuesday we would be at Azzizziyah, on Wednesday, we would be at Jumayah, on Thursday we would be at Thaylet and Katanah, and then on Friday we would be at Sharikah. So me and Sergeant Mejia would go station to station every day. While I was checking on Civil Military Affairs, he was checking up on force protection. We were kind of battle buddies.”

“At Sabatash, this is a four story building. On the first deck [story], we had Iraqi police. The Iraqi Police had a station set up in the South Wing. In the North Wing was just Marines. On the second deck, was all Iraqi Police and Iraqi Army. On the third deck was all Marines. So, we lived in this station with a hundred Iraqi police and over a hundred Iraqi army. And the Iraqi Army is largely Shia, and the Iraqi Police are largely Sunni, and we lived there in harmony; we were playing games together and eating meals together. Inside Sabatash, we created a room called the Hookah Room. In Iraqi/ Arabic culture, the sheiks have meeting rooms called Modifs, where they basically have town hall meetings. Well, we created the Hookah Room so we could have Iraqis come in and have an Arab room [to meet in]. A Marine, Staff Sergeant Pringle, it was his idea. He said, ‘Hey, I think you should have an Arabic room so you can have meetings.’ So we asked the Iraqis to outfit it, which they did. It had purple cloth wall paper, with darker purple hearts, with plush yellow couches with pink pillows. [It looked like a room from] Austin Powers. The Iraqis loved it. They thought, ‘This is the nicest room in Ramadi.’ That’s where we would have several meetings with district council men from the area to conduct town hall meetings.”

“Just North of [JSS] Sabatash, in the same compound, was a little building which we called a ‘Civil Military Operations Center.’ [CMOC] It was really a claims center where we would have Iraqis come in and [make claims like], ‘Hey the U.S. shot my building,’ and we would pay them money. So, that was another strategy we used to win over the people.”

IP Station Jumayah

“Right next to Sabatash was IP Station Jumayah. This is where Sergeant Humphrey’s Augmentation Team was. During the deployment, Sergeant Humphrey wore Lieutenant Rank, and we called him Lieutenant. For all intents and purposes, he was a Lieutenant for the entire deployment.”


IP Station Azzizziyah

“At IP Station Azzizziyah, was Lieutenant Sayce Falk. This IP Station is very critical because this station, inside the Race track [a circular road in the city center of Ramadi], especially this area here, known as The Souk, is the largest market in Anbar Province. This is very critical to the overall economy of Al Anbar province.”

“The Souk would be like a third world market place,” continues Larson scrolling into close detail of the dense urban area in his video taped interview (Larson 13), “where if you walk down these streets, these are all businesses that are selling all kinds of stuff, from fruit to TVs, to motorcycles. It is a very economically important area in here. This was the insurgent stronghold in 2005. The Marines would not patrol into the Souk [in 2005] without taking heavy contact. So, this police station was critical.”

“Lieutenant Falk basically took the worst area of Ramadi because the Gov[ernment] Center [directly across the main road from the Souk. All of the buildings in the Souk were leveled because the Marines would get into huge fire fights with the Souk area [in 2005-06]. Lieutenant Falk moved into this firing range, and just patrolled the streets, and got to be friends with all of these people. He took one of the worst areas of the city and made it pretty good.”


Sayce Falk: It’s hard to say what made me want to join the Corps, but I knew for sure that I didn’t want to go work in some scumbag job after I graduated, and I didn’t know enough about what I wanted to do with my life to go to grad school yet. I wanted something that I would enjoy, something that would mean something, something that would give me something and also allow me to give something all at the same time, and by the time I had narrowed down all of those somethings – only the Marine Corps was left. So here I am.

OP Katanah

“At OP Katanah was Lieutenant Breivogle, and his police chief was Colonel Bakeet.”

IP Station Thaylet

“Up at IP Station Thaylet, we had Lieutenant Mujica. When the Iraqis win a soccer game, they have a celebration. That event occurs at IP Station Thaylet.”

JSS Sharikah

“JSS Sharikah was run by Staff Sergeant Carlyle.”

Larson12.mov [done]
Larson13.mov [done]
Senator’s Son Chapter 14
Mainz4.mov, Mainz5.mov
Mujica interviews

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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.