Recently I have received some emails updates concerning my cousin, Capt. Jim Lively (soon to be Major) in Iraq. First, I have pasted a portion of an article written by Jerry Hogan with a Dallas newspaper after interviewing Jim. Second, I have pasted a portion of a monthly update written by Jim to families of his men.
Jerry Hogan writes:
Captain Lively’s current assignment directly impacts the ability of one Iraqi Army battalion to meet their commitment as he is the Senior Advisor to an Iraq combat infantry battalion in the city of Ramadi in the Al Anbar province.. He, fifteen other Marines under his command, and one Navy Corpsman medic, are directly responsible for training, mentoring, and advising this six hundred man Iraq battalion. They are teaching them how to plan, execute, and sustain independent counterinsurgency operations. The US team advises them on all the functional areas of military operations to include maneuver, fire support, logistics, intelligence, command and control, and force projection. They live with the Iraq battalion, they patrol with the battalion, they participate in combat sweeps and actions with the battalion, and they continue to teach the Iraqi soldiers during actual combat operations. I asked him how long it takes to train his battalion. His reply is very encouraging: "Actually our battalion is fully operational. They formed in October of 2003 and since then they have conducted major combat operations in Najaf, Sadr City, Fallujah, Al Quaim, and Ramadi. They are fully trained and are ready, willing, and capable of meetings it’s nation’s national security requirements."
One of the keys to successful combat operations is the ability to collect, analyze, and then act on real time reliable intelligence. The commander that has the advantage in this area also has the advantage on the battle field. But because of the language and cultural differences, it has often been difficult for US troops to achieve this advantage. This is one of the major advantages the Iraq battalion will bring to the battlefield. Captain Lively, when asked about this, said "the Iraq Army is phenomenal at collecting information. We have been focusing their ability to collect, process, analyze, and then produce actionable intelligence. This cycle all came to fruition when our Iraq battalion developed a target within our area of operation and ultimately captured a high level insurgent based upon the intelligence they had developed. The greatest success was that the entire operation was completely planned and executed by the Iraqi army."
Capt. Jim writes:
Many of you may be wondering how recent news from our administration will impact us here. Well, I assure you, I’m wondering the same thing! HA! I know that the advisor mission will begin to take on greater importance here, but at our level, things will be business as usual. We will likely be assigned some more augments to help us with our mission; however, our mission will remain the same: train, mentor and advise the Iraqi Army. Your sons are doing that every day – and they are doing it well.
Another key aspect of our job here is to work with the Iraqi Army and the coalition forces to help the local civilians. They have many needs including electricity and other services. We have started school renovation projects for elementary schools in our area of responsibility as well as renovations on a sewage pump station in the neighborhood. We also provide some limited medical care when required. This month something amazing happened to one of our Iraqi Army patrols. At about 11:00 at night, some civilians approached their patrol asking for medical help for one of their wives who was about to have a baby. Because of security concerns, civilians cannot drive their vehicles at night so they could not take her to the Ramadi hospital. The Iraqi Army soldiers, with their medic (who has some pretty advanced medical training) agreed to help the civilians. Now, in this culture, it is inappropriate for a male, non-family member to view the birth – an interesting challenge for this young Iraqi medic who was ready to help this Iraqi woman! So, he sat around the corner and relayed instructions to the woman’s family while she delivered a healthy baby girl! Under the old regime, an Iraqi Army patrol would never have been called upon to help in such a way. Our Iraqi Army soldiers continue to demonstrate to us that they are committed to helping their nation – by fighting insurgents or by delivering babies!
For those of you who know the Gills, John Gill is about to deploy for the second time to Iraq. Yep, Little John is a Marine. Keep him in your prayers.