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Galveston County's Daily News Book Review of The Sheriff of Ramadi

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Jim Dolbow (jim_dolbow) | 4 comments Mod

Author: Americans can't dispute military’s courage

By Mark Lardas
Published December 21, 2008

“The Sheriff of Ramadi,” by Dick Couch, U.S. Naval Institute Press, 288 pages, $26.96.


By the end of 2005, the territory controlled by the United States and the Iraqi government was shrinking.

The heart of the insurgency was in al-Anbar province. The western deserts of Iraq were like the Old West of American legend — bandit country.

And conditions were at their worst in its capital, Ramadi.

In late fall 2006, Dick Couch, former SEAL-turned-author, talked to a SEAL commander returning from Ramadi. Couch then believed, based on news reports, that we were losing.

The task group commander disputed Couch’s assessment.

“In Ramadi, we’re winning,” he stated.

Intrigued by the disparity between the stories reported in the press and by returning veterans — and wondering why a Navy SEAL team was in Ramadi, hundreds of miles from the ocean — Couch investigated.

He visited Ramadi and interviewed many participants.

Couch’s latest book, “The Sheriff of Ramadi,” is the result.

Couch discovered a remarkable story. The tide in Ramadi began shifting in favor of the United States as early as January 2006.

In August 2006, the battle had tipped decisively to the United States.

Two factors led to victory. The first was the American military’s ability to successfully wage counter-insurgency warfare.

The SEALs played an important part in winning Ramadi. Yet Couch — and the SEALs and other military personnel interviewed — stressed the military’s real strength was that different organizations — SEAL, Army, Marine and Air Force, and Iraqi Army and Police, worked together.

The participants put mission ahead of turf. Regardless of uniform, they fought as brothers-in-arms.

More important was the Anbari Iraqis’ decision to support the United States and to defy al-Qaida.

Victory was won by the Iraqi inhabitants turning on the insurgents, and driving them out of al-Anbar and Ramadi.

This turned into the Anbar Awakening, which in turn was the model used to clear al-Qaida from the rest of Iraq during the Surge of 2007-08.

Perhaps the book’s most poignant point is a PowerPoint presentation reproduced in one photo section.

The “Stick Figure Briefing” outlined the strategy used to win the battle.

It helped American military and political leaders understand the unconventional approach.

The officer who prepared it — and helped develop the winning strategy — was later killed in the battle.

We can argue about the cost of Iraq. Couch, in “The Sheriff of Ramadi,” shows what cannot be disputed is the courage and competence of those we send to fight our wars.

Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, amateur historian and model-maker, lives in League City.

message 2: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Lubin (andrewlubin) | 2 comments Yes it was a good book, and it was the sacrifices like those of Army CPT Travis Patriquin, who developed the stick-figure powerpoint that finally enabled his superior officers to understgand that Ramadi was a different war that had to be fought a different way.

message 3: by Jim (new)

Jim Dolbow (jim_dolbow) | 4 comments Mod
Thanks Andrew! CPT Patriquin is proof positive that rank does not equal talent. I cant wait to read this book. Thanks again for the feedback

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