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Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Retired Army officer weighs in on recent uptick in Iraq violence

October 23, 2006

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A Eudora military consultant advises Americans not to panic about the recent upsurge in violence in Baghdad.

Mark Johnson, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and former Green Beret, said it was not cause for alarm, nor was it a sign that the fight for control of Iraq is being lost.

"Wars change. Situations change," Johnson said. "What was happening three or four years ago is totally different from what's happening now."

American troops were beefed up in Baghdad and other trouble spots several weeks ago. Still, attacks on U.S. troops have increased, and more than 70 Americans have been killed during October. Troops have cleared neighborhoods and later had to return to clear them again, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell said last week in discussing what he called "disheartening" reports.

Johnson recently returned from the Middle East where he trained special operations and conventional military forces on the latest methods for countering insurgencies, working with Islamic religious leaders and local populations, and defeating improvised explosive devices. He was based in Kuwait.

Military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan should express their opinions if they think they have new ideas for how to fight in those countries and in the global war on terrorism, Johnson said.

Mark Johnson, of Eudora, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and former Green Beret, says military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan need to speak up about how to fight the global war on terrorism. However, he said he was "appalled" by retired generals who criticize the Bush administration's handling of the war.

Mark Johnson, of Eudora, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and former Green Beret, says military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan need to speak up about how to fight the global war on terrorism. However, he said he was "appalled" by retired generals who criticize the Bush administration's handling of the war.

"I think they should speak out and say 'Hey, we need to do this better,'" said Johnson, who earned a Bronze Star during the 1991 war with Iraq. "They should sacrifice their careers, if you will, and make it known that 'this is the way we should do it.'"

Johnson doesn't think much of recently retired generals and other former military commanders who waited until they were no longer on active duty to criticize the Bush administration for the conduct of the wars.

"That, to me, is absolute bunk," he said. "I'm personally appalled by it."

The keys to stabilizing Iraq are building up the Iraqi army and police and winning the respect of the Iraqi people and establishing rapport, Johnson said. American soldiers should emphasize to Iraqis that they are military volunteers and that they have given up their families to spend a year in Iraq to help secure the country. That will lead to more information being developed about insurgents and where to find hidden bombs.

"We are not Islamics, so we are not going to win their hearts and minds, but we can earn their respect and trust," said Johnson, who has written books on leadership. He also makes motivational speaking appearances through his business, Camouflage Communications Inc., when not working for the military.

Despite recent violence, Johnson said, most of Iraq is in "pretty good shape." But he also thinks American forces will be in Iraq in large numbers for at least two to four more years. There are about 140,000 troops in Iraq. He estimated a long-term troop level of about 20,000.

"Today, we're still in Europe, we're still in Korea," he said, naming the locations where Americans have fought past wars.

Johnson also thinks the U.S. is winning the war on terror. He cited the fact there have been no terrorism incidents in this country since 9/11.

"It's not because they are not trying," he said. "We're keeping them busy over there. We're taking away their Fort Braggs and Fort Rileys."

Comments

james bush 8 years, 2 months ago

Colonel, thanks for your service. I hope we win!

aeroscout17 8 years, 2 months ago

"Johnson doesn't think much of recently retired generals and other former military commanders who waited until they were no longer on active duty to criticize the Bush administration for the conduct of the wars.

"That, to me, is absolute bunk," he said. "I'm personally appalled by it.""

"I think they should speak out and say 'Hey, we need to do this better,'" said Johnson, who earned a Bronze Star during the 1991 war with Iraq. "They should sacrifice their careers, if you will, and make it known that 'this is the way we should do it.'"

B.S. The fact that they wait until they are out of the military to criticize is honorable. Had they done it while officers, it would have been the end of their careers (and rightly so). The fact stands that these are folks who know what they are talking about (not that Johnson doesn't, but in all honesty we are in a quagmire).

GW does not put up with criticism or anyone who disagrees with him; two shining examples are Shinseki and Powell.

None of us are as strong as all of us. Bush has forgotten that.

Kontum1972 8 years, 2 months ago

So LTC (RET) u went to advise...and u went without being paid? You did it because your a great american?

NOBODY...goes to a war zone for free....did u ever attend PCC...or did u get passed over....?

i respect GEN. Shinseki always have and always will, u remind me of tommy franks (what a loser) u cant even walk in SHINSEKIs, SCHOOMAKERs, BYRNES or WALLACES footsteps...all 4 of these Gens have butted heads with that walking abortion in the WHT HOUSE...Shinseki-Byrnes are gone...Wallace has chastised for his comments (they had to eat crow and give him his 4th star)...and Schoo is going back to the Ranch because he has had it....like Murtha said....pull back to the horizon and let them work it out,,,,u cannot win a religious war....they dont care if they die....Allah wants them too...and they do not care how many americans they kill..they would shoot your kids right in front of u....and not even care..because they hate US..and they want us out of their country....

Shardwurm 8 years, 2 months ago

Wow...a retired Lieutenant Colonel! Impressive!

What's next? A retired Assistant Manager of Burger King commenting on the state of the fast-food industry?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 2 months ago

This guy is a mercenary. Stop the war, and his job goes away. His remarks are nothing but self-serving.

But as thousands die every month, he can assure us that he sleeps well, anyway.

Kontum1972 8 years, 2 months ago

jimi in country...WIN?

ITS NOT A GAME.....! People are dying...!

u want to help WIN...go enlist..and see what you WIN

go sit in front of the TV/X-BOX and WIN...

Richard Heckler 8 years, 2 months ago

USA cannot stay the course ... is anyone listening

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6075424.stm


Balad's Shiites had been living alongside Sunnis for hundreds of years, Ali said, staring bleakly at the road outside. He had a Sunni son-in-law and Sunni friends, he said. It took the American occupation, he said, to change all that.

"What do you want to know?" Ali demanded bitterly. "How we reached this level? How we started to kill people according to their identity? How this sectarian strife was brought to us?"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con...

Danielle Brunin 8 years, 2 months ago

"We are not Islamics, so we are not going to win their hearts and minds, but we can earn their respect and trust..."


Islamics? This man has spent time in the Middle East and works as a military consultant, yet he doesn't know any better than to call Muslims "Islamics?" Calling Muslims "Islamics" is the hallmark of Western ignorance toward the Islamic world. Islam is the religion, people who follow the religion are Muslims. If government officials and the military can't even get simple religious and cultural terminology right, how can they expect to win a war against Islamic extremism? This faux pas is symptomatic of the lack of understanding that plagues the Bush administration, the State Department, and the military towards the Middle East. You would think that they would have made it a point to learn some of these things before we went to war in Iraq. In his defense, I will say that Lt. Col. Johnson sounds as though he has the best of intentions and he should be commended for that. However, as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. What a mess!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 2 months ago

"Now during the second conflict, efforts to avoid damaging infrastructure vital to civilians were made in an effort to seem more humanitarian."

I agree with your main point, but go to a city such as Fallujah, and absolutely nothing was spared. Think Dresden or Tokyo.

hipper_than_hip 8 years, 2 months ago

He's a ex Green Beret, which means he's a stud.

Salutes

prioress 8 years, 2 months ago

This is not a "war." We invaded (successfully) and are now stuck as occupiers, which will not work.

irnmadn88 8 years, 2 months ago

During the first Gulf War, major infrastructures such as bridges, roads, utilities, and communications were targeted effectively changing the quality of life for an entire generation. Now during the second conflict, efforts to avoid damaging infrastructure vital to civilians were made in an effort to seem more humanitarian. Uh, hello? Explain that to a 25 year old man whose child hood was bombed back to the stone age...

Danielle Brunin 8 years, 2 months ago

Mr. Ramirez,

Eid Mubarak! You're missing the point. If you don't understand the culture or religion enough (or simply don't care as you said) to get something so simple correct, how in the hell do you think America will win this war? You have to know your enemy, and Arab culture is so incredibly different from Western culture in so many respects. My brother, who is a Marine, traveled with my husband and me to the Middle East and I am so glad because when he is deployed to Fallujah, Iraq in February, I am confident that he will know enough about Arab/Islamic culture to increase his chance of survival.
Who cares? Everyone who loves America and wants to win the "War on Terrorism" should care.

Shardwurm 8 years, 2 months ago

"...and where has your career taken you shardwurm? Have you been in the military? Have you served your country?"

As a matter of fact I, too, am a retired LTC and served 23 years thank you very much. I was an infantryman.

This leaves me more qualified than most to cast a critical eye on his qualifications to comment.

Retired LTCs are a nickel a dozen.

jcantspell 8 years, 2 months ago

Turn the other cheack forgive those who have sinned against you why can't we all just get along

war good god you all what is it good for?

jcantspell 8 years, 2 months ago

war good god you all what is it good for?

The_Twelve 8 years, 2 months ago

Yes, it's hard to "earn respect and trust" when you bomb the hell out of someone, refuse to acknowledge that innocents are killed, hide the truth, and essentially murder thousands--all in a personal vendetta against one man, now on trial.

If this is what "leadership" is all about, I'll take his course.

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