LTG James Dubik (Ret.) Visits The Situation Room to Discuss Lessons Learned in Iraq (CNN)
ISW Senior Fellow LTG James Dubik (Ret.) discusses the Army's lessons learned on the eve of the Iraq drawdown with CNN Pentagon Correspondent Chris Lawrence.
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Aired August 21, 2010 - 19:00 ET
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You know, after more than seven years and at a cost of more than 4,000 American lives, the U.S. combat mission in Iraq is all but over.
(VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: A flag ceremony today symbolically marked the moment at Camp Virginia in Kuwait. Operation Iraqi Freedom doesn't officially end until August 31st. But the last full combat convoy has already left Iraq. And by the end of the month, the U.S. force in Iraq -- forces in Iraq is supposed to be down by 50,000 troops, serving in noncombat roles. You know, Iraq has often been a painful learning experience for the U.S. military. And our Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence looks at how much the war has changed since the shock-and-awe of 2003.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, I remember back in late 2004, early 2005, riding through Al Anbar province, Ramadi, with the Army and the Marines, we were riding in an open-air Humvee, you know, no cover, no armor, nothing. That kind of vehicle couldn't even leave the gate of a base today. That's how much things have changed. (voice-over): The military used to save money by short-changing some soldiers.
MASTER SGT. MICHAEL CLINE, ENLISTED ASSN. OF THE NATIONAL GUARD: Instead of being one total army or the army of one, we have the army of one and then we've got his two little brothers over here.
LAWRENCE: For the Guard and Reserve, Iraq became the great equalizer. Ambushes and roadside bombs forced officials to train reservists and active duty supply troops a lot like infantry.
MAJ. GEN. JAMES DUBIK, U.S. ARMY (RET.): We had to contact, we have the IEDs, fight their way out of tough situations. That changed a lot of the training in preparation for deployment.
LAWRENCE: And Retired General Jim Dubik admits, when the war started, the military put more money into some soldiers over others.
DUBIK: We decided to spend most of it for the combat forces forward and save a little bit by not outfitting the low stations (ph) as much. Those days are past.
LAWRENCE: Female troops were captured in Iraq. Nearly 700 women were wounded, well over 100 killed. Unit commanders started getting around the rules by attaching them to combat units instead of assigning.
DUBIK: One of the biggest combat lessons was this: everybody's a fighter.
LAWRENCE: Now, some walk foot patrols in Afghanistan to engage its population of women. This is a picture I took back in 2003 of an American in Baghdad. The troops of 2010 wouldn't recognize his gear.
DUBIK: Body armor changed, helmets changed. Almost everything from the soldier up has changed in this war.
LAWRENCE: Change didn't come fast enough in one respect. IEDs killed hundreds of soldiers and Marines before they and their families demanded better.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?
LAWRENCE: Today's troops deploy from vehicles in varying patterns to avoid IEDs. To sniff out bombs, they trust their dogs as much electronics. And counterinsurgency is a way of life, not the academic exercise it was 10 years ago. (voice-over): It's really top to bottom from the kind of equipment that the troops carry to their tactics that they use when they're in the field, to how decisions even get made by their bosses back in the Pentagon -- really Iraq changed the face of how the military fights a war -- Don.