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Ramadi Declassified: A Roadmap to Peace in the Most Dangerous City in Iraq Hardcover – May 31, 2016
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“A history book that reads like a thriller -- and a must read for military leaders and diplomats that find themselves embroiled in a counterinsurgency." (General Barry McCaffrey, USA (Retired))
“Tony Deane has written the best account to date of what it means to be a combat leader on today's battlefield. His account of leading a battalion in the thick of things in Ramadi takes readers right onto the city's mean streets, providing a fascinating account of how U.S. forces helped turn the tide of war in Iraq. His writing is sharp and visceral, providing a fast-paced narrative that is hard to put down.” (Jim Michaels, Author of A Chance in Hell: the men who triumphed over Iraq's deadliest city and turned the tide of war)
“As a highly courageous combat leader and skilled military diplomat, Tony Deane was a critical player in an epic turning point of the Iraq War. The urgent insights and lessons in this book, which reads like a great thriller, must be required reading for all American military and political leaders, as well as all citizens who want to know how the United States can again lead the free world and our allies to victory in the new global era.” (William Doyle; Author- A Soldiers Dream: Captain Travis Patriquin and the Awakening of Iraq and PT 109: An American Epic of War, Survival and the Destiny of John F. Kennedy)
“Col. Deane’s work stays low and moves fast through the people and events who turned America’s involvement in Iraq from bitter urban fighting into the Anbar Awakening, and later The Surge. A must read for policy makers and those seeking paths to peace with the people’s of the fertile crescent.” (Kevin Dockery, Author, History of the US Navy SEALS 2016-04-20)
“In this modern war memoir, a retired Army colonel recounts his experiences working to suppress terrorism in a strategic Iraqi city.
Deane recounts his deployment to Ramadi in 2006, when it was known as the “most dangerous city in the world,” and how he and his men helped to turn it into what he calls “the safest city in Iraq” by the time U.S. troops pulled out of the country. Already a Desert Storm veteran with more than a decade of Army experience, he and the other soldiers faced numerous obstacles at the beginning of their deployment, from frequent suicide bombings to the distrust of the local leaders, whose help they needed to find al-Qaida operatives. Deane describes the slow, painstaking work of convincing local sheiks to support the new democratic government and of helping them to create an all-Iraqi city police force. He also highlights the complicated nature of securing allies across cultural barriers in a war that weaponized propaganda as much as grenades. But apart from vivid descriptions of combat and of the many casualties suffered by the U.S. troops and their Iraqi allies, the book keeps a mostly optimistic tone as it focuses on the successful joint efforts of American and local forces to make the city a safer place. It’s also illustrated with color photos of many of the people and places described. For the most part, Deane’s prose is clear, simple, and free of political soapboxing or unwarranted boasting. He acknowledges his mistakes and those of other U.S. troops while also holding to his book’s thesis, which claims that their operations had a positive impact on Ramadi and Iraq as a whole, despite their negative portrayal in the American news media… the war’s historical background is well-researched, as are the back stories of many prominent players.
A detailed, compelling account of a little-known chapter in the Iraq War.”(Kirkus Reviews 2016-04-20)
“…In May 2006, the war in Iraq was “over” but many parts of the country were still war zones. Colonel Dean and his armored Task Force “Conquerors” were given the job of subduing the worst thorn in the Allies’ side: the almost totally hostile city of Ramadi and surrounding Anbar province. When they arrived, the best anyone had been able to do was try to keep the lid on. In the next year the Conquerors and attached engineer and National Guard units successfully evolved a way to effectively deal with the terrorists, Islamist Extremists, and the religious tensions that had turned the province into a free-fire zone. It was not a simple answer, though clearly explained, and was reached only after a lot of painful mistakes and casualties.
The story is compelling, more so because it is true. Colonel Deane and noted SF author Doug Niles (Fox on the Rhine, numerous Dragonlance novels, Watershed, Chaos War, and Seven Circles series) tell us about what and how all this real history happened. You cannot make up fiction to match what happened in Ramadi. The narrative follows Deane and his soldiers as they evolve ways to deal with the IEDs and other constant threats, reach out to potential allies, and eventually bring about a complete change in the situation. This is also the Colonel’s highly personal tale, and he holds nothing back emotionally as he loses soldiers and allies. He shares the real wrenching tragedy of having men under his command die following Deane’s order and how battle forever changed the men and their commander. Actions are described in detail. I particularly like Deane’s maxim that if you are an armored commander crouching under fire behind your car with just a pistol, something has gone wrong. Things do go wrong, but successes are achieved. We see from the inside how it affects the men who are fighting an enemy they can only identify after the shooting starts. It could be said that his book is to modern urban warfare what Hans Guderian’s book Panzer Leader was for open field armored combat.
If you ever want to write about or just understand being a soldier, the reality of combat, or the complexity of modern armored warfare, then reading this book is a must. It is well written and a great read. It is also can give any reader insights into what is happening in Iraq yet again today. If this were a fiction book, I would be recommending it as an exciting, suspenseful, and occasionally tragic read.”(Galaxy’s Edge Magazine; April 2016 2016-04-20)
Ramadi Declassified: A Roadmap to Peace in the Most Dangerous City in Iraq. Col. Anthony E. Deane,
USA Ret., with Douglas Niles. Praetorian Books. 432 pages. $28.99
By Lt. Col. James Jay Carafano, U.S. Army retired
Other than being shot at, there is no better way to prepare for war than reading a good book. Ramadi
Declassified is one of them.
Written by retired Col. Anthony E. Deane, this book chronicles the then-lieutenant colonel's combat
tour commanding Task Force Conqueror (1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment) during the height of the
uprising in the Sunni Triangle. Deane was a career armor officer with tours in Germany, Italy, Kosovo
and Operation Desert Storm before being dispatched to pacify Ramadi, Iraq, one of the hottest hot
spots during the post-conflict chaos in that country. Attached to then-Col. Sean MacFarland's brigade
of the 1st Armored Division, Deane's task force conducted operations in Ramadi starting in May 2006
and throughout that summer and fall.
Highlights of the combat activities of Deane's unit are covered in Jim Michaels' A Chance in Hell. In
contrast, Ramadi Declassified is an interpretation of war from a midlevel leader's perspective. Deane
traces his own career while giving a thumbnail background of the geopolitics that led to his task
force's deployment into the middle of a mess.
Deane opens Ramadi Declassified with a telling line that is both painfully accurate and flat wrong.
"In many ways," he writes, "Desert Storm was one of the worst things that ever happened to the United
States military, specifically the Army."
On the one hand, Deane is correct. After the successful 1991 defeat of Saddam Hussein's forces,
expelling them from Kuwait, America's military spent far too much time trying to figure out how to
capitalize on its successes instead of contemplating how to handle other kinds of war it might be
called on to fight.
On the other hand, after Desert Storm, the Army didn't compromise on growing leaders. One
reason-perhaps the reason-our ground forces could adapt to the unanticipated, complex and diverse
challenges of operating in postwar Iraq was the quality of the midlevel officer and NCO leadership.
While Deane delivers a straight-line narrative from the beginning to the end of his battalion's
deployment, at each step of the way there is a key leadership lesson. They are the kinds of lessons
that make leaders effective in fights, whether the battle is an armor duel during Desert Storm,
saving an outpost on the outskirts of an Iraqi city, or some unknowable future conflict.
Lesson No. 1: Train. Training is the pastime of a peacetime Army, but in peacetime training, what is
often neglected is emphasizing the importance of training in theater after deployment. In-theater
training is often one of the most important factors in closing the gap between the war we prepare for
and the one we fight.
While Deane's battalion staged in Kuwait before being dumped into the Ramadi cauldron, he made
training job No. 1. In the book, he recalls a picture from his last combat tour in Iraq-an anguished
soldier whose squad mate had been killed by friendly fire.
"For the next fourteen years, I kept a copy of that photo in my office desk drawer as a visible
reminder of what happens to untrained units. . Upon returning from Desert Storm, I swore to myself
that if I ever had the opportunity to command a battalion, my unit would train every minute possible
before entering combat."
Lesson No. 2: Lead. Showing up for battle without solid leaders is like operating without a doctor.
Deane had little knowledge of the brigade commander he'd be serving under before they came under
"Tony, I don't know you," MacFarland told Deane, "but the Army made you a battalion commander, so you
have my unwavering trust." Deane was caught "flat-footed," he recalled; with that one comment,
"MacFarland had displayed more combat leadership than I had experienced from my battalion commander
in Desert Storm, or my brigade commander during the previous six months in Kuwait combined. Here was
a senior Army officer who trusted his subordinates at face value. It was a refreshing change."
Lesson No. 3: Faith. "In the peacetime Army," Deane writes, "officers become convinced if they do
everything right in battle, the results will be minimal casualties." The brutal reality, as Deane
learned firsthand, is that "sometimes the enemy gets lucky or is just better than we are."
Lesson No. 4: Talent. The organizational chart doesn't necessarily tell you who the real leaders at
the front will be when the shooting starts. Team Dealer was the task force's pointy end of the spear,
going from house to house searching for intelligence, arms, bad guys and friends. One of Deane's
natural-born leaders was a Team Dealer platoon leader, 2nd Lt. Perfecto Sanchez, one of several young
soldiers who "performed at a stellar level in the most dangerous city in the world," Deane writes.
Lesson No. 5: Tactics. In part, Iraq has left an ambivalent legacy on the American Army because of
circular debate over counterinsurgency tactics. Deane's battalion practiced the basics of good
tactics-finding the stuff that works in the place you are fighting. The tactics of his battalion in
Ramadi might not be a prescription for how to handle the next insurgency, but they are a useful case
study in how to learn what works and then make it work.
Today, America's Army is doubly cursed. It has to relearn how to fight and decisively win
conventional conflicts such as Desert Storm, but it can't forget the hard-won experience of how to
fight truly messy wars as in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is a thread of wisdom in Ramadi
Declassified. If good leaders take it to heart, it will prepare them for both kinds of conflicts and
everything in between.
Lt. Col. James Jay Carafano, USA Ret., a 25-year Army veteran, is a Heritage Foundation vice
president in charge of the think tank's policy research in defense and foreign affairs.
About the Author
Colonel (R) Tony Deane is a veteran of the Cold War, Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Operation Joint Guardian (Kosovo), and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served in numerous armor and cavalry leadership positions for over 28 years. In June of 2005, he assumed command of the 1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment, Task Force Conqueror and, in May of 2006, deployed his battalion to Ramadi, Iraq.Task Force Conqueror fought in the Battle of Ramadi throughout the summer and fall of 2006, and was instrumental in fostering the development of the Anbar Awakening. His unit’s actions in Iraq are highlighted in the documentary, 'Ramadi: Against the Odds', and in the book, A Chance in Hell by Jim Michaels (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2011).Colonel Deane finished his career at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas as the senior trainer for the Army’s Counterinsurgency Seminar. His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Parachutist Badge and the Combat Action Badge. He lives in Melbourne, FL with his wife, Debora.
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I found the book fascinating for multiple reasons. It covered the decisive operations around Ramadi, where the Anbar Awakening started. Victory couldn't come solely from American arms, but it was impossible without them. it was the combination of US security efforts, the willingness of the Anbar sheiks to throw in with the coalition, and eventually the growing ability of Iraq's internal security forces to cumulatively defeat the murderous Al Qaeda forces that were controlling the region. This account details the challenges, choices, and factors that had to be dealt with in conducting this months-long campaign. It showcases the skill, spirit, and bulldog tenacity of the modern US fighting man, while also showing the courage and effectiveness of the Iraqi security forces as they gradually gained the capacity to conduct tactical operations on their own.
Full of lessons learned, TTP's, and fascinating anecdotal examples of modern COIN fighting. I would recommend this book for all combat leaders who want to understand how COIN theory actually gets implemented in an actual combat scenario.
Proud Gold Star Father of an America Soldier and Hero.
Gary W. Swanson