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Waging Peace: A Special Operations Team's Battle to Rebuild Iraq Hardcover – June 23, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Veteran war correspondent Schultheis (Night Letters: Inside Wartime Afghanistan) spent six months in Iraq with an Army Civil Affairs Team, a highly trained, elite unit whose primary objective is rebuilding war-torn regions. Despite the overwhelming need for such soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, the army has only a single active-duty Civil Affairs Battalion, and the overwhelming majority of the 5,000 Civil Affairs soldiers are in the army reserves. The dedicated professionals of Civil Affairs Team A-13 featured here are a disparate group of civilian soldiers. Led by a former Special Forces major, the team includes an ex–Peace Corps volunteer, a California surfer girl, a former Marine sniper with a heart of gold and "Fat Larry," an accountant from middle America. Civil Affairs soldiers never initiate combat, but it finds them often enough. As they go about rebuilding schools, repairing sewers and setting up mobile walk-in medical clinics, they also must dodge roadside bombs, snipers and mortars. Schultheis quickly bonds with Team A-13 and celebrates their small victories against difficult odds in a surreal environment, delivering warm character studies and tense highway encounters. And he ends up making a terrific case for a full update of the Marshall Plan. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Rob Schultheis is the author of four previous books, including the acclaimed Night Letters: Inside Wartime Afghanistan. His screenplay credits include Seven Years in Tibet, and his articles have appeared in Time, The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, and Smithsonian. He is also a dedicated aid worker and human-rights investigator.
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UPDATE: SSG PAUL WAS KIA IN KABUL ON 8 SEP 06. HE WAS PART OF OF THE 425TH CA IN IRAQ AND VOLUNTEERED FOR A SECOND TOUR WITH ANOTHER UNIT IN AFGHANISTAN. GOD BLESS SSG PAUL.
The Department of Defense announced the death of two soldiers, who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died in Kabul, Afghanistan, on September 8, when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near their HMMWV. Both soldiers were assigned to the Army Reserve's 405th Civil Affairs Battalion, Fort Bragg, N.C. Killed were: Sgt. 1st Class Merideth L. Howard, 52, of Alameda, California and Staff Sgt. Robert J. Paul, 43, of The Dalles, Oregon.
As Oregonians, we take the death of each of our soldiers quite personally. As we bid farewell to another, it is important to remember the man he was and the family he left behind.
Staff Sgt Robert J Paul, an Army Reservist, was assigned to the 364th Civil Affairs Brigade, HHC, based in Portland, Oregon. These units serve as the main liaison between the military and the civilian populations of the country where the military is operating.
SSG Paul was originally from Hammond, Indiana. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya from 1987-1989. He earned a Master's Degree in Urban Planning and Economic Development in 1995 from the University of Maryland. He joined the Army Reserve in April 1997. In 1998, He began working for the City of The Dalles, Oregon as an associate planner and became the senior planner. In 2001, he joined the Wasco County Planning Department as the senior land-use planner.
SSG Paul was a great lover of the wilderness and an avid kayaker. "Bob loved this area so much. He moved out here because he loved the west, he loved Oregon, and he loved the gorge (the Columbia River Gorge). He was very much into hiking and trailrunning and whitewater kayaking, all the outdoor experience," said Todd Cornett, Planning director.
In early 2004, SSG Paul was called to active duty and sent to Iraq to help build infrastructure, focusing on urban planning. He was deployed to Afghanistan in Spring of 2006. While in Iraq, he wrote, "It was pretty obvious what was broken and rundown. Saddam did absolutely no maintenance to his cities. Everything was broken or about to break. I had expected to do a lot of repair from military actions. Not at all. Those buildings were, for the most part, destroyed. I was performing maintenance and repair on systems that were not maintained for decades. They were also poorly designed. Naturally, I worked with community groups and the like to get projects aimed at what civilians wanted most rather than what I thought they should want most."
In a statement released by the Army, his family said, "Bob was the kind of guy, who if called for duty, would serve. he never turned down an opportunity because he always wanted to make a difference in everything he did -- the Peace Corps, the Army, his civilian job and, most importantly, his family and friends."
SSG Robert Paul is survived by his daughter, Ilena; mother and father, Esther and Sheldon; and sisters, Monica and Debra.
As we say farewell and God Speed to SSG Robert Paul, we value what he sacrificed for us and what he gave to so many while he was here.
And on the tables at bookstores I find books talking about how we are failing, and failing disastrously in Iraq. But these books are right next to the ones that say we are being extremely successful in restoring democracy in Iraq. (Kind of like the stacks of anti-Bush books just before the election, right next to the pro-Bush book stacks.) (I wonder if the stacks of books have the same authors.)
Once in a while you find a book like this one. It's isn't strident in either direction. Instead it reports on what one small unit of soldiers is doing in Iraq to make it a better place. This fits pretty closely with the reports that I've received from the few Iraqi people that I've met.
This is the story of Civil Affairs Team-A 13 (CAT-A 13) as they help to rebuild a war-ravaged area. They represent the absolute best that our country has to offer, and it's great to see that they get some of the recognition that they deserve.
This book won't change the minds of the stridents on either side, but for those of us interested in what's really going on it's good to hear.
Waging Peace relates the story of a small team of Army soldiers who carry a big burden in their operating area: restore water, sewer, schools, electricity and trash pick-up. Plus, build better relations with the government, the mosques, and the police. Oh, yeah, and the gun slingers are not going to give you much security, if any.
Especially right after the invasion, most of our effort in rebuilding Iraq came from Army Civil Affairs -- before the State Department and International Agencies really got started on the big projects. These Civil Affairs teams were critical to the impression that the Iraqis had of us.
Rob Schultheis does a great job of telling the story of one small team. Thing is, he could write two or three more books on the same subject and they would be different -- because each team and each neighborhood is so different. This team was a great one and their story is interesting. Major Clark and Sergeant Paul are true heroes to Iraqis and Americans.