In the weeks prior to the launch of Breaking Iraq, MilSuccessNet entered into conversations with its co-author, Ted Spain, Retired Colonel, US Army. Our ongoing exchanges dealt with transition from military life and finding perspective on what happened in the decade covered by the book. The book launched on the 19th day of March, the 10th anniversary of the war in Iraq.
Today’s Wow-Words on Wednesdays, features:
- How he came to write the book Breaking Iraq
- Why it couldn’t have been written before
- Quest for leadership and ethics
Col. Spain responded to our question: How did you come to write the book.His generous and insightful response to us began with words similar to those he has since offered to other writers, other media interested in the deep why of the book’s existence.
Most especially, we all want to know why he felt compelled to wait this long to share his truth, his perspective. And so now we begin… in his own words…..
What finally moved you to write this book Colonel Spain?
I wrote because I have personal information I feel few others have. The ones that do, likely won’t report it because it will make them look bad. I want Breaking Iraq to be a historical record that can be used for research by others that are attempting to prevent these mistakes in the future.
I would have been incapable of writing this when I first retired over eight years ago, I was simply too close to the issues I discuss in the book, and didn’t have the benefit of seeing what others were saying. In many cases they were simply trying to justify their actions.
Can it be taken as a step in the process of transition?
…..I also wrote it to document what happened, including my analysis of the events, with the benefit of hindsight. The plan to wage the war was phenomenal, and the conduct of the ground war was historical. The timing on when to launch the war was a challenge.
We knew we were going to win the war, we just didn’t know how to win the peace.
The years have allowed me to step back, and review the events from a distance.
As you will see in Breaking Iraq, I accept responsibilities for my mistakes. It also gives the commanders and the soldiers under me the credit they deserve, because they performed miracles without adequate equipment, personnel and a clear mission.
Are there lessons you want these powerful experiences to transmit?
Americans should always insist on a strong military, which must consist of strong, ethical leaders.
No military plan survives the first contact with the enemy; therefore military leaders must call an audible at the line.
They must possess adaptive leadership ability and the military must never stop trying to purge itself of toxic leaders. If we don’t learn from the mistakes in Breaking Iraq we will repeat them.
What can you say to our readers, some of whom are Military Police?
This is hard stuff and the next time we liberate the people of an oppressed nation, they will need a legitimate police force as soon as possible. The local police are what most Americans count on everyday to keep them safe.
Readers of Breaking Iraq will take away lessons such as those of: Leadership and ethics, the necessity for a strong post war plan, a need to understand the culture of the citizens and more.
Our military is the greatest military that has ever existed for many reasons, but to remain that way they must always have strong, ethical leaders. My leadership ability, and my ethics, was tested daily. I want readers to reflect on their leadership and their ethics.
Ted Spain is an inductee into both the US Army Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame and the US Army Military Police Regimental Hall of Fame. Before joining the Army he was a police officer in Greenville, North Carolina.
In the Army he served in key leadership positions, culminating as Commander of the 18th Military Police Brigade during the ground war and first year of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
MilSuccessNet’s earliest interview was with Teresa Grace who was a female MP who served in Col. Spain’s brigade. She was one of those awarded a Bronze Star with V for Valor and a Purple Heart as a result of her actions in a famous ambush and firefight.
Col. Spain speaks on the presence of women under his command in this radio interview. He also addresses the Karbala firefight in which a number of service members were lost, and the highest ranking officer died as of that date in the war in Iraq. (Scroll to select #40 Ted Spain)