One Tribe at a Time
A Soldier’S journey of diScovery
Anytime I receive instruction from anyone, listen to someone speak, or read an article written by some- one, my rst question always is: Who are you? Why is what you are saying relevant? What is your back- ground? What are your experiences? What are you getting out of what you are doing or saying or selling?
So here are my answers to those questions. What do I consider my greatest military accomplishment?
at I and the men I have trained and fought with
have won 20 awards for valor. Twenty. at is a truly remarkable number. I had a great ODA (Operational Detachment Alpha) 316 in Afghanistan as part of the 3rd Special Forces Group. We fought together for several years in Afghanistan. We fought in the Konar and Helmand Provinces in early 2003 and again 2004.
I then spent two years on a Special Projects team before returning to Iraq as the rst American combat advisor for an Iraqi National Police Quick Reaction Force (QRF) battalion. Our mission was to kill and capture terrorists anywhere in the country. I won a Silver Star and the Iraqi National Police Medal of Honor while ghting alongside my Iraqi brothers in 2006 and 2007 when Iraq was the most dangerous place on earth.
have fought with great warriors against worthy ene- mies in both Iraq and Afghanistan. We fought with exceptional bravery and courage at every turn, but we always fought smartly and were always prepared for the challenges we faced.
is paper represents only a small portion of what
ODA 316 accomplished in Afghanistan. It’s my story of the tribal engagement between myself and Malik Noorafzhal, my team and the rest of his tribe.
We must work rst and forever with the tribes, for they are the most important military, political and cultural unit in that country. e tribes are self- contained ghting units who will ght to the death for their tribal family’s honor and respect. eir intel- ligence and battleeld assessments are infallible. eir loyalty to family and friends is beyond question.
My unit and I became family members with Malik Noorafzhal’s tribe. is is my story of what we accomplished as a family in mutual respect and purpose. I’m oering our experience as a blueprint for success.
ere is no doubt it could be done again.
I spent the next two years as an unconventional warfare (UW) instructor in the nal phase of Special Forces training. After much red tape I was overjoyed to receive orders to return to Afghanistan in the summer of 2009 to once again spend time with the Afghan people and ght the Taliban. at is when I began writing this paper. A few days before leaving, I was informed that I would not be returning—I would be going to the 1st Armored Division to work on a transition team for a return trip to Iraq.
My experiences since 9/11 have been incredible. I
MAjor jiM gAnt united StAteS ArMy SpeciAl forceS
We demonstrated month in and month out that a small effective fighting force could unite with an Afghan tribe, become trusted and respected brothers-in-arms with their leaders and families, and make a difference in the US effort in Afghanistan. In doing so, we discovered what I believe to be the seed of enduring success in that country.