|Task Force Patriot tells the story of an artillery-turned-infantry
battalion that arrived in Iraq in late summer 2009 to take over as the
last US combat force to occupy Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit.
Iraq in 2009 was a strange netherworld, not quite war but not yet peace.
The country teetered on the threshold of great change--the impending
national elections and the promised withdrawal of all US combat forces.
These changes would usher in either an era of irreversible stability or
a return to the sectarian carnage that nearly destroyed Iraq in 2006.
Task Force Patriot faced determined resistance on the battlefield,
including a shadowy order of Sufi militants that fought to restore
Saddam’s Ba’ath Party and the still very dangerous remnants of al Qaeda
in Iraq. They also faced resistance from squabbling Sunni politicians
and Ba’ath Party subversives operating from within the Iraqi government.
Task Force Patriot also had to navigate the competing military and state
department visions for the endgame in Iraq. At the same time, as
adjacent units redeployed ahead of President Obama’s 31 August 2010
deadline to end combat operations, Task Force Patriot expanded to cover
an area the size of New Jersey containing over a million Iraqis.
Despite resistance from insurgents, intransigent Iraqi politicians, and,
occasionally, the US interagency team, Task Force Patriot found itself
in a position to not only improve conditions in its area, but solve the
last unsettled problem of the Iraq war, the sectarian divide. Task Force
Patriot, through the confluence of lucky circumstances and innovative
thinking, had stumbled upon a unique approach--a combination of hardball
politics, economic investment, and a nuanced application of force--that
could potentially end Sunni separatism in Iraq.
About the Author
Pat Proctor is a US Army field artillery lieutenant colonel with over
eighteen years of active service. In 2007, he served in Iraq as a member of
General Petraeus’ and Ambassador Crocker’s Joint Strategic Assessment
Team, mapping the future for post-surge Iraq. Pat returned for a second
tour, in Northern Iraq, as a battalion operations officer in the 1st
Infantry Division. He is currently deployed to Afghanistan as the chief
of plans for the 1st Infantry Division.
He holds masters of military arts and sciences for strategy and
theater operations from the US Command and General Staff College and the
School of Advanced Military Studies, respectively. He is currently a
doctoral student in history at Kansas State University.
Pat’s recent publications include “Message versus Perception during
the Americanization of the Vietnam War” (The Historian, Spring 2011),
“Fighting to Understand: A Practical Example of Design at the Battalion
Level” (Military Review, March-April 2011), and “The Mythical Shi’a
Crescent” (Parameters, Spring 2008 and
Iran International Times, 23 May
To learn more about Pat Proctor and his other works,