The Longest Year: Leadership in the Iraq War

By | February 26, 2021

[February 26, 2021]  At 11 years of age, I joined the Boy Scouts.  Among other things, they taught me to be prepared.  We also learned the Boy Scout oath and the Scout Law.  If we ever had any doubts about what values were important, each scout core value was reviewed weekly in our meetings.

This article is the first in a series of posts that I am using to discuss senior leadership.  I will use the War in Iraq to illustrate that leadership is the essential element to success.  Whether we speak of war, business, politics, or diplomacy, leadership is the single most significant factor that leads to success.

Being Prepared:

When notified about my second tour of duty in Iraq, I had only one week to prepare myself and kids.  This tour would not be as hard on them as my first tour; they knew what to expect by this time.  It would, however, be an enormous challenge for me and those I served with in III Corps.  This would be the longest year, the longest year of our lives.

The U.S. military’s largest fighting element is an Army Corps.  III Corps task was to provide the central element to the fight in Iraq.  It was augmented by a large number of additional personnel (military and civilian) and equipment.  The Corps’ capacity to lead the fight in Iraq would be greatly improved.  One way they achieved this expansion of capability was by bringing in highly experienced senior officers and NCOs.

Dedicated, Intelligent, and Experienced:

We were fortunate that so many dedicated, intelligent, and experienced leaders would provide this expanded capacity’s central element.  I was impressed with the quality of these men and women.  They were hard-working and focused, yet understanding of the human element of leadership.  If you needed something, they got it for you.  I was and remain honored that I witnessed so many great leaders do so much for so many.

Never before had I experienced being part of the best of the best of what America and its Coalition partners could field in a combat arena.  It worked.  With new direction and guidance from General Odierno, it didn’t take long for a plan to develop to stop the terrible violence that plagued the Sunni-Shia divide in Iraq.

The coalition was prepared.  Putting into place qualified leaders, those nation-states’ political leaders gave their brightest and best.  Now, it was time to put them to good use in the fight in the War on Terror.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

24 thoughts on “The Longest Year: Leadership in the Iraq War

  1. Army Vet

    Great article, Gen. Satterfield. Like other readers here, I look forward to reading more.

  2. Wendy Holmes

    This is a great description of our military. God save them from harm.
    “We were fortunate that so many dedicated, intelligent, and experienced leaders would provide this expanded capacity’s central element. “

  3. Kenny Foster

    I certainly hope that Gen. Satterfield is willing to name names for us. Some of these military personnel went far, like Gen. Odierno and Gen. Petraeus. Others did not. Let’s see who did what, when, and how. If possible, without violating some secrecy act. I look forward to this series.

    1. Jeff Blackwater

      Kenny, right! I almost missed this article, but glad I went searching. Now, to see those names in print.

  4. Frank Graham

    Best of luck with this new series of yours Gen. Satterfield. I know that it will be great.

    1. Forrest Gump

      Yeah, I agree. Knowing what I know about this website, it will be great. I am especially looking forward to the “political” issues that our soldiers on the ground had to face. I knew a lot of politicians who were working against our military personnel to deprive them of support back home (reminiscent of the Vietnam War – all Democrats – just the facts).

  5. Mr. T.J. Asper

    Super! Look out folks, be prepared, get ready, Gen. Satterfield is ready to tell tales and let the skeletons out of the closet. Honestly, I think he will be giving us the good news and, with some luck, the bad news as well. As he has told us over and over, you can learn as much or more from bad leaders. I am ready!

  6. Chuck USA

    ” At 11 years of age, I joined the Boy Scouts. Among other things, they taught me to be prepared.” I know a lot of adults who have never figured this out.

    1. JT Patterson

      You and all the rest of us, as well, Chuck. Where have you been. We miss your wit and charm. 😊 …. and patriotism.

      1. Arizona Man

        Good point Chuck USA. Sooooo many adults, esp. young adults have a complete lack of understanding of how the government works or even how elections work. My point is, that our people are totally unprepared to function properly in our society. Prepare? No.

  7. Dennis Mathes

    Hi Gen. Satterfield, I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for more of this new series.

  8. Anya B.

    “Dedicated, Intelligent, and Experienced,” and let’s add HONEST to boot. Without honesty and integrity, they are just great leaders but not necessarily moral leaders. Just thinking a little here.

    1. Tom Bushmaster

      Yes, that does appear to be, at least in my opinion, the very thing missing in so many politicians who claim to “care about the little guy,” but in fact do everything to oppose the “little guy.” They say it’s all about the children but policies by so many politicians, esp. Democrat politicians, have the opposite impact. Sounds good but fails every time. Just like Marxism.

      1. Rowen Tabernackle

        You mean Joe Biden and KAMala Harris (or in reality they are not in charge but have a bunch of SJWs circulating around making ALL the real decisions. Occasionally they will trot out Slow Joe Dementia Biden just to remind us who is president (small “p”).

  9. Stacey Borden

    Wow, looks like we are in for a treat here at Gen. Satterfield’s leadership blog. I’m not sure how long or how often, Gen. S. will be published new content on ‘leadership in the Iraq War,’ but I’m sure we will learn something valuable. I took notice that you will be naming names as well. Good. Sometimes, we can be too politically correct to do so.

    1. rjsmithers

      Yes, and another reason that I read this blog daily (well, almost daily). And, as well, I gain something to add to my “leadership rucksack” (to use Gen. Satterfield’s terminology). 👍 Looking forward to more.

  10. Army Captain

    Gen. Satterfield, great job. I look forward to the rest of your series.

    1. Rev. Michael Cain

      Army Captain, I think I speak for others in the forums that we all are also looking for you to add to this discussion and give us your experiences as well. This will make for a much richer addition to these articles. While I think your input is great, I also encourage others here with or without military experience to add as well. This is the whole point of these forums anyway.

      1. Valkerie

        Good point Rev Cain and thank you for posting this important – overlooked – idea. “WE” are the ones who also make learning leadership content work, not someone else. We are responsible to insure we are prepared, not someone else.


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