McClatchy has visited Kirkuk and offers us another treat, a portrait of COL David Paschal, the ranking U.S. officer in the city. Paschal, 46, is the quintessential COIN soldier: bold, clever and crazy enough to try stuff ordinary infantry officers wouldn’t dream of:
A few months back, to test his military police officers, he donned a dishdasha — the flowing robe that soldiers call a ‘man dress’ — and parked himself in a detainee cell on base. After hurling water, food and insults through the bars at guards, he fought fiercely for several seconds before five of them tackled him and flex-cuffed his hands and feet. ‘You want some more or you had enough?’ he joked with the men later, as he palmed prized unit coins into their hands.
Of course, there is a flipside to a type A personality:
A Kurdish Iraqi army major angered Paschal so much by failing to induct some 200 Sunni Arabs into basic training — men badly needed if the Iraqi army is to stand up while Americans stand down — that he stomped out of his office without farewell or handshake. He also refused to ride in two air-conditioned SUVs that the major provided and walked the half-mile back to his own vehicles in 108-degree heat. ‘He’s a pretty boy,’ he fumed about the major.
Despite the antics — or because of them — Paschal and his brigade of the 10th Mountain Division have by all accounts become as popular in the divided city as Americans can be. A lesson to be learned here.