September 28, 2006

 

"We just didn't understand what was going on, and we couldn't coordinate our own people"

I just came across an article about an Army Reserve Captain I hadn't heard about before: A. Heather Coyne. "She arrived in Baghdad with the 354th Civil Affairs Brigade in April 2003 ..." "Having earned a degree in strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, Coyne was working on counterterrorism and Special Operations issues at the White House's Office of Management and Budget when she decided to join the Army Reserve. ... Army recruiters weren't exactly thrilled with her inquiry ... especially because she wanted an unusual direct commission to be an officer in civil affairs, specializing in the interaction of military units with the local civilian population, especially in peacekeeping and similar missions. ... After two years, and an appeal from the White House to a general at the Pentagon, Coyne was allowed to join the Army in 1999. ... When 9/11 hit, Coyne was studying Arabic at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif. ... on her own dime, she polished her language training in Cairo and got ready to deploy. She was an enthusiastic supporter of the invasion back then. ... Coyne's first suspicion that the occupation wouldn't go as she hoped came on her first mission, which involved looking into the possible theft of archaeological finds. She came away worried by the confusion inside the U.S. military about the task and how to do it. 'We just didn't understand what was going on, and we couldn't coordinate our own people,' she remembered." "... the summer of 2003, ... she transferred to the Coalition Provisional Authority, ..." "'It wasn't until the fall of 2003 that I really began thinking, 'This is a disaster -- we are never going to pull this together,'' she said. 'It was amateur hour.'" "For Coyne, the breaking point came in the spring of 2004, when news of the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal emerged. ... Coyne was approached by the U.S. Institute of Peace -- an independent conflict resolution office sponsored by the federal government -- to run its Baghdad office and work on reducing sectarian violence through dialogue. She did that for the 18 months, ..." So I guess she must have been on Col. Matthew Bogdanos's team investigating the looting of the National Museum in Baghdad in 2003? She doesn't seem to cherish the memory though... Another piece of the puzzle.

Source
• Th.E. Ricks, "The Road to Disillusionment. Army Reserve Captain 'Anxious and Depressed' Over Iraq," in The Washington Post, September 20, 2006



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