Bob Ingrassia

The Bald Truth About Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno

April 23, 2008 · 1 Comment

105_0550_r1_4Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno takes over for Gen. David Patraeus as top U.S. commander in Iraq. Odierno’s been in country since April 2003. Back then, he led the 4th Infantry Division, which originally was supposed to invade Iraq from Turkey as part of a north-south punch into Baghdad.

When Turkey balked at becoming a staging ground for U.S. troops, the 4th ID rerouted its big guns through the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf to Kuwait. The delay cost the 4th ID a chance at glory. The division was still sighting its cannons in the deserts of northern Kuwait when the heavy fighting went down. By the time the 4th ID brought up the rear into Baghdad, the Marines, the 3rd ID and others had done the heavy lifting against Saddam Hussein’s forces. I saw some of the 4th ID’s work as an embedded reporter with the New York Daily News. I was attached to the "divisional tactical" unit, the HQ group from which Odierno and his top aides directed operations.

I left Iraq just as Odierno’s 4th ID was  moving up into Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit. I never knew until I read "Fiasco" by Washington Post reporter Thomas Ricks that Odierno would become known as a hard-core general who essentially liked his guys to shoot first and ask questions later. According to Ricks, Odierno shunned the touchy-feely tactics that might have won over a few hearts and minds early in the post-invasion period.

105_0549_3 Above is a picture I took of Odierno in April 2003 at Saddam International Airport, since renamed Baghdad International Airport, where the 4th ID and just about everybody else set up shop after the invasion. A nice head shave before a hard day’s work rounding up a few "dead enders."   

Categories: Uncategorized

1 response so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment