Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Understanding Iraq

Retired Navy captain and SEAL authors book on insurgency warfare

Express Staff Writer

Soldiers in the capital city of al-Anbar Province, Iraq. Photo by

Retired SEAL and U.S. Naval Reserve Capt. Dick Couch has penned his 12th book, "Sheriff of Ramadi: Navy SEALS and the Winning of al-Anbar," to be released this fall. Couch is not only a best-selling author on military special operations, he is able to connect the small population of the Wood River Valley to the war in Iraq without being political.

As a sneak preview into his latest book, Couch will give a lecture, "The Lessons of Ramadi: Anatomy of a Counterinsurgency," at the Community Library in Ketchum on Thursday, May 1, at 6 p.m.

Couch's military resume begins with his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1967. He then served with the Navy Underwater Demolition and SEAL Teams and led one of the only successful POW rescue operations of the Vietnam War.

In 1972 he joined the Central Intelligence Agency and served as a maritime operations officer. In 1997 he retired from the Naval Reserve, but had already begun his writing career in 1990. He is often a guest on National Public Radio and several other talk shows, as well as having appeared on "The O'Reilly Factor" with Bill O'Reilly, "Hardball" with Chris Matthews and on the MSNBC nightly news with Brian Williams. He also served as an analyst for Fox TV, MSNBC TV and ABC radio during combat operations in Iraq. He continues to lecture at the Naval Academy, the Naval Special Warfare Center, the JFK Special Forces School and the FBI Academy on issues of character development and the "warrior ethic."

"I will talk about the history of counterinsurgency warfare, how it became so bad, why it does work and how we can do it in other places," Couch said. "I want people to understand what insurgency is and how it came about in Iraq and what we have done right and what we have done wrong."

Couch said his latest book focuses on the capital city of al Anbar province in 2006, which was the most dangerous city in Iraq for U.S. soldiers. A year later, in August 2007, it turned around.

"Al-Qaida was leading the insurgency," Couch said. "They were brutal and barbaric about it. The Sunni tribesman were taking over, the leaders stood up and fought al-Qaida. We had people on the ground and we helped them achieve a result."

Couch and his wife, Julia, have been Ketchum residents for 10 years. He is a writer, but is very close to the military and special operations community.

"It is not hard for me to step back and look at things," Couch said. "These are professional warriors and they choose this line of work. It's the life they choose."

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