Iraq Full Circle, Col Darron L. Wright

Iraq Full Circle, Col Darron L. Wright

Iraq Full Circle, Col Darron L. Wright

Iraq Full Circle, Col Darron L. Wright

Colonel Darron L. Wright is a US Army officer who served throughout the war in Iraq, in combat, leadership and training roles. He served on three tours of Iraq, one just after the start of the invasion, one at the start of the insurgency and one at the very end of the American ground involvement, when he took part in the final US patrol, which took him from Baghdad to Kuwait. In the two gaps he was still involved in the war, serving in an important training role. This book is based around his personal experiences of the war in Iraq, although he also looks at the wider pictures and events in the country when he was absent. As a result this is both a memoir and a history of the war.

At first I found the book to be a little jargon-heavy and scattered with acronyms, but one soon gets used to them, and eventually it becomes clear that this is one of the book's great strengths. The names and phrases used by the US military at different phases of the war tell us a lot about their attitude to the conflict at each period. They also give us a flavour of the world in which the US soldier operates.

This is a thoughtful book. Wright isn't content to simply narrate the course of the war or his role in it, but is far more interested in examining how the US fought the war, what mistakes they made and how they were overcome. He is in a very strong position to do this, having served in front line combat and as a senior officer in Iraq and also as the commander of a US based training unit. In this second role he took part in the change of doctrine from combat operations to well designed counter-insurgency operations. He is willing to acknowledge when the US strategy was at fault (even when individual operations that he was involved in were successful within their own terms of reference but had a negative impact on the wider war). Key to this is his understanding of what would count as a victory in Iraq - the creation of a relatively stable country that would survive the removal of American troops, and the avoidance of heavy handed tactics that might win short term victories over one group of insurgents but at the same time act as a recruiting agent for their replacements.

Many books written this close in time to a conflict by an officer who took part can be one sided or too close to the action, thus lacking perspective. This is not the case here - Wright had done an excellent job of examining the strengths and weaknesses of the US military in Iraq and the political leadership back in the US (pointing to mistakes and achievements of both the Bush and Obama administrations). This is, and will remain a very valuable history of the war in Iraq.

Chapters
1 - Background Briefing - The Army Prior to September 11, 2001
2 - The Road to War - September 2001-March 2003
3 - Shock & Awe - The Invasion Begins, March-May 2003
4 - Transition to Phase IV - Postinvasion Operations, June-August 2003
5 - An Insurgency Takes Root - August 2003-March 2004
6 - On the Brink of Civil War - March 2004-October 2006
7 - The Surge - November 2006-June 2009
8 - 'Wahid' Iraq - June 2009-March 2012
9 - Ballots over Bullets - Iraqi 2010 National Elections, March-July 2010
10 - The Last Combat Patrol - Tactical Road March out of Iraq into Kuwait, July-August 2010

Author: Col Darron L. Wright
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 320
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2012



Review: Oh, the Stories They Tell in ‘Our Best War Stories’

For five years the nonprofit literary journal Line of Advance has organized a writing contest for service members and military veterans in memory of Army officer Darron Wright, who died in a training accident in 2013 — only a year after Osprey published Iraq Full Circle, his personal history of the war.

This year the competition widened and accepted submissions by military family members, with the continued and laudable underwriting by the Blake and Bailey Family Fund.

And this year, all the “best” submissions are in print in Our Best War Stories: Prize-Winning Poetry & Prose from the Col. Darron L. Wright Memorial Awards.

Our Best War Stories collects the entries in one volume of 18 works of prose and 18 poems. The 36 works offer a range of human experience and literary prowess, in different voices and styles — some more distinctive than others. The “Prose” category does not differentiate between fiction or nonfiction, although only one story seems to be nonfiction.

Two of the stories already have publishing pedigrees, an indication of the value of the journal’s recognizing nascent writers — even those who didn’t get to first place. Here is a look at the pair and at some of the other standout content:

  • Ray McPadden’s third-place 2017 short story demonstrates why his 2018 novel, And the Whole Mountain Burned, was noticed by major publisher Hachette. This reviewer called the Ranger veteran’s suspenseful book “an achievement that can be read as metaphor or mystery” or both, complete with an apocalyptic ending. His “Village with No Name” conveys the frustration of trying to reciprocate a lifesaving favor in Iraq, where the Army is as good as its word — unless another soldier comes through the village.
  • Also from 2017, Dewaine Farria’s second-place “Walking Point” shows the promise achieved this year when the Marine veteran was selected as the first recipient of the Veterans Writing Award inaugurated by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families and Syracuse University Press. His story, about a Vietnam veteran who is deputy warden at an Oklahoma prison and a mentor to three teenage boys, hints at what to expect in Revolutions of All Colors, his novel due for release in late December. This reviewer knows what he wants from Santa.

War Stories also makes you anticipate more fiction from Maj. Brian Kerg, a Marine who has two works in the collection. “October’s Daughter” (2018, third-place prose) illustrates the personal and professional stress of duty in Afghanistan, with a stunner flashback set at a California beach and with a sense of humor:

“One of the Marines had written ‘Trick or Treat!’ in the top-left corner of the map, and added a crudely drawn penis. This was the art only my tribe could produce.”

Also, hope to see more from Navy spouse Amy Zaranek, whose “Countdown to Deployment” (2020, second-place prose) allows you to empathize with a spouse’s anxiety. “Your mind races on the morning of Day Three, which may now be Day Two or Four or Day 18, and you aren’t sure why you’re keeping track anymore.”

Showing promise too is Travis Klempan, the Naval Academy graduate whose “Rocks for Breakfast” (2018, third-place prose) catches you with an opening line that says To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee is “full of shit.”

Eight of the pieces in the book are by women. Females first crossed the Line in 2019 with Air Force veteran Sarah Maples’ second-place “Good Soldier.” Her poem deftly addresses gender – with irony and a nod to empowerment.

Other poetry in the book is verbally well-powered, including:

  • Army veteran Ryan Stovall’s “No Rolling, Shrink” (2018, first place) conveys a medic’s plight in only 28 lines. Try these three:
    My weary, ribbycart horse sense of self
    preservation implores this pestilence
    sealed up in darkness.
  • Former airman Eric Chandler’s “How Could You Do That” (2019, first place) convinces, with cadence, that “We, the people” means everybody.
  • Veteran soldier Randy Brown, the head of Middle West Press, serves existentialism in a mere 14 lines in “Robert Olen Butler wants nachos” (2019, third place).
  • History permeates the mood of former sailor Colin W. Sargent’s “Maneuvering” (2018, second place), set during a 1946 mission “steaming out of Washington at midnight.”
  • Air Force veteran Laura Joyce-Hubbard’s “Havoc 58” (2020, third place) is dedicated to an aircrew that crashed in Wyoming in 1996 and produces pure, plaintive sorrow as she frankly takes you to the graveside.
    Pilot’s wife, stumbling in grief,
    leans on someone nearby to stand.
    Dressed black-drunk.

Anthology editor Christopher Lyke, fellow Army veteran Matt Marcus, and Army National Guard officer Ryan Quinn started Line as a way to give military writers a place to lean. The book confirms their effort, and the goal of the three wise men is being realized.

Presumably there will be future collections. In them, this reviewer urges Line of Advance to use what’s called a longer (“em”) dash for separating parenthetical phrases rather than this edition’s “en” dash, which can appear to be a hyphen. In the book’s text, words meant to be separated look instead like they are hyphenated.

This point might seem trivial, but punctuation directs reading pace and aids comprehension. The talent published in the anthology is too promising to be distracted by typography.

Our Best War Stories: Prize-Winning Poetry & Prose from the Col. Darron L. Wright Memorial Awards, edited by Christopher Lyke, Middle West Press, 234 pages, $18


Poet is Finalist in Darron L. Wright Awards

Randy Brown, author of the 2015 collection "Welcome to FOB Haiku: War Poems from Inside the Wire," was recently named a poetry finalist in the 2018 Col. Darron L. Wright awards. The award recognizes a new poem that unpacks the phrase "God willing," which is found in multiple languages.

Brown's poem, "Inshallah Mañana," explores the connections of language, as heard with the ears of a citizen-soldier. The soldier first encounters the phrase for "God willing" in his first year of junior high school Spanish, and again in Afghanistan. The phrase is a common one, used in both religious and secular contexts.

You can read Brown's poem in its entirety here.

Administered by the Chicago-based on-line literary journal "Line of Advance," and underwritten by the Blake and Bailey Foundation, the awards commemorate a U.S. Army leader who was killed in a September 2013 parachute training accident.

Wright's full biography appears here.

"Darron L. Wright was a larger than life Soldier’s Soldier. He was a physically imposing, direct, and skilled warrior," the Line of Advance editors wrote when the award was first launched.


Middle West Press

Middle West Press is a Johnston, Iowa-based editor and publisher of non-fiction, fiction, journalism, and poetry. Our projects are often inspired by the people, places, and history of the American Midwest.

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War-Lit Anthology Launches Today!

"This anthology is a perfect introduction to both new and established voices who are writing about wars from Vietnam, to Iraq and Afghanistan—while also exemplifying the increasing diversity of life-experiences that should be included under the big-tent definition of "military writing,'" says Christopher Lyke, editor of the anthology and a founding editor of the Chicago-based literary journal Line of Advance.

"Many of our finalists have gone on to create award-winning books and other projects," says Lyke. "We can't wait to see what's next for them, and for our own ever-more-appropriately named 'Line of Advance!'"

Since 2016, the Col. Darron L. Wright Memorial Writing Awards have annually recognized excellence in prose (includes fiction, non-fiction, and hybrid forms) and poetry by U.S. military service members and veterans. In 2020, organizers announced additional prose and poetry categories for immediate family members of U.S. military service members and veterans.

Cash prizes of $250, $150, and $100 are available in each “service member/veteran” and “family” group, for a total of four categories.

This year’s guest judge for all categories was fiction-writer Katey Schultz, author of the short-story collection Flashes of War (2013) and the Afghan War novel Still Come Home. (2019).

Administered by the Line of Advance, and underwritten by the Blake & Bailey Family Fund, the Wright awards commemorate a U.S. Army leader and author who was killed in a September 2013 parachute training accident. Darron L. Wright, 45, had deployed three times to Iraq, and was author of a 2012 memoir Iraq Full Circle: From Shock and Awe to the Last Combat Patrol in Baghdad and Beyond.

Other project partners included:

Based in Gloucester, England, Battlefield Design offers more than 25 years of graphic design experience and particular expertise in military-themed logos, branding, advertising, brochures, maps, book covers, museum displays, and more. For more information, visit: www.battlefield-design.co.uk

Middle West Press LLC is a Johnston, Iowa-based editor and publisher of non-fiction, fiction, journalism, and poetry, with projects that feature the unique voices of the American Midwest. As an independent micro-press, it publishes one to four titles annually. The Line of Advance Darron L. Wright Awards anthology is the sixth of its titles involving war and military themes. The publisher also provides content and framework for The Aiming Circle community of practice.


Middle West Press

Middle West Press is a Johnston, Iowa-based editor and publisher of non-fiction, fiction, journalism, and poetry. Our projects are often inspired by the people, places, and history of the American Midwest.

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  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Email
  • Other Apps

Anthology to Celebrate Darron L. Wright Awards

Editors of Chicago-based non-profit literary journal Line of Advance have announced a forthcoming print and e-book anthology will collect the winning entries from the first five years (2016-2020) of the annual Col. Darron L. Wright Memorial Writing Awards.

The awards annually recognize excellence in prose and poetry by U.S. military service members and veterans. Cash prizes of $250, $150, and $100 are available in each category.

“The Line of Advance proudly serves as a leading venue for the best of ‘veterans-lit,’ with works by men and women who have served in all uniforms and in all eras,” says the journal’s editor-in-chief Christopher Lyke, who will also edit the anthology. “We are also grateful to the underwriters of our cash prizes, who, through their generosity, help promote creatively crafted veterans’ stories to wider audiences.”

This year’s Darron L. Wright award finalists will be included in the anthology. Submissions for the 2020 Darron L. Wright awards open May 1, 2020 and close May 31, 2020. Winners will be notified not later than Aug. 31, 2020. More details are forthcoming.

The projected release date for “Line of Advance: A Celebration of Darron L. Wright Memorial Awards Finalists, 2016-2020” is Oct. 13, 2020.

Administered by the journal since 2016, and underwritten by the Blake and Bailey Foundation, the awards commemorate a U.S. Army leader and author who was killed in a September 2013 parachute training accident. Darron L. Wright, 45, had deployed three times to Iraq, and was author of a 2012 memoir “Iraq Full Circle: From Shock and Awe to the Last Combat Patrol in Baghdad and Beyond.”

Middle West Press LLC is a Johnston, Iowa-based editor and publisher of non-fiction, fiction, journalism, and poetry, with projects that feature the unique voices of the American Midwest. As an independent micro-press, we publish one to four titles annually. The Line of Advance Darron L. Wright Awards anthology will be the sixth of our titles involving war and military themes.


Poet is Finalist in Darron L. Wright Awards

Randy Brown, author of the 2015 collection "Welcome to FOB Haiku: War Poems from Inside the Wire," was recently named a poetry finalist in the 4th Annual Col. Darron L. Wright awards, for a new work that involves the Buddhist concept of desire in a war-writing context.

"I'm not a Buddhist, but I like to think I've been exposed to some of the basics, via the lives and examples of some of my fellow military veterans," says Brown. "I use this poem to remind me to be mindful and humble, to practice my craft daily and to not want too much. Basically, to take joy in small things—including our shared, flawed humanity."

Administered by the Chicago-based on-line literary journal "Line of Advance," and underwritten by the Blake and Bailey Foundation, the awards commemorate a U.S. Army leader who was killed in a September 2013 parachute training accident.

Brown's poem, "Robert Olen Butler wants nachos" explores the Buddhist concept of desire, through a light-hearted anecdote from the War, Literature & the Arts conference in September 2018. The event took place at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo. The poem invokes the name of Vietnam War veteran Robert Olen Butler, who is author of 12 novels and six short-story collections, and was one of the event's keynote speakers.

You can read the poem in its entirety here.

In the announcement, editors at "Line of Advance" wrote: "[All of this year's submissions exhibited] care and effort and honesty. We received many prose submissions. Some were from regular contributors and some from new voices. The same goes for the poetry submissions."

  • First Place:"How Could You Do That?" by Eric Chandler
  • Second Place:"Good Soldier" by Sarah Maples
  • First Place:"A Jeep to Quang Tri" by William Upton
  • Second Place:"American Spirit" by Bruce Kerg
  • Third Place:"Talisman" by Travis Klempan

Wright was next assigned as brigade executive officer with 4th Brigade, 4th Inf. Div., Fort Hood, Texas, with whom he deployed to Iraq from 2005 to 2006. He commanded the 1st Battalion, 509th Parachute Inf. Reg. at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, La. in 2007. From 2009 to 2013, Wright was assigned as deputy brigade commander for the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Inf. Div., with whom he deployed to Iraq from 2009 to 2010.

Wright's full biography appears here.

"Darron L. Wright was a larger than life Soldier’s Soldier. He was a physically imposing, direct, and skilled warrior," the Line of Advance editors wrote when the award was first launched.


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Credits

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Review

."..comes from an Army officer with three tours of duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom who provides a new assessment of the conflict, believing that the war was a good war fought well. His first-hand survey of the entire eight-year mission in Iraq comes from one who witnessed some of the most intense battles of the war, following the evolution from 'shock and awe' to strategies for handling local violence and counterinsurgency methods. Any collection strong in military history will find this a winning survey." --James A. Cox, "The Midwest Book Review "(January 2013)


Iraq Full Circle, Col Darron L. Wright - History

Colonel Darron L. Wright, USA &ldquohas served in the U.S. Army for 26 years. He earned his Master's degree in Strategic Studies and National Security Decision Making from the Naval War College. Colonel Darron L. Wright is the author of Iraq Full Circle: From Shock and Awe to the Last Combat Patrol in Baghdad and Beyond.

According to the book description of Iraq Full Circle: From Shock and Awe to the Last Combat Patrol in Baghdad and Beyond, &ldquoCol. Wright served three tours of duty in the Iraq War, commanding the last active combat brigade to withdraw from Operation Iraqi Freedom. His book personalizes the broader operational conflict we&rsquove all heard so much about, giving us a previously unknown insider command perspective that will fundamentally change how our nation thinks of the war. For Col Wright, the Iraq war was a good war fought well. In his new book, Iraq Full Circle, he offers a first-hand assessment of the US Army&rsquos eight year war in Iraq.

As battalion operations officer for an infantry battalion from 2003-2004 operating in the dangerous and volatile Sunni Triangle, followed by a tour of duty as a Brigade Executive Officer from 2005-2006 in Baghdad, Wright witnessed some of the harshest fighting seen during the war. He saw the evolution from &lsquoshock and awe&rsquo to the &lsquoclear-hold-build&rsquo strategy during the height of sectarian violence and was on-hand for the transition to COIN followed by the handover of security operations to the Iraqi Security Forces. In August 2010, Wright, as a deputy brigade commander, was among the last combat soldiers to leave Iraq as part of President Obama&rsquos draw-down of troops.

While Wright does not hesitate to criticize the political and military leadership that failed to foresee the insurgency, or the errors in judgment that led to the dismantling of the Iraqi Army in 2003, his overall assessment of the war is that the US Army achieved what it was asked to do by two Presidents. Calling upon his experience&mdashand the examination of thousands of after action reports, combat operations orders, and over 100 interviews&mdashWright pieces together a compelling and cohesive narrative of the war. Readers will be surprised to learn: Wright had a strong hunch beginning in September 2001 that he would be deployed to Iraq he and his fellow Army leaders began preparing for an invasion soon after the 9/11 attacks Army leaders were already implementing much of the COIN doctrine in 2004 and 2005, well before the official change in doctrine and the publication of the new field manual on COIN For Wright and most other leaders at his level, President Bush&rsquos troop &ldquosurge&rdquo in November 2006 was completely uncontroversial and utterly inevitable. They knew that clear-hold-build was the right strategy and would work but that they did not have enough troops to make it stick.

In his closing chapters, Wright discusses the growth and evolution of the Iraqi Security Forces, from an abjectly corrupt and militarily useless cohort in 2004 to a well-trained and stable entity capable of securing Iraq and providing for (mostly) safe and open national elections in 2010. He finishes his narrative with his thoughts on the future of Iraq, understanding that sectarian divisions persist, but that the Iraqi Security Forces have been well-trained by the US Army to secure Iraq&rsquos future.&rdquo


Iraq Full Circle: From Shock and Awe to the Last Combat Patrol (Hardcover)

Col. Wright served three tours of duty in the Iraq War, commanding the last active combat brigade to withdraw from Operation Iraqi Freedom. His book personalizes the broader operational conflict we've all heard so much about, giving us a previously unknown insider command perspective that will fundamentally change how our nation thinks of the war.

For Col Wright, the Iraq war was a good war fought well. In his new book, Iraq Full Circle, he offers a first-hand assessment of the US Army's eight year war in Iraq.

As battalion operations officer for an infantry battalion from 2003-2004 operating in the dangerous and volatile Sunni Triangle, followed by a tour of duty as a Brigade Executive Officer from 2005-2006 in Baghdad, Wright witnessed some of the harshest fighting seen during the war. He saw the evolution from 'shock and awe' to the 'clear-hold-build' strategy during the height of sectarian violence and was on-hand for the transition to COIN followed by the handover of security operations to the Iraqi Security Forces. In August 2010, Wright, as a deputy brigade commander, was among the last combat soldiers to leave Iraq as part of President Obama's draw-down of troops.

While Wright does not hesitate to criticize the political and military leadership that failed to foresee the insurgency, or the errors in judgment that led to the dismantling of the Iraqi Army in 2003, his overall assessment of the war is that the US Army achieved what it was asked to do by two Presidents. Calling upon his experience-and the examination of thousands of after action reports, combat operations orders, and over 100 interviews-Wright pieces together a compelling and cohesive narrative of the war. Readers will be surprised to learn:

. Wright had a strong hunch beginning in September 2001 that he would be deployed to Iraq he and his fellow Army leaders began preparing for an invasion soon after the 9/11 attacks.

. Army leaders were already implementing much of the COIN doctrine in 2004 and 2005, well before the official change in doctrine and the publication of the new field manual on COIN.

. For Wright and most other leaders at his level, President Bush's troop surge in November 2006 was completely uncontroversial and utterly inevitable. They knew that clear-hold-build was the right strategy and would work but that they did not have enough troops to make it stick.

In his closing chapters, Wright discusses the growth and evolution of the Iraqi Security Forces, from an abjectly corrupt and militarily useless cohort in 2004 to a well-trained and stable entity capable of securing Iraq and providing for (mostly) safe and open national elections in 2010. He finishes his narrative with his thoughts on the future of Iraq, understanding that sectarian divisions persist, but that the Iraqi Security Forces have been well-trained by the US Army to secure Iraq's future.

About the Author

Praise For&hellip

". comes from an Army officer with three tours of duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom who provides a new assessment of the conflict, believing that the war was a good war fought well. His first-hand survey of the entire eight-year mission in Iraq comes from one who witnessed some of the most intense battles of the war, following the evolution from 'shock and awe' to strategies for handling local violence and counterinsurgency methods. Any collection strong in military history will find this a winning survey."
- James A. Cox, The Midwest Book Review (January 2013)


Watch the video: Iraqi civilians on eve of the 2003 invasion