The 3 Bs: Be Kind, Be Courteous, Be Prepared to Kill

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Army Major Tyler Andersen served in Iraq in 2007 and 2008, and reflected on his service there in a January 2012 interview with the Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Here are some highlights:

Like what’s spoken at the COIN Academy and something I’ve kept with me, the three Bs:  be kind, be courteous, and be prepared to kill anybody or have a plan to address any threat that might come your way…

I was always kind of surprised at how young the targeted individual looked…

We had a couple of traumatic days, the worst of which was when we lost four Soldiers.  I had four kids that were killed when their lead vehicle was hit by an EFP [explosively-formed penetrator].  That was emotionally the hardest time that I and my company had, and the most challenging time I had as far as getting my company through an event.  The fifth guy in the vehicle is a double amputee above the knees, but he’s doing well.  The other four guys, one of them, Duncan Crookston, he died four and a half months later.  He was a quadruple amputee, burns over 70 percent of the rest of his body.  He fought for life; he struggled for four and a half months before he passed away on his 21st birthday.  Tough stuff…


I was devastated, but I couldn’t stay there.  I really had to snap out of that pretty quickly.  I think it was just letting the boys know that our guys didn’t die for no reason.  They didn’t die in vain, and it’s going to be up to us to ensure that that’s the case.  We’re going to keep getting after it.  We’re not going to back down; in fact, we’re going to increase our effort and we’re going to increase the attention to detail, the effort that we put into everything that we do to honor them.

My company picked it up after that.  That was 4 September 2007 that we lost those four guys.  Mixon lost both of his legs that day and I think after that it took some time.  That same day my battalion commander had a mission that was directed.  I didn’t want to do it, but in hindsight I can see that it needed to happen.  We conducted a raid that day, just hours after we got back.  Within three hours of returning from that mission we were back outside the wire conducting a mission to go find an RPG 29 team…

…during the March uprising…there were so many EFPs on the route that we had to put together a lot of combat power to get up there with Engineer and route clearance support.  Tragically, an Engineer was killed on the way up there, and on the way back an Engineer lost both of his legs. That particular night was tragic, but we got everybody in minus the Engineer that we lost.

[It sounds like these EFPs were just brutal.]

Yep.  I had nightmares about them, because you just never know if they’re going to be emplaced.  Everything looks like an EFP after a while…


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