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FROM: Leadership in Dangerous Situations : A Handbook for the Armed Forces, Emergency Services, and First Responders. Edited by Patrick J. Sweeney, Michael D. Matthews, and Paul B. Lester (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2011).


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We knew going into Ramadi that it was going to be a gunfight. Weekly updates and reports from Ramadi painted a picture of tough days for units in the city. Although the city was small and densely populated (500,000), it was all two battalions-one Army in the east and one Marine in the westcould do to conduct offensive operations.1 Hotel Company was tasked to provide a mobile unit for security as the battalion commander circulated the battlefield. Because we were the forward command post (CP) during battalion operations, our call sign was "Blade Jump" or as we called ourselves," The Jump."

Morale was high in The Jump. We were a highly trained and experienced organization. Hand selected for the task, our mission was important and relevant. As a group, we had been together for several months and had forged bonds and a sense of togetherness through the crucible of training for combat and combat itself. Individually and collectively, our will and spirit was far above that of the average unit.

Throughout the deployment we did many things typical of other companies in the battalion; however, because of the operational tempo and our requirement to circulate throughout the entire city, we became very good at identifying and destrOying improvised explosive devices (IEDs). We were so good that we became the asset of choice for the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team's escort and route clearance when high-level general officers or State Department officials would visit our area of operations. I must admit that even with practice, this skill, which we never took for granted, took time to develop. In fact, early in the deployment we were more lucky than good. On a few occasions we were hit by an IED planted only a few feet from us. With one exception, when a Marine in the gun turret had his hand ripped in half, we never received a serious casualty. Our success can be attributed to high morale, tough vehicles, a thorough turnover from the battalion we relieved, and our ability to capitalize and learn quickly from mistakes, thus ensuring we never made the same mistake twice. As good as we were at identifying IEDs, we never became complacent because we knew the enemy was always getting better and training to kill us