Feb 17, 2010 Doug Campbell Uncategorized
Lt. Col. Kurt Wheeler is a Marine Corps. Reserve officer, a coach and history teacher at Cazenovia High School, a village trustee and Project Caf (c) volunteer. Besides all of these commitments, Wheeler is now a major contributor to a two-volume anthology released by Marine Corps University Press, “Al Anbar Awakening.”
“As a Field Historian for the Marine Corps History Division, I was privileged to capture the narratives of 425 participants in the Iraq war,” Wheeler said. “The anthology draws upon several of those interviews, conducted as the Awakening unfolded in late 2006 and early 2007, in addition to more than a dozen others conducted by fellow historians at other stages of the war. The unique value of these interviews is their ability to offer primary source perspectives on an event of major historical significance so quickly after it occurred.”
The anthology is split into “Volume I: American Perspectives” and “Volume II: Iraqi Perspectives.” Wheeler conducted many of the interviews for Volume I, wrote the introduction, and assisted with the editing, photo selection and organization of the entire volume.
“Volume I: American Perspectives” includes 21 interviews, primarily Marines, but also soldiers and civilians who contributed to the transformation of al-Anbar Province. The volume is mostly organized chronologically, progressing from the background and onset of the insurgency in 2003 and ’04 through efforts at stabilization in 2005 to the birth and growth of the Awakening in 2006 and ’07 and eventual success in 2008 and ’09.
“Volume II: Iraqi Perspectives” includes 19 interviews, some featuring multiple parties, from a wide variety of vantage points. The second volume’s organization is based on perspective, with sections offering views from ordinary Iraqis, religious and tribal leaders, politicians, members of the Iraqi Security Forces and former regime elements.
The volume is introduced by its co-editor Colonel Gary W. Montgomery, who conducted most of the Iraqi interviews in collaboration with CWO-4 Timothy S. McWilliams who co-edited both volumes.
Col. Montgomery was able to draw upon the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity’s 2007 “Study of the Insurgency in Anbar Province, Iraq” as well as his own research to provide an insightful perspective on the birth and evolution of the insurgency.
Wheeler hopes that this comprehensive “first draft of history” serves as “a counter-balance to other, often Baghdad-centric, views.”
“What was accomplished in western Iraq is too important to be forgotten or misunderstood,” Wheeler said. “A region that was once written off as hopeless was transformed into a model that inspired progress in the rest of Iraq.”
While this anthology is not available at most booksellers, Wheeler has made copies available at the Cazenovia Public Library, the Cazenovia High School library and the New Woodstock Free Library.
The book is also available at bookstore.gpo.gov/actions/GeneralSearch.do.
As a historian, Wheeler understands the value of a variety primary sources.
“For warriors, historians or any reader interested in an accurate understanding of events in a critical part of Iraq from 2004 to 2009, these volumes are an invaluable first-hand look into the ‘miracle of al-Anbar,'” he said.