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"Getting shot at is always a memorable experience, especially your first few times." (Video Interview, 9:45)

   Mark Robert Warnecke
Collection image
Mark Warnecke [2005]
War: Iraq War, 2003-2011
Branch: Army
Unit: 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 1st Infantry Division; Army National Guard
Service Location: Alaska; Colorado; Honduras; Iceland; England; Germany; Iraq
Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
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Having enlisted in the regular Army just as the Vietnam War was coming to an end, Mark Warnecke would not see his first combat until Operation Iraqi Freedom. As the commander of a New York National Guard Infantry Battalion, Warnecke is able to compare and contrast the role of the National Guard to that of the active duty Army. Some experiences, such as seeing boys become men in the face of combat, are universal. Warnecke saw the greatest difference in the skill sets which those in his battalion brought to their National Guard duty from their civilian life. He could draw on their diverse occupations, from prison guards to mechanics and electricians, to get the job done. Warnecke finds great satisfaction in knowing that the current conflict has demonstrated the ability of the National Guard to perform just as well, if not better, than their active duty counterparts.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (7 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (38 min.)
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 Video (Interview Excerpts) (7 items)
Vietnam was happening while he was in high school; expected to serve; Army was the only branch that had Alaska as a service area. (00:42) War of insurgency; escalation in April 2004; enemy conducting complex operations. (01:10) Nigerian immigrant in his platoon; used channels to get his citizenship papers fast tracked; he was killed by a roadside bomb. (01:28)
Memorable moments; men he trained now are combat hardened soldiers. (01:21) There are good units and bad units, reserve or active; praised for their skill as a National Guard unit; perfectly capable of doing their job well. (00:29) Intelligence came from units on the ground; main job was to keep the main supply route (MSR) safe and clear; also protected LSA (Logistic Support Area) Anaconda, a large base near Balad airport; problem with micro-management by non-combat personnel; human intelligence from locals important to their duties; strong measures and aggressive tactics led to great reduction in insurgent activity along the MSR; challenge of insurgents constantly changing tactics; worked directly with Iraqi National Guard. (04:56)
His job wasn't to be anybody's friend; danger in the Guard where so many people have known each other for years; needed to be a leader first; lots of active duty experience, bolstered by civilian life skill sets. (01:57)  

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  October 26, 2011
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