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Ten Lessons from Iraq

Capt. Phil Carter

1. Treat every day in Iraq as if it was your first; never get complacent.

2. Most Iraqis like us, but they also want us to go home.

3. Arabic is more important than gunnery for a soldier in Iraq, particularly an adviser like me. The corollary to this rule: Diplomacy is more effective than force, but you must always be ready to use force.

4. Patience saves lives.

5. Be unpredictable.

6. The best way to avoid IEDs is to go where they are not. Be unconventional; take the road less traveled. If U.S. troops don't use a road, it will likely be free of IEDs.

7. Lead from the front, and tell your troops why they're working hard each day so they understand the reasons for their sacrifice. Make sure their loved ones know, too.

8. Common sense, experience and character will provide the answers in most situations; use them more than what is in the Army field manuals.

9. Write often to friends and family so that you become their primary source of news and information on Iraq, not CNN. The war will be tougher on your family than on you.

10. War changes the mind and body in ways we can only partly understand. Accept the changes and learn to live with them.

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Phillip Carter