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Staff Sergeant Eric Kocher is one of the men portrayed in Evan Wright's Generation Kill. A U.S. Marine and member of the First Reconnaissance Battalion has received two purple Heart[…]

Generation Kill’s Eric Kocher talks about integrating Iraqis into his platoon, and whether or not the surge is working.

Topic: Living “The Surge”

Eric Kocher:  Yeah.  It was the surge, and it’s kind of what we started to do in my third tour, but we did do it fully, because I think there’s still that degree of separation where we kind of didn’t want anything to do with the Jundis, the Iraqi military.  Even though we’re supposed to train them, I don’t feel the U.S. in whole didn’t accept them with open arms like brothers, and that’s what I tried to do.  My first Iraqi platoon that I brought in with me, it was kind of overwhelming, because they kind of mimic the senior Iraqi, which doesn’t help you out that good for the mission, because they kind of go off on their own program and do their own thing.  What I kind of started doing is I realize if I integrate two Iraqis, two Jundis in each one of my teams, they’re going to mimic my team leader, and it’s going to be that much better.  So I was one of the teract, and we’re learning off them.  So it’s a mutual training for both of us.

Topic: Missing the MarkCard: How did you integrate Iraqis into your platoon?

Eric Kocher:  It’s the same thing.  They know...something simple.  You walk into Iraqi house.  They know where they hide the weapons.  They always have a stack of blankets in like their living room, their family room, and they usually put like an AK-47, you know, like four stacked up.  Well, for us, we’re like searching all over the place, you know, you bring in an Iraqi Jundi.  He reaches his hand right in and pulls out the AK.  We unload it.  You know.  They know all the little hiding spots, where everything goes.  They know how to pick out the
Wahabbists, because the way their haircuts, the way they carry themselves.  All the little details, you know, you’re trying to learn on your own, but now when you...‘cause we’re doing the same thing.  We’re imitating them.  We watch them.  We watch their body language,

Topic: Is “The Surge” working?

Eric Kocher:  I think it’s working to a point.  The problem is with our overall military, is most of these guys are young.  Let’s be honest.  The average age over there is 22, 23.  These guys only have one or two tours on them.  They have a lot to learn.  They don’t have the training that like a Reconnaissance Unit has or Special Forces or some of these units that I think are making very good changes.  You got a lot of guys going over just kind of shooting them up, especially when you get the reservist units over there.  They got 36 days of training in the entire year.  They’re like messing up like a lot of stuff over there.  I mean, you can see they’re the reserve units are the ones hitting the news with all the atrocities, and it’s not even their fault.  They think their doing the best job for what they’re trained for, but they’re not trained to be over there.