“How Do We Get People To Like Us And Stop Shooting At Us?”: Counterinsurgency Operations In Iraq And Afghanistan

Dan Gomez


Dan Gomez enlisted in the Army as an Infantry Soldier in April 2001 and completed OSUT (One Station Unit Training) and Airborne school at Ft. Benning, Georgia. Assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, he deployed to Iraq in 2003. He completed college, earned a degree in Middle Eastern Studies, and commissioned through OCS (Officer Candidate School) in 2011. He deployed to Afghanistan with 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in 2014. In 2016, he became a Psychological Operations Officer, joining the 8th Psychological Operations Battalion and commanding their Headquarters and Headquarters Company. In this interview, Dan describes his experiences conducting Counterinsurgency Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan from the perspective of a young Infantry Soldier and a Psychological Operations Officer. He talks about conducting typical patrols in Iraq, during which his unit talked to the people as they patrolled through neighborhoods. Early on in his deployment in 2003, the people were pleasant and there was a honeymoon period, which went away when people’s lives did not improve. He could sense their growing frustration and their desire for the Americans to leave. He discusses adapting to constantly evolving situations, and the enemy benefiting from the “home field advantage.” As an E-5 Sergeant, he served as a general’s driver and “got to see the war from a different perspective,” observing his general managing the war. He shares stories of the tense and anticipatory atmosphere in the 82nd Airborne Division, especially when his unit was on DRF (Division Ready Force) and his battalion was on a 2-hour recall. His second deployment, in 2014, was as a Platoon Leader, and he experienced war in a different location and at a different rank. He shares stories of conducting convoy operations from Bagram to Jalalabad, and working with the Afghan military. Majoring in Middle Eastern Studies helped add context to what he was experiencing in Afghanistan. Near the end of the interview, he describes learning Arabic and being able to listen in on conversations without people suspecting that he spoke the language.


conflicts Iraq War Afghanistan War
topics Counterinsurgency Leadership Teamwork Camaraderie Military Techniques
interviewer Nick Kramer
date 27 April 2021


name Dan Gomez
service Infantry / Psychological Operations
unit 82nd Airborne Division; Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 8th Psychological Operations Battalion
specialty Counter Insurgency
service dates 2021