APL Colloquium

January 12, 2007

Colloquium Topic: Iraq: The Past, The Present, and The Way Ahead

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Colloquium Speaker: R. Alan King

R. Alan King is a recognized authority in Middle Eastern Affairs and security, with extensive specialized experience in Iraq. King served in the Army as a Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations officer and is a veteran of Operation Just Cause in Panama where he served with the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne). When assigned to Operation Iraqi Freedom, he served as the senior civil-military advisor to the 3rd Infantry Division in Baghdad, Iraq immediately following the fall of the former Iraqi regime. As a military spokesperson, King has appeared on: NBC Nightly News, CNN, CNN International, Fox News Channel, among others. His work has been profiled on: NBC, NPR, MSNBC, and in Newsday, Christian Science Monitor, Washington Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Harper's, U.S. News and World Report, New York Times, and other international publications. King served in Iraq for sixteen months, first as a Civil Affairs battalion commander, and then as the Deputy Director, Office of Provincial Outreach, Coalition Provisional Authority, Baghdad, Iraq. In Iraq, King was credited with leading the Coalition's Tribal Affairs and Sunni outreach programs, meeting over 3,500 sheikhs and clerics. In April 2004, King served as a senior member of the ceasefire talks in Fallujah, Iraq and was then dispatched to An Najaf, Iraq to coordinate with tribal sheikhs in response to the uprising led by the radical cleric Muktada AlSadr. Under King's command, his unit became the most decorated Civil Affairs battalion in U.S. Army history. The battalion received the Presidential Unit Citation, twenty-one awards for valor, five Purple Hearts and 90% of the soldiers were awarded the Combat Action Badge. King is among the most decorated veterans of the Iraqi conflict having been awarded two bronze Medals for achievement and the Combat Action Badge. Wounded during combat operations in Iraq, King spent 16 months in rehabilitation at Fort Bragg, NC following his return to the United States on July 4, 2004 R. Alan King authored the book titled Twice Armed: An American Soldier's Battle for Hearts and Minds in Iraq released by Zenith Press in September, 2006. As unconventional as any soldier this side of T. E. Lawrence, King was particularly well suited for the new kind of war being waged in Iraq. Armed with a Palm Pilot, a Koran, and a nuanced respect for Middle Eastern culture, King was dubbed "Alan of Arabia" by the press after he was made an honorary sheikh to one of the largest tribes in Iraq.