Wednesday, June 01, 2005
A Google search request earlier today by doim1-358.benning.army.mil for web references to Colonel Joe Dowdy brought to my stunned attention the first mention, except for a phone call mention during the May 7, 2003 Journal on C-SPAN, of the Colonel in the American media since the first weekend in April of 2003 when the Washington Post’s Thomas Ricks reported:
The Marine Corps relieved one of its top commanders in Iraq yesterday, an extremely unusual action, especially for a unit engaged in combat.
Col. Joe W. Dowdy has been the officer in charge of the 1st Marine Regiment, one of the three major Marine Corps ground units fighting toward Baghdad.
His regiment is reported to have been used to pin down Republican Guard units in the city of Kut while the other two major units, the 5th and 7th Marines, crossed the Tigris River on Thursday and raced toward Baghdad.
Those units encountered heavy ground fighting yesterday on the outskirts of the capital and had at least three M1 tanks disabled by Iraqi fire.
The U.S. military was unusually guarded about discussing the reason for the battlefield removal.
An April 28, 2005 news story posted on FOX16, which bills itself as central Arkansas’ Fastest Growing News Station, reported:
He was a celebrated Marine colonel who spent 25 years doing a job he loved.
But one decision during Operation Iraqi Freedom changed his entire career.
Today, Little Rock native Col. Joe Dowdy shared his story with members of the Downtown Civitan Club.
And what a story it is.
Col. Dowdy lead 7,000 troops across the Iraqi desert to Baghdad in 2003. His mission—overthrow Saddam's regime.
After encountering a sandstorm and Iraqi resistance, he only lost one Marine.
But when he was asked to take his troops to invade the town of Al-Kut he refused.
After that, he was sent home.
“I lost a career, or did I?” Dowdy said.
“I think I gained more than I ever lost.
Maybe I didn't get a star, but what I gained was a new-found respect for my Marines as they supported me in my decision, and continue to support me.”
Colonel Dowdy says he has never regretted his decision.
He is now a business consultant for Bentonville Global Services in Bentonville.
He retired from the Marines in 2004.
A search of other Arkansas media found this item in the files of the Arkansas Times:
APRIL 30: "Tribute to the Troops." 6:30 p.m., Pleasant Valley Church of Christ, 10900 N. Rodney Parham. Marine Col. (Ret.) Joe Dowdy will speak on his 25-year military career. Reception follows program. 280-0963.
To the best of my knowledge these two April 2005 local Little Rock, Arkansas mentions of Col. Dowdy are the first in the US media since April of 2003 and the only reported descriptions of Dowdy’s life post Iraq.
Dowdy, in the statement quoted by FOX16, suggests elements of the United States Marines, then and now, agree with the command decision he made in those highly stressed moments on the outskirts of Al-Kut and contradicts this statement on the April 6, 2003 edition of Meet the Press:
MR. RUSSERT: In a very unusual move, your fellow Marine, Colonel Joe Dowdy, was relieved of his duties as a commander in the field. Why did that happen?
GEN. PETER PACE: It would be inappropriate for me to sit here in Washington and make judgment on that. That was a chain of command decision made in the field, and I would leave it at that.
Dowdy’s decision, though it has never been discussed in any form of media other than those mentioned here, was likely to have been viewed by certain high ranking members of the Defense establishment as a challenge to the now questionable rapid pace of the Defense Secretary’s 2003 Baghdad advance.
Dowdy’s immediate superior during the drive to Baghdad in April 2003, Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, described in the April 5, 2003 Washington Post article as “an extremely aggressive commander”, has never commented or been asked by any member of the media to comment on Dowdy’s unprecedented battlefield removal.
General Mattis received some press attention in February of this year when he told a group in Sand Diego that, “It's fun to shoot some people.”
These press accounts did not reveal Mattis’ involvement with Colonel Dowdy.