CENTER FOR U.S. WAR
VETERANS' ORAL HISTORIES
Operation Iraqi Freedom Oral History Interview
US Army, 41st Field Artillery
Date: February 3, 2016
Interviewer: Carol Fowler
Summarizer: Colin Critchlow
U.S. Army Veteran Timothy Nagle, who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn, was born in Somerville, New Jersey in September, 1984. Nagle’s grandfather had served in the Navy during and after World War II, and his great grandfather served in the military during World War I.
Nagle began his military career after graduating from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania in 2007. He had attended Bucknell with a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship. Nagle majored in business, with a minor in political science. After graduating from Bucknell, he was commissioned a second lieutenant and assigned as an ROTC recruiting officer from June to October 2007. During this time, Nagle was stationed in Lewisburg on active duty, with the task of helping establish training regimens for ROTC cadets.
Nagle was sent to Fort Benning, Georgia for six weeks, from October to December 2007, for basic leadership training, as well as instruction in the basic military skills of land navigation, patrolling, and marksmanship. In January 2008, he was assigned to Fort Sill, Oklahoma for the Artillery Officer Basic Course and spent several months of intensive field artillery specific training. Nagle was instructed on how to plan and call in fire support, in both offensive and defensive situations, as well as the basic gunnery technical skills of aiming and firing an artillery piece, and the mathematics and science of hitting an unseen target at great distances. In his final weeks at Fort Sill, Nagle learned how to lead a platoon of Paladin M109A6 155mm self-propelled guns.
In June 2008, Lieutenant Nagle was assigned to Fort Stewart, Georgia, as a platoon leader in Alpha Company of the 3rd Battalion of the 69th Armor Regiment., a unit of the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade combat team. The brigade was assigned Consequence Management Reaction Force (C.C.M.R.F) duty. The C.C.M.R.F. was established in the wake of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans. and was assigned the mission of providing emergency response relief should a natural disaster or nuclear accident occur within the United States.
Nagle’s brigade began C.C.M.R.F preparation in October 2008. The training included drills to assess the rapidity of assembling the brigade on base during off-duty hours, as well as chemical suit instruction, nuclear disaster response, and non-lethal weapons training. During this period, the brigade was exempt from deployment abroad. In September 2009, Nagle was transferred to a platoon leader slot in Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion 41st Field Artillery. During this time he met his future wife, who was an Engineer officer in the 92nd Engineer Battalion.
In October, 2009, after completing its C.C.M.R.F. assignment, the brigade was sent to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California for a month’s intensive combat training in preparation for deployment to Iraq. Although he was an artillery officer, Nagle and his platoon were trained in infantry and military police duties, including simulations of situations they could encounter in Baghdad. These exercises included scenarios on entering and clearing buildings, air assault operations, and interacting with the Iraqi people. After Fort Irwin, Nagle’s brigade returned to Georgia for final preparations for deployment to Baghdad.
In December, 2009, the brigade arrived in Kuwait and stayed at Camp Buehring for about two weeks, for some refresher marksmanship and artillery training. On New Year’s Eve 2009, Nagle flew to Baghdad where his battalion and the 1st Brigade 3rd Infantry Division Headquarters were headquartered at Camp Striker, located at Baghdad International. Nagle’s brigade was designated as an advise-and-assist brigade, tasked with aiding and training the Iraqi Federal Police and the Iraqi Army in their mission to defeat insurgents.
During its initial weeks at Striker, Nagle’s battery returned to an artillery role and was assigned to Joint Service Station Istiqaal, located north of Baghdad. The battery was ordered to establish three “hot gun sites” around the city. One 155mm howitzer was assigned to each site with designated target areas within the Iraqi capital. The guns never fired into Baghdad, which would have been a last resort in any kind of action, due to the possibility of civilian casualties; but, they did fire some practice rounds into the surrounding desert.
The artillery mission lasted for about two months, until Nagle’s battery was ordered back to Camp Striker, where it returned to an infantry and military police role as a “Quick Reaction Force.” The battery was basically organized as a motorized rifle unit tasked with providing quick backup to brigade operations around Baghdad, as well as training members of the Iraqi Federal Police force, and providing security alongside the Iraqi Security Forces during elections.
In May 2010, Nagle’s battalion was assigned a sector of Eastern Baghdad to patrol, out of a base named “Loyalty” where the new battalion headquarters was established. The unit was detailed to provide escort protection for reconstruction teams, composed of American noncombatants tasked with trying to improve the Iraqis’ way of life with construction and agricultural assistance and training.
The battalion worked side by side with the Iraqi 1st Federal Police Battalion, providing security for an Iraqi Police major general and a Stability Transition Team (STT), a group of mid-level U.S. officers commanded by a lieutenant colonel and assigned to work with the higher ranking officers of the Iraqi Police, instructing the general and his staff on senior leadership and operational command procedures. Nagle’s battalion would also provide security and escort for the Major General, Lieutenant Colonel, and other members of the STT, while they met with U.S. military officers and Iraqi political or religious leaders. Another important job for the battalion at this time was providing backup for NATO troops in a base down the road from Loyalty.
An important task at the time was gathering and providing intelligence to the American and Iraqi special operations forces, who were trying to foil potential insurgent attacks on Election Day. A lot of the violence Nagle had to deal with came from the Shia community, since he was in East Baghdad, a Shia neighborhood, and it was directed at the rival Sunni sect. At this point, most of the actual combat in Iraq was assigned to Iraqi Security Forces, while American troops were more involved in advisory work.
One of the biggest problems in Baghdad was continued sectarian violence between the Shia and Sunni communities. If the Shiites attacked a Sunni neighborhood, the Sunnis might retaliate as much as a month later. Nagle’s battalion was put on high alert when religious holidays or days commemorating important people or events were approaching, since it was at these times that there was a heightened likelihood of attack. In an effort to stop this chain of violence, Nagle’s battalion commander arranged meetings with local Shiite and Sunni leaders in an effort to defuse tensions.
On August 31st, 2010, Operation Iraqi Freedom came to a close, and on September 1st, 2010 Operation New Dawn began. During the course of New Dawn, Nagle’s battalion was called on to perform security duties during an official ceremony held in the area of Baghdad called the Green Zone, at which United States Vice President Joe Biden officially announced that US combat operations in Iraq had officially ended.
Nagle’s final two months in Iraq were mostly spent planning for the re-deployment of U.S. troops home, and aiding in the transition period, when an incoming unit was arriving to replace his. He was a captain by then, and no longer a platoon leader, which was a lieutenant’s position. Nagle’s unit left Iraq in December, 2010. On the way home, his battalion stayed at Al-Assad Air Base in Western Iraq for a few days.
When Nagle arrived back in the United States, he was stationed once again at Fort Stewart. He remained there for sixteen months on duty as a fire support officer with the mission of rebuilding his battalion’s artillery capability for conventional warfare. Finally, in October of 2012, he was honorably discharged from the army.
In 2014, Nagle married, and the following year he and his wife purchased a home. He is currently a member of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Nagle remains in contact with some of the people he served alongside in Iraq.