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Lakeville author brings Iraq home

by Jeff Achen
Thisweek Newspapers

It’s easy to get discouraged when perusing news about Iraq these days. There are bombings, mishandling of cultural and logistical issues and political wrangling. But, there’s also hope, hard work and accomplishment in Iraq if someone cares enough to look below the surface.

In his new book Adjust Fire: Transforming to Win in Iraq, Lakeville resident and retired Lt. Col. Michael A. Baumann gives readers more than just a glimpse of the real Iraq. He chronicles his tour in a Baghdad neighborhood commanding an Army field artillery battalion from March 2004 to March 2005 in great detail and with great insight and analysis.

This isn’t just another grunt’s take on the brutality of war, and it’s not a general’s view from the cheap seats. Baumann is a midlevel officer with the kind of command experience that gives him perspective on the big picture and the day-to-day challenges of our uniformed men and women.

Baumann takes readers through daily life in Iraq, operational planning and the emotional hardships of his command with literary skill, honesty, insight and a critical mind. Perhaps the most appealing thing about this military man’s account is his transparency, a rare look at the thought process behind his daily decisions and feelings while serving as a commander.

Adjust Fire appeals to those familiar to military literature as well as civilians with little interest in a rigid military memoir. It offers the average reader a front-row seat to both the day-to-day action and the command center policy implementation process through a compelling narrative that evokes emotion.

Baumann’s rank, education and career experience enable him to tell a story of Army operations and American involvement in Iraq that is especially relevant as we enter 2008 and one that has yet to be revealed in the military memoirs and books already on the bestseller lists.

Baumann outlines how his conventional rocket artillery battalion, like many Army units deploying to Iraq, faced a difficult transformation into a counter-insurgent infantry unit, but doesn’t stop there.

Laying out what he calls the “Mahalla plan for victory,” Baumann shares how democracy should be fostered at the neighborhood level in Iraq. Mahalla is the smallest area of a district neighborhood in an Iraqi city. Baumann argues that, by shifting political governance into localized councils while also establishing local policing and strengthening the Iraqi army, Iraq could begin to stand on its own.

This book will help readers understand the complexity of the war in Iraq with greater clarity and accuracy. From the politics of military command, to women in combat, to helping build Iraq’s local security forces and governing bodies, Baumann provides a quality of detail, analysis and commentary that is truly unique, enlightening and compelling. He shares his insights on the U.S. military’s mission, soldier training, Iraq cultural understanding and political and military leadership bringing new ideas to the table and suggesting practical changes to the present course of action that resonate with promise.

For more information on the book, visit

Jeff Achen can be reached at



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