Be advised, I’m going to unleash here. The death of CIA paramilitary officer Greg Wright in northern Iraq has never been told in its entirety to this day. To honor Greg and his surviving teammates, I’m going to premier their story exclusively for our members at SOFREP.
I don’t harbor much animosity toward the CIA. The readers who follow me know that I served more than a decade abroad with the agency. During this time, my unit lost too many great patriots. As a matter of fact, these men total over 15 percent of the stars etched in white granite on the CIA’s Memorial Wall. This percentage is significant because the agency has been around since 1948.
I’m pissed because there was never any notification given to me or my fellow teammates when these deaths occurred. I learned of Greg’s death shortly prior to deploying to where he was KIA. This was about three months after the incident. The same goes with Benghazi and Camp Chapman, where we lost a total of six men. I found out about these casualties on Fox News. To this day, my unit has never been briefed or sent internal notifications.
So I’m here to talk about Greg Wright. I learned every detail surrounding his team’s attack through their former team leader (TL). I spoke to this team leader in depth. Not necessarily because I wanted to learn about the events that day, but because he clearly had been changed by the death of Greg and was torn up emotionally. The TL noted how the agency never asked him about the attack—this remains true to this day. This lack of compassion and careless regard caused the TL to resign a few months after I spoke with him.
I will first lay out the true narrative, as told to me by the TL and his other teammates. Following that narrative, I will add the CIA’s explanation of Greg’s death.
The CIA team was moving between Sulaimaniya and Kirkuk. Little did they know, they were traveling in a similar car to one that had been shooting up checkpoints and wreaking havoc earlier that day. The Iraqi Police had put out a BOLO on that car. The CIA had the BOLO information but failed to pass it on to the paramilitary team. The route the CIA team was traveling required them to pass several police and military checkpoints. The method of operations for getting through these checkpoints vary by mission and by team.
At the first checkpoint, the Iraqi Police (IP) tried forcibly removing the CIA men from their car. The CIA crew had no idea why this was occurring and held their ground. Seconds later, the IP opened fire on the vehicle. The CIA had no other choice but to escape and evade. The problem was that the road was one way into Kirkuk, one way out, with sand flanking each side. The IP radioed ahead and checkpoint after checkpoint joined in on chasing the CIA.
All hell had broken loose at this point. IP vehicles pulled up beside the CIA and unleashed hot lead into the driver’s side armored window. The armor would hold, but was quickly being compromised. The CIA operators were finally able to create distance between themselves and the closest IP vehicle. With the CIA’s car on fire and run-flat tires shredded, a crucial choice was made.
The team decided to evacuate from the car and take refuge in a small depression about 40 meters off the paved road. The sun was barely visible above the horizon. The lack of ambient light should have proved beneficial to the CIA team.
After an exchange of gunfire, the IP had begun to maneuver around the CIA team. The IP illuminated the CIA’s position with their headlights. The TL, recognizing they were outnumbered and outgunned, made the decision to shoot back at the IP’s headlights to conceal their position. This only aggravated the IP, who still failed to realize they were engaging friendly forces.
The TL kept calling out targets and assigning sectors of fire. During this exchange, Greg was hit in the leg. Greg announced his injury but confirmed that he was good to fight. The TL hammered away on his rifle, but soon after stopped getting responses from Greg. The TL turned around and viewed Greg’s lifeless body. He had bled out from the leg wound. Seconds later, the Iraqis overran the position and smashed the TL in the face, rendering him unconscious. The IP went on to strip both men of all their tactical gear and weaponry and distribute it among their men.
The CIA would eventually reclaim all the gear stolen by the IP. The TL would go on one more deployment before leaving the CIA altogether. The point of this article is solely to highlight the discrepancies between the agency’s statement and what really occurred on the ground. The lack of communication and disregard for notifying me of the demise and sacrifice of my brothers pisses me off to this day. There is no conspiracy here. Just a lack of leadership from the top and not knowing the mindset of the blue-collar grunts doing all the leg work.
Here is the CIA’s write-up on Greg Wright.
Feature image courtesy of galleryhip.com