On 28 May, 2004, Commander Wilson received the order to cease direct action missions and focus on a new, protective mission. NSW Squadron One, to include Detachment One, was tasked to provide personal security detachments for the interim Iraqi government. Task Unit Raider was given the task of protecting Vice President Rowsch Shaways, one of two vice presidents, and a Kurd.
PSD had not been part of the Detachment’s training. The Marines went into overdrive, trying to figure out this new mission (which also hadn’t been anywhere in the February 2003 memorandum of agreement with SOCOM). The task was made even more complicated by the fact that the Marines assigned would be getting an up-close-and-personal look at not only the politics of the Iraqi interim government, but also Kurdish politics and the workings of the Coalition Provisional Authority.
Captain Thompson was assigned as the “agent in charge,” and ended up spending as much time in Erbil as in Baghdad. Since GySgt Dailey had some previous experience with personal security, he was assigned as the “advance man,” arriving ahead of Vice President Shaways at any venue to check out the security. He consulted with an old platoon commander who had gone on to the US Secret Service for advice, while Captain Thompson and the rest of the Marines got what pointers they could from the SEALs, many of whom had been formally trained in personal security, and from some of the State Department security personnel.
Captain Thompson would later describe many of the missions run by the Task Unit Raider PSD as “hairy.” They had to regularly get Shaways in and out of Baghdad at a time when Iraqi security as a whole was not especially good, and every insurgent and terrorist in the country wanted government leaders dead. The fact that Shaways was a Kurd likely increased his risk.
The PSD mission, however, only lasted a week for the Detachment One Marines. Commander Wilson examined his assets and requirements, and elected to pull Task Unit Raider off the PSD mission, while keeping his SEALs on it. He had the Marines reorganize for direct action again, this time to go after the car bomb makers in Baghdad, having determined that those were going to present the greatest threat.
The Marines geared up to work with GROM again, this time more directly. The Marines of Detachment One felt a real kinship with the Polish special operators, and Commander Wilson called them “the finest non-US special operations force” he’d ever worked with. He assigned a small liaison cell of SEALs and Marines to work within the GROM task force, and so Task Unit Raider and Task Unit Thunder began to work together.
Very shortly after coming off the PSD mission, Task Unit Raider was back to running raids. The transfer of sovereignty to the new Iraqi government was due to occur on June 30, and it was felt necessary to hit the insurgents as hard as possible to keep them from disrupting the transfer. A series of raids netted targets, mostly without incident. Objective Radiate was hit on 13 June. The target admitted to his identity on the target site, and the rest of the detainees were set free. On 18 June, Task Unit Raider moved on Objective Raven.
Raven was a suspected car bomb maker. The intel came through 5th SFG, and a series of targets were selected, including an upcoming meeting site. Task Unit Raider, Task Unit Thunder, an Iraqi unit, and 1st Squadron, 5th US Cav would execute simultaneous raids on the targets. The source would be at the meeting and signal to begin execution. However, at the last minute, the source indicated that another Coalition unit had secured the meeting site, so the meeting would not be going there. He believed that it would be taking place at the farm, and so Task Unit Raider geared up to hit the farm as planned.
On the approach to the target site, the source apparently became confused as to where he was. While the Marines were on the route they had plotted, he kept insisting they had missed key turns, and in fact, had driven past the target house. Confident in their own navigation, the Marines ignored him, and pushed on. As they approached the house, a car started driving toward them. Warning shots were fired, first 5.56, then .50 cal. They avoided hitting the car, in case it was rigged to blow. The driver got out and started crawling away, but was rolled up by the Marines, who pushed on to the target.
They found the house’s door open. With no need to breach, they simply walked in. The house secured, the assault teams pushed out to clear and secure outlying buildings, when the AC-130 and HH-60s overhead reported squirters escaping the building. The Marines moved out and quickly rounded them up. With seventeen detainees, Maj Kozeniesky ordered them airlifted out rather than going out on the Marines’ vehicles.
The search of the target site yielded some weapons, but no bombs or bomb-making materials. In spite of the shaky intel, Maj Kozeniesky praised the Marines for the smooth execution of the mission. As for the intel failure, he simply said that, due to the impending transfer of sovereignty, it was better to “err on the side of action.”