Task Unit Bruiser, a part of the United States Naval Special Warfare Group One, remains one of the most decorated Special Operations units from the Iraq War. Under the leadership of Commander Jocko Willink, these warriors demonstrated remarkable courage and resilience in one of the conflict’s fiercest battle zones – Ramadi.

From 2006, during the height of the Anbar Awakening, Task Unit Bruiser found itself at the epicenter of some of the most intense urban warfare U.S. forces have experienced since Vietnam. Their actions not only helped turn the tide of the conflict but also shaped the future of Special Operations warfare.

Battle of Ramadi: Triumph in the Face of Adversity

The Battle of Ramadi was marked by brutal house-to-house, street-by-street fighting. Task Unit Bruiser was often at the spearhead of these operations, clearing insurgent strongholds, conducting direct-action raids, and providing assistance to conventional forces. Their efforts were critical in retaking the city from Al-Qaeda insurgents and stabilizing the region.

Despite suffering losses, including Marc Lee, the first SEAL to die in Iraq, and Mike Monsoor, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for jumping on a grenade to save his comrades, Task Unit Bruiser’s spirit remained unbroken. The unit’s unyielding resolve and relentless pressure significantly disrupted insurgent activities and created space for political and social progress.

Leadership Lessons: Steeled in Combat

Commander Willink’s leadership during this tumultuous period has become the stuff of military lore. His ethos, “Extreme Ownership,” emphasizes total responsibility at all levels of command. This principle, born and tested in the heat of battle, led to tactical success in Ramadi and has since shaped leadership training programs in the military and beyond.

Task Unit Bruiser’s actions in Ramadi have served as invaluable lessons for subsequent Special Operations units. From the importance of decentralized command to the necessity of maintaining an aggressive mindset, the principles they embodied have become ingrained in the culture of modern SOF units.