In Memoriam: MG Barwari

In Memoriam: MG Barwari

With deep sorrow, Unipath magazine mourns Maj. Gen. Fadhil Jamil Barwari, commander of the Golden Brigade of Iraqi special operations, who died Thursday, September 20, 2018. He set the example of courage and national unity. He was always fighting on the front lines with his Soldiers. MG Barwari was known for his humility, generosity and patriotism. He respected everyone, and never showed bias or favoritism to any sect or ethnicity. He was a proud Iraqi. 
The following article originally appeared in Unipath in October 2015.

Leading The Golden Brigade

Maj. Gen. Fadhil Jamil Barwari promotes unity


Maj. Gen. Fadhil Jamil Barwari is one of the influential figures who crossed ethno-sectarian boundaries with admiration and gratitude from all Iraqis. Iraqis from the South to the North admire him, consider him a brave fighter and follow the Golden Brigade Facebook page. Gen. Barwari has no ethno-sectarian agenda, and his unit gathers all Iraqi factions under its banner. During the Holy Month of Ramadan, before the war against Da’ish, Gen. Barwari held a breakfast feast every evening in his home and invited large groups of his Soldiers and officers to dine with him, a number that the house could barely host. He stands in the entrance to warmly welcome his guests as a generous Kurdish sheikh. Every day he invites a group of his fighters, with the goal of inviting the entire unit by the end of Ramadan. Among the invitees were Soldiers from Anbar, Mosul, Basra, Diyala and Erbil. He doesn’t favor one city over another — everyone receives the same treatment and respect. They looked like a family at the dinner table, talking and joking with each other. The general walks the long table to personally make sure his guests don’t need anything — a humble man with endless generosity and respect.

“My relationship with my Soldiers and officers is brotherly — we are friends and brothers. The ethnic and sectarian affiliation never divide us. I invite them to dinner in my home and go visit their families. I was born in a home that has a special relationship with Southerners. We used to have frequent visitors from our family friends from Baghdad, Salah al-Din and Anbar. I spent my childhood with all Iraq factions; thus, I don’t like dealing with people based on their affiliation. We also obey the policy of the Counter-terrorism Service that prohibits any kind of ethno-sectarian bias. I wish this policy would be implemented in the rest of government offices to eliminate nepotism and corruption.”

Gen. Barwari’s name is well-known because of his bravery and relationship with his Soldiers. He is always among his fighters on the front lines fighting the enemies of Iraq. His images on Facebook reveal a warrior who never gets tired of battle. One picture of him in Ramadi features him launching mortars on Da’ish positions; in another picture, he holds his rifle and carefully observes a palm date grove in Bayji; a third picture shows him with his Soldiers conducting a walking patrol in Tikrit and talking to children. The Golden Brigade Facebook page got 558,039 likes as of August 2015.

“I joined the Special Operations unit at its establishment; I worked as company commander in 2003. I know each Soldier by name, and I know their families. I share with them their sad and happy events. I have an open door policy, and I am honored to be the commander of this elite unit because this is the iron fist of Iraq that strikes if anyone attempts to mess with Iraq security. We were honored to fight in the first and second Fallujah battles and to clear Najaf of armed gangs in 2004. We hit hard on the terrorist hideouts in southern, northern and western Iraq. We liberated Basra province from armed groups and organized criminals who smuggled Iraqi oil in 2008 in the famous operation called the Charge of Knights. In addition, we cleared Diyala of Zarqawi thugs and other terrorists. We also conducted operations to eliminate the armed groups in eastern Baghdad and have many operations against Da’ish in Salah al-Din, Anbar, Kirkuk and Jurf Askhar.”

Anywhere the Golden Brigade goes, its name shines — Da’ish fears it and knows the brigade will win. This unit is part of the counterterrorism forces, considered to be an elite section of Iraq’s Armed Forces.

During noncombat rotations, the Golden Brigade men spend their time in tough training and participate in soccer matches. At nighttime, they visit on-base cafes and restaurants for recreation and spend good times with their peers. Nowadays, their bases are empty due to multiple mission assignments; they are always in a high state of readiness.

“I emphasize training to keep the tactical readiness of the fighters and sustain professionalism. However, I created a good social friendly environment for them. I encouraged the opening of restaurants and a cafe for the fighters to rest. These places strengthen the brotherhood among them. The strong friendship also helps to keep the units intact to defeat Da’ish. Since the Da’ish attacks, we are fighting them in Bayji, Tikrit and Anbar; we move through the battlefields as the commander’s request. We are militarily and mentally ready to conduct our missions. We were trained for the worst-case scenarios, and we have high morale and capabilities that fighting won’t weaken. We sacrificed many fallen heroes for the security of Iraq; we are proud to be the guardians of Iraq.”

Saving citizens’ lives is what concerns Gen. Barwari: “There are a few voices questioning why the Golden Brigade is unable to liberate Anbar faster? Unfortunately, those people are not aware of the situation on the ground. What has slowed us from liberating the cities from Da’ish is preserving the lives of civilians who are trapped in their homes. We are not Da’ish — destroying everything in our path with no regard to innocent lives. The terrorists have no mercy and kill women and children and destroy homes and mosques. Their goal is to turn the urban areas into ruins. My major concern during battles is the safety and well-being of the citizens on the battlefield. We have accurate information on the occupied and vacant homes and the number and ages of the local citizens in the towns. Therefore, I repeatedly instruct my Soldiers to avoid firing toward the houses and shift the fight to the outskirts of the towns. Of course, this tactic means it will take longer to liberate the cities and put our forces on the open ground, but we don’t want to destroy the city and kill innocents. Thank God we were able to liberate many cities and help provide aide to the trapped citizens who welcomed us with hugs and tears.”

Maj. Gen. Fadhil Jamil Barwari

Maj. Gen. Fadhil Jamil Barwari

He described the brutality of Da’ish: “We found enormous destruction in the towns after defeating Da’ish. It looked like the remains of a city after a massive earthquake. They were bombing homes, burning groves and destroying roads. They used cruel retaliation against the civilians. They set explosive charges in the homes of citizens who didn’t pledge support to them. They also bombed the houses of all government employees and killed their residents. They even killed an employee of the water and electric department and called him apostate! We found mass graves of children and women who were murdered savagely by them. We found torturing rooms that provide strong evidence of their heinous crimes. Da’ish atrocities exceed Hulagu Khan’s. Even the museums and worship places didn’t survive their savagery.”

Gen. Barwari praised international and regional cooperation to defeat Da’ish and considers it the key to success: “Da’ish is not a conventional military, so we can’t defeat them in a conventional war. It is an international terrorist organization that lives on secret financing from many suspicious entities and is fueled by deceived individuals who believe this wrongful ideology. They depend heavily on recruiting foreign fighters from remote areas who lack education. Therefore, we need the help of the international community to disrupt Da’ish’s financing network and recruiting outside Iraq; we are able to defeat them inside Iraq. I would like to thank our American allies for their continuous support for our nation, whether in the advisory efforts or air support, and I thank our brotherly countries that joined the international allies against Da’ish. Da’ish poses a threat to the world peace, and we must team up to defeat it.”