One of Paschal's most popular actions among the local population is to lower the U.S. military's profile. On his direct orders, brigade vehicles no longer hog the center of streets or roads but drive normally in the right lanes, which he said was part of the broader U.S. shift from combat to nonlethal operations. "I always tell my soldiers that our actions speak much louder than our words," he said recently on a local call-in TV show in Kirkuk. Nevertheless, Iraqi cars and trucks still pull over and stop for oncoming convoys.
Paschal stands 6 feet 6, with a type "A" personality to match his oversize frame. That works within his brigade. Soldiers expect a headlock and noogie after a bear hug when he meets them at a remote communications-retransmission outpost set atop a lunar landscape.
A few months back, to test his military police officers, he donned a dishdasha the flowing robe that soldiers call a "man dress" and parked himself in a detainee cell on base. After hurling water, food and insults through the bars at guards, he fought fiercely for several seconds before five of them tackled him and flex-cuffed his hands and feet. "You want some more or you had enough?" he joked with the men later, as he palmed prized unit coins into their hands.
But type A doesn't necessarily work in counter-insurgency. "The typical U.S. military officer is an ultra-type A personality, and that generally is a good thing for getting things done, but sometimes is detrimental," said Michael Noonan, the managing director of the Program on National Security at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and a former Army captain in northern Iraq in 2006-07. "Counterinsurgency is like jujitsu, and impatience by the counterinsurgent can lead to bad decisions."
A Kurdish Iraqi army major angered Paschal so much by failing to induct some 200 Sunni Arabs into basic training men badly needed if the Iraqi army is to stand up while Americans stand down that he stomped out of his office without farewell or handshake. He also refused to ride in two air-conditioned SUVs that the major provided and walked the half-mile back to his own vehicles in 108-degree heat. "He's a pretty boy," he fumed about the major.
Paschal is "a throwback to John Wayne," said Staff Sgt. Margaret Nelson, whose father served 30 years in the Navy. "He's father of the brigade, the orchestrator." Added Sgt. 1st Class Keven Duncan: "He's a wild guy. But for a full-bird colonel to try to know the names of all his soldiers and to ask about their kids. ... "
He also has an irrepressible side. He recently gave Maj. Gen. Hertling a bumper sticker: "Friends don't let friends drive car bombs."