When Chief Warrant Officer 2 Theodore Mozeleski (Class of ’84, psychology/philosophy) joined the Army Reserves in 1986, he did so in part because of his father’s place in history as an Army sergeant who received campaign stars for taking part of the Battle of the Bulge and in the Central European campaign of World War II.
This fall, the 53-year-old Torrance native received the Bronze Star for meritorious service and leadership during the 2009 drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq, during which he led a team of soldiers responsible for analyzing and disseminating intelligence information throughout central Iraq.
Mozeleski is a graduate of North Torrance High School and has been employed as an analyst and retail management by Ralphs for 35 years and is currently a shift manager at a location in Long Beach. After training at Ft. Dix in New Jersey, he was deployed to Ft. Lewis, Washington in the aftermath of 9/11.
Recently returned from his year’s deployment with the 368th military intelligence unit, Mozeleski went on a three-week tour to Korea to participate in military exercises. He and his fellow reservists are continuing to train for a possible deployment to Afghanistan to identify threat networks and how they are funded.
Mozeleski spoke to Dateline about his cross-cultural experiences as a student at California State University, Dominguez Hills, watching the Iraqi infrastructure stabilize in the wake of war, and finding his place in history.
Dateline: How was your unit’s work critical to the drawdown of U.S. combat troops from Iraq in the summer of 2009?
CW2 Theodore Mozeleski: In that month after we arrived in Iraq, the U.S. handed over primary responsibility for security to the Iraqi Security Forces. Our unit provided both the ISF (Iraqi Security Forces) and the U.S. forces reports and information to help the commanders make good operational decisions. On June 30, the handoff took place.
Two weeks after that was the 12th Imam commemoration, a Sharia pilgrimage to a shrine in Chadamiyah. The security of the pilgrimage was the exclusive responsibility of the Iraqi security forces. Their performance was outstanding. They ensured that no high profile attacks occurred. There may have been a few very small attacks, but their performance was so impressive that it gave the confidence that the Iraqi security forces were mature and fully capable.
Dateline: What is the most current status on the Strategic Framework Agreement?
CW2 Mozeleski: The Iraqi people have been very brave and resilient in the last few years. They’ve endured terrorist attacks and sectarian violence but they’ve unified as a country. Now that the security situation has to a large degree stabilized, they’re focusing on the establishment of a rule of law and provision of essential services such as clean water, electricity, and sewer services.
The U.S. Army has developed an excellent mentorship model with the Iraqi security forces, which has enabled them to take control of their security and given the Iraqi populace pride in their security forces. This has developed a more secure Iraq both for its populace and for the remaining United States forces.
A lot of the infrastructure has decayed because Iraq has been in a perpetual state of war since 1980. The focus of the Iraqi people is more toward essential services and living a normal life, i.e. going to the park with their families and enjoying social events. Also, Iraqis are choosing democracy. There’s a strong motivation to participate in governance and vote, which brings me to another seminal event in my tour, the parliamentary election of March 2010.
Al-Qaeda stated that they would prevent the elections through military means. I was stationed in western Baghdad. Before dawn, we started to hear and feel multiple explosions sporadically throughout Election Day. There were scores of explosions with the intent by terrorists to intimidate the populace from participating in the election. But the courage of the Iraqi people prevailed and the voter turnout was excellent.
Dateline: What is the benefit of sending older, more experienced soldiers out to work with younger soldiers?
CW2 Mozeleski: The benefit is life experience. Older soldiers have perspective and stability. The younger soldiers bring outstanding technical savvy to the mission and many of them have keen insight and the older soldiers bring the historical perspective.
From my perspective, the current military has a greater cross-generational influence than perhaps it did 30 years ago. I think that’s a [result] of a volunteer army. For instance, by being a professional force with more tenured leaders and soldiers, they’re able to develop their skill set over time, whereas when you have a conscripted force, soldiers have skills, that they’ll use for a year or two and [the skills] perish as soldiers leave.
Dateline: How did your college education prepare you for the Army?
CW2 Mozeleski: The primary benefit was the cross-cultural experience I gained at Cal State Dominguez Hills. The student body was represented by 50 to 100 nations. Many of the students were from the Middle East, from Bahrain, Lebanon, and Iran. From the tremendous cross-cultural experience of attending Dominguez Hills, I understood that cultures and societies viewed things differently.
Dateline: Is there more of an understanding of other cultures in today’s military?
CW2 Mozeleski: Yes, there’s been an improvement. For example, prior to deploying, we were trained on the history of Islam and the culture of the Middle East. It helps the service members to identify and to understand the plight and motivations of the people in the area they’re operating.
In the current operational involvement, a large portion of operation is non-kinetic, by that I mean non-violent. The more we can leverage non-kinetic efforts such as in civil affairs and information operations, the fewer casualties will ensue, both with the populace and with U.S. forces.
Dateline: What do you think your father would say to you today for your achieving the Bronze Star?
CW2 Mozeleski: Ironically, he died on Feb. 1, 2009 and 10 days later I went for my first training in the East Coast in preparation for my tour to Iraq. I knew I was going but times were hard for him and I didn’t want to mention it yet. He was 89. He would say, ‘Outstanding job.’