By Debra Holtz
Conflict is familiar turf to most attorneys, but being a U.S. Army Reserve lawyer in war-torn Iraq carries it own set of challenges. Edward Riffle ’94 spent the past year in Baghdad enabling the Iraqis to set up their own military, police forces and military courthouses — considered key steps to withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq.
“Our mission of advising and transitioning control over to the Iraqis is particularly important as it allows us to ‘help them help themselves’,” Riffle says.
Working for the Multi-National Security Transition Command in Iraq, Riffle is stationed in the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad. He only ventures out of its relative safety to visit the Iraqi Ministry of Interior across the Tigris River and the military courthouses north of Baghdad, in Mosul and in Basrah.
Riffle says his interaction with Iraqi army officials has convinced him that the United States should not leave Iraq until it achieves independence.
“It’s clear to me the importance of what must be done, after the initial combat is concluded, to minimize the impact on the Iraqi citizens and to help the country get back on its feet,” he says.
Riffle says he always wanted to serve in the military, but put it off to attend law school and have a family. After the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, he joined the Army Reserve. When he was called to active duty in December of 2006, Riffle temporarily left behind his law firm as well as his wife and three children in Southern California.
“The one who has really had to shoulder the burden of my mobilization and deployment has been my wife, Nancy,” he says. “The greatest challenge for me will be making it up to my wife and kids upon my return home.”