Good afternoon, today is April 17, 2005, my name is Megan Ramirez and I am conducting an interview of Special Agent Paul Ramirez of the Drug Enforcement Administration, a former military service combat veteran. The purpose of this interview is to examine the impact of U.S. military service on Special Agent Ramirezís career and life today in Del Rio, Texas.
MR Mr. Ramirez, when did you join the U.S. military?
PR In 1980.
MR Why did you join the military?
PR Well because I came from a, a poor family in a background and I wanted to see um, what life was all about outside of the small town that I came from.
MR What were your occupational titles and descriptions in the military?
PR I served as an intelligence chief. Uh, I also served as a special operations uh, service member. Uh, I was a linguist and uh, I also worked as a staff writer.
MR In what type of domestic and foreign deployments did you participate?
PR Well I deployed all over the United States uh, in various uh, bases throughout the United States and uh, overseas as well to include uh, Japan, Thai Land, Korea, uh, Philippines, uh, Central America, Europe, and a few other places.
MR During your military service, did you deploy to combat environments?
PR Uh, yes. Both in uh, the Persian Golf War during 1990 and 1991 and also in Bosnia in 1993.
MR If so, to what regions did you deploy?
PR Well, uh, once we were established in the Persian Golf in 1990-1991, I did travel to Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuwait, and surrounding areas and uh, during my deployments in 1993, I traveled to Northern Italy and Bosnia, Herzegovina and uh, surrounding areas.
MR Let us examine one of those deployments. First off, could you discuss your experiences in Desert Storm I?
PR Yes, uh. We did extensive training prior to deploying to the Persian Gulf and uh, uh departed in August 1990 and returned in May of 1991.
MR What kind of specialized training did you go through before you were deployed to Desert Storm I?
PR Prior uh, to being deployed uh, we did conduct field training exercises uh, had a little bit of language uh, studies and uh, studied the cultures and the economic situation in the Persian Gulf region area.
MR Upon being trained for combat, were you prepared for the dramatic change of situation, i.e. surviving in a combat situation?
PR No, not really uh, because of the big cultural differences between uh, living in the Middle East and, and surviving in the Middle East and our current culture in the United States. There was a vast difference and uh, being deployed out there and, and surviving in that situation.
MR Who was the president during Desert Storm I war?
PR That would have been President George W. Bush Sr.
MR What were the presidentís views about Desert Storm I?
PR I believe his views at the time were that he wanted to spread democracy into the region and was interested in assisting uh, us assisting the Arabs free Kuwait that have been over-run by a neighboring country of Iraq.
MR How do you feel Desert Storm I was handled by the president?
PR Well, I believe that he did a great job in handling that particular war. However, uh, due to the United Nation resolutions we were not afforded the, the opportunity to go in and uh, finish up the war in Iraq. Uh, we were able to throw the Iraqis out of Kuwait however; I felt we could have done better. We were only four hours away and uh, we should have gone to the capital of Iraq and taken over that country and reestablish it.
MR What was Saudi Arabiaís view concerning the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq?
PR Saudi Arabia was terrified uh, when they realized that Iraq had invaded and Sad am Hussan and his army had invaded Kuwait and they felt that the Iraqiís once they established a strong hold on Kuwait, were going to continue itís southward advance and take over the country of Saudi Arabia because of itís rich oil uh, resources in the area.
MR How were you treated by host country nationals, i.e. Saudi Arabia?
PR We were treated very nicely by, by the uh, Arabs once we arrived there. Uh, of course we couldnít communicate to well with them. That they did speak limited English but we were able to uh, ascertain and, and inform them of what we needed to accomplish our mission out there but they were pretty, pretty decent folks and uh, but we could tell that they didnít want us there any longer than we absolutely had to be there to accomplish our mission.
MR What issues i.e. economic, social, political, religious did you encounter in the Middle East?
PR Well, some of the issues we encountered were uh, for instance, we had to practice our religion uh, in our own base camp area and could not publicly display that. Uh, we were not permitted to drink alcohol; you could not have any type of pornography. Uh, there were so many different of things we had to watch out for uh, that could have, could have easily jeopardized and caused an international incident.
MR Do you feel your training was adequate for preparing you to address the various issues we just discussed and in your ability to adapt to a completely different culture?
PR I think that the training was just enough to, to, uh, um, just enough for us to accomplish the job. However, uh, we could have used additional training uh, in, in cultural diversity, uh, the politics of that region and thatís something the military is addressing and uh, attempting to uh, improve.
MR Do you feel that these issues suppressed your ability to feel like an American and enjoy American freedoms while stationed in the Middle East?
PR Yes. Uh, because I signed on uh, to be and American, to fight on behalf of America. However, uh, I along with fellow soldiers felt suppressed and that we could not publicly display and uh, be Americans despite the fact that we were over uh, in a different country saving them from a hostile aggressor.
MR Upon being freed from Iraqi occupation forces by the American alliance, what was then the Kuwaiti attitude towards occupation of their country?
PR Well, I believe that the uh, Kuwaitiís were a lot more um, liberal in their attitudes towards the United States as opposed to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia was, is, was and still is closed and uh, their views towards Americans is, is decent but they believe in sovereignty. The Kuwaitiís on the other hand, um, reach out to America and enjoy and have changed a lot of their way of lives, ways of life, uh, and parallel to that of the United States.
MR Did the United Statesí attitude evolve from the start of Desert Storm I to its end?
PR Yes. Uh, initially, uh, I believe that America was not fully aware of why we were going over to the Persian Gulf region. However, over the course of several months and the fact that CNN did start uh, televising events as they occurred in the Persian Gulf. They were able to see and understand uh, better the circumstances in that region and empathized with uh, the countries of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and as a result of that, since it was a high intensity conflict, we went in and uh, uh, assisted Kuwait and their freedom and uh, deter the Iraqis from invading Saudi Arabia. So we did, in fact, accomplish our goal and as a result when we came back to the United States we were uh, treated very nicely by the, and very, very well received by the American public.
MR How were you and other veterans received by the public upon your arrival back to the United States from combat?
PR Well, we were given uh, heroesí welcome once we arrived in California and were given uh, uh, just uh, a tremendous amount of benefits by the public. A lot of free uh, things uh, that were given to us by uh, our communities and uh, during the war as well as after the war, once we returned we had lots of benefits.
MR When you returned from Desert Storm I, did you anticipate that U.S. troops would re-deploy for a potential Desert Storm II operation?
PR Yes. I, I anticipated that because we were not able to march on to the capital of Iraq, that we would have to come back to the region and readdress the issue. As it turned out, I had estimated about ten years uh, so I, I, believe that uh, when we did finally re-deploy it was about the eleven year mark so I was pretty close to my prediction.
MR Although wars are different in their own nature, what similarities, if any, have you been able to assess between Desert Storm I and Desert Storm II?
PR The similarities uh, between both conflicts that I have been able to uh, ascertain, I guess would include the high morale of forces serving in both conflicts, the high state of readiness, uh, the continued preparation by U. S. military forces and the eagerness in accomplishing their objectives.
MR What differences have you noticed between Desert Storm I and Desert Storm II?
PR As far as differences go, I would say that um, Desert Storm I was a high intensity conflict so we were able to locate and identify the enemy in the desert. We were able to engage them and defeat them, where as Desert Storm II has become somewhat of a mid- to low-intensity conflict, in other words they have moved from the open combat arena, in the desert to house-to-house fighting. Fighting insurgents and guerillas, which if it continues for much longer, is gonna turn into a what I would believe be another Vietnam. Which would become an unpopular war in which case I think we, we would, will have lost that war if it continues on any, any longer than I would say the next eight to ten months.
MR How long do you anticipate Desert Storm II operation will last?
PR I anticipate that the operation will last another fifteen to sixteen months.
MR Do you feel President George W. Bush Jr. is doing the best he can with resolving Desert Storm II?
PR No. Personally, uh, I believe that uh, once we went in and uh, set up forces in Iraq, we were able to uh, remove Hussan from power. We were able to uh, set up new police forces and secure the area for their elections. I believe that, at that point, we should have left the area and let the country grow on its own. Uh, I believe that we could have left forces off the coast for, in the event of a contingency. However, I feel that our time there has lapsed and uh, we should be pulled out of there.
MR What kind of things do you think could be done differently for Desert Storm II that can improve the outcome?
PR I believe that uh, a stronger foreign policy should be instituted and that uh, American military service members well fare should be at the top of the list uh, above everything else. We've done our job out there and I believe that, that itís time for us to uh, retrieve our forces. To take care of them and to pay them adequately for their services they have done in the area.
MR How long did you serve in the military after the war?
PR Uh, after the Bosnia war in 1993, uh, I left the service in I believe it was October of 1994.
MR Mr. Ramirez, when you left the military, what occupation did you enter?
PR Well, I worked initially for the Federal Bureau of Investigation for five years as a document exploitation uh, specialist uh, in dealing with evidence seized from crime scenes and uh, later, um, employed by the Drug Enforcement Administration in 1999 with which I have been part of for uh, six years as a special agent criminal investigator uh, dealing specifically in drug crimes.
MR How did your service in the U.S. military assist you in obtaining that new employment?
PR Well I believe that my military service uh, for being a, a linguist and uh, working in intelligence and working in special operations all loan, lent themselves out to uh, the abilities that uh, the Department of Justice was seeking and I believe that uh, as a result of all my experience uh, I was, I did have veterans preference uh, which was uh, the ability of being uh, put at the top of the list for my former military service so that in itself should tell you that uh, that law enforcement does seek former military uh, trained members that have gone through a variety of training and uh, are the type of caliber of people they are looking for, for those type of careers.
MR In total, how many years of federal civil and military service do you have?
PR Currently have 25 but by the time I retire, I should have uh, 38 years of service.
MR Do you feel your employment as a civil servant has been rewarding?
PR Yes, uh very definitely.
That concludes this interview. Thank you for your time in participating in this interview.