Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona is a retired U.S. Air Force intelligence officer, having served with the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the Central Intelligence Agency. His tours of duty include Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, with operational travel in virtually every country in the Middle East.
During the last year of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, Rick served at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad as a liaison officer to the Iraqi armed forces intelligence service, where he served in the field with the Iraqi army and flew with the Iraqi Air Force. His personal observations were critical to discovering Iraqi chemical weapons use against Iranian troops. Throughout the first Gulf War he served as the personal interpreter and advisor on Iraq to General Norman Schwarzkopf. After the war, he served in northern Iraq with the Central Intelligence Agency, where he narrowly escaped an attempt on his life by Iraqi agents.
Since early 2003, Rick has been a Middle East military analyst for NBC News and can be seen regularly on NBC, MSNBC and CNBC. In addition, Rick has spoken to numerous conventions and educational institutions.
“Iraq has so much potential – natural resources, water, ports, mountains, fertile valleys, educated population. It pains me to see the shape the country is in now.” Rick believes that we cannot accurately assess what is happening in Iraq – or the region – unless we know how the United States became involved.
Rick’s book, “Ally to Adversary,” details his experiences with the Iraqis, from working with them in Baghdad in the 1980’s, to fighting them in Desert Storm. Rick went on to participate in the attempt to overthrow Saddam Hussein in the 1990’s and was involved in the escape of an Iraqi scientist and his family from Iraq to freedom in the United States.
Iraq – From the Ottomans to the Americans
An artificial country created in the aftermath of World War I combining disparate ethnic and religious groups, Iraq’s history is one of bloodshed – Turkish, British, Arab, Kurdish, Persian and now American. Rick Francona was personally involved in the relationship between Iraq and the United States since the 1980’s.
Not a history lesson, but a stimulating look at how and why the American relationship with Baghdad has brought us to where we are today. Often humorous, often critical, always pointed, Rick goes beyond the headlines and brings the story to life.
After all, he lived it.
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