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Chief Warrant Officer 5 James Roussell, a 56-year-old tactical intelligence officer from Chicago, with 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6, stand with Marines who work with him in the battalion’s intelligence shop and Marines from the Personnel Security Detachment who escorts Roussell to the various meetings he attends throughout Fallujah. Roussell joined the Marine Corps in 1970 and served in Vietnam, the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Roussell has dedicated most of his life to keeping Americans safe both overseas and on American soil serving as a Chicago Police Officer for the last 29 years with the anti-gang tactical unit. (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Stephen McGinnis)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Stephen McGinnis

'The Wizard' shares counterinsurgency knowledge with 2/24 Marines

22 Jul 2008 | Pfc. Jerry Murphy 1st Marine Division

More than 36 years ago Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jim M. Roussell, the assistant intelligence officer for 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, was deployed to Thailand in support of the war in Vietnam.

Today, Roussell is walking the streets of Iraq with an abundance of combat experience and more than enough understanding of counterinsurgency to pass on to Marines in his battalion.

Deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom for the third time, he remains humble when it comes to his service saying, “I’m here for these young guys who have embraced the concepts we have taught them very well – to try to teach them everything I know.”

Throughout his nearly 38 years of service in the Marine Corps Reserve, Roussell, nicknamed “The Wizard” because of his wealth of knowledge, has held many job titles.

After enlisting in the Marine Corps in 1970 with an open contract, Roussell was assigned the military occupational specialty of musician. Upon completion of his first enlistment, he re-signed as an infantryman where he stayed through the rank of master sergeant before becoming a warrant officer in the intelligence field.

During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Roussell served as the commanding officer of Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Bn., 24th Marines.

He also served as a tactical intelligence officer with 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, in Fallujah, Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom 05-07.

Roussell said his experience in the intelligence led him to volunteer for the current deployment to assist a fellow reserve battalion in the fight against terrorism in Fallujah.

Like most Marines in the battalion, Roussell is a reservist mobilized in support of the war. Back in Chicago he has made a second career with the city police department, where he is a lieutenant.

Roussell compares the tactics he and the Marines he serves with here use to those he uses in the police force.

“I would say that there is about a 70 percent similarity between street gangs and terrorists,” said the 57-year-old. “Insurgents try to hide amongst the population; so do gang members. The real difference is that street gangs are motivated by profit. In the insurgency, there is no profit but a whole lot more violence. So we are almost dealing with the same thing, just more violence (here).”

Many Marines throughout the battalion said they have benefitted from Roussell’s knowledge pertaining to the Marine Corps and counterinsurgency tactics.

“Chief Warrant Officer Roussell’s comprehension on how insurgents and criminals think and function is astonishing,” said Cpl. Andy Behnfeldt, the targeting noncommissioned officer for 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines. “He has probably forgotten more about intelligence and counterinsurgency than most people will ever know.”

Regardless of his own accomplishments and experience, Roussell credits the Marines in the battalion who are living among the Iraqi people everyday to provide over watch in hopes of a safer tomorrow.

“Our guys are out there living with the local people, experiencing the same things they are,” he said. “They’re out there interacting with the people and building relationships with the children. They’re the ones who deserve the credit.”

1st Marine Division