In honor of Memorial Day, The Sun is republishing on its website profiles of the Cornellians who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The entire series can be accessed here.
This article was originally published on Feb. 24, 2011.
An improvised explosive device detonated under the vehicle of David Andros MBA ’12 on the very first patrol he led in Iraq. On his second patrol, it happened again. Both times, Andros and his soldiers emerged from the cloud of debris unharmed.
“It was a joke at first that I was bad luck,” Andros said. “I started thinking, ‘It’s going to be long year.’”
As his unit’s Infantry Rifle Platoon Leader, Andros worried that his soldiers would feel uncomfortable going out into the field with a leader who seemed to draw I.E.D. attacks. However, his soldiers grew to respect him after he successfully handled the detonations, he said.
“I handled the situations well, and I had a good crew. I was calm and I did what I was supposed to do,” Andros said. “I developed a quick bond and trust with my unit.”
Andros has been deployed to the Middle East twice. On his first deployment to Iraq in 2007, Andros led a unit of 41 soldiers in providing security, managing civil reconstruction projects and building relationships with local leaders.
“It’s a very fluid and complex environment to manage,” Andros said. “You’re trying to conduct operations and build trust. It’s almost like you’re doing two missions that counteract each other. You have to be respectful, but you have to do your job. A lot of relationships had tension associated with them and you had to manage that carefully.”
He was redeployed to Iraq again in 2009 for another 12-month deployment. This time, he said, things had changed. Security was tighter and Iraqis were orchestrating much of their own security.
Unlike his first tour, Andros did not spend time on patrol this time around. Instead, he worked in the U.S. military’s headquarters in Baghdad, where he served as an assistant operations officer and worked to manage air assets and artillery units.
“I would track all the units and patrols, and I would provide access to [artillery and air assets] in critical situations,” Andros said.
Additionally, Andros said he would provide updates and briefings to brigade senior leadership.
Before coming to Cornell, Andros attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. There, he played Division I hockey and won the Henry Beukema award for the team’s most valuable player in 2005, according to the official website of the Army hockey team.
Andros said that witnessing Iraqis approach and interact with the American military showed him that the military was making progress toward the long-term goal of rebuilding the trust of the community. From this experience, Andros said that he learned strategies for measuring progress toward success that have proven useful at Cornell.
“The biggest parallel is working in ambiguous missions — to protect the population, rebuild infrastructure, working with local governments, working to rebuild. These are big-picture strategic goals,” Andros said.
At Cornell, Andros is the president of the Veteran’s Club at the Johnson School and is currently in the Army Reserve.
Still, Andros said he is slowly becoming more and more removed from the military. He is seeking a job in managerial finance, where he hopes to help make strategic decisions at a large company.
Original Author: Juan Forrer