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How are things really going in Falluja(h?)?

I well recall how, on the first day of the serious, large scale, televised bit of Gulf War 2, I watched, in Cracow (in Poland), the unfolding story on BBC News 24 and on nothing else. At first I was uncomfortable, as the allied forces were sucked forwards from catastrophe to catastrophe into the beckoning quagmire, like horror film extras emerging from their graves. It took me an hour or more to work out that what the pictures were actually showing (as opposed to what the BBC said they were showing) was an astonishingly rapid and almost completely casualty free (on the allied side) advance on Baghdad. The allied soldiers were not being made fools of by the ever-so-cunning Iraqi army; it was simply that the BBC were making fools of themselves.

But although the quagmire that the BBC prophesied, a cunning ambush in the streets of Baghdad, did not materialise, there was enough of a different sort of quagmire to keep BBC spirits up, in the form of lots of suicide bombings and rebellions and ructions.

At least this time it is being acknowledge that the USA is doing whatever it is that it is doing in Iraq just now on purpose. However, this time the anti-USA spin is that a significant proportion of the fighters who were supposed to be holed up in the place the Americans are taking possession of have already slipped away, and are causing mayhem elsewhere. Plus, of course, civilians are getting it in the neck too. Both claims make sense to me. But how true are they? I will be interested to see what, if anything, the Belmont Club says about this. They are covering the set-piece battle with enthusiasm. What, I wonder, will they say about the bigger picture, as the Independent is now describing it?

And if there is now a particular burst of mayhem, how long will it last? What I know about insurgency and counter-insurgency would fit snugly into one of these postings (without any MORE involved), but it is my understanding that insurgency is harder if you do not have a nice safe base, and the USA is now engaged in overrunning just such a base. So even if people are getting away and causing mayhem, it will be harder for mayhemmers to operate in the future. Yes? Or maybe: yes, but they will still find a way.

One other thing puzzles me which I have not seen mentioned elsewhere. There seems to be no agreement about how to spell the focal point of all this drama. Should we spell it Falluja or Falujah?

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42 comments to How are things really going in Falluja(h?)?

  • Thomas J. Jackson

    The BBC news is about the best alternate reality show I have ever seen. I keep waiting for Baghdad Bob to show up with Saddam in tow. Do Brits realize how much of a joke the BBC has become?

  • Mike

    Yeah, what Tom said.

    Actually, I think it’s pronounced “FAH-LOU-JAH” but it’s spelled FeatherStoneKensingtonSmythe, or alternately this week, HolyMolyDidYouSeeHowBigThatTankIsMahmood?Mahmood?HeyWhere’dEveryoneGo?BOOM

    Happy Birthday USMC. Give’em the hell they deserve.

  • tex

    However, this time the anti-USA spin is that a significant proportion of the fighters who were supposed to be holed up in the place the Americans are taking possession of have already slipped away, and are causing mayhem elsewhere.

    Speaking of al-Zarqawi, who is accused of beheading American and other hostages in grisly videotapes posted on the Internet, Metz said it was “fair to assume that he has left.”

    Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, commander of ground forces in Iraq and of the U.S. Army’s III Corps

  • Do Brits realize how much of a joke the BBC has become?

    Err, yes we do! Some of us are refusing to allow taxation without representation, i.e. the license fee, to be extorted out of us

  • Pete_London

    Well blow me down, things are going much better than they should be in Fallujah. After all, the BBC is letting us know of the Defiance amid carnage

    I went for a walk around the city last night after the Americans pulled back.

    That’s the intro. Something tells me he may be making it up.

  • anonymous coward

    For an added perspective to that of the Belmont Club, see http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/

  • Rob

    From what I have seen, the BBC have been reporting that the US/Iraqi forces are in control of 70% of the city and expect to take control of the remainder within 48 hours. The only potential pitfalls seem to be related to the “old city” area of Fallujah, with narrow streets and lots of old buildings, it is (from a military perspective) probably the most dangerous part of the city.

    I agree that the BBC seems a little too willing to assume the worst, but I’d rather see them challenging the official story than simply reporting that everything is going perfectly. In particular, civilian deaths are always to be regretted even if they cannot be avoided.

    As for the point about terrorists leaving Fallujah and attacking elsewhere, this is widely reported and so is not likely to be a product of BBC bias. The terrorists have to be credited with at least enough intelligence to run away when they see a large number of US marines and tanks bearing down on them, after all.

    The “eyewitness” piece looks a bit dubious to me, but only because it conflicts so sharply with the official stories. It may well be a problem of perspective; from a high vantage point, it’s possible to see the advance of US forces whilst glossing over some of the details, whilst on the ground it’s probably not possible to see much beyond chaos, death and weapons fire. Neither perspective is necessarily wrong, but neither is entirely accurate either.

  • tex

    THE Black Watch battle group had their heaviest day of action yesterday since their deployment in support of US troops, enduring a series of attacks, and becoming engaged for the first time in prolonged firefights.
    In four assaults in as many hours, a pilot was shot and critically injured by a sniper while flying his helicopter, a unit was ambushed and exchanged mortar fire with insurgents, and the base itself, Camp Dogwood, twice came under salvoes of rockets which injured a serviceman and damaged a helicopter.
    Before yesterday the Black Watch suffered five dead on the mission and 12 injured.
    Further attacks had been expected, but mainly on the east bank of the Euphrates where they had extended their mission to intercept resistance fighters fleeing the American onslaught in Falluja.
    Instead, the insurgents struck at the supposedly safer west side of the river, and Camp Dogwood, the heart of the Black Watch operations.
    They also switched from suicide car bombings, which have been successful against British troops and have forced commanders to review their tactics, to snipers, mortars and rockets.
    There is no evidence that yesterday’s attacks were carried out by fighters fleeing Falluja. They did, however, take place on the day that a group of militias threatened retribution against the US and its allies for the assault against the rebel stronghold.
    The message showed what has been long feared – that large numbers of the resistance had slipped through the US cordon around Falluja to regroup and attack elsewhere.

    Black Watch caught in fierce resistance

  • R C Dean

    No one knows how many slipped away, but the loss of their primary sanctuary can only degrade the insurgents military capabilities in the long run. Their other primary sanctuary, Ramadi, is also being shaped for reduction as well. With those gone, the insurgents will have lost their loci of organization, and will become smaller, isolated, less effective, easier to kill bands (unless they can create another sanctuary).

    The core of this rebellion is made up of foreign fighters and Baathist bitter-enders, neither of which is popular with vast bulk of the Iraqi populace, so the Maoist “fish in the sea” strategy is unlikely to prove successful either. At the end, it was their neighbors in Fallujah calling the air strikes, after all.

    As for the diversionary attacks, what is striking is how pathetic and strategically insignificant they are. A few platoon-sized actions? Is that all you got? Don’t make me laugh.

    Perspective, people, perspective.

  • drscroogemcduck

    In Pete’s linked article the reporter says he found six US soldiers lying dead on the ground. Doesn’t the US evacuate dead bodies if they can?

  • The entire article was obviously bogus, right from the beginning. At night, after the troops pulled back? Yeah, ’cause the marines are totally in the habit of giving up one of their major strategic advantages (ie, they can all see in the dark, while the insurgents for the most part can’t.)

    And, yes, they do tend to evac their dead, unless of course they have suffered a defeat of such crushing proportions that they have no choice but to pull back…. hmm, once again unlikely.

    I find it highly amusing that the war in Iraq has been characterized a failure. By any reasonable military standards, it’s been a success of literally historic, they’ll-be-studying-this-campaign-in-textbook proportions. However, as MSM has shown in the past, they don’t let a few facts get in the way of a good story….

  • Colin

    The BBC, post Hutton whitewash, has lost it’s teeth. Instead of being the steadfast beacon of independant reporting it once was, it has now caved in and is parrotting official press handouts like the rest of the mainstream media.
    The disastrous US/UK intervention in Iraq is a symbol of all that is wrong with the American “values”. Based on lies, bred in bloodshed and doomed to ultimate failure.
    Enjoy your TV.

  • The beeb’s “Eyewitness: Defiance amid carnage” thing (do I call it an article? A report? It’s really awkward) smacks so thoroughly of Bagdad Bob, that I find I want to know his whereabouts. He’s supposed to be working for Al Jazeera, I thought.

    This article reads like an insurgent fantasy. The details are probably stripped straight out of the memo Zarkowi handed out last week, titled “The Americans Are Coming to Fallujah, But Fear Not.”

    Back to reality: coalition forces have overrun several “terrorist slaughter houses” (Fox News’ term) which are believed to have been the location of some of the beheadings of hostages in recent weeks. It can be nothing but good that we’ve disrupted those locations.

  • zmollusc

    Speaking of the ‘fish in the sea’ method of avoiding detection (and therefore elimination) by superior forces, the battle(s) being fought in Iraq are forcing the islamic nutcases to use up ammunition. Wherever they source their supplies from, this activity will draw attention to them. “Why is that supposedly unemployed fish buying cases of 7.62? Where does he take them? Where does he get his money?”

  • Johnathan

    “Steadfast beacon of independent reporting”, writes Colin. Riiiiight. “Disastrous US/UK intervention in Iraq”….well, it certainly has been a disaster for the Saddam crime family, that’s for sure.

  • Snide

    The disastrous US/UK intervention in Iraq is a symbol of all that is wrong with the American “values”.

    …as opposed to the Baathist values that you wish still prevailed in Iraq, right? Fascist jerk.

  • Pete_London

    It seems that Last Night’s BBC News has identified the BBC’s Man in Fallujah. He’s been popping up on Al Jazeera too.

  • Rob

    It seems that the US military is claiming to have killed “hundreds” of terrorists in Fallujah. Let’s be a bit more optimistic and call it 1,000.

    However, this is in a city which had a population of 250,000, most of which has fled. If less than half of one percent of the fleeing residents have, as a result of being forced out of their city, joined up with the terrorists then this action starts to look quite dubious as an anti-terrorist operation. Remember, the terrorist’s best recruiting tool is to bring down the vengeance of the occupier upon innocent civilians, a tactic they seem to be playing to perfection here.

  • The primary military objective in Fallujah is not to kill all the ‘insurgents’ (a word with a specific meaning that is used overly broadly here, in most cases).

    Rather, it is to secure the city and remove the violent imposition of Taliban-like control on its citizens.

    To accomplish that goal required getting as many civilians to safety as possible, with the concommitant likelihood that some or many of the ‘insurgents’ would slip out too.

    That said, RC Dean’s comment is correct: a fair amount of effort, money, stores and ammunition went into creating Fallujah as a center of the violence in the Sunni triangle, so denying its use to the Ba’athists and jihadis has wider value. But no serious military leader expected this to be a definitive battle in and of itself. Of course, leaders prepared for that possibility, but it was never the most likely scenario.

  • Rob’s arithmetic is correct, but his assumptions are questionable.

    It’s certainly true that Fallujah has a very long history of defying control by central Iraqi governments. To a fair degree they did so under Saddam, although he co-opted that by simply imposing a tax on their smuggling and other profits and leaving the local thug leaders in control. Al Dhouri’s political power stemmed in part from the fact that he was closely related to tribal leaders in the area.

    However, there have been many reports from troops and other workers in the are, whom I find credible, that a large portion of the population were fed up with both the Baathist thugs and the jihadis replicating a Wahabist regime there. I have no doubt that many in the city were weary of the whole ordeal and also are weary of the current fighting there. But I do doubt that the operation there is a significant recruiter for terror activities in the triangle or elsewhere.

    A more likely trigger, if that should happen, is the decision to allow the well-educated, wealthier and mostly Shia ex-pats to vote in the upcoming elections.

  • Jody

    Riverbend, the Baghdadi girl blogger, spells it Falloojeh.

  • Rob

    Rob’s arithmetic is correct, but his assumptions are questionable.

    However, there have been many reports from troops and other workers in the are, whom I find credible, that a large portion of the population were fed up with both the Baathist thugs and the jihadis replicating a Wahabist regime there.

    I actually agree with you, but even if 99.5% of Fallujah residents sided with the Americans (and if so, why did they not act against the terrorists themselves?), the remaining 0.5% would be enough to replace the “hundreds” of dead terrorists.

    It might be an impressive military spectacle, and it might feel good to be “giving ’em hell” after all the suicide attacks and mortars, but I think it is a strategy with some large flaws.

  • J

    Snide:

    I don’t think Colin’s suggestion that American values are bad means that he thinks Baathist values are good, or even better.

    Personally, I don’t think American values are bad, but then nor do I think the war in Iraq has much to do with American values. At best the war is an attempt to spread Democracy, which was never the American way. The US was much better at simply saying “We are free and democractic, look how well it’s working for us, come and join in if you like”. That’s how the US managed to attract all the smart people with a work ethic over the last 200 odd years. Quite a plan.

    Damned if I can see what the new missionary thing is all about. As a form of self defence it’s laughable, as a gift to the world it’s debatable.

    The BBC are obviously biased. Like all news organisations, they prefer bad news to good, because it is more interesting. But more, the majority of individuals at the BBC are probably anti-war in their leanings. If you want to change that then go get a job at the BBC. Otherwise, it’s like complaining that lawyers are argumentative, or bankers are avaricious.

  • Pete_London

    It seems Coalition spokesmen may be lying to us. Half an hour ago Sky News (on tv) reported Coalition claims that at least 500 terrorists have been killed in Fallujah. This can’t be true. After all, the only mention of Fallujah on the front page of BBC News is one of Falluja troops under heavy fire

  • Rob

    I think this can be explained by the journalstic saying “”Dog bites man” is not news, “man bites dog” is”. In this context, “heavily-armed and well-trained marines kick amateur terrorist ass” is not news…

    With reference to the earlier conversation, it’s a bit worrying to see the coalition only putting the numbers of terrorists dead at around 500.

  • GCooper

    J writes:

    “If you want to change that then go get a job at the BBC.”

    Don’t be so ridiculous. It is virtually impossible to get (and absolutely impossible to keep) a job at the BBC unless you subscribe to the Guardian mindset.

    Which is precisely what is wrong with it.

  • Pete_London

    J

    Does the left remain unaware on purpose?

    But more, the majority of individuals at the BBC are probably anti-war in their leanings. If you want to change that then go get a job at the BBC.

    Nobody should need a job at the BBC in order to change it. The BBC needs to be held to its Charter, which requires it to be impartial. Short of privatisation of course.

  • Ed Poinsett USMC 1482250

    Marines don’t leave their dead, period! You want to see how deeply that is inbred? Go study the battle at Chosen Reservoir in December, 1950.

  • Ed Poinsett USMC 1482250

    Marines don’t leave their dead, period! You want to see how deeply that is inbred? Go study the battle at Chosen Reservoir in December, 1950.

  • Hylas

    The US military doesn’t provide official estimates of enemy casualties. Any quote from “coalition forces” means a reporter asked a tank commander and he gave his best guess from his part of the battlefield. When they do give quotes, they tend to underestimate the numbers, since overestimating allows the press to make charges of “wildly overoptimistic propaganda.” Put this down as lesson number 2563 from the Vietnam War, and keep it in mind when you hear exact numbers quoted.

  • Pete_London

    Hylas

    Someone is making things up then.

  • Hylas

    Pete_London,

    I don’t think that anyone is lying in this case. Not in the press or the army.

    The fog of war is especially thick in urban combat. Let me give an example. A group of 4-6 insurgents is seen to run into an abandoned building. One member of the team is a sniper who uses his covered position to pin down a group of marines. The marines call in a laser guided artillery round. A UAV flying over the city guides in the round and confirms the kill. But how many actually were killed? The sniper for sure, but did the other members of the team escape? We may never know. All we can say is one confirmed and 4-6 likely.

    So let’s change the scene to an army press conference:

    Reporter: How many insurgents have you killed?

    General: It is the policy of the army not to give official estimates…

    R: Yes yes, but what’s your personal unofficial estimate?

    G: (pause) I’d say at least 600.

    So where does this number come from? If you look up the number of precision guided rounds fired into the city at the time the reporter asked this question, it would probably be around 600. The real number could be 4-6 times higher from PGMs alone…

    This is just a natural side effect of a healthy adversarial relationship between a free press and a civilian controlled military. Nothing sinister.

  • Pete_London

    Yep, all noted. But someone (presumably) authorised gave an reportable estimate. The number is by the by anyway as the intention was to draw a comparison between what the US military is reporting as happening in Fallujah and the BBC.

  • Faust

    Now everybody here knows Fallujah is toast. The body count so far is (according to the news) between 800 to a thousand dead Arabs of various nationalities, we will all have to guess what they actually WERE, and we will never be absolutely sure. A little piece of Syria here on this wall and a few tender parts of some giblet size over there, possibly Moroccan, sniff your fingers and tell me if that smells Moroccan to you? What DOES it smell like, but enough of that.

    800 to ten, what a tidy war. Fighting Arabs is like that. And MORE to come. We all know there is more to come. The dumpster is not full yet.

    Fallujah is a done deal. And what is on the menu now that Rumsfeld (a.ka Dracula) has the Kitchen staff dishing out the simple fare we all love so well? The or’derves were delicious. What is that over there steaming next to the finger bowl? Oh YES!

    Nutritionally satisfying, a heaping plate of Arab delicacies. What is it we have? Fallujah, Samaraa, Qaem, Baaquba, Hawijah, Tallafar, Heet, Saqlawyia, Ramadi, Anah, Rawa, Haditha, Balad, Beiji, Bahraz, and Baladruz. Up and down the table a feast non pareil. Pass the bread and hand me the salt and a large fork. Bring some English mustard please.

    All warm and spread out like a whore’s legs. Arabs, yummy.

    The “insurgency” still controls some slums too. Yusufya, Latifya, Abu Ghraib, and Mahmudya. Let’s take a momentary look at the menu, shall we?

    First this bunch of places is all Saddam territory and the people in it are Saddam people. They LOVE Saddam. They want Saddam to fondle them and take them in his arms. Blessed Saddam. Kiss me, Saddam, that guy. They love Saddam more than anything. They want Saddam back and they want it all to be like it “used “ to be. This is the VISION they hold up along side every severed head they offer to the camera.

    This whole thing was planned before the war ever started. The Fedayeen were ALL THE Sons of Saddam. PBUH. Saddams’ Fidayyins, and the Security and Intelligence services. What is happening in the Provinces of al Anbar, Diyala, Mosul, and Salah el Din, Babel and elsewhere is a bright sign of what Saddam has in his heart for those that love him. Do YOU love Saddam? Really love him? Ready to shed your blood for Saddam?

    All this was the Fallback Plan before the Americans launched their Iraqi Freedom. And all this is also the MAP of where the “Insurgency“ lives and moves.
    Let’s take a close scrutinization of it all. Got your reading glasses and your notebooks?

    If you look at a map and draw a line around all these names you see a pattern revealed. It isn’t in Najaf and it isn’t in Karbala. It isn’t anywhere down south near Basrah either. Check and make sure. So what does that leave us? Look at the map.

    First norh along the Euphrates we have a line of names. The names go south and west of Baghdad to Fallujah, Ramadi, Hadithah, Anah and Qusabayah and out toward the Syrian border. HELLO, Syria. Syria says to say hello.

    The second set of towns goes northeast along the Tigris towards Tikrit and parts of Kurdistan: Hawijah, Balad and Samarra. A spur runs off toward the Iranian border: Baqubah and Baladruz, on the road to the Iran. It is hard not to think that we are looking at their lines of communication. Do you think that is what they could possibly be? Do you? Hello Iran. Iran waves back and wiggles its fingers. Yay, Iran. Hello, Sailor.

    What you are seeing is a logistics line and a communications line. It is the Car-bomb Trail. Yippe-ki Yay… get along little camels. Sort of a Sunni donkey drive for the Arab fundis who bring the knife to a throat near you. A toddling motel lined cruise toward all the smuggling that the Arabs know so well. Good at it too. It’s what they DO.

    The smuggling from Syria across Iraq to Iran is all done along these lines. It’s old, REALLY Old. Its car-bombs and slaughterhouses for the dirty Western Infidels and all sorts of stuff that makes that all possible. It all goes into southand west Baghdad and it has a big boom and a knife for Allah. And it sniffs Saddams’ ass bigtime. These people love Saddam and they want him BACK. They pine for the ‘good old days’ of Arab strongman thuggery and autocracy.

    Fallujah is the start of all this chain. It goes pop and then what next. Well, think…. What’s next. You cut a line and then what do you cut NEXT. Ramadi, of course, but at the same time you do that you cut the OTHER end of the line at the Syrian border.

    Remember Najaf? We did Najaf and THEN we did Fallujah. How is Najaf this morning. Not happy perhaps, but quiet. Fallujah will be a bit quieter also. And the car-bomb conveyor belt is all lined up and painted red for shipping (some dis-assembly required.)

    Taking Fallujah is operational for the disassembly of the Car-bomb Conveyor belt coming from Syria. When we are done with the disassembly we will attend to Syria it self. I think we will be prudent and thorough when that time comes.

    Taking Fallujah is also symbolic politically and things will hurry right along up the line to Syria by the end of December. Fallujah took what? Four days? The ball is in motion.

    Anah, right on the Syrian border will be hit at the same time Ramadi is hit. We will cut it front and back and leave the Middle towns unsupported and systematically cut each of them off while we seal them individually and crush them the way we did Fallujah.

    This will cut and crush and interdict the road back to Syria. All the towns will be taken and cut off and then cut up. Little Haditha will probably go down just before Christmas. Then we all have a X-Mas Party before continuing with the road to Iran next. Expect some political moves on Syria after the first of the year. I mean, isn’t it obvious? Wake UP, people.

    Now Guerrilla warfare like all warfare is all a matter of secure areas and logistics. If you don’t have those two things you don’t have a contest. Communications with Syria in a direct way will go way down with the towns I have listed all taken by Christmas. THEN we enter and goad Syria. I mean we make a very mean move on Syria. Something that will hurt. And then we step on the broken bones and grind our boot on the sticky nerve. Syria is going to be walking funny and pissing blood next year.

    Now the US in Iraq has some eighteen Brigades of ready troops…about FIFTY Battalions of the best trained and equipped military on Earth. Ten Battalions took Fallujah. These will be used again and some two or three Battalions will remain in and around Fallujah to keep things quiet. Ten more Battalions of the fifty will move on to take Ramadi and little lonely Anah.

    Allawi will continue to build his military base and Police and bring Shia and Kurdish troops in to the Sunni Triangle for the steady stuff… like who goes to jail and what happens to them in those cells.

    The Americans will keep up the TEMPO and Allawi will institute Martial Law throughout the Sunni Triangle as the Americans reduce it town by miserable little town and there will be some sad results for the Sunnis who will see some very unfortunate things happen right out there in broad daylight.

    Now all of this will only send the Sunni cockroaches scurrying to anyplace they think they can hide. But those places are limited and they are getting fewer. The Sunnis will not quickly become convinced that taking part in the political process is their best bet. My guess is that the Sunnis will “boycott” the Elections and be cut right out of the pie.

    The Shia’s and the Kurds will absolutely DOMINATE the new government when it finally sits to draw up a new Iraqi Constitution. The ARMY will be dominated by Kurds and Shia’s. And it will be loyal to who pays it… and that won’t be the Sunnis, it will be Allawi.

    The Sunnis will continue to kill people but it will be primarily other Sunnis and the whole region will spiral into a festering madhouse of internecine murder as they cannibalize themselves. The Shia POLICE and ARMY of Kurds will be having fun with the Sunnis for quite a while. But then it is payback time, isn’t it.?

    By next year, the regular Iraqi Army will be a far more potent force and the Sunni insurgency a far weaker one. But that’s the old sad human story; to miss the chance when it comes and pine for it ever afterward.

    Screw the Sunnis, everyone else will. I figure the Sunnis are looking at about twenty long years of poverty and happy smiling Shias and Kurds pinching their mother’s butt when she goes to buy fresh bread at the market. What’s your guess?

    Arab brotherhood? Where? Show me…

  • Pete_London

    Faust

    Stunning analysis and piercing insight. Its polite, however, to acknowledge your sources. If anyone would like to read the useful parts, stripped of Faust’s culinary rambling’s they can get it at The Belmont Club.

  • Faust

    Faust is a retired US Marine who got a Masters in Sino-Soviet relations (Russian & Chinese Politics) at George Washington Uni and was trained at the Pentagon and Langley. A long time ago.

    I made arrangements to be assigned to the Fourth Mech a year and a half BEFORE the Iraqi Invasion. I knew it was coming and I was willing to bet on it by entering a contract with the U.S. Army to be in the unit when I knew it would be moved into the region. I had contacts with Arms manufacturers and I had patents on equipment (rifle sound suppressors) being used by some Recon personnel in Fourth Mech. I also knew a US Senator retired and a Governor. I got them to recommend me.

    I was at first assigned to cataloguing the Iraqi hardware Boneyard in Kuwait. That meant making an inventory of captured weapons and machinery from the First Gulf War…it was busy work and I took one look at it and was determined to get a REAL posting.

    In less than a month I had made enough friends in the forward units in the Kabals up on the Iraqi border that I had a posting in a Recon mechanized unit of five Bradleys and a CV which did the military Intelligence for a Regiment. I was assigned to a staff of “specialists” who were under the command of an Intelligence Officer who had served in the Russian Republics as military Liason with CIA.

    I met men like myself and since I was qualified I joined their unit as a cross trained Map specialist, computer specialist and Sniper. The Sniper unit included nine men and I was one of them. I provided every man in that unit with a patented system for a sound suppressor out of my own pocket. I also qualified in combat skills and was a designated driver for every vehicle in the unit. I trained for months to fill any job in the unit. I sat in the CV behind the CO and passed him Recon maps from Satellite and Russian survey maps and we reconned three times as deep as Karbala in the desert approach along the route the Invasion actually took. We entered and surveyed the Rumaila and Jubair Oilfields and we got as close to the Basrah airfield that we could see the lights glimmering in the distance. We set up cameras everywhere we went and we gathered intelligence. We got so close to Karbala that you could hear the traffic and the dogs bark.

    I am not some wimpy casualty who has scars on my psyche and aches in my ass. I am not some trembling example of what happens to good men gone bad.
    I am deliberately what I am and I am dedicated to seeing the United States crush every Islamist rag-hat who gets in its way for whatever reason. I don’t give a ratsass how much it hurts and I will do anything to anybody to win.

    I was with the Recon unit when we advanced after the Invasion started.. we were 150 miles into the country AHEAD of the Invasion. We were passing intelligence back to the Invasion advance as they came on. We were sending them maps and outlining where to set up security units, lay out logistical lines and nets and where they would meet resistance. We set up on a hill in the desert within sight of the Baghdad Defenses a WEEK before the Invasion pierced as far as Karbala and was headed for Najaf and Kut. We had trained for a raid into Baghdad BEFORE the city fell and we entered Baghdad TWICE on raids and took a good haul using Iraqi Intelligence Officers who wanted to DEFECT as our guides. We took 58 prisoners for Intelligence BEFORE the city fell and we hauled out five Bradley loads of Intelligence Documents. We used Copperhead missile launches to clear a path in and back out and had air cover.

    And we lost one Bradley to militia and then blew that entire neighborhood to hell for their trouble. We had no one killed and we torched that Bradley ourselves rather than allow it fall into enemy hands.

    My contract was up when we completed that raid and I demanded I be allowed to head back to Kuwait. The Captain demanded I enlist in the Army for two more years. If I listened to him I would have served for two more years in his unit during the Occupation and I am not stupid. I knew what that would mean even if the politicans did not.

    I put my contract on the Captains fold down table and said I was a civilian and my Contract had been fulfilled. He cursed me and allowed me to make my own arrangements to go back south. Easier said than done Nothing was going back South, there was a sandstorm and rain and no vehicle or fuel to go anywhere until the advance came up even with us outside Baghdad.

    I found a young lieutenant who was Marine Corp Liason and a courier who had brought papers up along the advance to the Logistical units then being formed out toward the Jordanian border. I persauaded him he needed an extra gun for secuirity when he headed back south to rejoin the central Marine advance. We had an armored Humvee and a fifty caliber machine gun and he could drive and I could man the gun. We had to cross a gap of 70 miles to get from the Jordanian logistical extension to the Marines advancing east of Karbala. We did it in a run at night and made it.
    We rejoined his unit with the Marines and I applied for transportation South with the Top Sargeant…who looked at my equipment and opened my case for the Sniper rifle and saw the special sound suppressors which were not government issue and just smiled at me and told me I would have transportation as soon as it was “available”. Meanwhile I was assigned to a forward Marine unit to clear the advance then engaged. I killed four times, all of them Iraqi officers. And I was in the taking of all the terrain and population centers from Karbala to Kut.

    Our unit fought its way into Baghdad on the night the city was taken. We destroyed over twenty enemy vehicles and overcame the last of any resistance and entered the Northern suburbs of the city and set up to cover the roads leading north to Mosul out of the city. The next morning we went out looking for anyone to fight and had no takers. The city fell later that day. It was over.

    I was in Baghdad for nine whole days before I got permission and transport to head back south. I was assigned as an ambulance driver in a convoy taking wounded back to Basrah for airlift. My original unit without me present had taken Saddam Airpost and I missed that. But it was just as well.

    I was kept in Basrah for another week working in a Field Hospital with little military nurses before I was allowed to go out to the airport and the area was still not completely pacified. I was flown out to Kuwait and I made arrangements on my own to go back to the United States. I didn’t take military transportation. I didn’t fly. I went down to the port in Kuwait and went out by freighter. I took freighter traffic all the way to Seattle changing lines several times. Then I bought a second hand van in Seattle and drove back to Georgia arriving for the Fouth of July.

    It was quite a year. I have made arrangements for duty in Iran when that war breaks open. I will not be with the US military I will be working for a civilian security firm for work during the stabilzation of the situation when business goes into Iran after the country is taken.

    All the time coming back from Iraq I made money buying things in Kuwait to sell in India and Sri Lanka and loaded onto the container vessels I was using. I sold a profitable amount of Kuwait merchandise transported by Container on the freighter. I paid for the Kuwait merchandise by selling captured Iraqi miliatry weapons which I had months to transport and store in quantity while waiting for the war to begin and working in the Boneyard before being assigned to Fourth Mech Recon. Illegal? Yes I am sure. Sorry but there was a mountain of the stuff and it wasn’t inventored was it? Corrupt? probably. I’ve made a lot of money in my time. A multi-millionaire you might say. I now own a lot of land. Mountain and forest. Wild and untouched by man. A home for dear, wolves and bear. Three lakes full of fish. Plenty of oppotunities for trout fishing and the hunting of wild European boar.

    I bought Kuwaiti gold Jewelry and imported non duty luxury items and traded them in India and Sri Lanka for gem stones. This reduced my volume considerably and there is no Duty taxed on unset gems upon entry into the United States. You don’t have to even declare most of it. And my markup was a thousand percent. I made a lot of money that year plus what the Pentagon paid me for my contract which was alot more than it paid regular Army.

  • Rob

    The Sunnis will continue to kill people but it will be primarily other Sunnis and the whole region will spiral into a festering madhouse of internecine murder as they cannibalize themselves. The Shia POLICE and ARMY of Kurds will be having fun with the Sunnis for quite a while. But then it is payback time, isn’t it.

    Assuming you’re serious, I can only describe this as an utterly stupid statement. Invading Iraq to topple one murderous regime, merely to replace it with another, is not (as far as I’m aware) coalition policy. I want to ask why you think this would be a better outcome than simply leaving Saddam in charge, but I don’t hold out much hope of an answer that I would find intelligible.

    I may be a relative newcomer here, but I’ve spent enough time on the ‘net to recognise the gibberings of a troll. The tell-tale signs are all there, from the RANDOM capitalisation of words for no OBVIOUS reason, to the missing words, dodgy punctuation and strange semi-conversational tone (albeit a conversation with someone who is particularly drunk).

    My apologies if I have misread or misunderstood your point, but the aforementioned years of internet usage have led me to stop giving people the “he’s probably just taking the piss” benefit of the doubt.

  • veryretired

    I’m sitting here watching an episode of Monty Python on BBC America while I read this thread, and the disconnect is very strange, to say the least.

    I am a TV baby of the first order, much to the dismay of my wife, and it isn’t unusual for me to have 2 or 3 going at the same time in different rooms, sometimes watching the same thing as I move around the house, and sometimes watching two different channels, usually sports, that happen to overlap.

    But, as a student of the theater, I understand the concept of “willing suspension of disbelief” both intellectually and emotionally. Therefore, when I see a movie or TV show, I do not confuse the neatness of plotting with the messy reality of real life.

    It does not cause me any feelings of panic when things don’t go just right, or when difficult problems are not all solved in time for the ten o’clock news broadcast.

    It would appear, however, that many people have been caught up in the “immediacy” mindset, most clearly shown in the breathless “breaking news” flashes that punctuate TV everytime some celebrity passes wind, or some decrepit terrorist finally succumbs to whatever it was that no one could figure out (wink wink).

    The war against terror, in any of its many parts, such as Iraq, and, more specifically, the battle in Fallujah, is mystifying, and frustrating, to a great many people because it doesn’t fit into the neat categories we have adopted.

    I have referred to the movie “Network” before. If any have watched it, recall the final breakup of the affair between Holden and Dunaway. His speech is the pure pain of regret as he describes how their tumultuous relationship is degenerating into one of her TV scripts. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor.

    Part of the undercurrent I am hearing regarding Fallujah, a microcosm of the whole, is that it is NOT going to solve the insurgency problem in Iraq. No it won’t. It will also not be all laid out in mini-series format, the story wrapped up, with no loose ends, after two or three days.

    The real world is messy, chaotic, hard to figure out, and never, ever so clear cut as some would demand. Our demand for neatly wrapped packages has reduced our ability to grapple with the ongoing confusion that is real life, especially war.

    It is necessary to recall that after Ike gave the go ahead for Normandy, he sat down and wrote a press release accepting responsibility for its failure. There are no sure things.

  • Rob, I don’t know Faust at all and cannot vouch for his story, although I have known (and been charmed and repelled both by) a Marine pilot who set up a whorehouse and stashed gold in Switzerland during Vietnam.

    All that aside, however, Faust’s description of a systematic offense against the Sunni ‘insurgents’ in the north matches US current military doctrine with a strong Marine flavor to it. Wretchard over at Belmont Club has good insights, but he is not making military doctrine for the US nor (so far as I can tell) is he current in US tactics at the hands-on level.

    In other words, it’s not at all clear to me that Faust is echoing Belmont Club. I suspect he is pretty much who he says he is.

  • Pete_London

    Robin

    Read the link I posted to The Belmont Club (‘The River War’) then come back and read Faust’s first post above. Much of his post is lifted, word for word, from The Belmont Club.

  • Yes. But much of that language isn’t original to Belmont Club – it comes directly out of US military doctrine and related DOD analyses. Belmont’s post reads like a whole bunch of things I read regularly in my job.

    You can find similar things in Parameters and in some of the online docs from the Army War College etc. You can read more of it in Max Boot’s writings (where the Marine flavor comes through strongly) and similar sources.

    I know Wretchard has a strong readership and s/he does a good job of recasting this stuff for general readership. I enjoy his blog too. But in most cases the insights into mil ops aren’t unique to Wretchard and don’t originate there — I work with a bunch of people who could write those posts with greater detail and authenticity, but you’d see a lot of the same phrases and analyses because that’s what the military doctrine we’re using calls for.

  • Hylas

    Pete_London,

    “the intention was to draw a comparison between what the US military is reporting as happening in Fallujah and the BBC”

    OK, I see your point now.