Fallujah 2: Bush Bushwhacks the Marines

Mr Happy

I found this on the web, a politcal reason for the USMC failing to win in Faluja, personally I thought they fought appallingly and I'm not convinced that Bush's political decisions listed here are genuine. E.g. Spot the Kerry publicicty machine....

The email address of the author is there should you wish to point out exactly how useless the USMC really are...

Fallujah 2: Bush Bushwhacks the Marines
By Gary Brecher ( war_nerd@exile.ru )

Last time I took you on a nostalgia tour of our first year in Fallujah, from April 2003, when we blasted 20-odd demonstrators outside the local schoolhouse to March 2004.

Today I'll bring the story up to date by tracking our last four months in F-Town -- the wildest four months since Napoleon decided he was bored with Elba and hijacked a boat for the mainland.

On March 24, 2004, the US command in Baghdad announced that the 82nd Airborne, which had been in charge of Fallujah since we got there, would be replaced with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), which was basically the 1st Marine division with attached air support. The 82nd had tried to play good cop; the Marines were going to crack some heads, convince the locals to stop messing with us.

The folks in Fallujah were just as eager for action as the Marines. One week after the Marines moved, in, four "security contractors" driving through Fallujah were ambushed.

You probably remember what happened next. The four American corpses were kicked, beaten and finally hung up on a bridge. That wasn't just high spirits, that was strategy. The Fallujah insurgents wanted to get the Marines angry enough to come in blasting. The first ambush was just a way of setting up a way bigger ambush -- an old, old guerrilla tactic. Rumsfeld was on TV next day promising we'd "find and punish" the killers.

The Marines hit Fallujah hard on April 4.

It was a tough fight. The Fallujah insurgents have played it smart all the way, daring us to fight them on their own terms, in the crowded little dirty alleys they know by heart. It was a messy fight. Urban combat is just naturally gory and sloppy, and one thing this war's shown is that we're going to have to think hard about how to do it next time. War planners would rather not think about urban warfare. Their plans work much better in places like Utah or the Kuwait border: nice clean deserts.

Cities are like forests, and forest fighting is a mess. Commanders always hated it, tried to stay on open ground if they could.

Think about the Wilderness and Spotsylvania in the Civil War. Units get lost, cavalry (horse or mech) is useless, locals have a huge advantage.

In an urban war landscape, every window is a fighting position. When the Russians tried to take Grozny from the Chechen insurgents, they found out about the "vertical warfare" problem in city fighting. Most of Grozny was apartment buildings, big hulks nine or ten stories high. Advancing down the streets was like entering a canyon, where the enemy controls the high ground. Chechens on the roofs with RPGs blasted the first and last APCs, then finished off the stalled column without even working up a sweat.

The Marines were fighting well in Fallujah, but losing men for every street they advanced. And things were going even worse in the rest of Iraq. On April 6, we lost 12 Marines in a classic urban ambush in Ramadi, next door to Fallujah.

Then Bremer shut down al Sadr's newspaper -- now there was a smart move! -- and every Shiite slum in Baghdad, Karbala and Najaf turned on our troops. We were involved in urban combat on two fronts, a commander's nightmare. In two days, April 11 and 12, we lost 23 men.

The Iraqis who weren't shooting at us directly started kidnapping foreigners to take the pressure off the besieged cities. By April 12, they'd kidnapped a total of 40 foreigners: Japanese, Koreans, and even a Canadian. Imagine this liberal Canadian peacenik blogger trying to explain himself to the Jihadis who have him posing on his knees in some back room, with a big scimitar against his skinny throat: "I am NOT an American! I mean, I'm an 'American,' because like we always say, the US isn't the only 'America,' Canada is also American-" At this point they start sawing at his neck and he gets desperate, "Wait! You misunderstood! I'm Canadian! Lookit the big red maple leaf on my backpack! Listen to my accent, here: 'Get me OOT of here, Mommy!' -- you hear that 'oot'? Instead of 'out'? Aaagh!"

Bush decided to cave under the pressure. On April 11, Marines were ordered to accept a "truce" in Fallujah. The next week, Bush's people were desperately looking around for somebody they could make a deal with. On April 19, Bush's people announced that we had an agreement in Fallujah. The US would call off the Marine snipers (who were doing a great job picking off insurgents -- like I said, city fighting is a sniper's dream), and in return the people of Fallujah would turn in all "heavy weapons": surface-to-air missiles, mortars and machineguns.

Makes you kind of wonder what the garages look like in that town. Kids must get ashamed when they bring their friends over and there's nothing but a couple of RPGs: "Gee, Rashid, MY daddy has a brand-new SA-7 and a BMP-76 in OUR garage!"

The "heavy weapons" deal didn't work all that well. Gen. Kimmitt -- you know, the skinny guy who gets paid to tell Saigon lies at Baghdad press conferences -- said: "There's been some intangible progress, even though we did not see a tremendous number of weapons turned in."

I like that bit about "intangible progress." How do you get "intangible progress" with machineguns? A machinegun is pretty tangible. Love may be just a state of mind, but a machinegun -- that's pretty tangible. Another great line of Kimmitt's: "...we did not see a tremendous number of weapons turned in." Turns out that was kind of an understatement: "On Wednesday, [April 21],police officers [in Fallujah] delivered a pickup truck filled with rusty and largely inoperative weapons, not the modern equipment military officers had wanted."

One lousy pickup bed of stuff! That's worse those ghetto "handgun buyback" programs where they try to get paid for a piece of pipe taped to a saw handle.

I can just see the scene: a bunch of disgusted, angry USMC officers watching this pickup pull up and getting a peek at the big haul: two British shotguns and some granddad's rhino-horn dagger. "So you're telling us THIS is what's been killing our men for a week?" "Oh yes yes! This is all! Fallujah now peaceloving unarmed city! Yes yes!"

It was so ludicrous even Bush's people had to face the fact that the only way to pacify Fallujah was to let the Marines do their job and take the city by storm. Even Rumsfeld admitted that the old men we'd made this phony truce with had no power over the insurgents.

On the April 24-25 weekend, Bush and Rumsfeld flew to Camp David for a videoconference with the Brass in Iraq on what to do with Fallujah. The Marines were psyched, finally sure they'd get the chance to do what they were trained to do.

This is the key moment in the battle for Fallujah, and I suspect for the whole war. And in the end, it came down to one simple fact: Bush chickened out. He or his handlers decided they couldn't risk casualties on the scale this battle would take while they were going for reelection. Sometime that weekend, they decided the Marines weren't going to get the chance to win the battle. They were going to be called off in favor of some cheap PR face-saving strategy. Monday, April 26 -- and as far as I'm concerned, this goes down in history as Black Monday -- the announcement came from Bush that "the US has opted to delay the Fallujah offensive...in favor of joint patrols" of Marines and local Iraqi security forces.

"Joint patrols"! That was it! Bush went on TV to tell the suckers that, "the situation in Fallujah is returning to normal." Well, if "normal" is leaving the enemy in possession of the city, letting them ambush any Marine patrol they want, then Hell yeah, Fallujah was as normal as it gets. He also said the joint patrols would make the city "secure." But to be fair, he did admit there were, and I quote, "pockets of resistance" still operating in Fallujah. Yeah. Like there are pockets of gambling in Vegas.

I wanted to spit on the TV screen.

So the battle of Fallujah was over, and we lost. The Marines were ordered to withdraw from the city. From now on they went in only as part of these ridiculous "joint patrols." Since then we've only attacked the city from the air, because that way we don't risk any casualties. Of course we also don't have a chance of dislodging the enemy, and we leave them in possession of the field, and we make our brave soldiers look ridiculous -- but I guess none of that is as important as PR for the election campaign.

Bush didn't even have the decency to mention the four dead contractors whose killers he and Rumsfeld promised we'd find and punish. Like all his big talk and promises to get tough, the dead were just plain forgotten. "Bring it on" -- yeah, sure. Until it might cost votes. Then he's all, "Call it off! Call it off!"

I thought that was the ultimate humiliation for American arms. But I was wrong. There was worse to come: these miserable ex-Saddam soldiers we stuffed into uniform and sent to patrol Fallujah under the command of an ex-Republican Guard general started to whine about having to patrol with the Marines. They said the Marines would draw fire, and that affected their safety. Poor babies.

This defeat -- this disgrace, more like it! -- has got our enemies all excited. "Fallujah" is a rallying cry now for Muslim crazies all over the world. It's like their Bastogne, their Alamo. It will go down in their histories as the turning point in the war, the moment when we faced off against them and we flinched first. And I'm not talking just about the war in Iraq, I mean the bigger, longer war we're supposed to be fighting.

The worst of it is, our troops fought brilliantly, damn it. No matter how ridiculous and contradictory their orders were, our Marines never flinched, never backed off, never showed fear.

It was our leader, our President, who chickened out, just like he did when it was his time to face combat in Nam 30 years ago. Once a chicken, always a chicken -- that's the lesson, I guess.

You know, in a lot of countries, politicians betraying an army fighting for its life in the field...a lot of times that sets off a military coup. Actually that might not be a bad idea.
You say they fought appallingly.. can you expand?

Presumably you where there on the ground, rather than just seeing on TV in order to make such a judgement.

Mr Happy

There's another thread BB, it went into some detail but was based on some of us and the news reports and guys that fought alongside (I think one of the mods if memory serves).

If nothing else, this quote should concern you??? [quote"the article above"]Last time I took you on a nostalgia tour of our first year in Fallujah, from April 2003, when we blasted 20-odd demonstrators outside the local schoolhouse to March 2004. [/quote]though I admit that without checking the earleir article I can't comment on if that bit was the Marines

Hold on though, link to other thread coming up:

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