Greetings! You are reading an article from The Mudville Gazette. To reach the front page, with all the latest news and views, click the logo above or "main" below. Thanks for stopping by!
November 17, 2004
All Eyes on Fallujah Part IV: The LA TimesBy Greyhawk
(See introduction to series here.)
Monday, 8 November, Opening salvos
Patrick J. McDonnell, Alissa J. Rubin and John Hendren
BAGHDAD - U.S. warplanes pummeled suspected insurgent positions in Fallouja early today as thousands of American troops advanced to the edges of the rebel-held city and prepared to launch an all-out assault.
Iraqi commandos and U.S. troops captured a hospital in Fallouja late Sunday. The facility was seized "to ensure that there was a medical treatment facility available to the population as well as making sure the insurgents could not continue to exaggerate casualties," a senior Pentagon official said on condition of anonymity.
Patrick J. McDonnell
NEAR FALLOUJA, Iraq - Thousands of troops from the new Iraqi army are training at U.S. Marine bases here to participate alongside U.S. forces in a planned full-scale assault on the insurgent-held city of Fallouja in coming days.
Iraqi forces are integral to the onslaught, U.S. officials insisted, scoffing at suggestions that the Iraqis would only be window dressing to make any invasion seem an Iraqi operation.
"They're more than just a show," Lt. Col. Gareth Brandl said of the Iraqis. "They'll be with us - shoulder to shoulder."
UNITED NATIONS - Despite accusations of interference, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Friday that it was his duty to speak up about how an assault on Fallouja might increase insecurity and disrupt elections slated for January, though he recognized that the final decision belonged to Iraq.
"We know that obviously the Iraqi government is responsible for running its affairs. But we have the responsibility to assist and work with them on the elections, and so to express concern was our business," he told the Los Angeles Times. "It's not something that one should take as amiss."
Tuesday, 9 November: The "real" battle begins
WASHINGTON - U.S. troops captured Saddam Hussein, killed his much-loathed sons and handed power over to an Iraqi interim government. But none of that succeeded in tipping Iraqi public opinion decisively in favor of the United States.
Now, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other officials say they are hoping that crushing militants in Fallouja will serve as a milestone for winning the backing of the Iraqi public and deflating the lethal insurgency.
Alissa J. Rubin
BAGHDAD - A wave of bombings shook the capital Monday night, killing at least six Iraqis and wounding more than 40 others, Iraqi and American officials said. A U.S. soldier and a British soldier were killed in separate incidents.
The first blast, a car bomb, exploded about 6:25 p.m. near St. George's Church in southern Baghdad, just minutes after U.S. and Iraqi troops launched their attack to take back control of the rebel-held city of Fallouja, about 35 miles to the west.
Patrick J. McDonnell, Alissa J. Rubin and John Hendren
FALLOUJA, Iraq - Ten thousand U.S. troops and more than 1,000 Iraqi soldiers in tanks and on foot attacked this insurgent stronghold Monday night in a long-planned offensive aimed at ending guerrilla control of the city.
House-to-house fighting raged in several Fallouja neighborhoods this morning as Marines pushed into the city under fire from insurgents holed up inside houses.
Patrick J. McDonnell
FALLOUJA, Iraq - The Marines rolled out before dawn Monday during a chilly downpour.
Water dripping from their combat gear, they walked half a mile from the staging area to the spot where a line of 7-ton troop trucks was waiting to transport them to the northern outskirts of this city.
The troops were eager to be on the move, especially toward Fallouja, where American forces began an invasion last April, but aborted the mission after five days. "Gentlemen, this is payback time," said 1st Sgt. Jose Andrade.
As the trucks began to roll, 19-year-old Lance Cpl. Rafael Pegeuro contrasted what he was about to do with what was going on his neighborhood in the Bronx. "My friends are back home flipping burgers."
Wednesday, 10 November: Has the enemy fled?
Patrick J. McDonnell
FALLOUJA, Iraq - The two dead insurgent fighters lay face down in the muddy road.
"There must be [more] bad guys around here," said Staff Sgt. Dennis Nash as he guided the 1st Platoon of Charlie Company past the bodies.
What followed was an hours-long series of firefights between the 1st Platoon and an often unseen rebel force firing from windows and alleyways in a neighborhood of stately two-story stucco houses and palm tree-lined streets.
Patrick J. McDonnell, Mark Mazzetti and Alissa J. Rubin
FALLOUJA, Iraq - U.S. and Iraqi forces pushed deeper into Fallouja on Tuesday and today, taking control of mosques, the City Hall complex and other key buildings as they searched house to house for weapons and guerrillas.
Troops from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, seized the City Hall near the city center without major resistance this morning as troops began the third day of their major offensive to take control of the insurgent stronghold, Marines said. Heavy fighting continued in some areas, including the Jolan district.
Several units encountered heavy fire from snipers and squads of guerrillas, but U.S. military leaders said that overall, resistance was lighter than expected and the advance was proceeding more quickly than anticipated.
Thursday, November 11: Hump day (this is not a 5-day week)
Patrick J. McDonnell, Alissa J. Rubin and Mark Mazzetti
FALLOUJA, Iraq - U.S. and Iraqi forces pressed into the heart of Fallouja on Wednesday, chasing insurgents out of the city's battered northern neighborhoods and crossing a key highway into densely packed quarters to the south.
After three days of combat in which as many as 600 rebels may have been killed, military officials estimated that U.S. and Iraqi troops loosely controlled about 70% of the longtime insurgent stronghold. They cautioned, however, that they had not yet conducted coordinated, house-to-house clearing operations, and commanders believe that small bands of guerrillas are still operating in areas said to be in U.S. hands.
AMMAN, Jordan - The U.S. and Iraqi military assault on Fallouja is drawing a diverse reaction from Iraqi citizens. Many decry the images of destruction, but residents in several cities describe the campaign as a painful necessity and the only way to quell the insurgent violence that continues to wrack the nation.
"They should have engaged Fallouja months ago in order to get rid of the terrorists who work against the interests of the Iraqi people and try to impede democracy in Iraq," said Muqdad Ali, a 30-year-old philosophy student in the Shiite Muslim-dominated city of Najaf, in the south.
Friday, 12 November: After the Night of Power
Alissa J. Rubin and Tyler Marshall
BAGHDAD - Iraqi insurgents have extended their reach over large swaths of the country, including sections of the capital, making it unlikely that the United States can establish the stability needed for credible elections in January even if its forces succeed in Fallouja, military and political analysts say.
There is little doubt that American-led forces will recapture Fallouja within days, the analysts say. But U.S. officials who are planning for the election face another challenge: a law and order vacuum in many Sunni Muslim areas where there are no American or Iraqi forces and insurgents can operate with impunity.
Alissa J. Rubin and John Hendren
BAGHDAD - U.S. forces pushed into southern Fallouja on Thursday after achieving many of their objectives elsewhere in the city. Continued heavy fighting in some areas increased the toll to 18 U.S. soldiers and five Iraqi officers killed since the beginning of the operation, press officers here said.
Violence flared elsewhere in the country. In Baghdad, a powerful car bomb ripped across a busy shopping street, killing at least 20 people and wounding 30, police on the scene said. In Mosul, the northern city that is Iraq's third largest, street fights raged for a second day and insurgents appeared to completely control several neighborhoods.
Patrick J. McDonnell
FALLOUJA, Iraq ? The mosque had been taken, but the fire kept coming.
"We've got chunks of territory, but these guys [insurgents] are all over the place," Marine Lt. Brandon Turner said Thursday as he stood amid shattered glass and concrete under the green dome of the Khulafah Rashid mosque, his fellow Marines resting on a plush red carpet.
Mosques being used as military positions by insurgents have come under attack from Marines. The troops usually enter the facilities on the heels of U.S.-allied Iraqi forces after the guerrillas are flushed out. Laser-guided bombs have felled at least two minarets in which snipers were holed up. Marines have found extensive weapons caches and anti-American propaganda in several mosques.
"We have a lot of mosques in our AO [area of operations], and to the best of my knowledge in only one instance did we not receive fire from a mosque," said Capt. Matt Nodine, judge advocate for the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. "These mosques have lost the protections of the Geneva Convention. We are not here to destroy mosques. But the terrorists are using them and we will go after them."
At the majestic Khulafah Rashid mosque, on the highway that divides the northern and southern portions of Fallouja, Marines attacked after taking sniper fire from one of the facility's two minarets. That minaret now lies crumbled after being struck by a 500-pound laser-guided bomb from a U.S. aircraft.
The U.S.-led attacks on mosques have also served to halt the announcements from mosque loudspeakers urging people to resist the Americans. The taped recordings castigating the "infidels" could be heard throughout the first days of the invasion, infuriating Marines.
Saturday 13 November: The Push
Patrick J. McDonnell
FALLOUJA, Iraq - U.S. forces moved Friday to consolidate control of the center of this rebel stronghold, pushing into southern neighborhoods to root out fighters dug in there.
As many as 50 rebels surrendered Friday, said Col. Craig Tucker, who heads one of the two regimental combat teams that swooped in from the north Monday.
"I understand from the enemy we have captured that their morale is low," said Lt. Col. Michael Ramos, who heads the 1st Battalion of the 3rd Marine Regiment. "They feel that the city is surrounded, and the only thing remaining for them is to surrender or die."
Alissa J. Rubin and Roaa Ahmed
MOSUL, Iraq - The Iraqi government hurriedly pulled in troops Friday to help control the burgeoning insurgency here, while Sunni Muslim preachers used weekly prayers to urge Iraqis to take up arms on behalf of their brothers in Fallouja.
The Iraqi government called in national guardsmen from camps on the Iranian and Syrian borders, according to an Associated Press report. Meanwhile, the U.S. moved a Marine Stryker battalion from Fallouja to help quell the violence in Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city.
FALLOUJA, Iraq - U.S. commanders said Saturday that they had established at least loose control over almost all of Fallouja, and estimated that 1,600 insurgents had been killed during the six-day battle to reclaim the city from the rebels.
As Marine units continued to press southward through the city, 1st Marine Division commander Maj. Gen. Richard F. Natonski said the battle had come down to "pockets of determined resistance" by increasingly hemmed-in militants.
Fighting continued throughout the city, but at a diminished pace, commanders reported.
"There are no high-fives yet," said Lt. Col. Gareth Brandl, commander of the 1st Battalion of the 8th Marine Regiment, which has seen some of the fiercest fighting. "This thing's not over."
Next: From London
Posted by Greyhawk / November 17, 2004 9:10 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
I like having visitors to my house. I hope you are entertained. I fight for your right to free speech, and am thrilled when you exercise said rights here. Comments and e-mails are welcome, but all such communication is to be assumed to be 1)the original work of any who initiate said communication and 2)the property of the Mudville Gazette, with free use granted thereto for publication in electronic or written form. If you do NOT wish to have your message posted, write "CONFIDENTIAL" in the subject line of your email.
Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com