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Trust a Marine to tell it true.

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  • Trust a Marine to tell it true.

    This is just a small piece of a larger body of writing.
    It is a well written side of the battle of Falluja, and the (Iraqi Civil Defense Corps), i did not read about, til now.

    You would be very proud of the Marines as they have been able to switch gears from intense offensive operations back to what we call "stability operations." Stability operations simply translates to getting out into the countryside and teaching Iraqi Police and soldiers how to do their jobs. More importantly, our priority is just making contact with them and trying to instill a sense of confidence and pride in what they are doing. As I have shared with you over the past 15 months or so, it is hard to imagine trying to establish a police force or "national guard" (the equivalent of what we are working with) out of a population that has never even seen such entities as we understand them. If you said National Guard in Missouri, most people would think "the guys who show up when there is a flood, blizzard or tornado to help people." Or maybe after 9/11, that guy at the drug store who left for Iraq for a year as part of an engineer unit.

    Here, they simply have no paradigm of what such a force is. We have to sit down and go over the most basic principles of protecting the people by being there to help when there is a crisis on one hand and getting out on night ambush to keep the muj out of the village on the other. As a whole they did disintegrate or worse during the April fighting. I have heard a lot of false exaggeration about the fact that the Iraqi Army would not stand and fight with the Marines in Falluja or the Army in Baghdad. Nonsense.

    I could tell you stories of individual heroics of Iraqi soldiers. One specific example is of an Iraqi SgtMaj who came into our lines during the first days of fighting in Falluja. He made his way through the mujahadeen and risked being killed by us to tell us that he was concerned about the ICDC (Iraqi Civil Defense Corps) armory in town. He knew it was only a matter of time until the muj went for the armory to take the weapons. Honestly, I would have thought that they had already done it as the police stations and every other good piece of ground seemed to be occupied by the muj by that time. In short, he wanted to let us know that he was going back into the town to get the weapons. The Marines asked him if he wanted us to help. No. He only wanted us to take the weapons from him when he came back through. This guy took a couple young Iraqi soldiers with a truck and drove back through our lines into the hornets nest of Falluja. He went to the armory, emptied the weapons and ammo stored there and brought it back out through the fighting to us. We expected him to want to stay with us or to move on to Baghdad or some other safe area. He refused and stated that he was going back into the city as that was where his duty was. Not a coward by even the most cynical standard.

    We had a group that showed up shortly thereafter. You have probably heard about them as they came out of Baghdad and on the way were ambushed a couple of times. By the time they made it here only 200 of 700 were in their ranks. I know that the public story is that they folded after a couple of days of fighting and disintegrated. They actually made it through three days of fighting. Not just taking a few rounds, they held through accurate machine gun fire, mortars and multiple assaults. They also moved forward and occupied positions on the Marines' flanks. After three days, we pulled them out. The Marines will tell you that they did a hell of a job.

    The Marine Corps has been around for 230 years. We have many battles and history under our belts that instills in the Marines a profound sense of duty and tradition. Further, the culture has made peer pressure into a positive art form. Words like "selflessness" are not only used but are taught to every recruit. Show me another place in our society where a 20 year old guy worries more about letting his buddy down than his own well-being. This is true across the board. There are probably a few other places left that instill this but not too many where it holds together when the rubber meets the road.

    The Iraqis had none of this going into Falluja. In fact they had and continue to have just the opposite. They live in a world of terror. For decades, Sadaam played one neighbor against another, one tribe against another, one sect of Islam against another and one race against another. Therefore there is never a sense of safety to the Iraqis even within their own tribes. Here if you join the police or the army, you are eventually approached by the terrorists and threatened. If they think you are a leader, they tell you that they will kill you and your family. The orders are simple, look the other way when you are on duty and leave when the terrorist show up. If you don't they will kill you and probably your family.

    Imagine that young guy who joins the ICDC or police. He may be somewhat of an idealist when he gets out of our initial training but when he shows up to his unit, the muj have already infiltrated it and immediately make it clear that there is no hope of survival if he does not do exactly what they say. For good measure and effect, they regularly assassinate Iraqi policemen and soldiers just to make it clear that they will kill them on a whim. The guys that were in place prior to April lived in that world. We are working against it still. Without the tradition and culture of the Marine Corps and constantly thinking that their very presence next to us may get their families killed, I am amazed they made it for an hour much less than three days. We decided to pull them because this place needs young patriots. It does not need us to put them into a position where they will be ground down in intense combat or maybe to be killed when it is over. Hopefully they can be a nucleus for tomorrow's leaders. Time will tell.

    We are back at it with the police and ICDC. With us are retired police officers from the US and other civilians who are trying to contribute. Police forces back in California are sending us equipment and expertise on training. The lesson that we have learned for this iteration is for us to focus first and foremost on our true strength and that is the character and decency of our Marines. Force of personality and personal example are more important to us right now leading up to the ineivitable violence this summer than the right radio for the Iraqis. For what it is worth, I think that is the right approach. If we demonstrate the best aspects of the Marines who they see every day, we are giving the young Iraqi men something that can never be taken from them. They are seeing the best part of a free people. Hopefully the lights will go on.

    The enemy is confused right now. He goes to bed convinced he is going to win because he watches the Al Jazeera and then the US media and believes that we are a weak willed people who can be terrorized and who have a penchant for self-loathing. Then, he wakes up and he comes across a coalition check point and he sees a young Soldier or Marine who stands there like a rock and exudes strength and conviction. The same terrorist who was in the mosque the night before in a frenzy is now subjugated by the presence of a guy who does not match up with what he has been told and sees on TV. It must be confusing as all get out. Every day, he will continue to see in three dimensions the best that our society has to offer and their is no amount of sound bites that will trump that in the end.
    :thumb: :thumb:
    Only Tearful, Animal Man Through the Nature of his Being is Destined to
    a Life of Warfare...

  • #2
    Yeah, just another one of the story that the "why-are-we-here" journalists scrupulously avoid. Too bad public flogging is not longer in style.
    Mens Est Clavis Victoriae
    (The Mind Is The Key To Victory)


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