No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah

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Contents

  1. No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah
  2. No True Glory
  3. No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah by Francis J. "Bing" West Jr.
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The book does have a lot of military acronym and abbrievations without a military backround it may be difficult to read. This is the soon to be movie which has been put on hold for now with Harrison Ford as the main actor. Bing West , Francis J. Eisenhower For months author F. With access from frontline personnel to senior policymakers and negotiators, West's astonishing account takes us into strategy discussions between generals, on tense night patrols, and into fighting from rooftop to rooftop to tell the story that hasn't been told in the press or on the nightly news.

The Marines originally planned to slip into Fallujah "as soft as fog. West recounts the ferocious street battles that followed, the stiff resistance and shocking violence that caught many in our military and government off guard, and the sweeping US counterattack that outraged the Arab world. We go behind the scenes to the intense negotiations to persuade Iraqis to take charge and hunt down terrorists like al-Zarqawi, who were using the city as a sanctuary-negotiations whose ramifications will impact Iraq for years to come.

But the real focus is upon the heroic, everyday efforts of the American fighting soldier and Marine confronting the key paradox of the war: that the Iraqis both wanted and didn't want Americans in their country. Six months later Jamil Karaba, a Fallujah resident, was arrested after he was overheard bragging about organizing the mob and planting gunmen among the protesters. Provoking an incident was a centuries-old guerrilla stratagem for turning the people against the soldiery.

And this time, as so often in the past, it had worked. Cities acquire caricature, if not character. New York is frenetic and brash; San Francisco is liberal and laid-back; Los Angeles is imbued with glitter and celebrity. Ask Iraqis about Fallujah, and they roll their eyes: Fallujah is strange, sullen, wild-eyed, badass, just plain mean. Wear lipstick or Western-style long hair, sip a beer or listen to an American CD, and you risk the whip or a beating.

For centuries the city had traded with—and stolen from—merchants who were headed east to Baghdad. The frontier town bordering an open desert attracted outcasts and criminals. In the early twentieth century European travelers learned not to tarry in Fallujah. After Iraq won its independence in , Fallujah became a source of enforcers for the ruling Sunni-dominated Baath Party. Laid out in a square grid of wide boulevards, Fallujah comprised two thousand blocks of courtyard walls, tenements, two-story concrete houses, and squalid alleyways.

Half-completed houses, garbage heaps, and wrecks of old cars cluttered every neighborhood. The six lanes of Highway 10 ran straight through the center of the two-mile-long city, from a traffic cloverleaf on the eastern end to the Brooklyn Bridge, over the Euphrates, to the west.

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No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah

South of Highway 10 sprawled the decaying buildings and waste pits of a decrepit industrial zone. On an aerial map the layout of straight streets and dense blocks of houses faintly resembled Manhattan, giving rise to nicknames. Next to the industrial zone was Queens, a poor section of shabby three- and four-room houses. North of Highway 10 were the spacious houses of East Manhattan and Midtown, with its established mosques. The Government Center was in Midtown, while the old souk and marketplace, called the Jolan, were next to the Euphrates to the west. Along the main street were the billboards, restaurants, repair shops, and other struggling efforts of a merchant class.

It was a city of monochrome color, without architectural flair. Although 60 percent of Iraqis were Shiites, the 20 percent who were Sunnis had held the political power for centuries. To crush them, Saddam incited sectarian hatred. The Shiites, he warned the Sunnis, were blasphemers who had to be killed to preserve the true Muslim religion. Just before the Americans drove into Fallujah in April , the mufti Jamal, the senior Sunni cleric in the city, warned the residents that the American invaders would turn Iraq over to the Shiites.

The Americans, the mufti told the citizens, were modern-day Mongols—infidel invaders and occupiers. He asked the paratroopers to leave the city, explaining that revenge attacks were inevitable. Maintaining peace between tribes depended upon exchanging an eye for an eye, one life for another. If an insult went unavenged, the family and tribe suffered humiliation and were seen as weak, thus encouraging further attacks.

In the following weeks, although the American soldiers kept a low profile, repeated firefights erupted.

No True Glory

The regiment, assigned to patrol more than a thousand square kilometers, could devote fewer than two hundred mounted soldiers to Fallujah and its environs. The Fallujah campaign of the 3rd ID had two prongs—the carrot and the stick. During the daytime the 3rd ID conducted large-scale sweeps to search for weapons and arms dealers, locking down whole sections of the city for several hours at a time. The armored presence of the 3rd ID was intimidating. During the daylight hours things were usually calm, although Iraqi police often turned their backs on the Americans and children were as likely to throw rocks as to laugh and ask for candy.

The men rarely smiled. Yet the children were friendly south of Highway The raids were getting results, but whenever the wrong house was searched, the entry tactic—smashing down a door in the middle of the night—frightened a family and created more hostile Fallujans. They in turn would reach out to the unemployed and disaffected, reducing the appeal of the insurgents and attracting recruits for the local security forces. If the Americans could show that they wanted to help improve the living conditions and would leave intact the city leadership and traditions, the theory went, then most youths would not support the insurgents.


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Bargaining went on with the mayor, the sheikhs, and the city elders. We have no designs upon this city. Amnesty and cash rewards were offered for weapons, albeit with scant results. The humvee replaced the tank and armored personnel carrier as the routine patrol vehicle, reducing noise and damage to the streets. As long as progress seemed to be made, the brigade would show the velvet glove rather than the iron fist. The soldiers spent days with bulldozers and rakes constructing a first-class soccer field downtown.

When they finished and returned to base, a mob gathered at the soccer field, ripped down the goalie nets, scraped the dirt from the field, and heaped garbage on the site. Inside the city were enemies determined to prevent ordinary families from ever seeing that infidel invaders had improved their lives.

In July a massive internal explosion blew out the walls and demolished the roof of the Al Hassan Mosque, killing the imam and several other Iraqis. As a disaster crew removed the bodies, a crowd gathered to blame the Americans. The situation threatened to escalate into a citywide riot. He arranged a meeting with Sheikh Ghazi, one of the wealthiest and most powerful traders in the city, to try to defuse the tension. Ghazi, a shrewd and urbane businessman, admitted to Wesley that the imam was a radical preacher known to be building improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, to blow up vehicles on the highways outside town.

He assured Wesley there would be no riot. He believed that there were four types of insurgents: unemployed youths, religious extremists who benefited by gaining a following , criminals, and former Baathists the hidden planners and financiers. To pry away from the hard-core insurgents those motivated by revenge, the brigade paid a solatium—what Iraqi tribes called blood money—to the relatives of those who had been killed or injured in the April 28 shooting. The city elders praised the 3rd Brigade for the action and asserted that the Iraqi police were ready to take on more responsibility. The 2nd brigade commander, Colonel Joseph DiSalvo, turned over the twenty-two checkpoints inside the city.

But Mayor Taha was worried, fearing that his pro-American stance would leave him isolated. He warned that the opposition was biding its time, not softening its stance. It purchased fans for the schools, air-conditioning units for the hospital, and a generator for the water-pumping station. The needs of the city, though, overwhelmed the resources the Americans were able to offer.

There were 70, unemployed; an industrial park stood idle; and power, sewer, and water plants were decrepit. The farmers were clamoring for seeds, tractors, and gasoline; the schools had no textbooks or lights. Fallujah, like all cities in Iraq, had crumbled into ruin, as Saddam had looted his country. Any accountant would have declared the books hopelessly out of balance. But with their can-do spirit, the American soldiers had set to work. IEDs, though, were a different matter.

No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah by Francis J. "Bing" West Jr.

In Vietnam hidden land mines were the bane of the infantryman, accounting for 20 percent of the casualties and sapping morale. A grunt never knew when he would be blown up walking down a trail. In the flatlands of Iraq, the highways were the trails. IEDs accounted for 68 percent of all American fatalities. All who traveled the roads feared and loathed them. IEDs were simple to make—just combine metal for shrapnel and an explosive armed with a blasting cap that could be set off by a radio frequency from a garage door opener or cell phone.

The triggerman could be on a roof a block away. The 3rd ID learned to spot IEDs—in the bloated stomach of a dead dog, a barrel tipped at an improbable angle, a cardboard box too heavy to be blown by the wind, a car parked in an odd place. In mid-July, though, one soldier was killed and three wounded when an artillery shell detonated as a convoy drove through western Fallujah.

Dozens of local residents had driven around the device, but no one had warned the Americans. They knew others were watching them, apprising how close they were to the Americans.

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The town had an edginess, an attitude of simmering resentment. The insurgents wore no uniforms; they operated from their homes, not from military camps; they had no military communications that could be intercepted; and they had no rank structure, yet they all knew one another. Most guerrilla movements, like the Vietcong, had an identifiable hierarchy and a clear chain of command. Not so in Iraq, where in the summer of hundreds of independent cells operated when the spirit moved them. A rough analogy were the American Indian tribes in the nineteenth century, sharing a hostility toward the settlers while launching raids at different times for different reasons.

Throughout the scorching days of summer—as temperatures reached the s and s—the 3rd ID persisted with its two-prong approach: responding with force to attacks while working to establish good relations and modestly boost the moribund economy. In late August the 3rd Infantry Division departed, to return home. LtCol Wesley left believing that the tragic killing of the civilians in April had triggered resentment in a traditional city controlled more by imams and tribes than by former Baathists.

Battle of Fallujah - Iraq War

He was convinced that a huge influx of money could deflect recruits from the insurgency. The brigade, though, had but a pittance to spend, just enough to convince the residents that the Americans could really make a difference if they wanted to. The sheikhs, quick to criticize while angling for contracts, were unimpressed by the trickle of funds; the 70, unemployed remained unemployed; the IEDs persisted; and the soccer field lay looted of its dirt, evidence of a hidden, calculating enemy who could organize the people.

But unlike the colonial powers of Europe that had ruled the Middle East a century earlier, the Americans were filling their military, police, municipal, and political power roles without the assistance of an indigenous army and civil service bureaucracy. In this respect, Fallujah was typical of Iraq in the summer of Before the war Franks had persuaded Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that the development of postwar Iraq should remain under the control of CentCom. But progress had stalled due to bureaucratic turf wars and conflicting staff procedures.

By contrast, the U.

So a frustrated President Lyndon B. Johnson had shifted the reconstruction staff and budget from the U. This move pulled together, under one undisputed authority, all the complex, competing, and often redundant U. It consolidated both policy and resource decision-making under a single military commander, charged with the responsibility for security. Similarly, Rumsfeld agreed with Gen Franks that unity of command under military leadership was appropriate for Iraq.

Three weeks after Baghdad fell, President Bush signaled that major hostilities had ended in Iraq.

Although the war seemed over, Iraq was nonetheless convulsed by looting. Television networks nightly showed pictures of friendly but uncontrolled mobs ripping apart government buildings. From the museum of history, artifacts dating back thousands of years were being hauled off in donkey carts. LtGen Garner and his staff appeared unable to get on top of the chaotic situation.

President Bush soon decided to change leaders and organizations. On May 10 he replaced Garner with former Ambassador L. He would report to the president through the secretary of defense and be vested with the broad policy-making and budgetary authority to build the new Iraq. In regard to reconstruction, CentCom was thereby sent to the sidelines. The chain of command was broken into two pieces. If the war was over, there was no need for CentCom to remain in charge. Gen Franks, on the verge of retirement, enthusiastically agreed to abolish the post of his deputy CentCom commander for reconstruction.

Back then, though, the British controlled a large indigenous army commanded by British officers, and the viceroy approved all major military operations. Bremer set up headquarters in a vast, heavily guarded baroque palace in Baghdad called the Green Zone. Sanchez was intense, unaccustomed to political-military geopolitics, and comfortable dealing with the details of military operations. Bremer was intense and intelligent, expert in geopolitics and the ways of Washington, and swift to wield his decision-making authority.