As you have no doubt been watching, we have had our hands full around Fallujah. It would seem as if the final reckoning is coming. The city has been on a consistent down hill spiral since we were ordered out in April. It's siren call for extremists and criminals has only increased steadily and the instability and violence that radiates out of the town has expanded exponentially. If there is another city in the world that contains more terrorists, I would be surprised. From the last two years, I just don't see a way that we can succeed in Iraq without reducing this threat. The cost of continuing on without taking decisive action is too high to dwell on.
The enemy inside the town have come to fight and kill Americans. Nothing will sate their bloodlust and hatred other than to kill everyone of us or at least die trying. It is hard to fathom as a Westerner as rational thought would dictate that we will only be here for a relatively short blip in their history and while we are here, billions of dollars in investments will pour in and opportunity that is beyond comprehension will open up for anyone willing to work. This is not Kansas and this enemy does not think like that.
If we build a school or clinic, they destroy it. They would rather deny medical care or education for the children of the citizens who live nearby than to have any symbol of the West in general and America specifically among them. It is hard to comprehend. Frankly, we are done trying.
For eight months, we have been on our chain. The enemy has fooled itself misinterpreting our humanity and restraint for lack of will and courage. For eight months, we have watched Marines, Soldiers and Sailors maimed and killed by invisible cowards hiding behind some wall or in a canal as he detonates another IED. For eight months, we have been witness to suicidal sociopaths driving vehicles laden with explosives into crowds of Iraqis and into our own convoys.
Just last week, we lost another nine Marines killed and an equal number of wounded as the result of some ignorant extremists who was able to convince himself that killing himself and as many Americans as possible would send him to paradise where he could finally get his virgins.
Now, their own ignorance and arrogance will be their undoing. They believe that they can hold Fallujah. In fact, they have come from all over to be part of its glorious defense. I cannot describe the atmosphere that exists in the Regiment right now. Of course the men are nervous but I think they are more nervous that we will not be allowed to clean the rats nest out and instead will be forced to continue operating as is.
Its as if a window of opportunity has opened and everyone just wants to get on with it before it closes. The Marines know the enemy has massed and has temporarily decided to stay and fight. For the first time, the men feel as though we may be allowed to do what needs to be done. If the enemy wants to sit in his citadel and try to defend it against the Marine Corps and some very hard Soldiers... then the men want to execute before the enemy sobers up and flees.
It may come off as an exceptionally bellicose perspective but where the Marines live and operate is a war zone in the starkest reality. When the Marines leave the front gate on an operation or patrol, someone within direct line of sight of that gate is trying to kill them. All have lost friends and watched as the enemy hides within his sanctuary that has been allowed out of what one must assume is political necessity. The enemy has been given every advantage by our sense of morality and restraint and by a set of operational rules that we are constrained to operate under. The Marines feel like their time has come and we will finally be ordered to do what must be done and be given the latitude to do it. Even though the price will be high, there is not a man here that would chose status quo over paying the price.
Every day, the enemy takes more hostages, assassinates developing Iraqi leaders and savagely beats suspected collaborators. I will give you just one recent example that happened last week. One of our patrols was moving down a street when they saw what looked like a fight. The Marines closed with the scene. It was a family that had come to Iraq on religious pilgrimage that was taken hostage and was being taken into Fallujah. The muj stopped for some reason and the father began fighting. The Marines interdicted and captured two of the kidnappers. Two more ran and the Marines could not get a shot without fear of killing/wounding others.
Every day, insurgents from inside Fallujah drive out and wait for Iraqis that work on our bases. Once the Iraqis leave they are stopped. The lucky ones are savagely beaten. The unfortunate ones are killed. A family that had fled Fallujah in order to get away from the fighting recently tried to return. When they got to their home, they found it taken over by terrorists (very common). When the patriarch showed the muj his deed in order to prove that the house was his, they took the old man out into the street and beat him senseless in front of his family.
Summary executions are common. Think about that. Summary executions inside Fallujah happen with sobering frequency. We have been witness to the scene on a number of occasions. Three men are taken from the trunk of a car and are made to walk to a ditch where they are shot. Bodies are found in the Euphrates without heads washed downstream from Fallujah. To date we have been allowed to do nothing.
I have no idea the numbers of beheadings that have occurred in Fallujah since I have been here. I have no idea the number of hostages that have ended up in Fallujah since we have been here. I just don't know that Americans would be able to comprehend the number anyway. Unfortunately, the situation has only gotten worse. There is no hope for any type of reasoned solution with an enemy like this.
Once again, we are being asked by citizens who have fled the city to go in and take the city back. They are willing for us to literally rubble the place in order to kill the terrorists within. Don't get me wrong, there are still many inside the town that support the terrorists and we cannot expect to be thanked publicly if we do take the city. There is a sense of de ja vu with the refugees telling us where their houses are and asking us to bomb them because the muj have taken them over. We heard the same thing in April only to end up letting the people down. Some no doubt have paid with their lives. The "good" people who may ultimately buy into a peaceful and prosperous Iraq are again asking us to do what we know must be done.
The Marines understand and are eager to get on with it. The only lingering fear in them is that we will be ordered to stop again. I don't know if this is going to happen but if it happens soon, I will write you when its over.Now that President Bush has been re-elected, I'm betting that the Marines are going to get the green light very soon to go in and clean out Fallujah.