You are on page 1of 158

5/26/09 8:43:47 AM


Estes Covers 1-4.indd 1

Back Cover: The logotype reproduced on the
back cover has as its major element the oldest
military insignia in continuous use in the United
States. It first appeared, as shown here, on Ma-
rine Corps buttons adopted in 1804. With the
stars changed to five points, the device has con-
tinued on Marine Corps buttons to the present

Estes Covers 1-4.indd 2 5/26/09 8:43:47 AM

U.S. Marine Corps Operations in Iraq,

Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth W. Estes
U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)

Occasional Paper

History Division
United States Marine Corps
Quantico, Virginia
Other Publications in the Occasional Papers Series

Vietnam Histories Workshop: Plenary Session. Jack Shulimson, editor. 9 May1983. 31 pp.
Vietnam Revisited; Conversation with William D. Broyles, Jr. Colonel John G. Miller, USMC, editor.
11 December 1984. 48 pp.
Bibliography on Khe Sanh USMC Participation. Commander Ray W. Strubbe, CHC, USNR (Ret),
compiler. April 1985. 54 pp.
Alligators, Buffaloes, and Bushmasters: The History of the Development of the LVT Through
World War II. Major Alfred Dunlop Bailey, USMC (Ret). 1986. 272 pp.
Leadership Lessons and Remembrances from Vietnam. Lieutenant General Herman Nickerson, Jr.,
USMC (Ret). 1988. 93 pp.
The Problems of U.S. Marine Corps Prisoners of War in Korea. James Angus MacDonald, Jr. 1988.
295 pp.
John Archer Lejeune, 1869-1942, Register of His Personal Papers. Lieutenant Colonel Merrill L. Bartlett,
USMC (Ret). 1988. 123 pp.
To Wake Island and Beyond: Reminiscences. Brigadier General Woodrow M. Kessler, USMC (Ret).
1988. 145 pp.
Thomas Holcomb, 1879-1965, Register of His Personal Papers. Gibson B. Smith. 1988. 229 pp.
Curriculum Evolution, Marine Corps Command and Staff College, 1920-1988. Lieutenant Colonel
Donald F. Bittner, USMCR. 1988. 112 pp.
Herringbone Cloak-GI Dagger, Marines of the OSS. Major Robert E. Mattingly, USMC. 1989. 315 pp.
The Journals of Marine Second Lieutenant Henry Bulls Watson, 1845-1848. Charles R. Smith,
editor. 1990. 420 pp.
When the Russians Blinked: The U.S. Maritime Response to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Major John M.
Young, USMCR. 1990. 246 pp.
Marines in the Mexican War. Gabrielle M. Neufeld Santelli. Edited by Charles R. Smith. 1991. 63 pp.
The Development of Amphibious Tactics in the U.S. Navy. General Holland M. Smith,
USMC (Ret). 1992. 89 pp.
James Guthrie Harbord, 1866-1947, Register of His Personal Papers. Lieutenant Colonel Merrill L.
Bartlett, USMC (Ret). 1995. 47 pp.
The Impact of Project 100,000 on the Marine Corps. Captain David A. Dawson, USMC. 1995. 247 pp.
Marine Corps Aircraft: 1913-2000. Major John M. Elliot, USMC (Ret). 2002. 126 pp.
Thomas Holcomb and the Advent of the Marine Corps Defense Battalion, 1936-1941.
David J. Ulbrich. 2004. 78 pp.
Marine History Operations in Iraq, Operation Iraq Freedom I, A Catalog of Interviews and
Recordings. Lieutenant Colonel Nathan S. Lowrey, USMCR. 2005. 254 pp.
With the 1st Marine Division in Iraq, 2003. No Greater Friend, No Worse Enemy.
Lieutenant Colonel Michael S. Groen, USMC. 2006. 413 pp
Marine Advisors: With the Vietnamese Provincial Reconnaissance Units, 1966-1970. Colonel
Andrew R. Finlayson, USMC (Ret). 2009. 72 pp.
Operation Millpond: U.S. Marines in Thailand, 1961. Colonel George R. Hofmann, Jr., USMC (Ret).
2009. 36 pp.

Table of Contents
Foreword...................................................................................................... 5
Preface.......................................................................................................... 7
Part I–The Campaign against the Insurgency
Chapter 1: The Return to Iraq...................................................................... 9
Chapter 2: The Deployment...................................................................... 19
Chapter 3: Operations in al-Anbar Province.............................................. 25
Chapter 4: First al-Fallujah Battle and its Aftermath................................... 33
Chapter 5: Second Fallujah Battle.............................................................. 49
Chapter 6: Operations post-Fallujah.......................................................... 67
Part II–Protecting the New Iraqi State
Chapter 7: The Mission Continues............................................................. 73
Chapter 8: Into the Fray............................................................................. 81
Chapter 9: Protecting Self-Rule.................................................................. 89
Chapter 10: Protecting the New Iraq........................................................ 97
Chapter 11: Redeployment and Relief..................................................... 109
Chapter 12: Continuous Operations........................................................ 117
Epilogue: New and Old............................................................................ 125
Endnotes................................................................................................... 129
A–Command and Staff List....................................................................... 137
B–Terms and Abbreviations...................................................................... 143
C–Chronology.......................................................................................... 147
D–Reviewers............................................................................................ 153

The History Division has undertaken the publication for limited distribution of various studies, the-
ses, compilations, bibliographies, monographs, and memoirs as well as proceedings at selected work-
shops, seminars, symposia, and similar colloquia, which it considers to be of significant value for audi-
ences interested in Marine Corps history. These “Occasional Papers,” which are chosen for their intrin-
sic worth, must reflect structured research, present a contribution to historical knowledge not readily
available in published sources, and reflect original content on the part of the author, compiler, or editor.
It is the intent of the division that these occasional papers be distributed to select institutions such as
service schools, official Department of Defense historical agencies, and directly concerned Marine Corps
organizations, so the information contained therein will be available for study and exploitation.

Dr. Charles P. Neimeyer

Director of Marine Corps History


This is a story about Marines and a tough mission: the Marines of I and II Marine Expeditionary
Forces were deployed to Iraq during 2004–2006 and confronted a violent insurgency and a nation in
chaos. Though the Marines came to fight—they did so admirably in al-Fallujah, ar-Ramadi, and other hot
and dusty locales in al-Anbar Province—they also laid the foundation for a secure and stable Iraqi so-
ciety. Though security and stabilization seemed improbable if not impossible in al-Anbar Province, the
apparent intractable insurgency was beaten with gritty determination that Marines have always brought
to the fight. Besides using warfighting skills, the Marines also employed their expertise in civil affairs to
help rebuild a nation in disarray.
The military occupation of al-Anbar Province required patience, perseverance, and fortitude. The
cities and towns were damaged, inhabitants demoralized, and little remained of civil authority. Hopes
remained high that the occupation would be short–lived and that the Iraqis would pick themselves up
and rebuild. However, those hopes died hard on the harsh realities of post-invasion Iraq. As the Marines
took up new and unplanned responsibilities, insurgent violence continued and increased, generated by
the national disarray of all social institutions. For the I and II Marine Expeditionary Forces, nation build-
ing and combat operations would proceed alongside one another for most of their service in Iraq.

A work of this kind necessarily depends on the help and advice of many people. The original con-
cept of assigning this volume to an independent historian came from discussions in 2005 between then-
Lieutenant General James N. Mattis, commanding the Marine Corps Combat Development Center, and
Major General Donald R. Gardner (Ret), President of Marine Corps University. Major General Gardner
launched the project and arranged for my appointment as a research fellow of his institution during
Officers and enlisted Marines of Inspector-Instructor, 4th Landing Support Battalion, Ft. Lewis, Wash-
ington, cheerfully provided office space and support for my research and writing. Their readiness to
assist extended in many instances to their advice and valued explanations of current procedures and
operational matters, including in several cases experiences in Iraq during the period treated by this
work. In particular, I thank Lieutenant Colonel Richard C. Smith, Major Wesley E. Souza, Captain Greg-
ory J. Chester, Captain Christopher J. Murphy, Sergeant Major Thomas Glembin, and Staff Sergeant M.
E. Johnston.
The Marine Corps University Foundation and Marine Corps Heritage Foundation supported me with
a combined fellowship in 2006–08, administered by Brigadier General Thomas V. Draude (Ret). The
staff of the Archives Branch, Library of the Marine Corps, Gray Research Center at Quantico, principally
Michael Miller, Director, and Dr. Jim Ginther, Manuscript Curator, facilitated my use of their document
collection. Mr. Scott A. Allen assisted me in understanding some of the contributions of the Marine Corps
Systems Command to the campaign under study.
At the Marine Corps History Division, I enjoyed the camaraderie and shared knowledge of Charles
Neimeyer, Director; Colonel Richard Camp and Colonel Patricia D. Saint, Deputy Directors; Charles Mel-
son, Chief Historian; Fred Allison, Oral Historian; and Master Gunnery Sergeant Robert A. Yarnall, his-
torian. I received assistance from the Reference Section: Danny A. Crawford, Robert V. Aquilina, Lena
M. Kaljot, Annette Amerman, Kara Newcomer, and Shelia Boyd. This work benefited from the editorial
review of Colonel Charles A. Jones and the efforts of Julie H. Robert, History Division intern. The Edit-
ing and Design Section oversaw final production: Ken Williams, Greg Macheak, Wanda Renfrow, Vince
Martinez, and Steve Hill, who was the primary designer on the project.

Kenneth W. Estes
Lieutenant Colonel
U.S. Marine Corps (Retired)

Part I: The Campaign Against the Insurgency
Chapter 1: tionary Brigade command element briefly served
as interim higher headquarters during the rede-
The Return to Iraq ployment period. All was not well in the city of
an-Najaf, however, and a further three weeks of
The End of the 2003 Campaign patrolling and occasional fighting fell to 1st Bat-
The long, hot summer of 2003 drew to a close talion, 7th Marines before a turnover could be ef-
for the Marine Corps forces remaining in Iraq. The fected. This unit was the last Marine Corps battal-
brief offensive of March-April had become an un- ion to return to the U.S. in 2003. The 1st Marine
planned occupation and peacekeeping campaign. Division sustained no combat deaths during its
Lieutenant General James T. Conway’s I Marine stability and security operations campaign period.
Expeditionary Force (I MEF) staff had announced On 9 December 2003 Company C, 4th LAR Bat-
the transition to “Post-hostility Operations” on 15 talion returned to Salt Lake City, Utah, after three
April, and the redeployment to a new operating months in Iraq followed by a six-month Unit De-
area to the south of Baghdad ensued. The scope ployment Program rotation in Japan, the last Ma-
of Operation Iraqi Freedom shifted into securi- rine Corps organization to reach home station.
ty and stability operations, facilitating humanitar- Marines of the special purpose Marine air-
ian assistance and restoring civilian rule. Further- ground task force continued its mission into No-
more, the Marine Corps presence in Iraq loomed vember along with a few other small elements,
more temporary than ever with the identification such as Detachment B of the 4th Air-Naval Gun-
of follow-on military contingents of the loose Co- fire Liaison Company, which supported the Mul-
alition organized by the United States and United tinational Division Center-South; 5th Platoon,
Nations that would take over these duties upon Fleet Antiterrorist Security Team (FAST), provid-
their arrival in Iraq. ing security for the U.S. Embassy, Baghdad; and
Major General James N. Mattis had set the tone some 556 Marine Corps personnel remaining in
for the stability and security operations by dras- Iraq and Kuwait. Before departing for the United
tically cutting his 1st Marine Division troop list States, Major General Mattis questioned Brigadier
from some 23,000 to 8,000 Marines retaining only General Coleman about some of his equipment
seven battalions of infantry and two light armored in the hands of the special purpose Marine air-
reconnaissance (LAR) battalions under a reduced ground task force. Major General Mattis thought
division headquarters. These occupied seven key he might need the equipment soon, and set 10
“governorates” or provinces and worked to rein- November 2003 as the date when the entire divi-
state local police and security functions and revive sion’s personnel and equipment would be com-
the municipal services and public utilities. The bat ready.2
3d Marine Aircraft Wing (Major General James F. As the combat forces that conducted the origi-
Amos) largely redeployed to the United States, nal invasion and occupation phase left Iraq, the
leaving behind two detachments with 18 helicop- 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived in
ters for support, and the Marine Logistics Com- the Persian Gulf and reported to the Fifth Fleet
mand (Brigadier General Richard S. Kramlich) on 29 September. These periodic and overlapping
worked in Kuwait to reload materiel into ships Marine Expeditionary Unit deployments operated
and aircraft, supported the remaining units and as part of the theater reserve for the Combatant
redeployed itself, leaving a special purpose Ma- Commander, U.S. Central Command, Army Gen-
rine air-ground task force under Brigadier Gen- eral John P. Abizaid, during the remainder of Op-
eral Ronald S. Coleman to end the Marine Corps eration Iraqi Freedom. In this case, the 13th MEU
presence in the theater.1 operated with the British-led Multinational Divi-
Lieutenant General Conway held a transfer of sion-Southeast. Landing elements included 1st
authority ceremony with the Polish Army com- Battalion, 1st Marines at Kuwait Naval Base and
mander of the Multinational Division Center– Umm Qasr, the Marine Expeditionary Unit that
South on 3 September, and the rest of his Marines conducted anti-smuggling and security missions
began their redeployment. A 1st Marine Expedi- on the Faw Peninsula during 11–25 October.

By this time, discussions in Washington D.C. overcoming the depot overhaul backlog, but the
had advanced to the stage that a U.S. force rota- larger question remained that of supporting the
tion plan developed, and planners at Headquar- next Marine Corps contingent in Iraq.
ters U.S. Marine Corps began to assess another
The Continuing Campaign in Iraq
deployment to Iraq in addition to the demands of
reforming and reconstituting the forces now re- With the apparent need to redeploy Marines to
turning from the 2003 campaign. Iraq, General Abizaid had to determine the forc-
The staff of Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps es, based upon his assessment of the security sit-
estimated that providing such a force for the next uation in Iraq. The shortfall in Coalition troops
Iraq rotation would delay the normal unit deploy- meant that the U.S. would have to replace one or
ment cycle another year, disrupt the maritime two Army divisions in March 2004. Although the
prepositioned shipping reconstitution by again final decision would not be taken until the end of
drawing essential equipment and drastically af- the year, the estimate of the Joint Staff forecasted
fect the Marine Corps personnel policy govern- the need for three to six battalions each from the
ing deployment length, reserve mobilization, re- Army and Marine Corps. The Commandant, Gen-
sumption of “stop-loss” actions and cause intangi- eral Michael W. Hagee, decided to plan for the
ble effects on retention in both active and reserve deployment of a Marine division built around six
components.3 infantry battalions with commensurate aviation
Fielding I MEF for combat operations in Oper- and logistics support.
ation Iraqi Freedom caused considerable disrup- General Hagee and his staff saw a key issue in
tions in the forces and the supporting establish- the period of deployment and how it would affect
ment of the Marine Corps during 2002–03. The the rest of the Corps. A seven-month deployment
Corps mobilized approximately 22,000 reserv- would permit much more flexibility in meeting
ists by 1 May 2003 and still retained over 10,500 global requirements while maintaining unit cohe-
on duty in mid-October. A planned maximum of sion. He resolved to take this proposal to the Sec-
3,000 would remain on active duty after March retary of Defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld.4
2004 for augmentation tasks by continued call-up On 5 November 2003, Secretary Rumsfeld an-
and demobilization of reservists. Active duty end nounced officially that Marine Corps units would
strength had also climbed because of “stop-loss” return to Iraq as part of the U.S. troop rotation.
and “stop-move” manpower directives, reaching The first 20,000 Marines and sailors of the Camp
a peak of 179,630 in July 2003, but it then sub- Pendleton I MEF were expected to replace the Ar-
sided to 177,756 at the end of September and pre- my’s 82d Airborne Division by February 2004. The
sumably would return to the authorized 175,000 deployment was expected to last seven-months
by March 2004. with another 20,000-strong Marine force replac-
Maintaining routine deployments to Okinawa ing them after that for another seven-months.5
had required moving several battalions and air- General Hagee’s decision and planning guid-
craft squadrons from Operation Iraqi Freedom to ance of 27 November settled the future of Marine
the United States and then to Okinawa with 90 Corps deployments to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
days or less at home station. These measures, and Marine Forces, Central Command would be pro-
the extended deployment of other battalions and vided with a reduced Marine Expeditionary Force
one reserve infantry battalion, would restore the (Forward) for operations in Iraq. In addition to
planned ‘normal’ unit deployment cycle to Oki- its command element, a reduced Marine division
nawa by 2005. with nine infantry battalions would meet the Joint
Of equal concern to headquarters was the Staff and Combatant Commander, U.S. Central
need to reconstitute the floating equipment pools Command requirement and would be accompa-
carried in the three maritime prepositioned ship nied by an aircraft wing and force service support
squadrons that had all been used as part of the group, both reduced and tailored for the smaller
strategic deployment of I MEF to Kuwait at the ground combat element envisioned.
end of 2002. The forecast estimated the basic The key elements of General Hagee’s guidance
reconstitution of the three squadrons by March reflected the earlier concerns over the reconstitu-
2004. The staff identified further challenges in re- tion of Marine Corps forces in the aftermath of the
placing aviation ordnance, antitank missiles, and 2003 campaign. A seven-month unit rotation poli-

cy was the cornerstone of the planning guidance. Iraqis would replace its government with new
Although the Army and other services planned leaders and that intact governmental bureaucra-
their deployments to Iraq for a 13-month cycle, cies would return to work and assist immediately
General Hagee wanted to maintain the by-now in the recovery effort. After the combat phase had
customary deployment of six to seven months ended, however, U.S. and Coalition forces saw a
that had the best chance of preserving the con- gravely deteriorated Iraq. The forces in theater
tinuing operations of the Corps in its global com- had focused on the offensive operations in con-
mitments: the forward deployed III MEF in Japan ducting the Iraq campaign. The questions of mili-
and the Marine Expeditionary Unit deployments tary government and reconstruction efforts had
from the east and went coast organizations to the to be left to other organizations that presumably
Mediterranean and western Pacific. would assume responsibility for this effort after
General Hagee authorized the Marine Forces combat had concluded. The rapid termination
Central Command planners to draw as required of formal combat left only the combat forces in
from the scheduled unit deployments to III MEF theater. Thus, the occupiers of Iraq in April 2003
(except for the 31st MEU) for its force list. The faced several harsh realities.
preservation of the Marine Expeditionary Unit The Army’s V Corps headquarters converted to
deployments continued to meet global require- Combined Joint Task Force 7 (CJTF-7) and now
ments, although the Marine Expeditionary Units began exercising command and control over a
had already served in combat when detailed by multi-national force eventually drawing contin-
the Combatant Commander, U.S. Central Com- gents and representatives from over thirty coun-
mand. To meet materiel concerns, General Ha- tries. Its responsibilities extended over all Iraq,
gee’s guidance requested the maximum use of and it reported directly to the new Coalition Pro-
in-theater turnover of equipment between rotat- visional Authority (CPA). The CPA was the newly
ing units and acquiring Army equipment used in formed occupation authority established by the
the 82d Airborne Division and 3d Armored Cav- U.S. government to oversee the establishment of
alry Regiment area of operations not common to a new Iraqi government. From this combination
Marine Corps unit tables of equipment, such as of agencies, a new Iraq, with reformed political
new counter-battery radars, uparmored wheeled institutions, rebuilt infrastructure, and a re-ener-
vehicles and various other items. Finally, General gized society was supposed to emerge.
Hagee authorized the issue of equipment stored Events would prove the Army’s first plan-
on Okinawa and with the maritime preposi- ning effort too optimistic and limited. Assuming
tioned shipping squadrons, with exception of the a steady improvement in general conditions in
first maritime prepositioned ship squadron that Iraq, CTF-7’s initial campaign plan of June 2003
had been reconstituted: Maritime Prepositioned considered that the security situation would see
Squadron 3, based in the Marianas. decreased opposition to U.S. forces. The CPA,
Obviously, the intended demobilization of the the highest U.S. political agency in the country,
Marine Corps Reserve would prove temporary. would presumably revive native institutions and
Further deactivations continued past 17 Decem- governmental bodies at local and national levels.
ber even as 3d Battalion, 24th Marines activat- The ongoing U.S. military actions would destroy
ed. But the activation of an infantry battalion as surviving paramilitary forces, and support for for-
well as other units added over 3,000 reservists to mer regime loyalists, such as Ba’athist leaders,
the active force, not counting individual augmen- would decrease as they were captured, tried, or
tations, by the time the 2002–03 activations had killed. The presumed improvement of basic ser-
been demobilized by March 2004.6 vices and the transfer of Iraqi sovereignty to an
interim government would undercut the opposi-
Problems in Iraq 2003–04
tion of radical anti-western religious groups and
Although the planning process by the United potential violence between factions in the coun-
States for the invasion of Iraq had exceeded a try. Above all, it assumed that Iraqi institutions,
year, very little planning for Phase IVB (post-hos- which had survived the combat phase as well as
tilities) existed by the time 1st Marine Division the final years of the Hussein regime were capa-
assumed its responsibilities south of Baghdad in ble of performing their usual functions and secu-
2003. Instead, most authorities assumed that the rity efforts. The end of combat would also bring

economic recovery and permit the repairing of police, civil defense, facility protection services,
damaged infrastructure, thus promoting a newly and the new Iraqi Army. A humanitarian assis-
emerging democratic government and discredit- tance program to prevent unnecessary hardship
ing anti-western factions. on the population of Iraq worked together with
The campaign plan called for destroying the efforts to restore essential services to the com-
remaining enemy irregular forces and installing munities. The protection of key sites, such as wa-
Iraqi Civil Defense Corps forces during July 2003. ter, power, and sewage plants also contributed to
At the same time, an Iraqi Army would begin to general security and recovery. The Army saw the
form, public services would resume functioning, need to protect its own lines of communications
and U.S. military forces could free manpower and to synchronize its operations with higher po-
for new initiatives. These last actions would in- litical and military headquarters in Iraq. The vast
clude beginning a program in August for train- number of unexploded and cached munitions
ing the new Iraqi Army as well as neutralizing and arms required extensive searches throughout
subversives or terrorists and defeating remaining the country.
criminal gangs. Protecting the first local elections Significant new features of the Combined Joint
would encourage transitions to local authority, Task Force Seven campaign plan included con-
permitting the removal of U.S. forces from urban tinued combat operations because the enemy
areas. The Army planned to move out of the cit- now demonstrated increasing resiliency. Instead
ies into consolidated forward operating bases in of being able to eradicate enemy resistance and
late September and to be ready to conduct com- bring security to the area of operations, Com-
bat operations, assist or otherwise reinforce Iraqi bined Joint Task Force Seven now recognized the
security forces, and even expand the divisional long-term nature of the current struggle and pro-
zones of responsibilities as organizations such as posed to defeat the former regime forces, to neu-
the airborne units and 3d Armored Cavalry Regi- tralize extremist groups, and to reduce crime by
ment began to redeploy to home stations. The 50 percent. To accomplish these goals, it would
“end state” under this plan foresaw killing or de- establish, equip, and train a large security force
taining all Ba’athist party members, paramilitary to replace the Iraqi security forces; municipal po-
force commanders and structure, criminal ele- lice; battalions of Iraqi Civil Defense Corps; and
ments, and defeating any terrorist or other type thousands of Facilities Protection Service guards.
of threat to the Iraqi government. The plan ex- A large array of public works projects, funded
pected that the Iraqis would provide military forc- by a variety of programs as well as convention-
es, a capable police force, and establish an in- al civil affairs programs, would assist in restoring
terim government with a new army in training. A economic prosperity to Iraq and maintaining a
single U.S. light infantry division would suffice to sustainable quality of life, especially in the sup-
replace the multi-division occupation force of the ply of power, fuel, water, and sanitation services.
previous six months. The reopening of Baghdad International Airport
As the initial assumptions proved incorrect and and introducing a new currency were considered
a multi-faceted Iraqi insurgency began to devel- major benchmarks. Finally, Combined Joint Task
op, a new U.S. campaign plan emerged in August. Force Seven assisted at all levels of government
In the new plan, the commander, Combined Joint to install viable and fair neighborhood, district,
Task Force 7, Army Lieutenant General Ricardo S. and city governing councils.
Sanchez, USA, stated his mission was simultane- The initial deployment for combat, under Op-
ously conducting combat operations and stability eration Iraqi Freedom, would likely last a full year,
and security operations as well as preparing to at- with a relief by the U.S. and Coalition forces an-
tack adjacent sectors to support missions ordered ticipated sometime in the spring of 2004. Before
by higher headquarters. Combat operations were relief could occur, however, the Army brigades
designed to destroy enemy forces, to establish a that had fought in the major combat operations
secure environment, while stability and security before the occupation phase of Operation Iraqi
operations were designed to support the estab- Freedom required earlier return to their posts to
lishment of Iraqi sovereignty. meet the desired 365-day maximum period away
In addition, the Army now planned to train from those posts. This return meant that the 82d
and to equip the Iraqi security forces, including Airborne Division, 101st Air Assault Division, and

3d Armored Cavalry Regiment would have to de- framed the mission, and formulated tasks and
part early in the relief cycle. task organizations from late September through
Since the collapse of formal resistance by Iraq 19 October 2003 and then identified units to be
on 1 May, the former regime’s forces had con- provided to the Coalition by mid-December. The
tinued to mount attacks on Iraqis and Coalition I MEF command element would require its usu-
forces. Extremists, such as local fundamentalist al detachments of civil affairs, intelligence, force
paramilitary and militia groups joined by new- reconnaissance, communications, radio, air-naval
ly arrived international terrorist groups, posed a gunfire liaison, and Army psychological opera-
lesser threat. Individual and organized criminal tions units, all gathered under the administration
activities had appeared even before the occupa- of the I MEF Headquarters Group. The 1st Marine
tion of Iraq began. Under a concept of “an adapt- Division organized its combat power around two
ing enemy,” the campaign plan foresaw an op- reinforced infantry regiments or Regimental Com-
position capable of changing tactics and targets bat Teams (RCT), each with three infantry battal-
to avoid U.S. actions and adjusting to counteract ions (a light armored reconnaissance (LAR) bat-
the improving local security measures. Actions talion was the third battalion in one regiment), a
against the former regime forces and the reduc- combat engineer company, and a combat service
tion of criminal activities to manageable propor- support detachment. The division also had an
tions, however, could bear fruit by the beginning artillery battalion transformed into a provisional
of 2004. The assumption was that only extremist military police unit, a tank company, and an as-
groups, the most unpredictable enemy, would re- sault amphibian company. The 3d Marine Aircraft
main likely opponents by the time of the turnover Wing (Forward) planned to employ a single air-
to the 2004 relief forces. Until then, the most like- craft group with no fixed wing aircraft, (except
ly enemy actions would come in the form of iso- for tanker and liaison airplane detachments), but
lated, random, and individual attacks with occa- six helicopter squadrons: three medium lift squad-
sional primitively organized or combined attacks. rons, one heavy lift squadron, and two light-attack
Less likely, but much more dangerous, would be squadrons. An unmanned aerial vehicle squadron
the enemy mounting an organized, well-targeted, and an air defense battalion also accompanied
and highly lethal attack. In addition, the potential the group for air control and ground support. The
for the enemy to disrupt political reconstruction 1st Force Service Support Group (Forward) or-
of the country with political assassinations was ganized separate support groups for the eastern
well recognized. and western sectors to support two regiments of
The end result, proposed in the August cam- the division, allocating remaining support into a
paign plan, was a safe and secure environment brigade service support group for the rest of the
gained by a much more vigorous level of U.S. ac- force. An engineer contingent included a naval
tivities. With former regime forces eliminated and mobile construction battalion (the “Seabees”),
crime curtailed by Iraqi police and security forces, three engineer and engineer support companies,
the final threat of extremists would be handled and several companies of military police.
by increased vigilance of a large police, Facilities The members of the entire I MEF had returned
Protection Service, and Iraqi Civil Defense Corps to home stations in 2003, experienced in com-
force. Extremism would also lose its power and bat, and stability and security operations. Inevita-
appeal with a marked improvement in quality of bly, many units had to be disbanded because of
life, a growing economy, and political stability transfers and expired terms of service. Replace-
brought to the country and its capital city. The ments had to be obtained, prepared to assume
improved stability and self-reliance of the civil- their assignments, and be trained in the valuable
ian government and local security forces would a lessons learned in the 2003 campaign. For the
greater reduction in U.S. forces such that incom- veterans, combat debriefs and warrior transition
ing Marine and Army divisions could occupy mili- briefs overseas continued into an organized post-
tary facilities under construction in Iraq.7 combat transition in the United States. Training
schedules, family support, and maintenance pro-
The Force Takes Shape
grams were designed to maximize leave, to retain
The I MEF and 1st Marine Division operation- cohesion, and to preserve combat readiness.
al planning teams worked on the force structure,

Before the 1st Marine Division departed Ku- curity operations campaign. The reloading of avi-
wait, each of its units had to inspect and inven- ation equipment aboard the maritime preposi-
tory equipment, opening repair orders, and listing tioned shipping posed the biggest challenge, and
shortages such that replacement items and repair reloading the eleven ships at al-Shuyaiba, Ku-
parts would be available upon arrival at home wait lasted until November. In a typical activity,
stations. The Division recuperated at its California teams scoured several sites in Iraq to recover ex-
home bases but toiled anew to refurbish its ma- peditionary airfield components, principally AM-2
teriel and to prepare its personnel for operations matting, that had remained unaccounted for but
anywhere. was later discovered. A three-day convoy of 47
By 1 October 2003, all but the last two units vehicles covered 900 miles to recover $1.2 million
of 1st Marine Division that had returned from in matting. On September 12, the bulk of wing
Iraq reported a full mission capable status—the personnel that had remained in Iraq returned to
highest readiness rating. By 1 December, the last their California stations.10
two battalions that had been delayed in Iraq until
The Mission Defined
September were combat ready, and on 5 January
2004, the division was rated fully mission capable. During October, the Joint Staff decided that
At a cost of $79.9 million, extensive planning and the Marine Corps would not relieve the 101st Air-
much effort, the division was prepared for imme- borne Division in Mosul. Instead, the Marines re-
diate deployment. However, the 2d Marine Divi- lieved the 82d Airborne Division, which formal-
sion still had 25–30 percent of its equipment de- ly became the I MEF mission for Operation Iraqi
ployed and faced numerous deadlines for mainte- Freedom II. Located in al-Anbar and northern
nance of armored vehicles, artillery, and medium Babil Provinces—the heart of the Sunni Triangle
trucks. Only gradually did it improve its readiness and the anti-Coalition insurgency west of Bagh-
to mostly mission capable by year’s end.8 dad—this area of operations posed challenges
The 1st Force Service Support Group reorga- unlike those of the initial I MEF stability and se-
nized in November 2003 into the “expeditionary curity operations campaign. The Northern Babil
template” organization long under study in the area was familiar to Marines as the northern part
Marine Corps. This measure sought to change the of the I MEF area of operations in Operation Iraqi
combat service support echelon of Marine Corps Freedom I and a key nexus of the Shi’ite and
forces from the traditional garrison units that had Sunni majorities in Iraq. The I MEF and division
to be reorganized for each deployment according operations planning team now studied the rest of
to ad hoc conditions into a permanent organiza- the area of operations intensely, paying particular
tions with designated commanders and staffs, ex- attention to terrorist infiltration routes, termed “rat
ercising command and control both in garrison lines,” extending from Syria to the major cities of
and when deployed. Intended for a nine-month al-Fallujah and ar-Ramadi.
“proof of concept” period, Brigadier General In contrast to the low level of insurgency and
Kramlich ordered the creation of Combat Service crime in the rest of Iraq, al-Anbar Province pre-
Support Group 11 (CSSG-11) as a combat support sented an active insurgent infiltration route, sanc-
group led by the commander of the transporta- tuary, and training ground and a latent flash point.
tion support battalion, and CSSG-15 as a general The original U.S. offensive through this area dur-
support group led by the commander of the sup- ing Operation Iraqi Freedom I had bypassed most
ply battalion. This program later evolved into the population centers and focused on enveloping
redesignation of the force service support group Baghdad to the east. Accordingly, most elements
to a Marine Logistics Group (MLG) in November of the former regime loyalists that constituted the
2005.9 initial uprising against Coalition forces—veterans
The 3d Marine Aircraft Wing began returning of the Republican Guard, Iraqi Intelligence Ser-
to home stations in July 2003 and was engaged in vice and Ba’ath Party—remained relatively intact
routine training and operations by the end of the as organizations. After the initial combat opera-
month. The return of Medium Helicopter Squad- tions ended, a single armored cavalry regiment
ron 165 on 1 August represented the return of patrolled a vast area the size of North Caroli-
its last aircraft unit except for small detachments na. Such a weak presence squandered the war’s
remaining to support the I MEF stability and se- gains and allowed an excellent enemy sanctuary

to flourish. The Sunni population in this area had Brigade. Marine Corps and Army infantry were
lost its preeminent social and political standing cross-attached, with 2d Battalion, 4th Marines
after the Hussein regime fell. Although most of joining the Brigade and the Army’s 1st Battal-
the population did not actively work against the ion, 32d Infantry attached to Regimental Combat
Coalition forces, many did render support to the Team 1 (RCT-1). The Marine Corps infantry con-
former regime loyalist movements. tingent had grown in barely a month from the
The geographical isolation of al-Anbar Prov- original planning level to a total of eight infan-
ince, juxtaposed to the extensive Iraqi borders try battalions, one reconnaissance battalion, and
with Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, provided one LAR battalion. The Army brigade contributed
potential cross-border sanctuary and support for three more battalions, including an armor battal-
the insurgency. Age-old smuggling routes, trib- ion partly reformed as vehicle-mounted infantry
al cross-border associations, and active Syrian but retaining some tank strength. This task orga-
support provided the insurgents a steady supply nization was augmented, near the time of em-
of money and sanctuaries. The Ba’ath political barkation, with artillery batteries A and E, 11th
connection with Syria facilitated the insurgency. Marines. These two batteries arrived on 28 Febru-
Radical elements desiring entry could infiltrate ary 2004 and drew eighteen howitzers from the
through a system of safe houses, counterfeit doc- prepositioning ships supporting the deployment.
ument providers, training areas, and routes that Counterbattery fires against indirect fire attacks
lay within the area of operations. from the insurgents became the initial mission for
The insurgents had a ready source of munitions these two batteries. Later, when needs became
and arms; vast stocks existed in the area. Army more urgent, the equipment aboard the maritime
sources identified 96 known munitions sites and prepositioned shipping would permit very rapid
indicated innumerable uncharted ones. A large reinforcement of the Marine division.13
portion of Iraq’s arms industry was centered in In all, the I MEF contingent provided much
the area—particularly in al-Ameriyah, Mahmudi- more combat power than the 3d Armored Cavalry
yah and Iskandariyah. Although some localities Regiment and two brigades of the 82d Airborne
had arms shortages and the price of weapons in- Division that had secured al-Anbar Province to
creased by Coalition actions, the enemy had few date. Lieutenant General Conway had no illusions
supply problems for its commonplace weapons: about the changed circumstances of the new de-
AK-47 rifles, explosives, ammunition, mortars, ployment to Iraq of I MEF, but he regarded the in-
and rocket propelled grenades (RPG). nate strengths of his organization as adequate.
The Army’s Task Force Baghdad conducted
I MEF Assesses the Stakes
Operation Longstreet (26 Aug–9 Sep 2003) in al-
Anbar and northern Babil Provinces, which re- The 2003 stability and security operations cam-
vealed key sanctuaries and infiltration routes that paign had validated much of the improvised Ma-
likely fed the insurgencies throughout Iraq. Con- rine Corps actions, demonstrating that the histor-
sequently, the U.S. Central Command combat- ical Marine Corps response to counterinsurgen-
ant commander planned for even larger forces; cy operations remained valid. Among the strong
an Army brigade combat team would join the 1st points revealed in that experience, Lieutenant
Marine Division. Additional battalions of infantry General Conway cited the most noteworthy as-
entered the division troop list, as did a small boat pects as:
detachment and a requirement for counter bat- • Stability operations were initiated im-
tery radars.11 mediately. Marines demonstrated the men-
In his 12 December 2003 report to General tal and physical ability to shift rapidly from
Abizaid, Lieutenant General Conway sent his fi- combat to stability operations. The MEF was
nal force list for the Operation Iraqi Freedom II engaged in security and stability operations
deployment, although the rotation units for the outside Basrah only a week after cross-
second six month period had yet to be identi- ing the line of departure. These operations
fied.12 (For detailed task organization, see Appen- were occurring in the south even as combat
dix G.) operations continued in the north outside
This unique organization initially contained no Baghdad.
artillery, except for that organic to the Army’s 1st

• Focus on children. Whenever possible 2003 proved significant. Harshly oppressed
the MEF tried to move quickly to accom- by the former regime, they demonstrated
plish any project that benefited Iraqi chil- more sympathy for the Coalition than their
dren (mine unexploded ordnance aware- Sunni neighbors to the north, and Marines
ness, construction and repair of play- conducted themselves in a manner to pre-
grounds and schools, and Operation Soccer serve good will with the Shi’as.
Ball). The belief was that the quickest way • Managing levels of violence. With-
to win support from the adults was to im- in the I MEF area of operations Marines
prove the quality of life for their children. worked to manage the levels of violence.
• Iraqi participation in setting priorities If fired upon, Marines achieved immediate
for reconstruction. In the MEF zone, the fire superiority. The I MEF human exploita-
Iraqis were allowed to set the priority for tion teams constantly worked to provide in-
reconstruction projects. This gave them a formation, which was then combined with
sense of having a stake in their own fu- other information to form a useful intelli-
ture and confidence in American concern gence picture. When sufficient intelligence
for their welfare.  allowed targeting, Marines quickly killed or
• Boots on the ground. The culture of captured those who resisted while avoid-
the Marine Corps as an infantry force with ing any group reprisals or indiscriminate ac-
strong small unit leadership functioned tions that would have created ill will by the
well in southern Iraq. I MEF deployed a local population toward the Marines.
significant infantry capability. Marines left • An Inside-Out Approach. The ini-
their tanks, tracks, and trucks, and walked. tial effort was the built up areas, towns,
They patrolled the streets to be seen by and cities. After a stable environment was
the locals. Their presence reassured Iraqis achieved, the effort shifted to the less popu-
looking for a safe and secure environment. lated areas.
Their leaders grew to understand local citi- • Non-Doctrinal Methods. The I MEF
zens, both good and bad. Iraqis developed employed flexible methods. Frequently, no
a sense of ownership and responsibility doctrine governed particular problems Ma-
for their areas. A “trust relationship” thus rines faced. In each of the five provinces
formed among the Marines and the Iraqis.  the approach differed, and the province
• Iraqi Police interface with Military Po- commanders adapted to their unique situ-
lice and Reaction Force Methodology. The ation.14
work done with the local police forces, I MEF planners had to ask Headquarters Ma-
which worked hand in hand with the mili- rine Corps and other agencies for assistance in
tary police, allowed I MEF to leave the built certain matters. The MEF lacked sufficient num-
up areas and towns. The Marine quick re- bers of translators, civil affairs experts, military
action forces always stood ready to provide police, explosives disposal experts, and special-
“oncall” support, but such support was sel- ized communications personnel for this or oth-
dom necessary. The Iraqis in the I MEF area er deployments. Stability and security operations
of operations soon began to police them- demanded increased numbers of vehicles of all
selves. They prevented looting, destroyed types, yet the MEF lacked funding for mainte-
improvised explosive devices, and in some nance and facilities that more equipment would
cases conducted raids on criminals and for- require.
mer regime loyalists in their areas. • Force Protection. Force protection
• Battalion Commander Authority. Bat- continued to be essential in this operation
talion commanders exercised total author- as in all previous operations. The new gen-
ity in their areas of responsibility. Battalions eration of personal protective equipment
worked together, remained in their own ar- required additional components formerly
eas, and were uniformly successful. intended only for frontline troops but were
• Shi’a Population. The fact that the now required for every member of the force.
Shi’a formed the majority of the population These included the small arms protective in-
in much of the I MEF area of operations in serts plates and additional panels designed

for the Interceptor system of tactical vests. al approach would focus on the Iraqi peo-
Combat and stability and security operations ple—providing security and a better quality
in industrial areas posed unusual chemical of life for the population and preparing the
and biological hazards, and the necessary Iraqi people to govern themselves.
materiel currently on hand was found only • The I MEF operational approach
in the Chemical and Biological Incident Re- would be based on three major lines of op-
action Force. Parallel to the personal protec- eration: security and stability operations, in-
tion category, almost every unarmored ve- formation operations, and civil affairs. The
hicle of the force now required some level tasks for these are as follows:
of hardening and armoring against impro- • Security and Stability: eliminate de-
vised explosive devices, rockets, and other stabilizing elements, establish training pro-
weapons already used by insurgents. The grams for Iraqi security forces, and focus on
aircraft being deployed in 2004 required a populated areas.
new generation of “survivability” equipment • Information Operations: develop an
only lately developed and not yet sched- integrated and aggressive information op-
uled for installation. These requirements erations campaign promoting Iraqi confi-
had challenged leaders and planners before dence in our forces and establish effective
the 2003 campaign and had been resolved means of disseminating information.
by urgent actions within HQMC and sup- • Civil Affairs: identifying and securing
porting establishment of the Marine Corps. funding and resources for civil affairs initia-
In most cases, urgent action would bring re- tives; planning and preparing for the transi-
sults again. tion from Coalition Provisional Authority to
Lieutenant General Conway personally de- Iraqi sovereignty; reducing unemployment;
scribed the significant elements of the upcoming establishing local government teams includ-
campaign in a presentation of 18 January 2004 to ing political, religious, and tribal leaders;
the Marine Corps Association Ground Dinner. As and identifying projects that have immedi-
summarized below, Lieutenant General Conway ate and measurable effects on Iraqi quality
asserted that the leadership had to remember sev- of life.
eral factors:15 • Success will be defined by the extent
• The 2003 I MEF situation in the south to which the Iraqi people can assume re-
would differ from the current situation in sponsibility for their own security. Goals
that the population in the new area of op- include self-governance in al-Anbar and in
erations would largely be Sunni. Therefore, north Babil Provinces, a stable economy,
an important part of the MEF approach and a successful transition of responsibili-
would involve finding a way to mitigate the ties to the Iraqi people.
perceived political losses of the Sunni pop- The failure of any of these elements
ulation. would pose increasing difficulties and dan-
• In keeping with the MEF’s successful gers for the Coalition forces and the Iraqi
experience from 2003, the I MEF operation- population.

Chapter 2: Assembling the force in bases and camps in
Kuwait proved as complex as the previous de-
The Deployment ployment of I MEF to the theater. The early 2004
relief in place for U.S. forces saw 12 Army bri-
The planners of I MEF and subordinate units gades and two Marine Corps regiments replacing
worked on the force deployment in November 17 Army brigades, most of which used the Kuwait
2003 while the troop list was being identified, and expeditionary camps and training sites for three
then began in December to develop the details of months as the sites for the relief in place. An early
the strategic movement of all units thus identified. problem was the minimum requirement for 7500
In addition to the forces under I MEF control, sev- bed spaces at Camp Udari to support the 1st Ma-
eral additional units deployed for duty with CJTF- rine Division through the standard joint process-
7: two bridge companies drawn from II MEF and ing known as “Reception, Staging, Onward move-
Marine Reserve Forces, and a detachment of light ment and Integration of forces (RSOI).” Reduced
attack helicopters to operate out of Balad Air to 3500 beds at Udari, I MEF staff found 1000
Base. Two Navy surgical companies deployed as additional beds each at Camps Victory and New
well to Kuwait, operating under control of Com- York, but the remaining shortfall could only be
mander, Marine Forces Central Command.16 filled by moving two regiments into camps, train-
As in previous campaigns in the Persian Gulf, ing areas, and on to the border assembly areas.
the Marine Corps forces, deploying for the 2004 In all, I MEF used six camps, three ports, and two
campaign in Iraq, shipped their equipment and air facilities during its RSOI phase.
a relatively small number of personnel via Navy After all Marines assembled in their assigned
and military sealift shipping while the bulk of per- units and were issued equipment, they went to
sonnel and some cargo traveled via strategic air- the range area to test fire crew-served weapons
lift. Only two Navy ships took part in this phase, and systems, unloaded from shipping and stor-
each a highly capable amphibious assault ship of age, and to conduct final battle training. The con-
the latest class: USS Bataan (LHD 5) from the voys were dispatched in sequence by the 1st Ma-
Atlantic Fleet and USS Boxer (LHD 4) from the rine Division, which also performed security func-
Pacific Fleet. Fifty-five helicopters, deemed im- tions for most convoys of the I MEF headquarters
mediately necessary for the relief in place of the group and the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing. A three-
Army aviation of 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, day training period provided detailed preparation
were loaded onto these ships. The remaining for safe and secure convoys. The convoy com-
59 helicopters, in various states of disassembly, manders formed, loaded, armed, and rehearsed
were shipped in the military sealift ships (24 heli- their convoys for the first day and a half under
copters) and strategic airlift (35 helicopters). USS the coordination of the division G-3 staff. On the
Boxer and USS Bataan sailed on 14 and 23 Jan- afternoon of the second day, each commander
uary 2004 from their ports of embarkation, and received the latest route and intelligence brief-
during 18 January–28 February, ten Military Sealift ings, conducted a certification briefing for the di-
Command ships sailed from their ports, all taking vision G-4, and received the assigned departure
approximately a month for the transit. Additional and convoy clearance information. For the final
equipment for I MEF, principally vehicles drawn 24 hours, the convoy remained under a safety
from maritime prepositioned ships MV 1stLt Bal- stand-down calculated to ensure rested person-
domero Lopez, MV Pvt Franklin J. Phillips, and nel and well-prepared equipment for the single-
MV PFC William B. Baugh, awaited the arrival of day movement required into destinations in most
the troops in Kuwait. These ships landed during of the area of operations.
10 February–5 March and comprised the lead ele- In addition to the convoys, intra-theater air
ments and main body of the I MEF forces. Though transportation lifted selected units and equipment
small numbers of personnel continued to arrive from Ali al-Salem Air Base to the several air facili-
in Kuwait through 13 March, the main effort was ties in the new area of operations. The newly ar-
preparing the relief in place of 3d Armored Cav- rived six KC-130F Hercules refueler-transport air-
alry Regiment, planned for 20 March, and the 82d craft of 3d Marine Aircraft Wing supported this lift
Airborne Division, planned for 4 April.17 as well as internal missions of the wing.18

The I MEF orders detailed the movement pro- To execute relief in place with 82d Airborne
cess:19 Division and to simultaneously maintain the com-
While the I MEF headquarters group estab- mon security and stabilization mission, leaders
lished garrison at Camp Fallujah in the so-called and troops at all levels carried out essential ori-
“MEK”* forward operating base, the division entation and operations with their counterparts.
command post was located in Forward Operat- These operations consisted of the so-called “right
ing Base Champion (soon renamed Camp Blue seat, left seat’ rides in which incoming I MEF lead-
Diamond for the 1st Marine Division symbol) of ers and troops first patrolled with and operated as
Headquarters, 82d Airborne Division at Ramadi, assistants to the 82d Airborne personnel, then ex-
the wing was located at al-Asad Air Base, and changed roles and took over the operations with
the service support group was located at Camp 82d Airborne personnel still in place to provide
Taqqaddum airfield, south of al-Fallujah.20 assistance and advice. Upon mutual agreement,
The initial ground deployment into Iraq saw each unit at successive levels then transferred the
RCT-7 occupy al-Asad Air Base and deploy its responsibility and authority for the district or sec-
units in the western half of the I MEF area of tor. Before such transfer of authority occurred, the
operations, while RCT-1 occupied Camp Fallujah, incoming Marine Corps units assumed security of
taking responsibility for the easternmost section all vital infrastructure and institutions in their as-
of the area. The Army’s 1st Brigade, 1st Infan- signed sectors, made introductions to local lead-
try Division remained at Ramadi with additional ers and Coalition authority and non-governmental
responsibilities for the vast and underpopulated organization leaders, assumed supervision of lo-
area stretching south to the Saudi Arabia frontier, cal infrastructure projects, and assumed responsi-
later called the area of operation—Manassas. bilities for equipment and supplies on hand, and
The relief in place outlined in I MEF orders continued the ongoing process of collecting and
sought to replace Army units sequentially, from disposing of weapons, munitions caches, and un-
the smaller units up until the major units agreed exploded ordnance.
to the final transfer of authority. This process also In each case, the transfers of authority oc-
took effect from west to east, as RCT-1 and 3d curred well before the deadlines. Lieutenant Gen-
MAW first relieved the Army 3d Armored Cavalry eral Conway had recognized the need for an ac-
Regiment of the huge western section of area of celerated relief of Army units deployed in Iraq
operations as well as airspace management re- and had promised all due speed: “I MEF under-
sponsibilities handled by the its air cavalry squad- stands the intent to conduct transfer of authority
ron. Then 2d Battalion, 4th Marines reported to at earliest possible date and will comply.” The
the Army 1st Brigade and its operational control, early dispatch of RCT-7 from Camp Udari paid
followed by the relief of 3d Brigade, 82d Airborne off, as it completed its relief of 3d Armored Cav-
by RCT-1. alry Regiment on 15 March instead of the fore-
casted 20 March. As part of that transfer of author-
ity, 3d MAW assumed responsibility for airspace
*Camp MEK name note: throughout official and management and aviation support for the area
unofficial materials, one encounters the term Camp of operations. Major General Mattis assumed re-
MEK as an alternate name for Camp Fallujah. Although sponsibility for ground operations in area of op-
not official, Camp MEK ranks as the most commonly erations “West,” soon renamed area of operations
used name for that facility, thus requiring explanation. “Atlanta” in Marine Corps orders and plans, on 21
MEK stands for Mujahedeen-e Khalq or “Peoples Mu- March from Major General Swannack, command-
jahedeen.” It originally served as an Iraqi military base
er of the 82d Airborne Division. The 1st Force
supporting foreign fighters from Iran opposing the Ira-
nian clerical regime. Several of these bases existed in
Service Support Group relieved the 82d Airborne
Iraq, but this one east of Fallujah was renamed “For- Division Support Command on 22 March. The 3d
ward Operating Base Ste.-Mere-Eglise” by the occupy- Brigade, 82d Division remained under the opera-
ing 3d Brigade, 82d Airborne Division. The more con- tional control of Major General Mattis until RCT-
venient name “the MEK” continued in use in conversa- 1 relieved it on 28 March, seven days ahead of
tion and correspondence. On 25 March, the name was schedule.
changed by Lieutenant General Conway to Camp Fallu- Though the Marines of I MEF lived up to
jah, but, “the MEK” continued predominantly in use.21 Lieutenant General Conway’s expectations, al-An-

Concept of Operations
O n order, I MEF units will conduct onward movement from Kuwait to forward operating bases
in Iraq via self-move, contracted move, common user land transport assets, and intra-the-
ater air assets. Units will commence intra-theater air onward movement on or about 23 Feb, and
ground onward movement on or about 26 Feb. Units will convoy via main service routes Tampa
and Jackson to initially link up with 82d Airborne Division movement control cell at Convoy Ser-
vice Center Scania. Units will be directed from Scania to secondary link up with 82d Airborne
Division teams at the intersection of route Tampa with area of operations West. From secondary
link up point units will be either physically guided to forward operating bases by mobile 82d Air-
borne Division teams or directed along routes manned By 82d Airborne Division traffic control
point teams. Units using Intra-theater air will fly from Ali al Salem Air Base, Kuwait to al-Asad Air
Base, Iraq. From al-Asad units will conduct final ground movement via organic transportation to
respective forward operating bases. 3d Marine Aircraft Wing aviation platforms not coded for di-
rect flight to al-Asad Air Base will fly from designated surface points of departure to Camp Udari
before proceeding to al-Asad air base (if necessary using designated U.S. Army refueling sites).
Upon arrival in area of operations West, I MEF units will be under tactical control of 82d Airborne
Division and conduct a sequential relief in place of 82d Airborne Division units in western Iraq.
RCT-7 and supporting combat service support and aviation support units will relieve 3d Armored
Cavalry Regiment not later than 20 March 2004. Remaining I MEF units will complete respective
reliefs of 82d Airborne Division units not later than 04 April 2004. The transfer of authority for
area of operations West From CG 82d Airborne Division to CG I MEF will occur not later than 04
April 2004. The transfer of authority is conditions based. CG I MEF conditions for the transfer of
authority are listed in the coordinating instructions.

bar Province lived up to its reputation as a tough es and local insurgent groups. What were not rec-
area of operations, and as such, Marines conduct- ognized until later were the determination and
ed combat operations for several days before the resilience of the insurgency.
transfers of authority took place. The 1st Marine Although the Marines newly arrived in al-An-
Division suffered 11 casualties by 14 March, and bar considered themselves better prepared and
3d Marine Aircraft Wing received its first rocket organized for the stability and security operations
attack at al-Asad Air Base on 18 March, killing missions than in the 2003 campaign, the Marine
one Marine and wounding three. An improvised Corps equipment needs had increased. The brief
explosive device explosion killed a second Ma- period of occupation duty in mid-2003 allowed
rine on the 25th. Both Wing Marines were from no time for incorporating new technologies and
Support Squadron 374. The aircraft wing had lost engineering into the force. By 2004, however, the
only 18 killed in all of Operation Iraqi Freedom experiences of U.S. and Coalition forces had gen-
1, already marking this campaign as a wholly dif- erated a comprehensive set of new equipment
ferent experience.22 requirements.
The planning by I MEF before returning to Aircraft survivability problems dated from
Iraq essentially sought to build on what had been the initial combat phase of the 2003 campaign
widely assumed was a successful period of stabil- and represented ongoing modernization system
ity and security operations by the 82d Airborne installation, but the completion schedule antici-
and 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment. In particular, pated for installing most of these systems did not
the MEF plan hinged on a strong “first 60 days” cover the initial deployment of aircraft with 3d
plan as the best method to maintain and con- Marine Aircraft Wing in early 2004. The special
tinue progress toward a secure and independent schedule developed for the “Aircraft Survivability
Iraq.23 Upgrade” resulted in lightweight armor kits and
The “first 60 days” plan showed that Marine a ramp-mounted machine gun installed in the 24
planners anticipated conflict between I MEF forc- Sikorsky CH-53E Sea Stallion heavy lift helicop-

ters by mid-April. The 36 Boeing-Vertol CH-46 number) of approved items already included the
Sea Knight medium helicopters received light- following:
weight armor kits and infrared jammer (IR) up-
grades beginning in July and April, respectively. Item Number
The six KC-130F Hercules refueler-transports also Marine Expeditionary Force combat operations 1
received their IR jammer upgrades in April. Much center
more time would be required, however, to deploy Medium-level vehicle hardening:
the highly desired AAR-47(2) missile warning set Door protection 3,049
and ALE-47 countermeasures dispenser into the
Underbody protection 3,638
light attack squadrons. Only the larger aircraft de-
Ballistic glass 2,704
ployed initially with these capabilities.24
Temporary steel plating 2,144
The hope that special equipment needed
for the I MEF 2004 campaign could be obtained Position locating systems:

from units departing Iraq fell far short of expec- Blue force tracker 100
tations despite a U.S. Central Command directive EPLRS with M-DACT 50
to leave all “uparmored” high mobility multipur- Combat identification devices:
pose wheeled vehicles (“Humvee” models M1114, Glo tapes 40,000
M1116 and M1109) and all tactical vehicles fitted Phoenix Jr. strobe lights 5,000
with bolt-on armor or ballistic doors. The 82d Air- Thermal combat imaging panels 2,163
borne Division turned over 83 uparmored Hum- Dust abatement systems 6
vees, but the MEF requirement was 250. Of the
Night vision devices 882
highly desired Warlock jammers used to counter
PRC-148 radios 1,294
improvised explosive devices, only 25 could be
Advanced combat optic gun sights 3,724
gained from CJTF-7 sources; the Marine Corps re-
quired 61 for this deployment.25 M240G/TOW dual mount 97

As in the case of the 2003 campaign, the sup- Tropospheric satellite support radios 22
porting establishment of the Marine Corps, chiefly Medium tactical vehicle replacement-MTVR center 325
Marine Corps Systems Command, employed rap-
id acquisition under the Urgent Universal Need Checkpoint force protection kits 50

Statement (UUNS) process. In contrast to the 2003 PRC-150 34

campaign, the 2004 material needs of the forc- Personal role radios 1,487
es differed remarkably in scope and cost. Com- “Dragon Eye” unmanned aerial vehicle 35
manders of forces assigned for the 2004 cam- Handheld translation devices 300
paign received instructions in November 2003 Satellite-on-the-move capability 110
to request material required under UUNS to the Mobile generator for forward resuscitative surgery 4
Commanding General, I MEF, for consolidation system
and forwarding. Ultimately, the Marine Require- PRC-150 remotes 48
ments Oversight Council reviewed the requests PAS-13 thermal sights 855
and recommended actions to the Commandant. Vehicle barrier nets 50
The initial requests before the 2004 deployment Lightweight body armor 1,080
totaled approximately $170 million, in compari-
“Sophie” thermal binoculars 20
son to approximately $100 million provided for
22 Kw generators 17
the entire 2003 campaign.
Vehicular mounts for PRC-150 36
The requirement for uparmored Humvees
took immediate priority. The Marine Corps Logis- Explosive ordnance disposal capabilities:

tics Command produced steel doors for delivery Protective suits 60

to the deploying units until more permanent so- PSS-14 detectors 74
lutions could be approved and acquired via joint Percussion actuated nonelectric disruptors 15
service and Marine Corps specific programs to Large package X-ray apparatus 7
produce armor kits and new production vehicles. Blast tents 15
As I MEF arrived in Iraq, the 2004 UUNS list (and Blast rings 15

Marking foam 500 cal opponents of the war, the American govern-
Robot capability 15 ment and military also underestimated the scope
AN/PAQ-4C infrared night sights 182 and ferocity of the insurgency and the personal
Data distribution system upgrade 20 protection that fighting insurgents would require.
Large LVS trailer capability 20 The military laboratories and systems commands
Ditching machine 4 responded with designs encompassing almost to-
Air-Naval Gunfire Liaison Company communications 4
tal protection for vehicles and persons alike.
suites The “hardness” or armor of Humvees re-
Battlefield tire changing systems 2 mained a critical problem for all U.S. troops, in-
Technical control facility 2 cluding Marines as three different levels of pro-
Automated deep operation coordination system serv-
tection appeared in the uparmored Humvees and
ers and laptops only one offered adequate protection against the
2d MAW group-level combat operations center 5 improvised explosive devices employed by the
KIV-7 encryption devices 7 enemy. As a result, some units procured local-
PRC-117F radios 22
ly fabricated steel plates to augment the minimal
Deployable rapid assembly shelters for satellite ter- 10
protection offered by the unarmored Humvee. So
minal scarce were the uparmored Humvees that Ma-
MTVR trailers 20 rines began to improvise simple, additional pro-
Semiautomatic sniper rifle 18 tection, such as hanging bags containing Kevlar
Tactical photo reproduction capability 4
plates salvaged from vests and vehicles on the
exterior of the otherwise thinly constructed doors
Bed netting 25,000
of their Humvees, thus making their vehicles into
Data distribution system servers 16
“Hillbilly Hummers.”
Test stand 1
Personal body armor included two types dur-
Bridge erection boat trailer 17 ing the initial stages of the 2003-04 campaign. The
Lightweight all-terrain vehicles 53 superior Interceptor System, used by front-line
troops, gradually replaced the older vests used
In addition to compiling the initial require- by Marines during 1st MEF’s 2004 deployment:
ments, Systems Command deployed liaison teams the older vests were the Personnel Armor System
to the I MEF staff to assess new requirements and Ground Troops (PASGT) vest that had replaced
to accelerate the UUNS process.26 the obsolete vinyl and ballistic plate combina-
The tandem requirements of body armor (hu- tion of the older M-1969 Fragmentation Protective
man) and armor kits for utility vehicles became Body Armor. The PASGT ballistic filler consists of
more pressing in both military and political are- 13 plies of treated (water repellent) aramid Kevlar
nas after combat continued in 2003 after the “end 29 fabric and improved the M-1969’s protection
of major combat operations” but as the Iraqi in- against fragments.
surgency gained momentum. Armoring a fleet of The Interceptor Multi-Threat Body Armor Sys-
utility vehicles never intended for use in close tem comprised two components: the outer tac-
combat was a requirement new to the logistics tical vest and the small arms protective inserts,
system, and the system’s response proved pre- or “SAPI” plates. This system features removable
dictably slow as casualties increased. Likewise, throat and groin protectors, as well as front and
distribution of the new Interceptor armor system back removable SAPI plates. The system pro-
to the troops was only partially complete at the tects from 7.62mm rounds, the round primarily
time of the 2003 invasion, and priorities of issue used in insurgent weapons of the AK series. The
(I.e., to combat units) left large numbers of com- system weighs 16.4 pounds: each of the two in-
bat units with the older pattern of armor vests. serts weighs 4 pounds, and the outer tactical vest
Moreover, defective quality control and the de- weighs 8.4 pounds. The Kevlar weave of the out-
lays in providing upgrades to Interceptor com- er tactical vest stops a 9mm bullet. In addition,
ponents (heavier insert plates and additional side the strapping and Velcro fasteners of the Inter-
and shoulder protection) exacerbated the politi- ceptor permit attaching personal equipment. The
cal uproar. Although much publicity about infe- SAPI plates are ceramic. The 2003 Armor Protec-
rior or the lack of body armor came from politi- tion Enhancement System added sections to pro-

tect the neck, arms, and groin. The later Deltoid paign, equipped as well as the hurried measures
Extension protected the sides of the rib cage and and changing military environment permitted, the
shoulders but added pounds, provided less venti- age-old problem remained: Who was the enemy;
lation, and limited body movement. where was he; and what were his intentions?
As the over 20,000 Marines and sailors of I
MEF filled their new positions for the 2004 cam-

Chapter 3 of operations Atlanta. Elements of Marine Wing
Headquarters Squadron 3, Marine Aircraft Group
Operations in al-Anbar 16, Wing Support Group 37 and Air Control Group
Province 38 were based at al-Asad Air Base with forward
air support elements at al-Taqaddum Air Base, al-
Qaim, Mudaysis, and Camp Korean Village. al-Asad
The timing of the relief of Army units in al-An- Air Base had two medium helicopter squadrons;
bar Province dictated the order in which the Ma- one and one-half heavy helicopter squadrons; one
rines of I MEF assumed their positions. The vast ex- light attack helicopter squadron; the tanker-trans-
panse of western Iraq where the 3d Armored Cav- port detachment; and the tactical air control center.
alry Regiment patrolled was the farthest from the Al Taqaddum hosted the other medium helicopter
Marine units assembling in Kuwait during Febru- squadron and part of the light attack squadron. The
ary. Fortunately, the zone also contained the al-As- three other sites hosted a medevac helicopter de-
ad Air Base that would host the majority of the avi- tachment, and assault support and attack helicop-
ation combat element of the force. Locating RCT-7 ter detachments were placed there to meet tactical
at the air base facilitated the rapid turnover with needs.
the Army cavalrymen and also ensured air-ground Support for the aviation element built up rapid-
coordination and a shared responsibility for local ly. Over 462 tons of aviation ordnance was moved
defense of the base and its immediate surround- to 3d Marine Aircraft Wing by Air Force C-130s and
ings. The advance party of RCT-7 moved to al-Asad Marine KC-130s. A hundred tons of aviation equip-
Air Base during 24–28 February by air and ground ment was dispersed to the al-Taqaddum Air Base,
transportation, but the main convoys departed Ku- al-Qaim, and Korean Village sites to support for-
wait during 2–4 March. ward arming and refueling activities. Maintenance
and spare part supplying began immediately, and
Initial Deployment of 1st MEF
an engine pool for the aircraft was established with
Colonel Craig Tucker, commanding RCT-7, the assistance of depot support from Naval Air
deployed his maneuver battalions throughout the Facility, Sigonella, Italy. Upon completing of the
newly designated Area Of Operations Denver dur- transfer of authority with 3d Armored Cavalry Regi-
ing the first two weeks of March to cover sever- ment, the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing reverted tempo-
al population centers as well as known infiltration rarily to the operational control of the Command-
routes enemy forces used from the Syrian frontier ing General, 82d Airborne Division and provided
to the interior of Iraq. The headquarters of 2d Bat- aviation command and control in the area of op-
talion, 7th Marines located at the air base, and the erations airspace below 3,000 feet for him until he
line companies went to Camp Hit at the nearby city relinquished control to the commander, 1st Marine
of that name. One line company then deployed to Division, after which the I MEF task organization
the more distant Camp Korean Village, at ar-Rut- and procedures governed. Upon taking responsi-
bah, from which the borders with Jordan and Syr- bility for area Atlanta, the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing
ia could be observed. Camp al-Qaim became the acted as the responsible agency for air command
base of 3d Battalion, 7th Marines shared with 1st and control from ground level to 11,500 feet above
LAR Battalion, which split its line companies be- ground level for the entire I MEF area of opera-
tween there and Camp Korean Village. After a brief tions.
stay at al-Asad Air Base, 3d Battalion, 4th Marines The 1st Force Service Support Group provided
moved to Camp Hadithah and Patrol Base Raw- Combat Service Support Battalions (CSSB) 1 and 7
ah, northwest of the Hadithah Dam. The 1st Force of Combat Service Support Group 11 (CSSG-11) for
Reconnaissance Company was based at Camp al- the direct support of the two regiments of the 1st
Qaim, with a small detachment remaining at al-As- Marine Division and based the bulk of its units and
ad Air Base.27 resources at Camp al-Taqaddum. Combat Service
Major General Amos deployed his 3d Marine Support Group 11 also provided direct support as
Aircraft Wing (Forward) to five facilities to provide required to the Army’s 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Divi-
four aviation functions (aerial reconnaissance, as- sion, which had 2d Battalion, 4th Marines under its
sault support, command and control of aircraft and operational control at ar-Ramadi. Brigadier General
missiles, and offensive air support) throughout area Kramlich employed CSSG-15 as the general sup-

port provider at Camp al-Taqaddum and Brigade to protect the security of Iraqi national highways 8
Service Support Group 1 functioned as his land- and 9, designated main service routes Tampa and
ing force support party in Kuwait until returning in Jackson, respectively, on which was transported
late March to California after completing its Kuwait the bulk of logistics support from Kuwait to Bagh-
mission. Upon arrival at Camp al-Taqaddum, the dad and northern Iraq. The Camp Dogwood logis-
group received vital reinforcements from 3d Battal- tics support area of the Army, located 40 kilometers
ion, 24th Marines for local security, and on March southwest of Baghdad, also required local security
20 the Army’s 120th Engineer Battalion (heavy) re- support for its garrison.28
ported for operations, thus providing myriad sup- Major General Mattis set the tone for the new
port ranging from fortifying the camp to disposing campaign with a forthright message to his com-
of enemy ordnance. mand:
At the same time, 1st Marine Division complet- Letter to All Hands,
ed its movement from Kuwait from the command
post established in ar-Ramadi as noted above, We are going back into the brawl. We will
where the Army’s 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, be relieving the magnificent soldiers fighting
patrolled the area of operations Topeka. Colonel under the 82d Airborne Division, whose hard
Arthur W. “Buck” Conner Jr., U.S. Army, deployed won successes in the Sunni Triangle have
his 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry, and 2d Battalion, opened opportunities for us to exploit.
4th Marines at ar-Ramadi, where he also held his For the last year, the 82d Airborne has
Paladin-equipped (M109A6) 155mm self-propelled been operating against the heart of the en-
artillery battalion, the 1st Battalion, 5th Field Ar- emy’s resistance. It’s appropriate that we re-
tillery. He operated 1st Battalion, 34th Armor, out lieve them: When it’s time to move a piano,
of Hibbinaya, halfway between ar-Ramadi and al- Marines don’t pick up the piano bench—we
Fallujah. Battery I of 3d Battalion, 11th Marines move the piano. So this is the right place for
converted to military police duty, operating from a Marines in this fight, where we can carry on
camp at Madaysis from which the Saudi Arabia bor- the legacy of Chesty Puller in the Banana Wars
der crossing at Ar Ar could be monitored. A MEF in the same sort of complex environment that
order later designated this zone area of operations he knew in his early years. Shoulder to shoul-
Manassas. Last to move into its base in Iraq, Regi- der with our comrades in the Army, Coalition
mental Combat Team-1 occupied Camp Fallujah, Forces and maturing Iraqi Security Forces, we
sending battalions to cover its area of operations are going to destroy the enemy with precise
Raleigh assignments. firepower while diminishing the conditions
Colonel John A. Toolan, commanding 1st Ma- that create diversarial relationships between
rines detailed 2d Battalion, 1st Marines to Camp us and the Iraqi people.
Baharia, just east of al-Fallujah, and 1st Battalion, This is going to be hard, dangerous work.
5th Marines to Camp Abu Ghraib, west of the town It is going to require patient, persistent pres-
of that name and the infamous military prison. He ence. Using our individual initiative, courage,
further covered the sector in North Babil Province moral judgment and battle skills, we will build
with 2d Battalion, 2d Marines at Mahmudiya and on the 82d Airborne victories. Our country is
with the Army’s 1st Battalion, 32d Infantry, 10th counting on us even as our enemies watch
Mountain Division, at Camp Iskandariya. The 1st and calculate, hoping that America does not
Reconnaissance Battalion, less one company as- have warriors strong enough to withstand
signed to RCT-7, also was based at al-Fallujah but discomfort and danger. You, my fine young
oriented its actions throughout the area of opera- men, are going to prove the enemy wrong—
tions. As if operations in al-Fallujah were not de- dead wrong. You will demonstrate the same
manding enough, it should be observed that the uncompromising spirit that has always caused
relatively compact area of operations Raleigh lay the enemy to fear America’s Marines.
in the shadow of Baghdad itself, and continuing The enemy will try to manipulate you
operations were necessary to stop against the en- into hating all Iraqis. Do not allow the en-
emy “rocket belt” seeking to disrupt Baghdad in- emy that victory. With strong discipline, sol-
ternational airport; to stop frequent attacks against id faith, unwavering alertness, and undimin-
Abu Ghraib Prison; and in the North Babil sector, ished chivalry to the innocent, we will carry

out this mission. Remember, I have added, The Tigris and Euphrates bring life to one of
“First, do no harm” to our passwords of “No the harshest environments in the world. The re-
Better Friend, No Worse Enemy.” Keep your gion’s subtropical temperatures range, on average,
honor clean as we gain information about the from 90–115 degrees Fahrenheit in summer to few-
enemy from the Iraqi people. Then, armed er than 50 degrees Fahrenheit in winter. The Eu-
with that information and working in con- phrates River flows diagonally from the north to the
junction with fledgling Iraqi Security Forces, southeast, passing through six of the seven districts
we will move precisely against the enemy el- of al-Anbar: al-Qaim; Anah; Hadithah; Hit; ar-Ra-
ements and crush them without harming the madi; and al-Fallujah. A seventh district, ar-Rutbah,
innocent. administers the bulk of the governorate’s area, en-
This is our test-our Guadalcanal, our compassing the large desert area in the southwest.
Chosin Reservoir, our Hue City. Fight with a The western Desert, an extension of the Syrian
happy heart and keep faith in your comrades Desert, rises to elevations above 1,600 feet. Further
and your unit. We must be under no illusions south, the Southwestern Desert of Iraq (al-Hajarah)
about the nature of the enemy and the dan- contains a complex array of rocky desert, wadis,
gers that lie ahead. Stay alert, take it all in ridges, and depressions. Mount ‘Unayzah (‘Unazah)
stride, remain sturdy, and share your courage at the intersection of the borders of Jordan, Iraq,
with each other and the world. You are go- and Saudi Arabia, reaches the height of 3,119 feet.
ing to write history, my fine young sailors and The Euphrates River enters Iraq from Syria and
Marines so write it well. cuts deep and permanent beds in rock between
limestone escarpments. The reservoir formed by
Semper Fidelis,
the Hadithah Dam submerged the ancient town of
J.N. Mattis,
Anah and dozens of smaller settlements as well as a
Major General, U.S. Marines
major part of the agricultural base of the middle Eu-
phrates. Below Hit, the river widens and irrigation
At this point, the Marine Corps had deployed potential increases. Just south of the river below
some 24,500 men and women to Iraq, approxi- ar-Ramadi lie the lakes called al-Habbaniyah and
mately 24,300 under I MEF, drawn from Atlantic al-Milh, filled with Euphrates water by canal. Lake
and Pacific bases, augmented by 5,500 Navy con- al-Tharthar lies north of the river, and canals bring
struction and Army troops. Approximately 3,900 waters from the Tigris River to the lake. Down-
Marines and sailors of Marine Corps Reserve orga-
nizations were serving on active duty with approxi- Table 3-1. Marine Corps Forces In Support of Operation
mately 80 percent of them deployed to Iraq. Anoth- Iraqi Freedom II—April 200429
er 1,900 individual augmentees from the Reserves I MEF (fwd), Kuwait 116
served throughout the Marine Corps. I MEF (Fwd), Iraq 29,579
Al-Anbar Province I MEF (Fwd), Qatar 13
2d Medical Battalion, Kuwait 161
The capital of al-Anbar Province, ar-Ramadi,
Fox Vehicle Detachment, Kuwait 12
hosts the “governorate” for the estimated 1.33 mil-
Total I MEF (Fwd) assigned forces 29,881
lion people who live inside the 53,208 square mile
area of the province. Although al-Anbar Province U.S. Navy (22d NCR) and Army
(1st Brigade)
ranks as the largest province in Iraq (32 percent of
Total I MEF (Fwd) Marine Corps forces 24,316
total area), it remains the most sparsely populated
1st FAST Company (-), Baghdad 116
(4.9 percent). With desert comprising the majority
of the land in the province, most of the popula- Detachment B, 4th Air-Naval Gunfire
Liaison Company
tion resides near Baghdad and along the Euphrates
Element, MarForCent, Bahrain 6
River, which cuts through the northern part of the
Marine Corps Element, Land
province. Most inhabitants of the province are Ar- Component Command, Arifjan, Kuwait
abs and Sunni Muslim. The province shares its bor-
National Intelligence Support 15
ders with Jordan and Syria in the west and Saudi
Other 14
Arabia in the south.
Total U.S. Marine Corps 24,508

Table 3-2. I Marine Expeditionary Force Combat Power (on hand/ready)–April 200430
AH-1W UH-1N CH-46E CH-53E KC-130F RQ-2B Pioneer drone
34/25 18/13 34/27 24/19 6/5 8/7
74% 72% 79% 79% 83% 88%
Ground (USMC)
HMMWV HMMWV Amphibious Assault Light Armored
Tank M1A1 Howitzer M198
(antitank) Hardback Vehicle Vehicle
103/94 403/365 39/37 118/89 16/16 18/18
91% 90% 95% 75% 100% 100%
Ground (Army)
Tank Bradley Fighting HMMWV Howitzer, Scout
M1/A1/A2 Vehicle M2/A1/A2 M1064 M109A6 HMMWV
14/13 30/28 8/7 6/6 128/124
93% 93% 88% 100% 97%

river from ar-Ramadi one encounters all the main volatile nature of the area. Most of the inhabitants
controlled-irrigation canals, as well as most of the of the province are Sunni Muslims from the Dulaim
pumping stations. About 140 miles from ar-Rama- tribe. The rule of law became increasingly sporadic
di the river splits into two branches, al-Hillah and as the tools of governance—civic law, taxes, and
al-Hindiyyah. The al-Hindiyyah branch forms the the judiciary—became tools for the existing regime
main channel and provides irrigation for rice crops. to maintain control. Iraq’s rulers would alternately
The al-Hillah branch, separated among numerous support or isolate the tribes of Iraq without regard
canals, provides irrigation to the east and south. for the provincial governorates if such patronage
The current organization of Iraq’s provinces helped the regime control the populace. Even Is-
took shape in 1920, when the British divided Ot- lamic Law fell when the government’s courtship of
toman Iraq into ten separate divisions called Li- the mullahs ended due to fear of extremism.
was, largely based on ethnic and geographic lines Iraq’s oil wealth enhanced the ability of the rul-
or centered around major urban areas. The prov- ing clique to bypass these government institutions.
ince of al-Anbar likely derived from the al-Dulaym The revenue generated by oil deepened the system
Liwa. of patronage, as funds were controlled by the cen-
Al-Anbar Province is a large but sparsely inhab- tral figures of the regime who funneled money and
ited province, lacking significant natural resources, public works to those loyal to them. Tax revenue,
and as such, made it a minor factor in Iraq’s internal already tainted by corruption, became secondary to
affairs during the tumultuous period of post-mon- oil wealth. Sunnis, who comprised the majority of
archy rule. From the Republican period of 1958– the population in Al-Anbar Province, benefited the
68 through the Ba’athist rule that followed, Iraqi most from this system of patronage. In any case,
politics continued to be characterized by the sys- the regime took more interest in population cen-
tem of political patronage backed by military force ters closer to Baghdad, leaving most of the prov-
and supported by an internal security apparatus. As ince untouched.
time passed, this system became further ingrained Such conditions weakened government pow-
as it was handed down from the “Free Officers’” er in the face of the centralized power exerted by
rule of 1958 to the Nationalist government of 1963 the elites. The Baghdad regime, when convenient,
and culminating in Ba’athist rule in 1968. This sys- ignored al-Anbar Province’s existing laws on taxa-
tem culminated in its worst form under the dictator tion or judicial power. Crippled by persistent cor-
Saddam Hussein in 1979. ruption, undercut by deal-making between the rul-
Little is published about the relationship of al- ing regime and tribal sheikhs, and monitored by an
Anbar Province’s local government with its pop- ever present, heavy-handed security apparatus, the
ulation at large, but it was unlikely to be signifi- civic institutions of the province fell into disrepair
cantly different from the problems that beset the until the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime in
rest of the nation. Al-Anbar Province, especially April 2003.
ar-Ramadi and al-Fallujah, reflects the strong trib- Al-Anbar Province stood rife with insurgent
al and religious traditions of the inhabitants. Alleg- and criminal activity at the time 1st MEF took up
edly, Saddam Hussein was constantly wary of the its security and stabilization task, and its major cit-

ies of ar-Ramadi and al-Fallujah continued as seats ing the initial period of its occupation of Iraq, the
of Sunni anti-Coalition resistance. Amid this hos- Combined Joint Task Force Seven staff considered
tile environment, the Coalition had labored to de- Ba’athist leadership cadres and FRL forces as the
liver on its promises to restore security, essential primary threat to Coalition operations. They prob-
services, government, and a viable economy to the ably were responsible for the majority of ambushes
people of al-Anbar Province, but had only limited against “soft” targets, such as convoys, and symbol-
resources to apply to its appalling situation.31 ic centers of the interim government, such as police
stations and council meeting locations.
The Opposition and Varied Threats
Sunni extremists continued to attack Coalition
The threat to U.S. forces and their operations forces to force the Coalition’s withdrawal to estab-
remaining after the collapse of the Saddam Hussein lish a religious fundamentalist state. Their operating
regime consisted of isolated pockets of disorga- area conformed largely to the Sunni Triangle. These
nized military resistance; a large criminal element, groups reportedly consorted with foreign fighters
which heavily infested major cities because of their crossing the Syrian borders to areas within Iraq.
release from prisons on the eve of the war; and The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revo-
emerging subversives or insurrectionist movements. lution in Iraq (SCIRI; a Shi’ite political party and
The earliest classification of a post-hostilities threat armed militia) took advantage of the security vacu-
group was that of Former Regime Loyalists (FRL). um to increase its presence and influence through-
These included Ba’ath Party members, former Iraqi out Iraq. However, The goal of SCIRI (a non-sec-
soldiers, and remnants of the Fedayeen Saddam, a ular but independent state run by Iraqis) probably
radical paramilitary group loosely recruited into the reduced its traditional support from Iran. In addi-
Iraqi defense establishment. Extremist groups were tion, the collapse of the Ba’athist regime advanced,
also classified in the beginning, including Wahhabi throughout Iraq, the relative influence of Ayatollah
Islamic extremists, the Iraqi Islamic Party, and vari- Sistani and other important clerics of the key Shi’ite
ous pro-regime tribes. Extremist groups could be holy cities of an-Najaf and Karbala. The renewed
augmented by outside groups, including interna- emphasis on an-Najaf as a center of the Shi’a re-
tional terrorists interested in exploiting the unrest ligion—the largest in Iraq—countered the former
and possible U.S. vulnerabilities. influence of Iranian clerics seeking to fill the void,
Former Regime Loyalists continued efforts to thus causing undoubted friction between among
reorganize under various groupings to force the Shi’ite elements.
withdrawal of Coalition forces and to regain power The Badr Corps, the military arm of SCIRI, re-
within Iraq. The FRL operated among several cit- tained much stronger ties to Tehran and it contin-
ies within the Sunni Triangle from ar-Ramadi in the ued openly anti-Coalition demonstrations. The Badr
west to Baghdad in the east and north to Mosul. The Corps’ followers in Iran reportedly crossed into Iraq
U.S. and Coalition bureaucracy later coined succes- with Iranian intelligence agents within their organi-
sive terms according to the political climate—Anti- zation. They were considered likely to have placed
Coalition Forces and Anti-Iraqi Forces were favor- arms stockpiles in the Shi’a sections of Baghdad
ites of political figures loath to acknowledge the and other cities to the south. SCIRI later changed
existence of a genuine Iraqi insurgency against U.S. the name of its militia to the Badr Organization,
and allied forces. connoting a more peaceful and political emphasis,
Former Regime Loyalist forces proved well but it remained a significant military presence in
armed. Although initially poorly trained, they be- Iraqi public life.
came capable of lethal attacks against the Coalition Religious organizations, while not directly ris-
forces and Iraqis who sided with them. The intel- ing against U.S. and Coalition forces, remained vital
ligence services considered the FRL forces as com- sources of support for the insurrection and other
patible with other groups, such as foreign fighters, forms of opposition to them. The Howza (religious
transnational terrorists, pro-Saddam tribes, radical seminaries teaching Islamic theory and law once
Kurdish factions, and Islamic extremists throughout banned under Saddam) had three key elements
Iraq. Former Regime Loyalist elements continuously for the Shi’a: (1) the premier religious school in
attempted to gain favor in militant Sunni neighbor- the Shi’a religion located in an-Najaf; (2) a body of
hoods throughout Iraq. They used private homes to leaders that guided the direction and conduct of
conduct meetings and cache their weapons. Dur- the Shi’a religion; and (3) the mutually shared goals

of all Shi’as. All Shi’a based organizations oppos- lage. This level of threat had not been seen before
ing the Coalition forces had some affiliation with in area of operations (AO) Denver. An unexpected
the Howza, including the SCIRI, Badr Corps, and incident occurred on 15 March when Syrian border
the Iranian Dawa Party. Several persons claimed to guards fired with small arms on Marines of Compa-
speak on behalf of the Howza, such as the influen- ny L, 3d Battalion, 7th Marines near the Husaybah
tial religious leader Muqtada al Sadr, son of a mur- border crossing point. The Marines responded with
dered Shi’ite cleric, and Ayatollah Sistani. rifles, heavy and light machine guns, and a TOW
Wahhabists are a Saudi Arabian-oriented, radi- antitank missile shot. One Marine was wounded
cal religious organization that preaches non-toler- while three Syrian border posts were damaged or
ance of infidels, jihad or holy war against Coalition destroyed and casualties inflicted. Investigations
forces, and martyrdom in the name of these goals. by local Iraqi guards proved that the Syrians had
The focus of Wahhabist influence remained with opened fire first and that neither side had crossed
the Sunni tribes in the vicinity of al-Fallujah with the frontier at any point.
some support among their co-religionists within The regiment executed operations across AO
Baghdad. Baghdad Sunni and Ba’ath party mem- Denver that focused on identifying and capturing
bers typically remained more secular in thought enemy mortar men, explosive device planters, and
than Wahhabists but they would occasionally coop- foreign fighters. Colonel Tucker’s primary task re-
erate as a matter of convenience. U.S. and Coalition mained to interdict the infiltration of foreign fight-
forces identified elements of several recognized ter- ers joining the Iraqi insurgent effort by using the
rorist organizations in Iraq, and these groups may so-called “ratlines” from the porous Syrian border
have received support from the former regime. and the “white wadi” emerging from the border
Some of the Islamic extremist organizations sus- with Saudi Arabia. In the vital security area around
pected in the enemy ranks included al-Qaeda, An- al-Asad Air Base, RCT-7 executed a coordinated
sar al-Islam, Hezbollah, and Wahhabi extremists. raid using special operations personnel with Ma-
rines of the al-Asad garrison to capture suspected
Marines Establish Their Presence:
insurgents conducting rocket attacks on the base.
Security Operations in March 2004 The 21 March movement of 3d Battalion, 4th Ma-
As of 20 March 2004, exactly one year after the rines into Rawah to establish a forward operating
1st Marine Division first crossed the line of depar- base also began a new presence effort north of
ture into Iraq, the division had returned and relieved the Euphrates River to destroy key insurgent com-
the 82d Airborne Division in al-Anbar and Northern mand and control networks in AO Denver. Both
Babil Provinces. Regimental Combat Team-7 went mounted and dismounted patrols by joint U.S.-
into action first because of its 15 March transfer of Iraqi teams reinforced border security and sought
authority with the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment. to deny emplacment and detonation of explosive
Its patrols and limited offensive actions ranged far, devices along various routes. As examples of typi-
and the 1st LAR Battalion reportedly put the equiv- cal cases, the regiment reported on 19 March that a
alent of 2.5 years of peacetime use on its light ar- patrol from 3d Battalion, 7th Marines stopped and
mored vehicles of the General Motors-Canada LAV seized a vehicle containing several grenades, RPG-
series during its first month of operations. Almost type rockets, launchers, and machine gun ammuni-
immediately, security remained illusive and resis- tion. Three of the six suspects fled the vehicle, and
tance continued against U.S. and Coalition forces in three were detained. On 22 March, Marines from
the region. The first casualties in the division came the same battalion again stopped a single vehicle
from an improvised explosive device (IED) deto- for violating curfew, and the search of the vehicle
nated on 6 March against a vehicle in the 3d Battal- uncovered one U.S. identification card, a cellular
ion, 7th Marines sector, injuring two Marines. phone, two handheld global positioning devices,
Two days later, Marines launched their first of- and a mortar firing table printed in Arabic. Two
fensive action of the year when 3d Battalion, 7th individuals were arrested and brought to Camp al-
Marines and 1st Squadron, 3d ACR conducted a Qaim for further questioning, where they provided
cordon and search of a house in Husaybah. More intelligence for a follow-on cordon and knock mis-
sobering was the discovery reported by RCT-7 of sion that brought no further discoveries. In Raw-
a series of 10 improvised launchers and 60 57mm ah, the 3d Battalion, 4th Marines conducted patrols
aerial rockets arrayed around Camp Korean Vil- with local police and began its campaign to secure

the town. Far to the southwest in AO Denver, Ma- and women of each regiment or brigade to remain
rines of 2d Battalion, 7th conducted joint dismount- vigilant and ready for action.
ed security patrols with the Rutbah Iraqi Civil De- Other 1st Brigade operations included security
fense Corps Company serving there. The 1st Force sweeps against surface-to-air missile teams operat-
Reconnaissance Company tracked high value in- ing around al-Taqaddum, convoy escort for units
surgent targets and planned raids, maintained bor- passing between the two Marine regiment sectors,
der observation, and deployed snipers as required. and covering the withdrawal of the last elements of
All units produced information operations aimed 82d Airborne Division to Balad Air Base, north of
at calming and reassuring the local populace and Baghdad. Continuing operations in ar-Ramadi in-
spreading the fruits of civil affairs projects and oth- cluded sweeps, check points, raids and watching
er assistance programs. In this manner, the regi- for highly-placed leaders of the insurgency.33
ment executed the division commander’s intention The movement of RCT-1 from Kuwait took
of dual track operations to kill insurgents and to place during 14–21 March, and the regimental com-
help support the Iraqi people. manders and staff began work with the 3d Brigade,
During this first partial month of operations (5– 82d Airborne Division at Camp Fallujah to effect
31 March) in AO Denver, RCT-7 experienced 24 the “right seat, left seat” turnovers at all levels. Dur-
mine or IED attacks, found 73 other devices be- ing this process, Colonel Toolan received opera-
fore they could be detonated, received 27 indirect tional control of the 1st Battalion, 32d Infantry from
fire attacks, and 26 direct-fire attacks. Four Marines the 1st Brigade’s Colonel Connor. Along with 2nd
died in action and 51 were wounded in this intro- Battalion, 2nd Marines the soldiers would cover the
duction to the new area.32 North Babil area of responsibility of the regiment
The 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division contin- and the 1st Marine Division. The external security
ued to center on ar-Ramadi as its main effort, bol- responsibility for the Abu Ghraib Prison fell to 1st
stered considerably by the welcome attachments of Battalion, 5th Marines and Colonel Toolan’s oth-
2d Battalion, 4th Marines and the provisional mili- er two battalions operated outside of al-Fallujah to
tary police battalion formed by 3d Battalion, 11th isolate it from infiltration: 2d Battalion, 1st Marines
Marines. In addition, the relief of the brigade’s 1st covering the north and east, while 1st Reconnais-
Battalion, 16th Infantry by RCT-1 permitted what sance Battalion covered the southern sectors. The
Colonel Conner termed “. . . saturation of the Kha- unenviable mission for the Marines and soldiers
lidiyah and Habbaniyah battle space for the first of RCT-1 consisted of stabilizing a large area that
time since arrival in theater.” The brigade’s east- included the most volatile town in the notorious
ern boundary with RCT-1 moved to the western “Sunni Triangle.”
bank of the Thar Thar canal with RCT-1 assuming The enemy situation in al-Fallujah revealed
responsibility for the battle space north of the Eu- itself from the very beginning. On 18 March, in-
phrates near Saqlawiyah. The military police com- surgents attacked the RCT-1 and 3d Brigade, 82d
pany attached from the 4th Marine Division to 3d Airborne Division command groups in al-Fallujah
Battalion, 11th Marines operated the detention fa- along Highway 10, which crosses al-Fallujah in the
cility in ar-Ramadi and made its first detainee trans- middle, running east-west. They also ambushed a
fer on 24 March, transporting 15 detainees to Camp special operations unit on 25 March while it also
Fallujah. The unit had an explosive device explode transited al-Fallujah on Highway 10, followed by
as it transited, producing no casualties, but the sub- yet another ambush 15 hours later of a Marine
sequent search of a house in the vicinity led to Wing Support Squadron 374 convoy attempting
the capture of four rifles, electrical switches, and to drive through al-Fallujah on Highway 10 at the
a large pile of wire. The brigade had two other cloverleaf intersection with Highway 1, which runs
such devices explode in its sector the same day. north-south on the eastern side of the city. Colonel
One of these explosions injured two Marines and Toolan ordered 2d Battalion, 1st Marines to secure
the other targeted an Army M1A1 tank. The search the cloverleaf and the northeast portion of the city
of the area by 1st Battalion, 34th Armor led to the adjacent to Highway 1. At dawn on the twenty-
killing of two insurgents, one of whom had an AK- sixth, one rifle company of 2d Battalion, 1st Marines
47 rifle and a detonating device. Such events con- seized control of the cloverleaf. Traffic was stopped
tinued across the operations areas, taxing the men and diverted around al-Fallujah, and E and F Com-
panies entered the northeast portion of the city.

The insurgents responded to the approach of the dented even by standards of the 2003 accomplish-
companies by attacking. Insurgents sprang coordi- ments.35
nated mortar and small arms ambushes throughout Major General Mattis signaled his apprecia-
the day against the Marines and the two companies tion of the situation near the end of March. Colonel
engaged in numerous firefights. On 27 March, at Tucker’s RCT-7 had successfully positioned units to
the request of the city council, 2d Battalion, 1st Ma- interdict the primary “ratline.” Concurrently, Colo-
rines pulled its forces from that portion of the city nel Toolan’s RCT-1 had moved aggressively against
but retained surveillance over the cloverleaf. The the enemy center of gravity in al-Fallujah, while
next day, the battalion reoccupied the intersection, Colonel Conner’s 1st Brigade preempted any insur-
remaining in place through the end of the month to gent force efforts to disrupt the al-Anbar authori-
prevent further attacks on convoys. ties. The Marines wanted to increase human intel-
Under these less than auspicious circumstanc- ligence, fused with all sources, to create opportu-
es, the transfer of authority with the 3d Brigade, nities for targeted strikes against the insurgent net-
82d Airborne Division, and that of the two divisions works.
as well, took place on the 28th at Camp Fallujah. Major General Mattis saw in the opposition a
During that week, insurgents struck Camp Fallujah combination of classical insurgent tactics and ter-
with indirect fire 23, 25, 27–29, and 31 March. The rorist activities, and these had increased during the
Abu Ghraib Prison received the same treatment turnover. Not only were the more plentiful road
for three days. On the 30th a force service support convoys attacked, but also violence in urban and
group convoy was ambushed near al-Fallujah. On rural areas across the province increased. Increased
a more positive note, a patrol from 1st Reconnais- patrol activity into areas not normally covered had
sance Battalion found a cache of 300 mortar rounds produced attacks by both IEDs and direct fire. In
southwest of al-Fallujah on 31 March. As difficult as no case, however, did the insurgents demonstrate
these early experiences in AO Atlanta had been for any interest in assaulting the new arrivals. Instead,
the 1st Marine Division and its supporting aviation they had fallen from any steady Marine infantry
and service contingents, hopes remained high that pressure and return fire.
a sustained and determined Marine Corps presence Major General Mattis urged his division on-
could bring improved conditions to this tortured ward.
province.34 Demonstrate respect to the Iraqi people, espe-
Among the many technological advantages cially when you don’t feel like it. As the mission
Marines exploited in this campaign was the much continues, we will experience setbacks and frustra-
improved intelligence capability that had been de- tions. In many cases our efforts will seem unappre-
veloped over two decades of effort. The 2003 cam- ciated by those we are trying the hardest to help.
paign in Iraq had seen the baptism of fire for the It is then that small unit leaders step up and are
Marine Corps intelligence battalion formed in the counted. Keep your soldiers, sailors and Marines
MEF headquarters group under normal organiza- focused on the mission and resistant to adversarial
tion. Accordingly, the 2nd Intelligence Battalion es- relationships with the Iraqi people . . . We obey the
tablished its Tactical Fusion Center with the divi- Geneva Convention even while the enemy does
sion command post at Camp Blue Diamond and not. We will destroy the enemy without losing our
proceeded to operate intelligence cells as low as humanity.36
the company level in the ensuing campaign. The The opening of the I MEF stability and security
Tactical Fusion Center combined in a single place operations campaign in March ended with an in-
the intelligence from higher echelons of national surgent ambush that left four U.S. security contrac-
and military intelligence services with the intelli- tors killed and mutilated on the Highway 10 bridge
gence from the many sources of local Marine Corps in west-central al-Fallujah, prompting U.S. offen-
and Army units. As the campaign unfolded, human sive actions in reprisal. The initial campaign plan
exploitation teams and signal intelligence teams for stability and security operations would give way
operated down to the company level in providing to full-spectrum combat operations for Marines and
intelligence. Overall, the positioning of the Tactical soldiers in Iraq and not exclusively in the I MEF
Fusion Center adjacent to the divisional operations zone.
center provided situational awareness unprece-

Chapter 4: tion. On April 1, Brigadier General Mark Kim-
mitt, U.S. Army, his deputy director of opera-
First al-Fallujah tions, promised an “overwhelming” response to
Battle and its Aftermath the Blackwater deaths, stating “We will pacify that
city.” In the midst of calls for vengeance including
options of destroying what little critical infrastruc-
The 1st Marine Division inherited a very dan- ture remained in the city, both Lieutenant Gen-
gerous situation in al-Fallujah from the 82d Air- eral Conway and Major General Mattis cautioned
borne Division and had developed a measured, against rash action, and in the division’s daily re-
phased approach: kinetic operations combined port, his assistant division commander, Brigadier
with focused information operations and civil af- General John F. Kelly, strove to temper the call for
fairs actions to show the Fallujans both the car- immediate offensive action:38
rot and the stick—something they already under-
stood well. This planning was encompassed in a As we review the actions in Fallujah
division order called al-Fallujah Opening Gambit yesterday, the murder of four private secu-
and was prepared for RCT-1 to execute as the rity personnel in the most brutal way, we
situation warranted. Despite these and other mea- are convinced that this act was spontane-
sures, events overcame the situation and led to a ous mob action. Under the wrong circum-
much different operation than the division could stances this could have taken place in any
have ever anticipated.37 city in Iraq. We must avoid the temptation to
The offensive actions carried out by RCT-1 on strike out in retribution. In the only 10 days
25–27 March at the northeastern sector of the city we have been here we have engaged the
succeeded in taking control of the Cloverleaf and “good” and the bad in Fallujah everyday,
sending a message to the people of al-Fallujah and have casualties to show for our efforts.
that the Marines were there to stay. While set- We must remember that the citizens and of-
ting back the civil affairs process in al-Fallujah, ficials of Fallujah were already gathering up
Marines felt they were dealing, effectively, with and delivering what was left of three victims
the situation—but soon, events overtook percep- before asked to do so, and continue in their
tions. efforts to collect up what they can of the
Operation Vigilant Resolve dismembered remnants of the fourth. We
(3–30 April 2004) have a well thought out campaign plan that
considers the Fallujah problem across its
On 31 March insurgents ambushed four very complicated spectrum. This plan most
armed security contractors from the firm Black- certainly includes kinetic action, but going
water USA, riding in two unmarked all-terrain ve- overly kinetic at this juncture plays into the
hicles. The four Americans died amid a volley of hands of the opposition in exactly the way
hand grenades, and the mob that gathered began they assume we will. This is why they shoot
to desecrate the bodies, setting them afire, and and throw hand grenades out of crowds, to
hanging two of them inverted from the nearby bait us into overreaction. The insurgents did
Old Bridge over the Euphrates River. World me- not plan this crime, it dropped into their lap.
dia broadcast the hanging bodies, and the Ameri- We should not fall victim to their hopes for
can and western public saw what was for it very a vengeful response. To react to this provo-
shocking video footage of charred and almost cation, as heinous as it is, will likely negate
unrecognizable bodies while the residents of the the efforts the 82d ABD paid for in blood,
city cheered and danced to celebrate the deaths. and complicate our campaign plan which
What was less known was the cooperation of lo- we have not yet been given the opportuni-
cal Iraqis who helped the Marines of 2d Battalion, ty to implement. Counterinsurgency forces
1st Marines recover the remains of three victims have learned many times in the past that
that night and the fourth on the following day. the desire to demonstrate force and resolve
After a series of conferences with the White has long term and generally negative impli-
House and the Secretary of Defense, Lieutenant cations, and destabilize rather than stabilize
General Sanchez directed immediate military ac- the environment.

Lieutenant General Sanchez’ headquarters or- jah, but we must avoid turning more young
dered Combat Operations to Re-establish Free- men into terrorists. We will also avoid doing
dom of Maneuver in al-Fallujah on 1 April which what the insurgents, terrorists, and foreign
ordered immediate offensive action in al-Fallu- fighters, and “Arab Street” all expect, and
jah. At I MEF, Lieutenant General Conway sub- that is the thoughtless application of exces-
sequently directed Major General Mattis to estab- sive force as if to strike out in retribution for
lish 12 checkpoints around the city using local the murders.
Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and police personnel to
prevent any movement into or out of the city by Major General Mattis and his division staff
younger males. The Iraqi paramilitary personnel, planned decisive operations to bring al-Fallujah
who at this time were still estimated to be reliable, under control while simultaneously maintaining
manned seven of the checkpoints positioned as the counterinsurgency operations in nearby ar-
inner cordons, and Marines of Lieutenant Colonel Ramadi and the rest of al-Anbar and North Babil
Gregg P. Olson’s 2d Battalion, 1st Marines and Provinces to prevent conceding any advantage to
Lieutenant Colonel Brennan T. Byrne’s 1st Battal- the insurgents. His orders called for a four-phase
ion, 5th Marines set up five outer checkpoints to operation by Colonel Toolan’s 1st Marines:40
complete the ring around the city. As this was oc- Phase I: RCT-1 would begin sustained op-
curring, the two Marine battalions began moving erations in al-Fallujah beginning 0100 on 5 April
significant combat power to the northeast corner with a tight cordon of the city using two battalion
of the city. task forces in blocking positions and traffic con-
On 3 April, Lieutenant General Sanchez is- trol points on all motorized avenues of approach.
sued his order for Operation Vigilant Resolve, This stage included raids against the photography
aimed at denying insurgent sanctuary in al-Fallu- shop that printed the murder photos and against
jah and arresting those responsible for the Black- regimental high value targets.
water atrocity. The two Marine battalions moved Phase II: Continuous raids would attack tar-
into positions around the eastern and northern gets inside the city from firm bases established
portion of al-Fallujah to seal the outer cordon of within northern and southern al-Fallujah. The in-
al-Fallujah. The Marines and Iraqi paramilitary formation operations messages for the operation
personnel continued to receive fire on their posi- would be projected, thanking the local popula-
tion and the “friendly” Iraqis soon left their posi- tion for cooperation, and for the information they
tions. Their abandonment of their posts brought provided leading to death or capture of insurgent
the dispatch to al-Fallujah of the 36th Commando forces and informing citizens of measures nec-
Battalion, a specially trained unit augmented and essary to protect themselves and families from
mentored by the U.S. Army’s Special Forces to harm.
fight alongside American troops. This unit would Phases III and IV: At moments of local com-
acquit itself well in combat during the weeks manders’ choosing, RCT-1 would then attack to
ahead. In his commander’s comments of 3 April, seize various hostile sectors in the city, integrat-
Major General Mattis raised the difficulties of con- ing and eventually turning operations over to
ducting offensive operations in al-Fallujah:39 Iraqi security forces.
Colonel Toolan ordered his two battalions
My intent is to then enter the city from and supporting troops (the regiment’s supporting
two directions, which will draw fire from tank and assault amphibian company and artil-
guerillas and put us in a position to exploit lery battery) into their battle positions in the ear-
our own well considered and conditions ly morning hours of 5 April. The 1st Reconnais-
based operation. There are over 250,000 sance Battalion swept to the north and east of the
inhabitants in the city, the vast majority of city against insurgent teams seeking to fire mortar
whom have no particular love for the Co- rounds and rockets into Marine positions. Com-
alition, but are also not insurgents. From a pany D, 1st LAR Battalion moved north to cover
moral, ethical, legal, and military perspec- Highway E1, the main artery in use to the west.
tive, we will fight smart: We do not have Marines of Company B, 1st Combat Engineer Bat-
to be loved at the end of the day, this is a talion and Navy Mobile Construction Battalion 74
goal that is no longer achievable in Fallu-

constructed a berm around southern al-Fallujah, As operations ensued, Major General Mat-
further isolating the battle area. tis signaled his concern about the I MEF south-
As Captain Kyle Stoddard’s Company F, 2d ern boundary, where the parallel al-Sadr revolt in
Battalion, 1st Marines occupied its battle posi- Baghdad and provinces to the south threatened I
tion, insurgents engaged his 2d Platoon and com- MEF communications to the south and east. Ele-
bat engineer detachment with RPG-type rocket ments of al-Sadr’s militia (also termed the Mah-
launchers and small arms fire. An Air Force AC- di Army) moved astride the Euphrates near al-
130U gunship checked on station and coordinat- Musayyib on the Karbala-Baghdad highway. Iraqi
ed with the battalion for fire support. When the police managed to restore order, but the uprising
AC-130 had stopped firing, the Jolan district front- remained a serious portent of the future. By 6
ing the battalion lay ablaze and the enemy threat April, the inadequacy of Iraqi paramilitary forc-
had disappeared. es could no longer be denied. Most of the 2,000
With 2d Battalion, 2d Marines blocking any Iraqi soldiers and police theoretically deployed to
escape to the south of al-Fallujah, the assault of support the 1st Marine Division had deserted as
the city commenced on 6 April with 2d Battalion, soon as, or even before, the fighting began. The
1st Marines attacking into the northwest corner 2d Battalion, New Iraqi Army, for instance, took
of the city, the Jolan District, while 1st Battalion, fire while convoying from Baghdad on 5 April
5th Marines attacked west from its positions south and refused to go into action with some 38 per-
of the cloverleaf, into the industrial Sin’a District. cent disappearing at once. Many of these Iraqi
Major General Mattis planned to pinch the insur- soldiers reportedly entered insurgent ranks. Only
gents from two directions, adding a steadily in- the 36th Iraqi Commando Battalion (400 troops
creasing pressure to their defensive dilemma. The with 17 U.S. Special Forces advisors) stayed the
fighting in late March had determined that the course, working alongside 2d Battalion, 1st Ma-
enemy lacked the resolve and the fighting skill rines in Jolan. The 506th Battalion of the Civil De-
to stop advancing Marine rifle units. A progres- fense Corps proved unsteady but useful at man-
sive advance into the city would exploit insurgent ning exterior checkpoints, but no other Iraqi sol-
weaknesses and lead to their wholesale collapse. diers served in this action. The 505th Battalion,
The entry into the city proceeded consistent for instance, never reported for operations.
with Colonel Toolan’s judgment as to the ene- Major General Mattis decided to order in an
my posture. The moves from north and southeast infantry battalion from the 7th Marines and de-
into the city each night drew immediate fire from nounced the Iraqi security force program on 6
insurgents, revealing their locations, thus allow- April.
ing the Marines to destroy them. The Marine bat-
talions attempted to integrate Iraqi Civil Defense A primary goal of our planning to date
Corps troops into the blocking positions and New has been to “put an Iraqi face” on security
Iraqi Army units into Marine battalions as rapid- functions as quickly as possible. With three
ly as possible. Marine commanders, Coalition au- weeks on the ground, reporting and expe-
thority representatives, and civil affairs officers ad- rience has indicated that all Iraqi civil se-
vised the civil, tribal, and religious leaders of the curity organizations—police, Iraqi Civil De-
city about the situation. These locals predicted fense Corps and border force—are gener-
dire consequences if the Coalition continued to ally riddled with corruption, a lack of will,
move into the city. But the Coalition’s response to and are widely infiltrated by anti-Coalition
the city’s leaders was that their predictions lacked agents. In one case we have reporting that
credibility, and that the city leaders bore major an entire unit located in Fallujah has de-
responsibility for the present conditions in al-Fal- serted and gone over to the insurgent side.
lujah. The information operation campaign used Their treachery has certainly cost us killed
public service announcements, handbills, and no- and wounded.
tifications to the mayor, city council, sheiks, and There are a number of explanations for
police. These announcements stated that a cur- this turn of events, not the least of which
few would be imposed and enforced between is that until now the forces have been little
1900–0600. more than a jobs program. We are only now
asking them to man their posts, to step up

and be counted, and it would seem many and artillery rocket positions and fired 14 mis-
are either voting with their feet—or their al- sions to support the infantry. In addition, Com-
legiance. pany C, 1st Tank Battalion (Captain Michael D.
Starting on 7 April, RCT-1 attacked continu- Skaggs) attached a platoon to each infantry bat-
ously for 48 hours, killing and routing those in- talion in direct support. Repeatedly, under steady
surgents who had stayed to fight. Fighting at RPG and small arms fire, the M1A1 tanks rolled
times was at close range, no more than 25 meters into enemy territory and demolished enemy per-
at best. The Marines continued to push. The 1st sonnel and equipment.43
Battalion, 5th Marines moved through the south- Combat in al-Fallujah demonstrated many un-
eastern district sectors of the city proper and con- usual characteristics. Residences make up most of
trolled 1,500 meters of Highway 10 west of the its over 50,000 buildings except in the industrial
cloverleaf. The 2d Battalion, 1st Marines contin- Sina’a District. The brick or concrete homes typi-
ued attacking in its corner of the city, expanding cally are one or two stories high, with flat roofs,
to the south and west. A mosque gave special enclosed courtyards and perimeter walls. While
resistance to 1st Battalion, 5th Marines with small some neighborhoods have a normal grid pattern,
arms and rocket launcher (RPG) fire, leading to the Jolan District revealed twisted alleyways and
a coordinated assault to seize it, killing one in- jumbled streets, repeated to an extent in the in-
surgent and taking three prisoner. Route E1 re- dustrial southeast.
mained open for Coalition traffic to the north of The narrow streets and walled enclosures
the city. Late on 7 April, the 3d Battalion, 4th Ma- channelized attacking Marine rifle squads, but
rines began to move from al-Asad Air Base to al- the enemy engaged in little street fighting, pre-
Fallujah, where it would join RCT-1 for the fight ferring to hole up and fight from ambush inside
by the following afternoon.41 the houses themselves. By doing so, they avoid-
Marines fought in full-scale urban combat for ed exposure to Marines placed in overwatch, ob-
almost six days for the first time since 2003. The servation, and sniper positions. The walls of the
insurgents proved to be an adaptive force, using typical house resisted grenade fragments, mak-
small three-to-five man teams, shoot-and-run tac- ing it possible to clear each room individually.
tics, and sniper fire revealing some skill. They also The windows typically were barred; doors, gates,
used indiscriminate mortar, artillery rocket, and and even internal barricades were reinforced with
handheld rocket launcher fire at a safe distance some type of reinforcement material, making
from Marine positions. They showed organized some houses miniature forts, requiring multiple
battle order, command and control using cellu- shots of multipurpose assault weapons, rockets,
lar phones, pigeons, and visual signals. Cached and tank guns to breach or reduce.
weapons and equipment in numerous locations The houses offered multiple entry and exit
throughout the city allowed them freedom of ma- points at the front, kitchen and side or rear, en-
neuver. Marines saw numerous cases of civilian abling insurgents to move easily through the resi-
observers cueing insurgents to the movements of dential areas. Their tactics frequently relied upon
Marines thus exploiting the rules of engagement arms caches in many houses, enabling them to
under which Coalition troops fought. In any case, move unarmed between houses in the guise of
after Marines achieved superior firepower, insur- innocent civilians, then set up in ambush of the
gents retreated and attempted to blend with the Marines. After they were inside, Marines usual-
civilian populace, allowing them to fight another ly found the same layout: the front door opened
day.42 to a small entryway with twin doors leading into
Supporting arms proved essential even when two sitting rooms. Beyond these one encountered
Marines engaged in close quarters combat. Lieu- interior doors opening to the central hallway,
tenant Colonel Olson characterized it as “. . . where all first floor rooms led. In that hallway
wave after wave of close air support aircraft: Air stood the typical stairwell to the second floor,
Force F-16C, and AC-130, Marine AH-1W Cobras containing more rooms and an exterior stairwell
and UH-1N handled the mission load.” Through- to the rooftop.44
out the entire month of April Captain Brad S. Pen- The increased security focus and operation-
nella’s Battery A, 1st Battalion, 11th Marines shot al tempo in the division’s zone fostered an ad-
30 counter-fire missions against insurgent mortar ditional operational planning effort to develop

shaping operations in and around al-Fallujah to bat. The 505th Battalion manned checkpoints un-
support the main effort. The intelligence analysis der supervision on the outskirts of the city.
identified three key cities harboring and support- Captain Jason E. Smith had led his Compa-
ing enemy activities: Saqlawiyah, Karmah, and ny B, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines through some of
Jurf as-Sakhr. The staff made plans for combined the heaviest fighting in the industrial area dur-
operations in these cities. With Colonel Toolan ing the formal offensive operation. He returned
and his staff best focused on the city of al-Fallu- to the offensive again on 13 April. The insurgents
jah, Major General Mattis activated the division’s surrounded the attached 3d Platoon, Company
alternate command group “Bravo.” Led by Brig- A, which lost an assault amphibious vehicle and
adier General Kelly, “Division Bravo” moved to took several casualties. Leading the rescue ef-
North Babil province and assumed command of fort, Captain Smith guided his convoy toward the
the two infantry battalions there. These two bat- smoke of the burning vehicle and then dismount-
talions would play a key role in establishing a ed, racing to the first vehicles to lead his Marines
secure environment for the ongoing Arba’een pil- to the trapped platoon. With total disregard for
grimage, which brought hundreds of thousands enemy fire, he coordinated attacks on the insur-
of Shi’a faithful into Karbala. Some operational gents and returned fire himself. Organizing a de-
planning teamwork later occurred to conduct a fensive perimeter and evacuating casualties, he
relief in place by the Army’s 1st Armored Divi- supervised the recovery of the disabled tracked
sion, which was by then beginning to engage in vehicle and coordinated the withdrawal as part of
operations to the south of Baghdad.45 the rear guard.46
As Marines poised and repositioned for fur- Representatives from I MEF, the Coalition au-
ther operations on 9 April, orders arrived from thority, and Iraqi organizations began to negotiate
Lieutenant General Sanchez to cease all offen- with the insurgents, but little progress was made.
sive operations in al-Fallujah. The Coalition Pro- Marines had to defend themselves from repeated
visional Authority, headed by Ambassador L. Paul insurgent violations of the ceasefire. On 25 April,
Bremer III, had prevailed upon General Abazaid both Lieutenant General Conway and Major Gen-
to order a cease-fire at the behest of the Iraqi eral Mattis met with former Iraqi Army generals to
Governing Council (IGC) in Baghdad. Politics discuss the possible formation of a military unit in
brought RCT-1’s momentum to a stop. Marines al-Fallujah. This unit came to be called the “Fallu-
received the order to cease offensive operations jah Brigade.” By 28 April the Fallujah Brigade had
with some disbelief. The reason for the halt was begun assembling and on the 30th, a turnover
to allow IGC council representatives the opportu- led to the phased movement of the 1st Marine Di-
nity to negotiate the enemy’s surrender. vision out of al-Fallujah. For Lieutenant General
An uncertain siege continued for three Conway, the unusual negotiating opportunity giv-
weeks. The arrival of 3d Battalion, 4th Marines en a field commander allowed a least bad solution
on the eighth saw it employed immediately in a to an insoluble dilemma: the 1st Marine Division
new zone of attack oriented southwest from the no longer had authority to continue the assault
northeast corner of al-Fallujah. As it took up the and to clear the city, plus it lacked the manpower
main effort, the other two battalions continued to and other resources to manage a prolonged siege
move and to reduce insurgent pockets of resis- of the city. The negotiations produced the Fal-
tance. The enemy fired rockets and mortars from lujah Brigade, which gained the quick approval
the city center but had by then lost all of its ini- of the military chain of command. Ambassador
tial defensive positions. The insurgents remaining Bremer protested but in the end he had called for
within the city limits tried to use the cease-fire to the ceasefire and by the end of April even more
their advantage to no surprise for the Marines of serious problems developed.47
the assault battalions. Colonel Toolan tightened
Insurgency in al-Anbar Province
the cordon on the city to prevent either reinforce-
ment or exfiltration of the insurgents. The 36th April 2004
Commando Battalion continued to fight alongside The 1st Marine Division fought its 1st Battle
the Marines and continued to distinguish itself as of al-Fallujah well but with considerable interfer-
the sole Iraqi unit that had proven itself in com- ence. The ensuing days saw a widespread rising
of violence and opposition to occupying forces,

Table 4-1: Ground Combat Turnover, July-October 2004
Initial Deployment Replacement Unit Area of Operations Transfer of Authority
3d Bn, 4th Mar 1st Bn, 8th Mar Denver 14 July
1st Bn, 5th Mar 3rd Bn, 1st Mar Raleigh 17 July
2d Bn, 7th Mar 1st Bn, 23rd Mar Denver 18 September
3d Bn, 7th Mar 1st Bn, 7th Mar Denver 22 September
2d Bn, 1st Mar 3d Bn, 5th Mar Raleigh 8 October
2d Bn, 2d Mar 2d Bn, 24th Mar Raleigh 11 October
2d Bn, 4th Mar 2d Bn, 5th Mar Topeka 26 September
3d Bn, 11th Mar 2d Bn, 11th Mar Topeka 29 September
3d Bn, 24th Mar 2d Bn, 10th Mar Taqaddum AB 4 October
1st LAR Bn 3d LAR Bn Topeka 16 September
1st Recon Bn (-) 2d Recon Bn (-) Raleigh 27 September

in some instances reflecting the rising tempera- Coalition authorities closed his newspaper and
tures and the public’s frustration with the squalid called for the leader’s arrest on various charges.
conditions in the city. In other cases, violence was At the same time, thousands of Iraqis in Baghdad
planned by anti-Coalition factions and insurgents. (he was the de facto ruler of the Sadr City sec-
In al-Anbar Province, insurgent groups rallied to tion of Baghdad) and the Shi’a cities of al-Kut,
support their brethren remaining behind in the Karbala, ad-Diwaniyah and an-Najaf took to the
city, spurred by the al-Fallujah insurgent and for- streets to support al-Sadr, while al-Sadr’s militia
eign fighter leaders who escaped in the first days seized government buildings and police stations
of April. But another crisis overshadowed the dif- in a major uprising and challenge to the Coalition
ficulties of soldiers and Marines in that province, Provisional Authority.
one with great political impact. All out war returned to Baghdad. For the first
The relatively young but influential Muqta- time in a year, tank cannon and 25mm chain gun
da al-Sadr, scion of a Shi’a clerical dynasty, en- firing resounded through the streets of the city.
joyed increasing power and popularity after the The 1st Armored Division halted its redeploy-
overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime. Hav- ment movements on 6 April, having turned over
ing served as a symbol of Shi’a resistance to the the garrison mission to the 1st Cavalry Division.
former regime, he continued as a resistance lead- Lieutenant General Sanchez issued orders to 1st
er by opposing the U.S. and Coalition occupa- Armored Division to deploy combat units south
tion of Iraq. In 2003 he formed a militia, which of Baghdad with warnings of further actions to
became known variously as the Sadr Militia or come. He further ordered Operation Resolute
the Mahdi Army, and announced a shadow Shi’a Sword on 7 April to govern further actions against
government in al-Kufah, where he intended to the Mahdi Army.
establish government ministries. Al-Sadr contin-
ued to pose obstacles to the Coalition Provisional The Mahdi Army is declared to be a hos-
Authority’s plans for a transition to Iraqi self-rule tile force; Coalition forces are authorized to
via the Governing Council, and on 5 April 2004, engage and destroy the Mahdi Army based
Table 4-2: Aviation Turnover, August-September 2004
Initial Deployment Replacement Base Relief in Place
HMH-466 HMH-361 al-Asad 2 September
HMLA-775 HMLA-367 al-Asad 7 September
VMGR-352/234 VMGR-352/452 Taqaddum 7 September
HMLA-167 HMLA-169 al-Asad 23 August
HMM-261 HMM-365 al-Asad 27 August
HMM-161 HMM-268 Taqaddum 8 September
HMM-764 HMM-774 al-Asad 19 September
VMA-214 VMFA(AW)-242 al-Asad 17 August
VMU-2 VMU-1 Taqaddum 14 August

solely upon their status as members of the tified ambush position southwest of al-Fallujah.
Mahdi Army. There is no requirement for When Captain Brent L. Morel, the platoon com-
members of Mahdi Army to commit a hos- mander, saw his lead vehicle smashed by a rock-
tile act or demonstrate hostile intent before et, he ordered his other two vehicles to flank the
they can be engaged. Muqtada al-Sadr is insurgent position. As insurgent mortar and ma-
the leader of Mahdi Army. Positive identi- chine gun fire increased, he led an assault across
fication of Mahdi Army targets must be ac- an open field and up a ten-foot berm into fir-
quired prior to engagement.48 ing positions from which the reconnaissance Ma-
rines eliminated 10 insurgents at close range and
With the dispatch of 3d Battalion, 4th Marines forced the others to flee. Continuing the assault
to RCT-1 and the al-Fallujah battle, Major Gen- against the other insurgents who continued to pin
eral Mattis sensed that the division had reached down the convoy, Captain Morel received a fa-
the end of its resources, yet he suspected that an tal burst of automatic weapons fire. Leadership
emerging danger to the east and south remained then fell to team leader Sergeant Willie L. Cope-
with the al Sadr Revolt.49 land III, who continued the assault by fire with
his five Marines while shielding and attempting
The current tempo and widespread en- to save the life of his captain. Under the cover
emy surge across our operations area has of hand grenades, they withdrew to safety with
this division stretched. We are moving ag- Captain Morel’s body. In the same action, Ser-
gressively against the enemy across our geant Lendro F. Baptista led his three-man team
zone but there are enemy forces operating against more insurgent positions, single-handedly
in areas where we have no forces and the killing four of them at close range while direct-
Iraqi security forces are impotent. We lack ing fire against several others. He then personally
sufficient forces to fully address the enemy covered the withdrawal of the team to safety with
in the area north of Camp Fallujah (vicinity his own firing.
of al Karma), Jurf al Sukr, Northern Babil In AO Topeka, the soldiers and Marines with
and the rocket belt south of Fallujah and the Army’s 1st Brigade fought feverishly against
Abu Ghraib prison. We will address those insurgents rallying to support the al-Fallujah fight-
enemies once we free up forces so we can ing. Fighting in Ramadi reached a new level of
destroy their sanctuaries. Additional forc- intensity, with 6 April being the worst day, when
es to command and control the Northern 12 Marines of 2d Battalion, 4th Marines died in
Babil fight, a regiment headquarters, a tank an urban firefight against insurgents operating in
company (personnel only), and one USMC small groups that initially attacked the Govern-
infantry battalion have been requested by ment Center. The battalion succeeded in defend-
separate correspondence. ing the government buildings, assisting in extract-
ing Coalition authority officials and pushing the
In northern Babil Province, two U.S. bat- attackers into the eastern side of the city.
talions under the 1st Marine Division sought to At 1048 on 6 April, Company G received small
maintain the flux of events between the al-Fal- arms and rocket launcher (RPG) fire in the al-Ma-
lujah and al-Sadr uprisings. The 1st Battalion, laab District. The patrol, pursuing the attackers,
32d Infantry, focused on securing routes for the cordoned off the buildings in the area; small arms
Arba’een pilgrimage of the Shi’a. This required fire erupted from on them. Two squads engaged
ambushing insurgents setting explosive devices, the enemy, and the battalion sent its quick reac-
mounting patrols along routes in the zone, and tion force. At approximately 1145 Company G re-
supporting the traffic control points manned by ceived more fire and at 1205 was pinned down
the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps. When feasible, pa- in a house. The quick reaction force moved to
trols of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion moved in the area in support but was engaged by enemy
from its usual areas south of al-Fallujah to counter as well, one block east of Company G. Captain
insurgent indirect fire and booby trap teams. Christopher J. Bronzi, the company commander,
While escorting a convoy into al-Anbar Prov- led his Marines in the ensuing 24 hours of action,
ince, the reconnaissance battalion’s 2d Platoon, personally destroying several enemy fighting po-
Company B, ran into a well-concealed and for- sitions and repeatedly exposing himself to small

arms and grenades as he rallied them and elimi- placed explosive devices, and fired all kinds of
nated numerous insurgents. At one point on the weapons indirectly at Coalition forces. As part of
sixth, he led a fire team into a fire-swept street to the insurgent’s effort to cut lines of communica-
recover the body of a fallen Marine. tions, they moved against key bridges, including
At this time the battalion received notice from the Thar Thar Bridge over the canal of the same
1st Marine Division that three mosques in the area name.
had called for “Jihad.” At approximately 1330 an In addition to the surprising mobility and
explosive device was reported in Company E’s strength of the insurgents, they displayed an ex-
sector, on the eastern outskirts of the city, and cellent grasp of information operations. Their pro-
while cordoning off the area it too received small paganda reached television and radio stations, ap-
arms fire. At approximately the same time just to peared on the internet, and coursed through the
the east one of the battalion’s sniper teams, set up streets by word of mouth. Some groups distrib-
near the Euphrates River, was attacked by 12–15 uted fliers and videos alleging Coalition atrocities
men. At approximately 1400 a Company E patrol and insurgent successes. Arab satellite news pro-
was ambushed. A quick reaction force was dis- gramming, especially the ubiquitous Al Jazeera,
patched to reinforce the patrol when it engaged highlighted the “excessive force” of the Marines
with the enemy still further to the east of the city. and soldiers of 1st Marine Division, making allu-
This quick reaction force had two Humvees hit sions to the Israeli actions in Palestine as further
and its platoon commander critically wounded. denunciation. With no western press embedded
Under heavy machine gun and rocket fire, Cor- with I MEF forces and the streets too dangerous
poral Eric M. Smith, a squad leader, assumed for independent reporting, the media battlefield
command of the platoon and led the Marines 50 fell to the insurgents.
meters across open ground, where they set up The Iraqi Governing Council caved in to pres-
in a few fighting holes placed along Route 10. sures within and without its chambers. Three of
Smith then ran back across the field to evacuate its members resigned in protest, and five others
his platoon commander and the platoon’s weap- threatened the same. Mr. Bremer met with the
ons. Employing machine guns from the platoon’s Council on 8 April and received the opinions of
seven-ton truck, Corporal Smith led a counterat- the Sunni members that Operation Vigilant Re-
tack against the insurgent force and relieved an- solve amounted to “collective punishment” and
other squad that had been pinned down. When that even more massive demonstrations of re-
an Army mechanized infantry platoon arrived, sistance and opposition were in the offing. Mr.
Smith coordinated the evacuation of casualties Bremer was already under pressure to deal with
and withdrew the platoon to the company com- the al-Sadr revolt, the British had criticized him
mand post. for his heavy-handed approach in al-Fallujah. He
The battalion determined that fighters came also knew that the Abu Ghraib Prison scandals
into Ramadi on motorcycles and in pickup trucks, were about to become public knowledge. Thus,
met at a central location (likely the soccer field), he probably decided to cut his losses. For him,
and informed the town’s people that they were the larger objective of returning sovereignty to
going to attack U.S. forces that day. On the spot the Iraqis by 30 June probably took precedence.
interrogation revealed the insurgents forced resi- These were dark hours for the U.S. and Co-
dents out of their homes as the insurgents pre- alition position in Iraq, and the political-military
pared to engage the Americans. When the fight- direction of the campaign demonstrated consider-
ing subsided, the insurgents made a planned able weakness and discord. The “transfer of sov-
withdrawal on motorcycles and possibly in boats ereignty” did occur for Mr. Bremer, who advanced
on the Euphrates back to their base camps.50 it two days to forestall further difficulties, and he
The launching of Operation Vigilant Resolve departed Iraq minutes after the ceremony. But
clearly ignited festering insurgent cells that had the idea of sovereignty had little meaning in Iraqi
planned incursions of these types. Having stirred streets. Still ahead lay several months of fighting
up a hornet’s nest across the al-Anbar Province, and many casualties to restore a semblance of or-
the Coalition forces found themselves extended der in Iraq. The lessons were hard, but Marines
perilously beyond any tolerable limits. The in- would again visit al-Fallujah, which they knew
surgents established ambushes, roadblocks, em- from the moment the battle was terminated on 30

April. Nominally, I MEF reported 27 U.S. killed in detachment from 3d Battalion, 4th Marines and
action and over 90 wounded in the First al-Fallu- a small craft company. The Taqaddum security
jah Battle, but Army and Marine Corps casualties, battalion, 3d Battalion, 24th Marines replaced 2d
in related incidents in Ramadi and the area sur- Battalion, 7th Marines at Camp Hit. At Camp al-
rounding al-Fallujah, were just beginning to show Qaim, only 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines remained
the extent of their activities. In April, the 1st Ma- to counter insurgents at the Syrian border zone.
rine Division alone suffered 48 Marines two sol- The Haditha Dam and Hit zone formerly occu-
diers and one Navy corpsman killed in action, pied by 2d Battalion, 7th Marines was covered by
with the wounded in action totaling 412 Marines Task Force Walsh (Major Bennett W. Walsh—who
43 soldiers and 21 sailors. Little information exists commanded the 1st Small Craft Company) con-
on casualties for the few Iraqi forces fighting with sisting of L Company, 3d Battalion, 24th Marines
the Coalition. Enemy losses can never be known, Company C, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, the
but are estimated by some intelligence sources 1st Small Craft Company, a platoon left by 1st LAR
as 800 Iraqis killed, which undoubtedly included Battalion, a platoon of military police, detach-
noncombatants. ments of volunteers, and the Azerbaijani compa-
ny. The regiment’s executive officer, Lieutenant
7th Marines Counterstrike in Operation
Colonel John D. Gamboa, took command of what
Ripper Sweep (14 April–1 May 2004) became known as “RCT-7 West” at the main com-
Thwarted in their efforts to eradicate the in- mand post during the regiment’s offensive foray
surgents from al-Fallujah, Lieutenant General Con- around al-Fallujah. As part of this offensive, Major
way and Major General Mattis turned to the many General Mattis assigned Colonel Tucker an ad-
instances of insurgency in the surrounding areas ditional mission of clearing the right bank of the
of the province. The Army 1st Brigade worked Euphrates along Route 10 as far as the peninsula
unceasingly to maintain a semblance of order in west of al-Fallujah, closed for several days be-
ar-Ramadi, using the full panoply of raids, cor- cause of explosive devices and ambushes.
dons, and various types of patrolling and ambush The force taken by Colonel Tucker on this op-
actions. In the western province, RCT-7 contin- eration consisted of his tactical command group,
ued to interdict the ratlines (insurgent transpor- the 2d Battalion, 7th Marines 1st LAR Battalion,
tation routes) as before the al-Fallujah incidents, 3rd Platoon, Company C, 1st Tank Battalion (at-
also raiding suspected insurgent cells across the tached at the time the al-Fallujah battle began),
Euphrates valley between al-Qaim and Rawah. Battery E, 2d Battalion, 11th Marines and a pla-
Beginning on 10 April, Major General Mat- toon from 1st Force Reconnaissance Company.
tis’ staff began to work with Colonel Tucker’s Major General Mattis clarified his plan on 13
RCT-7 to develop a plan to move a key part of April:
the RCT into AO Raleigh to relieve RCT-1 of fur-
ther distractions outside al-Fallujah and to deal The division is stretched thin with the
with the incipient insurgent activities in the towns route security mission coupled with the Fal-
and countryside surrounding al-Fallujah. Colonel lujah cordon. These missions tie down a
Tucker had his staff devise a plan to free suffi- significant portion of our maneuver assets
cient combat power from the camps and duties and the sooner we receive direction about
in western al-Anbar Province and to move it with the anticipated resolution of Fallujah nego-
the regimental tactical command post to positions tiations, the better. While accepting a short
in the east of AO Atlanta. term risk in the west permits us to move
The resulting plan juggled missions of many against several enemy sanctuaries and dom-
units of the entire I MEF. The 3d Marine Aircraft inated areas in area Raleigh, RCT-7 must re-
Wing would have to assume responsibility for se- turn to the western operating area in ap-
curity of Camp Korean Village to free the 1st LAR proximately seven to ten days or we will
Battalion, leaving the border crossings Trebil and face setbacks along the rat lines that may
Wallid uncovered (the crossings remained closed negate our successes further east. Limiting
for most of the month during the al-Fallujah cri- defensive route security missions and main-
sis). The Azerbaijani company stationed at Camp taining the cordon around Fallujah for as
Hadithah Dam would be reinforced with only a short a period as possible are tactical imper-

atives; we need to return to the offensive as task force had driven insurgent elements out of
rapidly as possible.51 the entire zone well before the Marines arrived.
Among several detainees the task force captured
As the task force organized by Colonel Tuck- eight ranking person on the RCT-1 high value tar-
er began to assemble at al-Asad Air Base, the situ- get list.
ation continued to deteriorate as the division re- The division commander reacted positively to
ported on the 13th: “. . . the two companies of the restoration of free movement from Taqqadum
effective Iraqi Civil Defense Corps from the 507th into and south of Fallujah, linking with the main
Battalion have essentially quit.” surface communications to Kuwait. He ordered
The division’s order of the day for the four- RCT-7 to continue movement as far as Jurf as Sak,
teenth set out the mission for RCT-7, and Colo- linking with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines at its Eu-
nel Tucker issued his orders for Operation Ripper phrates bridge. Brigadier General Kelly’s Division
Sweep, to be conducted in three initial phases: Bravo group had extended that battalion in the
vicinity to cover any move by al Sadr militiamen
At al-Asad: rearm, refit, refuel and re- toward the division’s flank. Major General Mattis
hearse in preparation for upcoming opera- signaled the following:
tion in support of the division’s efforts at
Fallujah. Depart al-Asad at 1400 on 15 April Following RCT-7’s actions this week, we
for area Raleigh. At 0600, 16 April, com- will be driving the tempo throughout most
mence the attack astride the main routes of area Atlanta. RCT-7 will then return to
from Taqqadum, clearing the insurgents the west and reestablish its dominance. The
from the southwest of Fallujah through al- relief in place with 1st Armored Division in
Amirah. Continuing on order to clear Jurf North Babil, freeing up two battalions, and
as Sakhr, preparing for further operations in the arrival of additional tank and assault
the security zone of RCT-1.52 amphibious vehicle companies will enable
us to maintain the momentum we are now
At 0600 on 16 April, the Ripper Sweep forc- developing in the east. More importantly,
es began the offensive with 1st LAR Battalion at- we will have the forces necessary to exploit
tacking southeast where a blocking position was our success with persistent presence in key
established to support the follow-on clearance areas. It will soon be clear that Blue Dia-
in zone by 2d Battalion, 7th Marines between mond is the dominant tribe in the al-Anbar
Taqqadum and Fallujah. Insurgent resistance re- Province.53
mained minimal. The only notable contact during
the clearance occurred when 1st LAR units were Colonel Tucker’s task force spent a day at
engaged by small arms from a fuel truck while Camp al-Taqqadum and Camp Fallujah conduct-
south of Fallujah. The Marines suspected a ve- ing maintenance and preparing to continue with
hicular bomb and destroyed the truck with 25mm Operation Ripper Sweep. At 0400 hours on 22
cannon fire, wounding both occupants, who re- April the force took its offensive to the left bank
ceived immediate medical evacuation. At 1300 on of the Euphrates against al-Karmah, discovered by
18 April, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines and 1st LAR 3d Battalion 4th Marines as an insurgent base af-
Battalion continued the attack into the center of ter the initial Fallujah “cease-fire.” Once again, 1st
al-Amiriyah town, covered overhead by Air Force LAR Battalion led the offensive, followed by 2d
F-16 Falcon fighter bombers and Marine Corps Battalion, 7th Marines. In a street-by-street search
AH-1W Cobra attack helicopters. Instead of re- and clear operation the two battalions again en-
sistance by the residents of al-Amiriyah, the reac- countered no insurgents but found numerous
tion to the Marines who entered in their armored weapons caches and fifty-seven explosive devic-
vehicles was warm. Intelligence had reported es. On 24 April the force moved to Camp Fallu-
the town was a sanctuary for insurgents. Colo- jah, while some rifle companies remained in al
nel Tucker said of the local’s reaction to the Ma- Karmah and continued operations until the end
rines “it was like liberating France.” The picture of the month.
began to develop that the “bow-wave” caused Because of actions taken by both RCT-1 and
by the overwhelming offensive capability of the the Army 1st Brigade in isolating and support-

ing the RCT-7 task force in its attack, the al-Kar- occupation period when the 1st Armored Divi-
mah action amounted to a division-level fight, sion and 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment fought
an uncommon event except for the Fallujah bat- the al-Sadr revolt to a standstill in al-Kut, Karbala,
tles of 2004. On the 20th, the division transferred and an-Najaf. The 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Divi-
responsibility for Northern Babel to the 1st Ar- sion, also awaited its relief in September by the
mored Division, then in the middle of its cam- incoming 2d Brigade, 2d Infantry Division, in ear-
paign against the al-Sadr uprising in the Karbala- ly September. For the Marines of I MEF, the arriv-
Najaf-Kut region. The Division Bravo command al of relief battalions and squadrons, planned for
group returned to the division, and the two bat- August and September, had arrived in the form of
talions, 2d Battalion, 2d Marines and 1st Battal- the reinforcements requested by Major General
ion, 32d Infantry, reverted to RCT-1 and 1st Bri- Mattis. Company B, 1st Tank Battalion joined the
gade, respectively, as welcome reinforcements Fallujah cordon on 25 April, and Company B, 3d
for their actions around Fallujah and Ramadi. The AAV Battalion joined RCT-7 at al-Asad Air Base
2d Battalion, 2d Marines formally relieved Colo- on 13 May.
nel Tucker’s RCT-7 of its mission at al-Karmah on For the time being, the combat forces of I
25 April. The next day, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines MEF concentrated on the continuing security
moved back to AO Denver to reestablish its pres- and stability operations, keeping the routes clear,
ence in Hit and Hadditha. and then turning to the major problem of train-
Although Operation Ripper Sweep officially ing more reliable Iraqi security forces. The Iraqi
terminated at this point, the task force remained security forces had failed to fight effectively in
at Camp Fallujah until 1 May, while Colonel Tuck- too many instances, not only in the I MEF sectors
er and his staff planned a cordon of Fallujah in but also in face of the al-Sadr revolt, where over
anticipation of a renewed attack by RCT-1 to de- 1,000 of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps at Karbala
stroy remaining insurgent forces in the city. With and an-Najaf had deserted. The construction of
the decision instead to support the “Fallujah Bri- the “India Base” near Camp Fallujah for Iraqi forc-
gade,” Major General Mattis put any such opera- es allowed RCT-1 to begin training in earnest. On
tions on hold. On 1 May, the remaining RCT-7 5 June, it opened to the initial class of Iraqi Civil
forces departed Camp Fallujah and returned to al- Defense Corps under the direction of the regi-
Asad and Camps al-Qaim and Korean Village in mental operations staff. The Iraqi Civil Defense
al-Anbar Province for resumption of stability and Corps later converted to the Iraqi National Guard
security operations. Western al-Anbar Province at the end of June and upon the turnover of sov-
had not remained quiet during the regiment’s ereignty to the Iraqi interim government. In addi-
foray around Fallujah. Task Force Walsh worked tion, the regiment undertook the training of the
hard in its economy of force mission in the Hit- new Showani Special Forces, establishing a camp
Hadithah zone, and the 3d Battalion, 7th Marines for their initial training at Camp Fallujah under
(the sole infantry battalion remaining in AO Den- the direction of Company A, 3d Assault Amphib-
ver) encountered considerable action in Husay- ian Vehicle Battalion. In July the 1st Marine Di-
bah and al-Qaim throughout the month. vision convened two-week courses for National
The ambitious sweep by 7th Marines around Guard officers and non-commissioned officers at
Fallujah found few insurgents, but succeeded Camp Ramadi, using embedded Army and Marine
in restoring the tactical initiative to the 1st Ma- Corps non-commissioned officers to mentor and
rine Division and in opening the land commu- to train them.
nications routes, scattering any insurgents who In area Raleigh, RCT-1 ran constant patrols
planned ambushes or of joining their brothers in of the main supply routes thanks to its reinforce-
Fallujah.54 ment by the Army 112th Military Police Battal-
ion from I MEF operational control. As the last
Restoring Balance in al-Anbar Province
of RCT-7 units departed in early May, Colonel
The festering problem of Fallujah would have Toolan divided the area into three sectors. The
to await its solution until after the U.S. forces had 2d Battalion, 1st Marines oriented its efforts to the
accomplished their unit rotations in mid-2004. northwest of Fallujah along Route E1 and town of
The U.S. Army completed its final relief of units Saqlawiyah. From Camp Abu Ghraib, the 1st Bat-
still remaining from the initial 2003 invasion and talion, 5th Marines oriented north of Fallujah to-

ward al-Karmah, and 2d Battalion, 2d Marines es- Although the improvised dispositions managed
tablished a presence to the south of Camp Fallu- to keep the Hadithah-Hit zone fairly stable, the
jah to the Euphrates River. Engineers removed the 3d Battalion, 7th Marines fought several fierce ac-
Marine defensive positions in the southern and tions in and around al-Qaim and Husaybah, the
northern edges of the city, now in the hands of contentious border town. Insurgents tried several
the Fallujah Brigade and the Iraqi National Guard. ambushes of Marine reconnaissance and securi-
As the Marine battalions expanded their presence ty probes, and explosive devises detonated daily
in the surrounding villages, they began to mount against Marine patrols. Finally a series of pitched
combat patrols to attack insurgents attempting fights led to the battalion commander, Lieuten-
ambushes, laying explosive devices, or setting up ant Colonel Matthew A. Lopez, personally lead-
rocket or mortar attacks. ing a task force in a two day spontaneous assault
No end came to the insurgent challenges at and clearing operation of Husaybah using two of
Fallujah. On 24 June, they launched coordinat- his rifle companies, the weapons company, and
ed attacks on Route E1 and Traffic Control Point a detachment of 1st Force Reconnaissance Com-
1. The fighting began early in the morning and pany to cordon and sweep the town. The fight-
lasted throughout the day. Marines of Company ing intensified and battalion mortars and helicop-
G, 2d Battalion, 1st Marines defended effectively ter close air support added to the firepower that
with a variety of direct fire weapons and air sup- killed an estimated 120 insurgents amid consider-
port. Fixed and rotary wing close air support or- able mayhem. For the embattled Marines of that
bited under control of the control point as the western border city garrison, the return of the
typical “escalation of force” continued. Tank can- regiment proved most welcome.
non fired on buildings that continued to engage A newly constructed operations center greet-
while a section of helicopters engaged other tar- ed Colonel Tucker upon his return to al-Asad Air
gets. A section of AV-8B Harrier attack aircraft cir- Base. On 7 May, 220 combat replacements arrived
cled overhead, another element of the reinforce- at the base for the 1st Marine Division, an indica-
ments ordered to I MEF in the aftermath of the tor of the changed circumstances of occupation
April Fallujah battle. duty in al-Anbar Province. With the return of 3d
A volley of handheld rockets damaged one of Battalion, 4th Marines from its duty with RCT-1,
the AH-1W attack helicopters, which then auto- beginning on 13 May the regiment could begin
rotated into friendly positions. Multiple Harrier the planning of new initiatives. From this plan-
sections dropped laser-guided bombs on build- ning emerged the operation “Rawah II.”
ings from which insurgents continued to engage The 1st LAR Battalion moved on 1 June into
the Marine positions. As the day continued, the blocking positions to the north of Rawah. The
fighting eventually subsided as Iraqi security forc- main effort unit, 3d Battalion, 4th Marines staged
es eventually responded and established control at Haditha Dam for movement by road to the ob-
in the area. jective while its L Company waited at al-Asad Air
The luxury of concentrating on the Fallujah Base for helicopter lift into the area. The support-
situation now faded for Colonel Toolan’s regi- ing unit, 3d Battalion, 7th Marines closed the bor-
ment, however. The initial suppression of the al- ders and provided blocking forces. Twenty-four
Sadr revolt allowed the Army to resume the rede- aircraft flew in support over the small town, which
ployment of 1st Armored Division back to home Marines had not “visited” for over five weeks. An
stations, and the responsibility for Northern Babil EC-130 “Compass Call” electronic warfare aircraft
once again reverted to I MEF beginning 27 June. first over flew the town to predetonate explosive
Marines of 2d Battalion, 2d Marines returned to devices, followed by an electronic snooper EP-3
their base camp at Mahumdiyah. The soldiers of Orion. As the LAR battalion units moved south
1st Battalion, 32d Infantry, returned to Colonel toward Rawah, multiple sections of AV-8Bs orbit-
Toolan’s control and their operating base “FOB ed for surveillance and on call close air support.
Chosin” near Iskandariyah. The RCT-1 area of op- Finally, an AC-130 checked in for support as the
erations doubled and the need for more forces, main effort surged out of Haditha toward Rawah.
including Iraqi units, became more apparent.55 Company L boarded its CH-53Es at al-Asad Air
In the west, RCT-7 reestablished its presence Base to be inserted at four different blocking po-
in the main population centers of area Denver. sitions simultaneously under cover of a section of

AH-1Ws. An addition section stood on the ground The 11th, 24th, and 31st Marine
in ready alert. Two CH-46Es carried the RCT-7 re- Expeditionary Units Deploy to Iraq
serve platoon, intended to land as Airborne Ve-
hicle Check Points to catch insurgents. Although Part of the solution to the challenges I MEF
RCT-7 had scheduled an EA-6B Prowler electron- encountered in the expansion of its battle zone to
ic warfare aircraft to jam and perform electronic the east came in the timely appearance of three
surveillance, it did not appear because of aircraft Marine Expeditionary Units (MEUs) from the U.S.
carrier difficulties.56 A combination of early sorties and extended de-
This raid netted six of the top 25 high value ployments made these important reinforcements
target persons on RCT-7 lists while the companies available from July 2004 through the end of 2004.
of 3d Battalion, 4th Marines remained in the town On 4 May, the 24th MEU (Colonel R. J. Johnson)
exploiting the success of the operation. The op- received its alert to prepare to deploy to Iraq dur-
eration proved the last for this battalion; its relief ing 15 June 2004–15 February 2005, instead of
unit, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines began the turn- its planned 17 August 2004–17 February 2005 pe-
over process on 29 June, the first of the mid-de- riod. By deleting its “special operations capable”
ployment rotations. exercises and certification, the unit accelerated its
Major General Mattis had detailed the outline preparations, loaded equipment aboard USS Kear-
of these operations at the time the Fallujah situa- sarge (LHD-3) and USNS Charleston (T-LKA-113)
tion came to a standstill: in early June and began its airlift to Kuwait on 26
Following recent offensive operations June, while the ground combat element, 1st Bat-
the enemy has fallen back and resorted to talion, 2d Marines (reinforced), completed the re-
small scale actions intended to inflict max- quired predeployment training before beginning
imum casualties on our forces with mini- its airlift on 3 July. Assembling in Kuwait dur-
mal risk to his own. The key to maintaining ing early July, Colonel Johnson’s organization re-
the initiative is patient, persistent presence ported to 1st Marine Division for operations on
throughout the zone. This is best accom- 24 July and accepted responsibility for Northern
plished by dismounted troops aggressive- Babil province from RCT-1 on 1 August. Johnson
ly patrolling their area of operations, gain- took operational control of 2d Battalion, 2d Ma-
ing information from the populace and am- rines relieved the Army’s 1st Battalion, 32d In-
bushing the enemy on his own ground. Epi- fantry with his own 1st Battalion, 2d Marines and
sodic vehicular forays from our firm bases began security and stabilization operations on the
do nothing more than reveal our intentions, essential main service route south of Baghdad
make us easy targets and incur severe hand- while asserting a continuous presence in several
icaps. When he is weak, as he is now, he key towns. His aviation combat element, Medi-
will implant improvised explosive devices um Helicopter Squadron 263, only had its normal
along the main service routes in periods of inventory CH-46E aircraft aboard USS Kearsarge,
darkness in our absence to strike our con- and upon arrival at Taqqadum drew additional
voys. When he comes out to operate like light attack and heavy lift helicopters from 3d Ma-
this—we must be in ambush to meet and rine Aircraft Wing resources.58
kill him. Through intelligence preparation The acceleration of Colonel Anthony M.
of the battlefield, that identifies his likely Haslam’s 11th MEU(SOC) in its deployment came
avenues of approach and likely improvised after it had completed its special operations capa-
explosive device sites, we must anticipate ble certification, and it departed San Diego on 27
his next operation. We must think, move May 2004 instead of the planned departure date
and adapt faster than he can and less overt- of 17 June. It embarked aboard three ships of
ly than we have to date. When we can keep Amphibious Squadron 5 as part of Expeditionary
the enemy at bay in an area, we must ex- Strike Group 3, commanded by Brigadier General
ploit the opportunity we have to conduct Joseph V. Medina.
more aggressive civil military operations The initial assignment for 11th MEU was the
and reinvigorate our programs to select smoldering city of an-Najaf. After unloading from
trustworthy members for training the Iraqi its shipping at Kuwait, Colonel Haslam sent his
security forces.57 aviation element, Medium Helicopter Squadron

166, to al-Asad Air Base, while awaiting the prep- staff estimated that about 100 “hard core” fighters
aration of forward operating facilities at the main remained in each zone, along with an underter-
11th MEU camp, Forward Operating Base Duke. mined number of untrained insurgents.
The 1st Battalion, 4th Marines (Lieutenant Colo- Colonel Haslam reported on the day he took
nel John L. Mayer) and its attachments used For- responsibility for the scene that “I anticipate ag-
ward Operating Base Hotel, a mere three kilo- gressive surveillance and incidents from Mah-
meters north of the city’s center, whereas Duke di Militia in the near term to test our reactions
stood 20 kilometers north of the city. The Ma- and resolve. The 11th MEU (SOC) stands at the
rines and sailors of 11th MEU began to move into ready.”60
an-Najaf Province from Kuwait on 16 July and New outbreaks of fighting soon dispelled any
on 31 July relieved a small battalion task force illusion that simply training local security forces
“Dragon” of the 1st Infantry Division, having re- and backing them up could accomplish the mis-
ported for operations to Major General Andrzej sion. Most of Lieutenant Colonel Mayer’s battal-
Ekiert, Polish Army commanding the Multination- ion fought an inconclusive engagement with the
al Division Center-South on 21 July. At this point, Mahdi Militia around the cemetery and governor’s
the 2,165 Marines and sailors of Colonel Haslam’s complex on 5-6 August, supported by attack heli-
command held sole responsibility for the 16,000 copters and at night covered by an AC-130 Spec-
square miles of the provinces of an-Najaf and Qa- tre aircraft. Lieutenant General Metz assigned an
disiyah (capital: ad-Diwaniyah). In effect, Marines Army cavalry squadron to reinforce the 11th MEU
had returned to their old area of operations south after the first day and 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry
of those they had occupied in mid-2003. Regiment, reported to Colonel Haslam on 7 Au-
The nominal mission received from Major gust with the 1st Company, 227th Aviation Battal-
General Ekiert consisted of conducting “offensive ion’s AH-56A Apache attack helicopters in direct
operations to defeat remaining non-compliant support.
forces and neutralize destabilizing influences in On 9 August, Iraqi and U.S. military leaders
an-Najaf Province” and to create a secure envi- met at the governor’s compound to discuss future
ronment, supported by the usual stability and hu- operations. This group included an-Najaf Gover-
manitarian operations. In effect, 11th MEU shoul- nor Arufi, Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, Gen-
dered the responsibility of mopping up the al- eral George Casey, Lieutenant General Thomas F.
Sadr Revolt remnants continuing to resist in the Metz, Lieutenant General Conway and his I MEF
inner city in the aftermath of the departure of ma- deputy commander Brigadier General Dennis J.
jor U.S. Army forces that had destroyed most of Hejlik. As a result, Lieutenant General Metz trans-
the “Mahdi Army” militia of al-Sadr during May ferred the responsibility for the area to Lieuten-
and June. ant General Conway and assigned another Army
In an-Najaf, the al-Sadr Militia had over- squadron to Colonel Haslam’s control from his
whelmed the Iraqi security forces and local in- Task Force Baghdad, the 1st Cavalry Division. Af-
ternational military forces of Major General Ekiert ter a brief interlude of fruitless negotiations be-
quickly and occupied key positions, including the tween Allawi and al-Sadr’s representatives, the
governor’s compound, and the two highly signifi- Iraqi government finally authorized military force
cant Shi’a religious sites, Kufa Mosque and the to settle the insurgency in an-Najaf.61
Imam Ali Shrine. Successive attacks by part of the With Brigadier General Hejlik overseeing the
2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, and elements process with a small staff, Colonel Haslam re-
of 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in April and ceived his reinforcements and planned the bat-
May recovered most of the city except for exclu- tle yet to come. As the reinforcements arrived,
sion zones of one kilometer established around they applied a steady pressure against the al-
the two Shi’a holy sites, including the Old City Sadr militiamen with raids, probes, and skirmish-
and cemetery adjacent to the Imam Ali Shrine. es designed to determine their positions and ex-
The governor announced on 4 June that the Iraqi haust their resources. The Iraqi National Guard
security forces would take responsibility for the 404th Battalion already operated under Colonel
exclusion zones, but the Mahdi Militia never laid Haslam’s control since the 31 July transfer of au-
down arms nor left the holy sites. Upon depart- thority as the local garrison. The additional unit
ing on 17 June, the 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment from 1st Cavalry Division reported to him on 10

August: the 2d Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment. supporters fell back, broken and depleted. In the
The 36th Commando Battalion, veterans of the end, the face-saving intervention of Grand Aya-
Fallujah battle, joined on 13 August and the 2d tollah Sistani eliminated the need to assault the
and 4th Battalions, 1st Iraq Army Brigade arrived shine and to continue the action against the Ku-
during the operation, remaining under the tacti- fah Mosque. He brokered a truce on behalf of the
cal control of I MEF. Several units of special op- Iraqi Government on 27 August. The Mahdi Mili-
erations forces operated in and around the city tia agreed to surrender its weapons and to leave
as well. the Old City, the Imam Ali Shrine in particular.
The final attack into the al-Sadr center of re- In addition, the militia agreed to relinquish the
sistance came with Colonel Haslam’s order of 16 entire Najaf-Kufah area over to the Iraqi Govern-
August for a three-phase operation by U.S. and ment, specifically the Iraqi police and the Iraqi
Iraqi forces to “. . . clear Imam Ali Mosque Com- National Guard. From this point onward, al-Sadr
plex to defeat Mahdi Militia and capture or kill turned to peaceful and political options.
Muqtada al-Sadr to facilitate the return of the The 24 days of action in an-Najaf cost 11th
Imam Ali Mosque to proper Iraqi authorities.” The MEU seven killed in action and 94 wounded; the
phases consisted of the following: Army cavalry lost two men. Iraqi forces casualties
Phase I: Shaping operations. The two cavalry also included one American advisor killed and
squadrons (1st Squadron 5th Cavalry; 2nd Squad- a significant number of Iraqi soldiers killed and
ron, 7th Cavalry) launch limited attacks to occupy wounded. These numbers paled in comparison
the cemetery and the old city zone south of the to those inflicted on the Mahdi Militia. The 11th
Medina. The 1st Battalion, 4th Marines attacks in MEU estimated 1,500 of al-Sadr’s fighters were
the vicinity of Kufah and the remaining area of killed and an undetermined number wounded,
Najaf. most likely in the thousands. A positive aspect
Phase II: Penetration operations. The cavalry was the steady performance of the Iraqi security
squadrons fix the insurgents from the north and forces at an-Najaf, as the Iraqi local police, 405th
southeast while Lieutenant Colonel Mayer’s bat- and 36th Battalions all fought well and steadily,
talion push through from the northwest to en- well-served by their embedded advisors.62
circle the shrine, bringing the 36th Commando U.S. forces remained undermanned in Iraq
Battalion in assault amphibians in trace to its final largely because of the scarcity of capable Iraqi
assault position. forces. At an-Najaf, Marine Corps and Army units
Phase III: Decisive operations. The 36th demonstrated an ability to maneuver and to rein-
Commando troops assault and secure the shrine, force a deteriorating situation even better than at
which is then occupied and secured by follow-on the first battle of Fallujah.
troops of the 1st Iraq Army Brigade. With the commitment of the Central Com-
After a final 22 August confirmation briefing mand theater reserve to operations in an-Najaf,
to Lieutenant Generals Metz and Conway and the its replacement in the Central Command order of
Iraqi defense minister, the attack began. Begin- battle also fell upon Marine Corps Forces. The as-
ning late the night of 24 August, Marines and cav- signment circulated in the Joint Staff in early June,
alrymen battled through the streets and buildings based upon a requirement signaled by General
through the following day, culminating with Ma- Abezaid’s command on 2 June. The final orders
rines encircling the Shrine at a distance of 100 went to the 31st MEU, commanded by Colonel
meters by the end of the 25th. Amid heavy fight- W. Lee Miller, on 15 June in the form of a “Seven-
ing, the issue never came into doubt. Under fire Day Prepare to Deploy Order.” As in the case of
support from artillery, mortars, attack helicopters the 24th MEU deployment, the orders dispensed
and AC-130 aircraft, the infantry, tanks, and other with the usual special operations capability re-
fighting vehicles cleared all opposition. For the quirement.
next 24 hours, while the Iraqi Commandos pre- The 31st MEU had operated in the western
pared to capture the shrine, mostly sniper en- Pacific since forming for its 22d cycle in Janu-
gagements occurred in the area. ary, landing 2d Battalion, 3d Marines for training
But the al-Sadr Militia had suffered terrible in the Marianas followed by the usual routines
losses and resistance ended. The occupants of of exercises in Korea, Okinawa, and Thailand.
the Imam Ali Shrine had no hope of escape; their As the deployment orders came, it exchanged its

infantry battalion for the newly arrived 1st Bat- shown in the accompanying tables. In addition,
talion, 3d Marines and attachments on Okinawa the Army replaced in September its 1st Brigade,
and then embarked Amphibious Squadron 11 for 1st Infantry Division, with the 2d Brigade, 2d In-
training in the Marianas during 10 July–4 August fantry Division, commanded by Colonel Gary Pat-
before going to Kuwait. When it arrived at the ton. With Fallujah yet to be resolved and ar-Ra-
end of the month, its estimated deployment of madi demonstrating persistent spikes of combat
120 days (through 9 October) seemed half over, and violence, western al-Anbar Province was still
but its Marines and sailors would follow the expe- untamed.
rience of 11th MEU with their own odyssey com- In addition, 1st Marine Division exchanged
mencing in October.63 artillery batteries and force reconnaissance, tank,
In midst of the press of ongoing combat op- combat engineer, and assault amphibian compa-
erations and deployments of reinforcements to I nies with fresh units from the U.S. The Ramadi-
MEF, the requirement remained to execute the based intelligence services of I MEF also rotat-
scheduled turnover of forces and personnel dur- ed battalions, as 2d Radio Battalion relieved 3d
ing August and September. As noted above, this Radio Battalion and 1st Intelligence Battalion re-
had already begun in certain cases, such as the placed 2d Intelligence Battalion.
arrival of 1st Battalion, 8th Marines in western al- As of 31 July, 29,129 Marines and sailors were
Anbar Province on 29 June. As specified in the in Iraq with I MEF forces, with 190 more Marines
original decisions by General Hagee in Novem- stationed in Iraq with other organizations. Pro-
ber 2003, the combat units and squadrons would vided by Marine Corps Reserve Forces, 10,929
serve a six- or seven-month deployment in Iraq Marine reservists were on duty worldwide be-
while the personnel of the other organizations side their active component brethren, more than
and staffs within I MEF would exchange with one-fourth the total reserve structure. Casualties
fresh groups flown in from their home bases. to date in Iraq since the return of I MEF in 2004
The force turnover in I MEF took place over were 97 killed and 1,064 wounded in action, of
a three-month period, reflecting the staggered de- which 780 of the latter had returned to duty in
ployment dates of the battalions and squadrons theater.64

Chapter 5: where the convoy principals dismounted
to meet with the mayor. The convoy was
Second Fallujah Battle planned and executed as a combat patrol
with two powerful quick reaction forces
After the termination of the First Fallujah waiting just off stage ready to respond, sup-
Battle in April 2004, the Marines who had con- ported by significant rotary and fixed wing
centrated in and around the city turned their ef- close air support. The good news is the gen-
forts toward the pacification of surrounding areas eral population, while still openly hostile to-
where insurgents had exploited the main effort at wards the Coalition, is reportedly tired of
Fallujah. Many of them had fled Fallujah before the fighting and disruption and willing to al-
the fighting began and sought to establish them- low civil affairs money to flow into the city.
selves in new safe havens. The departure of the They see the cease-fire, as well as today’s
task force of 7th Marines back to western al-An- events, as a continuation of their victory
bar Province and the continuing actions of Colo- over the Coalition.65
nel Toolan’s RCT-1 around Fallujah left the city
itself in the hands of a desultory assembly of Iraqi On 20 May, Lieutenant General Conway ex-
police, Civil Defense Corps and Fallujah Brigade pressed his satisfaction with the relative calm in
“troops.” For the ensuing month and a half, an the entire province and prepared to leave all Fal-
uneasy peace settled on the city, with few inci- lujah checkpoints in the hands of Iraqi security
dents reported and the civil affairs, and humani- forces, except for the Cloverleaf intersection of
tarian actions of 1st Marine Division resumed the Routes 10 and E1. More good news came with
effort to reconstruct the city’s infrastructure and the arrival of air reinforcement: 20 AV-8B Harri-
support its self-government. Major General Mattis ers of Marine Attack Squadron 214, as requested
entered the city twice on well-armed “Fallujah pa- by Major General Amos in the middle of the Fal-
trols” to meet with city officials, and the Marines lujah battle. Major General Amos remarked that
of 3d Civil Affairs Group resumed their efforts to day that
identify and fund reconstruction projects.
These aircraft with their third generation
Fallujah in Repose
targeting forward looking infrared [system],
Marines continued to man traffic control the Litening II pod, equipped with a digital
points in the outer cordon, while the police, Civil downlink capability, will give the Marines
Defense Corps and Fallujah Brigade assembled on the ground, in places such as Fallujah
and prepared to patrol in the city. Marines of RCT- and Ramadi, the ability to see “real-time”
7 conducted a demonstration convoy through the what is going on around them. The Harriers
city on Route 10, halting briefly at the municipal will then be able to deliver ordnance as re-
government center, with the support of the Fal- quired, confident that what they are attack-
lujah Brigade. At no time, however, did the local ing is exactly what our ground forces want
security forces turn over usable weapons or in- attacked.66
surgent prisoners taken from the city.
Major General Mattis saw some positive as- Marine commanders judged sporadic but in-
pects of the event: creasing attacks on Coalition forces in late May
as opposition to the upcoming transfer of sov-
Today's successful joint patrol with the ereignty to the Iraqi interim government, not an
Fallujah Brigade represents the smallest of emerging new threat. On 31 May, the Army 112th
“baby steps” and should in no way be con- Military Police Battalion departed I MEF control
sidered an opening of the city. Fallujah is and returned to the 1st Cavalry Division after two
still closed and a very dangerous place with months’ service in al-Anbar Province.
large sections a “no man's land” controlled Already, changes in the U.S. senior leadership
by jihadists, foreign fighters, and terrorists. had begun that would replace the commanders
In fact, an improvised explosive device was, who had directed I MEF and its major commands
without explanation, detonated at 0530, we before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. Major
think during emplacement and generally General Amos turned over command of the 3d

Marine Aircraft Wing on 29 May to Major General aged a CH-46E Sea Knight transport helicopter
Stalder and departed to assume command of II of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 161. The
MEF at Camp Lejeune. Major General Mattis re- aircraft came under fire soon after lifting off from
linquished command on 29 August to Brigadier its al-Taqqaddum base, wounding both pilots.
General Richard F. Natonski and assumed com- The co-pilot, First Lieutenant Steven M. Clifton,
mand of the Marine Corps Combat Development assumed command of the aircraft and, ignoring
Command at Quantico. Both departing officers his own injuries, directed first aid efforts in the
were promoted lieutenant general in their new cockpit while flying evasive maneuvers and re-
commands and Brigadier General Natonski was turning to base safely as the aircraft suffered elec-
promoted to the grade of major general after as- trical failures, a flash fire, and degrading flight
suming command of 1st Marine Division. Final- controls. There were two other incidents where
ly, on 12 September, Lieutenant General John F. helicopters were damaged or destroyed by small
Sattler relieved Lieutenant General Conway, who arms fire, killing one pilot in one incident and
departed to serve as the new Director of Oper- wounding four crewmen in the other.
ations (J-3) for the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. Unfortunately, the command seemed reluc-
These new commanders would undertake reso- tant to face these trends. For example, the I MEF
lution of the Fallujah problem in the months that situation report for 9 September began with the
followed. following: “The overall number of attacks across
The eruption of coordinated attacks against the area of operations remains at decreased levels
Marine positions around Fallujah on 24 June con- from the recent surge . . . However, a section of
tinued in a series of what intelligence analysts helicopters flying south of Fallujah received small
considered “spikes” in insurgent activities. Reports arms fire and RPG fire and one helicopter was
of internecine fighting among tribal and extremist forced to land [author emphasis] . . . Multinational
factions added to the frustrations of trying to as- Force-West will continue to closely monitor this
sess progress in Fallujah. Although the U.S. lead- emerging threat to Multinational Force-West air
ership frequently voiced its hope that the quarrel- assets.”68
ing reduced the effectiveness of the anti-Coalition The decision process leading to the final as-
insurgency, intimidation campaigns against Iraqis sault on Fallujah and the eradication of the ex-
seeking to work for the Coalition or in Iraqi secu- tremist and insurgent nests that it sheltered re-
rity forces continued to increase with deleterious mained complex and diffuse. The new sovereign
effects upon the local security forces. An assess- status of Iraq and the Allawi government signified
ment of the Fallujah Brigade by Lieutenant Gen- that the Iraqi political and military leadership had
eral Metz’ strategic political-military staff in early to be convinced of the benefits of the operation
July noted that the brigade had expanded to an and that U.S. and Coalition support could and
overall strength of 2,075, including 23 general of- would be mobilized for the humanitarian relief
ficers and 375 other officers. Although capable of and eventual reconstruction of the damage that
limited patrolling in the city and maintaining liai- would ensue. The ability of U.S. forces to limit
son with I MEF representatives, the Fallujah Bri- and ameliorate damage remained by itself a most
gade had not attained any control over the city. contentious matter.
In the view of the analysts, the Fallujah Brigade The U.S. and Coalition military command
remained a failure and at best could be converted saw sufficient progress to authorize initial plan-
into an Iraqi Army unit subject to the same mis- ning and the early concept of operation began to
sions and standards of all other such units.67 emerge in the I MEF staff in September. A brief-
An ominous development surfaced with the ing in the first week of that month characterized
continuing attacks upon 3d Marine Aircraft Wing “Fallujah Clearing Operations” as a pending task
helicopters flying in the Fallujah zone. The down- where, on order, the I MEF and Iraqi security forc-
ing of an AH-1W Cobra attack helicopter during es would conduct “clearing operations in the vi-
the 24 June attack was the second helicopter loss cinity of Fallujah proper, to defeat extremist forc-
of the campaign and the second one in the vicin- es in Fallujah when ordered.” Shortly thereafter, a
ity of Fallujah. staff paper identified the initial concept for shap-
Following the downing of the Cobra on 5 ing the upcoming battle. It characterized Fallu-
July, small arms fire northwest of Fallujah dam- jah as a safe haven for foreign fighters, terrorists,

and insurgents, “a ‘cancer’ on the rest of al-Anbar lence. Colonel Tucker conducted meetings with
Province.” The operations necessary to prepare regional sheiks and town councils to determine
the city for the final assault would include the their degree of support for recruiting local se-
targeting of leading operatives and foreign fighter curity forces and making arrangements for their
groups for precision air strikes. Continued pres- training in Iraqi and U.S. camps. The return of
sure in the form of traffic control points limited troops to the Haditha-Hit corridor and ar-Rutbah
but did not stop movement into the city. Marine led to renewed counterinsurgency operations in
attacks around the city limits could increase pres- both locations. Road sweeps and road improve-
sure and instill uncertainty in the insurgents. In ments were also a priority effort while battalions
sum, the I MEF staff believed that the preparation conducted their reliefs in place. Colonel Tucker
of the battlefield required a steady tempo of at- also reviewed the situation at Husaybah and al-
trition operations sustainable “until time for deci- Qaim, because of the heavy fighting experienced
sive action; mid-November.”69 in both places by 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines. The
By 23 September, 1st Marine Division plan- Husaybah camp, now renamed Camp Gannon in
ners had produced a concept of operations for memory of Captain Richard J. Gannon, the late
Fallujah, doubtlessly reflecting the time spent on commander of Company L, received special at-
the same problem in mid-April, when elements of tention because its new occupants, 1st Battalion,
both 1st and 7th Marines stood in position around 7th Marines would also stand in relative isolation
the city and the staff had prepared a final, deci- there and at al-Qaim during the renewed battle
sive attack. General Casey’s command had be- at Fallujah.
gun to use special operations forces against Abu As RCT-7 prepared to reinforce RCT-1 at Fal-
Musab al-Zarqawi, an al-Qaeda terrorist chieftain. lujah, Colonel Tucker’s Marines executed a flurry
Intelligence agencies placed al-Zarqawi in Fallu- of disruption actions in Operation Rodeo (26–28
jah and at the center of the struggle for authority September). The RCT-7 forces executed 17 raids
among the insurgent groups. In addition to the and cordon operations within 48 hours: six in Ha-
panoply of tasks the division planners had to ac- ditha, ten in Husaybah, and one in ar-Rutbah. On
complish, they would have to coordinate division 27 September, Colonel Tucker began a command
actions with those of special operations forces. tour of AO (area of operation) Denver accom-
The division’s plans called for building a tar- panied by Colonel Miller of the 31st MEU who
get list including assessments of secondary and would assume responsibility for the area after
tertiary effects of each type of strike. Typical tar- RCT-7 departed for Fallujah.
gets included safe houses, meeting places, weap- At ar-Ramadi, the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Di-
on and ammunition caches, heavy equipment, vision and incoming 2d Brigade (Strike Brigade),
insurgent patrols, crew served weapons, indirect 2d Infantry Division conducted a continuing se-
fire weapons, fortifications (both surface and un- ries of raids, cordons, and other actions to main-
derground), and communications. The plans pro- tain a rough balance against the insurgents.
posed building pressure on the insurgents by se-
lective strikes on targets, and by using deception Date Operation
operations to cause reactions by insurgents and 15 July 04
1st Brigade operations Yellow Cab II and Speed
uncover communications and routes of movement Bump III.
17 July 04 1st Brigade operation Black Rock.
in the city and in general to create opportunities
23 July 04 1st Brigade operation Cowboys.
to discredit and to humble the insurgent groups.
3 Aug 04 1st Brigade operation Traveler (with RCT-1).
After sufficient command nodes, positions, and
11 Sep 04 2d Brigade operation Pointer.
fortified positions had been reduced, the Marines 26 Sep 04 2d Brigade operation Longhorn.
and soldiers would have accomplished the pre- 8 Oct 04 2d Brigade operation Mountaineer.
liminary objectives required before the “decisive 12 Oct 04 2d Brigade operation Seminole.
operations” or the assault phase.70
Colonel Patton’s newly arrived 2d Brigade
Continuing Operations in the Province
proved as well prepared as the 1st Brigade in
As important as the Fallujah situation became, meeting the challenges posed by ar-Ramadi and
the rest of al-Anbar Province remained unsettled, its surrounding area. He disposed of two motor-
and ar-Ramadi frequently flared with new vio- ized and one mechanized infantry battalions, an

artillery battalion (half employed as motor infan- in 1968. As in that battle, Marines would share a
try), a combat engineer battalion, and the 2d Bat- significant part of the fight with comrades of the
talion, 5th Marines of Lieutenant Colonel Randy U.S. Army. The basic concept reprised some of
Newman. The weapons systems in the brigade the planning of mid-April, concentrating as much
included 28 M1A1 tanks, 44 Bradley fighting vehi- as possible of both Marine Corps regimental com-
cles, and six M109A6 Paladin self-propelled how- bat teams, but in this case, each of them would
itzers. conduct an assault of the city, working from north
Amid stabilization operations and counterin- to south. Reinforcements from Multinational Forc-
surgency strikes, more mundane missions also re- es-Iraq would add both Army and Iraqi combat
quired the attention of Marines and soldiers in units to the Marine assault regiments as well as
al-Anbar Province. As part of infrastructure devel- additional forces to establish an effective cordon
opment assistance provided to Iraq, the U.S. pro- of the battle space surrounding Fallujah.
cured several large generators for power plants in The first of these reinforcements reported to
Iraq, replacing destroyed or obsolete equipment. the 1st Marine Division on 27 October when it
Immediately christened the “mother of all gen- received tactical control of the 1st Battalion, The
erators” by Marines and soldiers, these huge and Black Watch Regiment (UK). The logistics base
expensive machines entered Iraq from Jordan to supporting Baghdad, Logistics Support Area Dog-
Baghdad power plants. Six or seven combined wood, initially served as the arrival and assembly
heavy lift vehicles moved each General Electric area for the British Army unit, which reported to
9E generator, weighing more than 250 tons. A Colonel Johnson’s 24th MEU to assist in its mis-
convoy for a single generator comprised 15 heavy sion of securing northern Babel Province and the
lift vehicles accompanied by 10 private security vital main service routes running south of Bagh-
vehicles. Civilian engineers preceded each con- dad.
voy to lift or to cut power lines, to remove fenc- On 31 October, six battalion-sized Iraqi units
es and guardrails, and to make other minor im- were attached to the division for the operation,
provements necessary for passage. An even larger now called Operation Phantom Fury. Previously
generator, the Siemens V94 generator, was moved assigned to the U.S. 1st Cavalry and 1st Infantry
to the city of Taza using similar arrangements. Divisions, these Iraqi units appeared likely to per-
These slow-moving (six kph) convoys received form their missions better than Iraqi troops fight-
the highest priority protection during weeks of ing alongside Marines in April. Following their
transit through the various areas of operations. arrival and assembly in Camp Fallujah, they re-
In the I MEF zones, the Marine and Army units ceived U.S. liaison teams and fell under the op-
detailed to escort and to provide cover for the erational control of the commanders of RCT-1,
convoy through each regimental or brigade area RCT-7, and the incoming 2d Blackjack Brigade
followed the guidelines of an Operation Terrapin of the 1st Cavalry Division. Also on 31 October a
series of orders, which detailed the sequence of mechanized task force from the Army’s 1st Infan-
transfers from the arrival at the border crossing try Division, the 2d Battalion, 2d Infantry, arrived
at the Trebil port of entry until it departed to the for duty. Heavily armed with armor, mechanized
east or north, depending on the final destination. infantry, engineers, cavalry, and self-propelled ar-
A security detachment of 2d Battalion, 11th Ma- tillery components, it added considerable power
rines remained with the generator all the way to to Colonel Tucker’s RCT-7. In like fashion, RCT-1,
its final destination in each case. Thus, amid the now commanded by Colonel Michael A. Shupp,
smoke and dust of constant stability operations received another powerful battalion task force
and the preparations for the major battle of Fal- that day for his attack force, the 2d Squadron, 7th
lujah, Operations Terrapin I and II wound slowly Cavalry, bringing more armor and mechanized in-
across the I MEF battle space from 24 September fantry to the fight.
to 12 October.71 The vital mission performed by the Army's
Blackjack Brigade, commanded by Colonel Mi-
Assembling the Fallujah Assault Force
chael Formica, consisted of taking over the entire
The 1st Marine Division began detailed prep- battle space outside Fallujah, thus freeing both
arations for an urban battle of proportions not Marine Corps regimental combat teams for their
seen by the Marine Corps since the Battle of Hue assault roles. Upon the deployment of the brigade,

the Marine assault units assembled in Camps Fal- Fallujah assault, Colonel Miller reallocated the AO
lujah, Baharia, and Abu Ghraib for dispersal, re- Denver battle space for his major organizations.
hearsals, and final preparations. The Iraqi battal- The 1st Battalion, 7th Marines now covered the
ions would operate initially in support of the at- Euphrates River Valley from the Syrian border to
tacking Marine Corps and Army battalions. Their a boundary about 20 kilometers short of Haditha
essential missions eventually would include se- while 1st Battalion, 23d Marines assumed respon-
curing every building and position of the city. sibility to the eastern boundary of AO Denver.
Perhaps the most demanding reinforcement Ar-Rutbah and the extreme western sector be-
mission sent to the 1st Marine Division fell to the came the responsibility of Task Force Naha, built
31st MEU. Colonel Miller’s 31st MEU had sortied around a reduced company each from 3d LAR
from the western Pacific to replace the 11th MEU Battalion, 1st Battalion, 23d Marines and Battery
as the Central Command strategic reserve upon S, 5th Battalion 10th Marines a provisional rifle
the assignment of the 11th to its missions in an- company.72
Najaf and Qadisiyah Provinces. During 18 Sep-
Target Fallujah
tember–2 October, the Marines of Miller’s com-
mand trained ashore in Kuwait at the Udairi The pause between the first and second bat-
Range to prepare for any possible combat mis- tles of Fallujah had permitted the insurgents to
sion. On 3 October, General Abizaid relinquished improve their defenses, which Marines had pen-
control of 31st MEU to Lieutenant General Sattler etrated with comparative ease during the April
for operations with I MEF. The key roles envi- battle. Intelligence reports credited the insurgents
sioned for the 31st MEU included reinforcing the with the complete replacement of their April loss-
Fallujah assault and relieving Colonel Tucker of es and more such that they now numbered 3,000–
his responsibility for AO Denver during Opera- 4,000 men. These sources also advised that the
tion Phantom Fury. Accordingly, 31st MEU passed Fallujah-based insurgent leaders hoped to hinder
to the operational control of Major General Na- any I MEF assault on the city by attacking external
tonski on 14 October and began moving to al- areas and routes and disrupting the other major
Anbar Province. Its ground element, 1st Battalion, cities such as Ramadi and Husaybah. The report-
3rd Marines (commanded by Lieutenant Colonel ed departure of many insurgents before the attack
Michael R. Ramos) with attachments and most of indicated these tactics were to be implemented
MEU Service Support Group 31 of (commanded by the insurgents.
by Lieutenant Colonel James A. Vohr) reported on The city itself had several lines of obstacles
24 October to Colonel Tucker's RCT-7, where it and fortified lines of resistance to the prying eyes
provided significant combat power in additional of overhead sensors, cameras, and other types of
infantry, armored vehicles, and artillery for the surveillance, as well as the monitoring of insur-
assault force. Lieutenant Colonel Vohr’s support gent responses to pre-assault shaping operations.
group provided direct logistics support to RCT- The relative densities of these apparent insurgent
7 during the operation with augmentation from lines of resistance suggested the insurgents feared
Combat Service Support Battalion 7, which other- an attack from the east, especially from the much-
wise continued its support activities in western al- contested Cloverleaf and zones north and south
Anbar Province. The 31st MEU command and avi- of it, into the districts north and south of Route 10.
ation combat elements flew and convoyed to al- Here could be found the largest concentrations
Asad Air Base, from where Colonel Miller would of roadblocks, berms, fighting positions, sniper
take command of forces in AO Denver, effective holes, and checkpoints. A secondary concentra-
20 October. The 31st MEU’s aviation combat ele- tion of positions on the southeast edge of the city
ment, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265 showed attention paid to the Shuhidah (Martyrs)
(commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Matthew G. District. Analysts also discerned likely positions
Glavy) joined 3d Marine Aircraft Wing. prepared for later use by indirect fire weapons
During the Fallujah operation, Colonel Miller and small arms. The successive positions showed
would maintain the stability of AO Denver and a willingness to fight in depth along Route 10 as
continue the work in progress in civil affairs and well as much preparation for fighting in all direc-
in support of the Iraqi security forces. After the tions from the strongholds of Jolan, Sook, and
departure of RCT-7 and the units assigned to the Muallimeen Districts. The presence of improvised

explosive devices was assumed on all sides and Army and Coalition reinforcements. During the
along all interior routes inside the city. battle, the stability operations of 31st and 24th
After the Coalition forces began their attacks MEUs in the western and eastern extremes of the
and pushed the insurgents out of their initial line operations area, as well as the operations by the
of resistance, analysts assumed the insurgents 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, at ar-Ramadi
would move in small elements into the interior and in AO Topeka, ensured that the operations
positions. Four- to eight-man teams would fight in Fallujah took place without interference by the
a delaying battle back to strong points where up enemy coming from those areas. The full array of
to platoon-sized elements would form to resist 3d Marine Aircraft Wing capabilities was engaged
and even counterattack any Coalition troops that in the action as well as the vital assembly of re-
could be isolated in small numbers. The enemy sources by the 1st Force Service Support Group.
would remain mobile and exploit any operation- As early as 24 September, the two Marine reg-
al pause offered by Coalition forces. The enemy imental commanders had planned the assault op-
fighters would move through a series of cach- eration with only two Marine infantry battalions
es and engagement areas built around major in- for each RCT plus Iraqi forces. Soon after 28 Sep-
tersections and public buildings such as schools, tember, however, additional forces entered the
mosques, civic buildings, and parking garages. plans, and the forces allocated grew quickly as
Marine Corps and Army leaders expected the en- commanders realized the extent of the problems
emy to continually attempt to re-enter areas al- they confronted. The mature plan emerged by the
ready cleared and to interdict supply lines after beginning of October and passed through suc-
combat units penetrated the city. Some insurgent cessive analyses and war-gaming until the com-
teams would stay behind hoping that the assault manders had settled upon the details.74
troops would bypass them, leaving them free to The objective of the attack remained as de-
surface later and to cut Coalition lines or even sired in April: to occupy the entire city, defeating
to escape from the city. While insurgents favored all opposition and clearing any caches or other
improvised explosive devices, they also intended resources that might sustain the insurgency again.
to fire mortars and rockets into Coalition posi- Lieutenant General Sattler’s mission to his I MEF
tions within range after the attack of the city be- set the tone:
gan. Infiltration routes, especially along the Eu-
phrates River, could be used to resupply or for On order, Multinational Force-West at-
withdrawal as needed. tacks to destroy the Anti-Iraqi forces and in-
The I MEF estimates reflected the desire of surgent forces in Fallujah-Ramadi to deny
the Fallujah insurgent groups to attempt to rally the use of Fallujah-Ramadi as their safe ha-
international opinion and mobilize propaganda ven and to facilitate the restoration of legiti-
to interfere with the planned assault, with the ul- mate governance, security, and reconstruc-
timate aim of disrupting it and causing a halt as tion.75
happened in April. This time, however, the Iraqi
interim government was involved almost from The term “Fallujah-Ramadi,” somewhat am-
the beginning, and the Coalition planned a large- bitious in scope, appears taken from the higher
scale information operation to complement the headquarters orders emanating from Baghdad but
planned battle and counter the worst charges of with no indication of how and when the other
the enemy propaganda. In short, the disadvan- city might become involved in Operation Phan-
tages encountered in the impromptu conduct of tom Fury. At any rate, to accomplish the Fallujah
the first battle of Fallujah would not likely reap- mission the operation would take the now famil-
pear in the more deliberate second battle of Fal- iar phases:
lujah.73 Phase 1 (September–October 2004). “Limit-
ed shaping” operations against insurgent forces.
The Assault Plan and Aviation Support
Shaping operations were those actions to collect
Although directed tactically by Major General intelligence, disrupt, isolate, and attrite the enemy
Natonski and his 1st Marine Division command, while securing key infrastructure and routes. In-
Operation Phantom Fury required the participa- formation operations would highlight enemy fail-
tion of the entire I MEF organization and vital ures and atrocities. Leaflets and broadcasts en-

couraged the citizens of Fallujah to leave the city received tactical control of the 2d Reconnaissance
although the troops manning the cordon refused Battalion and the Iraqi 6th Battalion, 3rd Brigade.
to let any military-aged men so depart. At the last The planned positioning of the Army brigade at
moment, the information campaign would notify the last minute would give minimal alert to the in-
inhabitants to take cover in cellars and remain surgents that a major alteration of the balance of
away from any fighting. forces had been accomplished.
Phase 2 (D-Day). “Enhanced shaping” in- Within hours of the establishment of the
cluded “violent” shaping operations over a short Blackjack Brigade around Fallujah’s outskirts, the
period of time (approximately 24 hours) and the plan called for the D-day moves of Task Force 3d
positioning of I MEF forces to attack Fallujah. LAR Battalion (headquarters, one LAR company,
Phase 3 (D+1). “Decisive operations” to de- one rifle company plus a mechanized company
stroy the insurgents in Fallujah and to seize con- and engineer platoon from 2d Striker Brigade, 2d
trol of the city to deny the use of Fallujah as a Infantry Division, and the Iraqi 36th Commando
safe-haven. Battalion. These would maneuver the length of
Phase 4. “Transition to an interim emergen- the "Peninsula" across the Euphrates River to the
cy government.” Combined MNF-W and IIF/IAF west of the city, effectively securing it and pre-
operations and reconstruction projects in Fallu- venting the Iraqi hospital, operating on reduced
jah help to build legitimacy of the Interim gov- staff, from being used by the insurgents as either
ernment in the eyes of the Iraqi citizens. MNF-W a sanctuary or a battle position. In the last hours
forces provide security to facilitate reconstruction of D-day, initially scheduled for 5 November, one
projects and establishing an Iraqi government day after U.S. national elections, but changed to
and police force. 7 November, the attack battalions would move
Phase 5. Transition to Permanent, Local Gov- through the night from their base camps and oc-
ernment and Security. cupy attack positions along the northern outskirts
Certain ambiguities arose from the orders of Fallujah, attacking at "A-hour" (for stage A of
without affecting their execution. Little differ- Phase III, Offensive Operations) of 1900 on D+1,
ence remained between “limited” and “violent” or 8 November. During D-day, the assault battal-
shaping operations in the vicinity of a dangerous ions of RCT-1 and RCT-7 moved into covered lo-
place such as Fallujah. The shaping operations cations beyond the railroad station and rail lines
of Phase 1 consisted of actions typified by an air that constituted the first barriers guarding entry
strike called on 9 September, just after midnight, into the city from the north.
by special operations forces against a house be- The division planned the actual assault to be-
ing used as an insurgent headquarters. Two GBU- gin on D+1, whereupon both RCT-1 and RCT-
12 (Guided Bomb Unit) 500 pound laser guided 7 would launch penetration attacks into the city
bombs, dropped by an Air Force F-15E Strike Ea- from which the insurgents no longer had any op-
gle fighter bomber destroyed the house with min- portunity to evade and escape. The leading as-
imal collateral damage to adjacent buildings. Two sault battalions had the mission of overcoming
days earlier, the 2d Battalion, 1st Marines con- obstacles and defeating insurgents wherever en-
ducted a typical feint using tanks, LAV-25s, and countered. Any buildings or areas not cleared in
armored Humvees against the southeast corner of the initial assault had to be cleared and secured
the city. This set the pattern of seemingly endless by additional battalions fighting in trace, also us-
forays of various sorts against the insurgent posi- ing the support of the Iraqi battalions assigned
tions, all aimed at disguising the true intentions of to each regiment. The division plan assigned the
the attack, its location, and its timing.76 main effort to RCT-1, attacking from north to
Apart from shaping operations, Operation south through the familiar Jolan district, continu-
Phantom Fury would begin with the deployment ing until the northwestern quarter of the city had
of the 2d Blackjack Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, been searched and cleared. The eastern half of
directly from its Baghdad bases to the block po- the city fell to RCT-7 to assault and clear in like
sitions manned by RCT-1 and RCT-7, relieving fashion. Jolan Park and the Government Center
them of their positions so they could regroup and became division objectives one and two, respec-
rehearse their battle plans at Camps Fallujah and tively, for the two regimental combat teams. At
Bahariah. As the brigade relieved the two RCTs, it this point, the plan called for RCT-1 to consoli-

date and mop up in its sector, securing Route 10 ficiencies, safety, unity of command, and integra-
for use in supporting the remainder of the opera- tion of fires required by this urban operation.
tion. Iraqi troops were to take the forefront of the For airspace management, two temporary
mop-up in an attempt to demonstrate Iraqi sov- flight restrictions established Keyhole Templates
ereignty. The assault battalions of RCT-7 would over both Ramadi and Fallujah with each hav-
continue south and southwest, clearing and se- ing a 15 nautical mile radius and sharing a center
curing the rest of Fallujah, south of Route 10. At cap. After evaluation of many variables to include
the conclusion of the mop-up of remaining resis- the size of the cities, weapons release parame-
tance and the clearing of all enemy materiel and ters, Litening pod capabilities, ranges of insurgent
personnel, conditions for Phase IV would be met weapons, safe release, egress maneuver room,
and the forces would turn to the stabilization and and drone employment, a five nautical mile ra-
recovery of the city. dius was chosen for this inner ring. This template
Logistics preparations initially centered upon essentially required aircraft to hold between the
stockpiling the forward bases with the required contact point and the initial point. The outer ring
materiel and supplies in what came to be known of 15 nautical miles served as that contact point
as the "Iron Mountain." Marine planners had not- and the 5 nautical mile ring the initial point for
ed the largely unsuccessful attempts by insur- the use of forward air controllers. This area need-
gents to interdict routes and supply lines during ed to be defined carefully to maximize deconflic-
the April Fallujah operations. This time, the 1st tion with neighboring air patrols. Two semi-car-
Force Service Support Group provided forward dinal lines extending out of the city center point
operating bases a minimum 15 days of supply in defined each air patrol or “sector.” The airplane
advance of the operation. Because of problems holding technique remained at the discretion of
with civilian contractors the group also mobilized the pilots as long they remained within the lateral
the I MEF Engineering Group on short notice to limits of the sector and altitude assigned.
build camps for the Iraqi Army battalions that had The altitudes assigned for aircraft loiter and
to move into the Fallujah camp complex before holding in the Keyhole Template also reflected
the operation. the parameters of target acquisition, insurgent
The 3d Marine Aircraft Wing designed an weapons, and the need to stack multiple sections
aviation integration plan for Operation Phantom of different types of aircraft in each sector. In
Fury after studying the after action reports from the case of the Fallujah Keyhole, the east sector,
Operation Vigilant Resolve (First Battle of Fallu- placed over the friendly bases of Baharia, Camp
jah) and the 11th MEU’s combat in an-Najaf. Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib allowed a primary alti-
During Operation Vigilant Resolve in April tude of 13–15,000 feet and a secondary altitude
the air observers and forward air controllers had of 18–20,000 feet. The altitudes were the same on
to coordinate through two levels of air command the west sector, but the primary altitude used was
and control systems before connecting the attack- (18–20,000 feet) because of the enemy area of
ing aircraft to the terminal controller. The lack of Saclawiyah. This arrangement also allowed fixed
a common grid reference system made for very wing aircraft on the east and west to drop simul-
long times from target acquisition and engage- taneously and be deconflicted by altitude dur-
ment for both fixed and rotary wing aircraft. After ing attack or egress. The 3d Marine Aircraft Wing
studying these and many other lessons from April, planners added procedures for the use of odd-
the air plan established a “high density air control numbered “time over target” for RCT-1 and even
zone” and devised a “Keyhole Template” inside it. ones for RCT-7 but only for fixed-wing aircraft.
These tactical control measures emerged from a A poor weather scheme changed the sector alti-
U.S. Central Command tactics review board held tudes for a “high war,” “low war,” or “split war”
in July. In it, representatives from I MEF's divi- based upon cloud layers.
sion and aircraft wing briefed the command on Considering combined arms needs, the plan
the airspace requirements and the need for unity incorporated the maximum elevation for artillery
of command needed to support the forward air ordnance, required to shoot across the city from
controllers. The density of the airspace and the proposed artillery battery locations. This mea-
close proximity of ground forces made the Key- sure set the minimum operating altitude of the
hole Template a good solution to achieve the ef- inner ring so that aircraft remained above 9,000

feet while inside the ring, permitting artillery and copters in a direct support role to the Blackjack
mortar fire to a maximum elevation of 8,500 feet. brigade
Outside the ring, artillery could fire up to 11,000 The air plan used a single “Gridded Reference
feet. In both cases, no need remained to clear air- Graphic” based upon the target reference points,
craft before firing artillery missions. If artillery re- phase lines, and building naming conventions of
quired higher elevations for their missions, stan- the two assault regiments. The graphic was de-
dard clearance procedures would be used. signed for both cockpit and ground use and was
The plan held rotary-wing aircraft in battle made readable in red lighting, which is used to
positions around the city at no closer than 1 kilo- preserve night vision. The 1:7500 scale image in-
meter from the city edge. The plan designed all cluded overlays with the grid lines, phase lines,
positions to enable firing across the city with an and target references. The image was further sub-
AGM-114 Hellfire missile against any target in the divided into 250 meter increments and labeled
city from any of these positions. Operating at alti- for eight digit grid coordinates to facilitate quick
tudes from surface to 1,500 feet, no coordination target acquisition. A 1:5000 scale version was also
would be required to clear their operations. made available. An additional overlay of approx-
The planners recognized the need to operate imately 700 buildings with accompanying coor-
unmanned aerial vehicles over the city but also dinates and designated city blocks outlined for
recognized the risk of UAVs colliding with air- ground combat use was provided. All units re-
craft. They used a “little UAV, big sky” approach, ceived these aids through the military secure in-
hoping for a low probability of collisions because ternet about four weeks before Operation Phan-
of the small size of the UAVs. Planners anticipated tom Fury began.
using four to five drones in the inner ring at any- Employing the AC-130 drew special inter-
time. North and south tracks for the drones per- est in the plan. Stationing two AC-130s (call sign
mitted a certain measure of control such that they “Basher”) inside the five nautical mile ring met
could be moved to a known track if necessary. the request of each assault RCT of having “its
The altitudes used depended on the characteris- own Basher.” These would operate at night at al-
tics of the three main drones employed: Predator, titudes of 9,000–11,000 feet initially with slightly
Pioneer, and Scan Eagle. overlapping tracks. While hesitant about operat-
The aviation support plan specified standard ing two aircraft inside the five nautical mile ring,
loads for each aircraft type: the Air Force crews practiced this procedure be-
AH-1W—four Hellfire antitank missiles, two fore the commencement of Phantom Fury and
TOW (Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire- executed without error or mishap. During Op-
guided) antitank missiles, rocket pod and 300-400 eration Vigilant Resolve, AC-130s often ran out
rounds of 20mm cannon ammunition. of ammunition, but 3d Marine Aircraft Wing suc-
F/A-18—one GBU-38, 500 pound JDAM (Joint ceeded in having the aircraft “floor loaded” with
Direct Attack Munition) bomb, two GBU-12, 500 additional 40mm and 25mm ammunition for the
pound laser guided bombs or one GBU-12 and second battle.
one laser Maverick air-ground missile. Having prepared command and control mea-
F/A-18 (airborne controller)—replaced one sures in great detail for the operation, schedul-
above weapon for four 5-inch Zuni rockets ers had to line up the aircraft thus required. The
AV-8B—one GBU-12 bomb or one laser Mav- fixed-wing aircraft would be “pushed” from bases
erick. to provide two sections of aircraft continuously
The Marine fixed wing aircraft all carried a overhead for a 17-hour period. With AC-130s on
Litening targeting pod. Mounted externally, the station at night, the requirement dropped to a sin-
system provides infrared detector, video camera, gle section of fixed wing aircraft as augmentation.
laser rangefinder, and laser designator in a single The KC-130 refueling aircraft of the Wing pro-
unit. Four of these pods were downlink-capable vided around the clock coverage to prevent fuel
to the RQ-2B Pioneer drone system operated by exhaustion limiting any ordnance delivery. The
the Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadrons usual procedure of strip alert, and quick fueling
(VMU-1 and 2). The Army also furnished continu- and rearming also would be used so that “tempo
ous coverage by two AH-64 Apache attack heli- drove the fight and not fuel.” In short, the airmen

wanted to respond to the tactical situation with- nian border crossing was only partially colosed)
out concerns for logistical needs. and made available the Iraqi security forces nec-
Additional AV-8B Harrier aircraft deployed to essary to support the operation, including Iraqi
Iraq for this battle in addition to the first squad- Army, National Guard, and police units.79
ron ordered in after Operation Vigilant Resolve,
D-Day and D+1(7–8 November)
(VMA-214), which had arrived on 20 May after
the First Fallujah battle. By the time the new bat- The Iraqi 36th Commando Battalion, in coor-
tle began, the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing wielded a dination with 3d LAR Battalion task force, seized
“super-squadron” of Harriers built around VMA- the Fallujah Hospital on the peninsula to the west
542 supplemented with aircraft and pilots from of the city at 2207 hours. The 3d LAR Battalion
VMA-214 held over from its departure, a detach- secured the bridges from the peninsula to Fallu-
ment of VMA-211 from 31st MEU, and VMA-311. jah at 0005 hours on 8 November and established
The relief squadron for VMA-214 arrived at al- three vehicle checkpoints. By 1045 hours on 8
Asad Air Base on 17 August and VMFA(AW)-242 November, Marines of 4th Civil Affairs Group
operated its two seat all-weather F/A-18D Hor- completed their survey of the hospital and un-
nets to good effect. All these aircraft came to Iraq loaded medical and humanitarian assistance sup-
trained and equipped with the Litening Pod. plies for its use.
The rotary-wing plan used the scheme of The units of RCT-1 and RCT-7 moved to attack
“pull” in that a two-section presence with two positions during the night of 7–8 November. The
more available in alert status would be main- 3d Battalion, 5th Marines attacked at 1052 hours
tained for about 16 hours a day. The attack heli- on 8 November to clear an apartment complex
copters planned to fly from 0900–0200 daily, thus northwest of Fallujah and completed its seizure at
providing overlap of the AC-130 by several hours 1255 hours with only light resistance. The 3d Bat-
to attack targets on the outer edges of the city, to talion, 1st Marines prepared to seize the train sta-
support additional ground units, and to exploit tion east of the apartment complex. The A-hour
their night combat capabilities.77 of 1900 approached for the assault battalions, be-
ginning the vital clearing of the lines of departure
The Seizure of Fallujah
of remaining obstacles and explosive devices. To
(7–19 November 2004) breach the railroad tracks at the planned penetra-
Hours before the assault on Fallujah, Major tion point, four F/A-18Ds of VMFA(AW)-242, one
General Natonski visited Army, Marine Corps, flown by wing commander Major General Stalder,
and Iraqi units in their attack positions outside dropped eight GBU-31 2000 pound guided bombs
the city. The Iraqi Interim Government invoked on the berms and tracks at 1420 hours, when 3d
emergency powers and instituted a curfew in the Battalion, 1st Marines assaulted the station to ef-
Fallujah-Ramadi area. I MEF expected a surge in fect the breach. As a final step, a team of Navy
insurgent violence as Operation Phantom Fury Seabees and 4th Civil Affairs Group Marines en-
commenced. Commanders initiated curfews tered the power substation just west of the apart-
throughout the I MEF area of operations as engi- ment complex and cut Fallujah’s electricity supply
neers prepared to cut the city’s power supply.78 at 1800 hours.
These final measures reflected the political The Marines hit the train station at 1859
preparations deemed necessary by the Coalition hours, taking sporadic small arms and rocket
military commanders for successful operations in launcher fire. They secured the station by 2034
Fallujah. Leading up to the decisive assault, the hours and began the hasty clearing of the breach
Iraqi Interim Government announced the upcom- area. The lead companies of 3d Battalion, 5th Ma-
ing joint operations by the Coalition to re-estab- rines jumped off from their positions at the apart-
lish Iraqi governmental control of Fallujah and ment complex at 1926 hours, with tanks leading
to liberate the citizens from the insurgents. The through their breach lanes, joining the tanks sup-
Iraqi Interim Government appointed an ambas- porting 3d Battalion, 1st Marines as they engaged
sador to make political overtures of inclusion and insurgent antitank teams.
reconciliation to the people of Fallujah but in the The engineers began their breach opera-
meantime declared a “State of Emergency.” Iraq tions at 2200 hours, and the advance elements
closed Syrian and Jordanian borders (the Jorda- of 2d Squadron, 7th Cavalry began to cross at

0014 hours, 9 November. The cavalrymen judged moved its vehicles through the Army battalion,
the breach as insufficient for their wheeled vehi- continuing to move south afterward with little
cles, however, so the engineer efforts continued. further difficulty.
The 3d Battalion, 1st Marines passed through the Leading the attack, Lieutenant Jeffrey T. Lee
breach between 0503–0538 hours, and 2d Squad- (Company A, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines) aggres-
ron pushed its lead armor elements forward in sively directed his tank platoon through major
sufficient strength to protect the left flank of the firefights. Initially operating continuously for over
main effort by that Marine battalion as it thrust 12 hours, he ran the risk of low fuel while con-
south into the heart of Jolan. By 0636 hours, 3d tinuing to destroy insurgent resistance, enabling
Battalion, 5th Marines the designated main effort, the battalion to reach its objectives. Days later,
neared its limit of advance for the first day, hav- while leading Company A in its drive south, he
ing cleared the Jolan Cemetery, and the cavalry was shot through his right arm yet refused to
squadron began to occupy strong points along its leave his unit and instead advanced two blocks
axis of advance. The Iraqi follow-on forces began further south, reaching the assigned battalion
to cross into the city in trace of the assault battal- phase line. Surrounded by enemy insurgents, he
ions at 0852 hours, and began to secure cleared supported the Marine riflemen taking positions
areas and guard some of the numerous weapons in nearby buildings, eliminating more insurgents
caches uncovered in the assault. The small craft who attempted to attack the position. His aggres-
company, placed under Colonel Shupp’s RCT for siveness and bravery contributed to the breaking
the operation, began to fire and move at 1114 of enemy resistance in the heart of the enemy’s
hours against insurgents trying to flee the city defense.80
along the bank of the Euphrates where it rounds
D+2 to D+3 (9–10 November)
the peninsula.
The assault of RCT-7 into its zone of action At the urging of the Iraqi Interim Govern-
began at A-hour using three reinforced battalions ment, the U.S. military command renamed Op-
line-abreast, attacking to penetrate the city and eration Phantom Fury the less imposing and more
clear an area to Route 10, seizing the Government “politically correct” Operation Al Fajr (Dawn).81
Center (Division Objective 2) and acting overall While the Army cavalrymen of 2d Squadron,
as the supporting effort for the attack of RCT- now executing the RCT-1 main effort, continued
1. Colonel Tucker assigned his main effort to 1st south on their thrust along the boulevard of Phase
Battalion, 8th Marines commanded by Lieutenant Line Henry, the 3d Battalion, 5th Marines cleared
Colonel Gareth F. Brandl, on his right flank, mov- its zone in the northern half of Jolan District. The
ing somewhat east of the boundary with RCT-1, regiment’s other Marine assault battalion, follow-
designated Phase Line George, but angling to the ing in trace of the cavalry squadron, cleared the
west to seize the Government Center and coordi- rest of the district thus penetrated. The intense
nating with Colonel Shupp's regiment via the 2d fight for the heart of Jolan District by the 3d Bat-
Squadron, 7th Cavalry. The center unit, 1st Battal- talion, 1st Marines took the rest of the day of 9
ion 3d Marines (which was also designated Bat- November and culminated in a turn to the west
talion Landing Team 1/3 from its 31st MEU as- in preparation to complete clearing operations to
signment) attacked in zone at the center, and the the river’s edge. The 2d Squadron, 7th Cavalry
2d Battalion, 2d Infantry attacked on the left flank reached Route 10 (Phase Line Fran) at 2200 hours
of Colonel Tucker’s force. and controlled the streets to the east and west of
On 9 November, using accompanying Iraqi its attack route by its firepower. The accompany-
Special Forces, the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines pen- ing Iraqi 4th Battalion continued to clear build-
etrated along Phase Line Ethan and took the regi- ings along Phase Line Henry, which had armor
mental objective, Hadrah Mosque, at 0900 hours. strong points now posted along its entire length
The Army mechanized infantry battalion moved north of Route 10. The insurgents could do lit-
rapidly along the left edge of the city, all the way tle against the firepower and armor of the caval-
to Route 10, killing approximately 48 enemy and ry squadron, and any who resisted were quickly
then sending indirect fire into insurgent targets. eliminated. Fire from tanks and 25mm automat-
The 1st Battalion, 3d Marines experienced diffi- ic cannon fire from armored vehicles destroyed
culty clearing its penetration point and instead many of the improvised explosive devices and

car bombs arrayed along the routes, with little ef- Sergeant Jeffrey L. Kirk led his 1st Squad, 3d
fect on the attacking forces. The cavalrymen took Platoon, K Company 3d Battalion, 5th Marines
Jolan Park (Division Objective 1) at the end of the in successive assaults of a fortified building and
day, well ahead of the attack plan. At this point, courtyard, eliminating insurgents and a machine
the 3d Battalion, 1st Marines began its attack to gun position personally with rifle fire and gre-
the west at 1305 hours on 10 November to clear nades. Although wounded, he refused medical at-
the remaining unoccupied part of Fallujah north tention and led a third assault. Nearby, K Compa-
of Route 10 all the way to the river’s edge. On ny's Private First Class Christopher S. Adelsperger
its left flank, the cavalrymen of 2d Squadron at- executed a series of single-man attacks, clearing
tacked along Route 10 to secure the two highway houses, rescuing wounded Marines and leading
bridges from the east at 1424 hours. The 3d LAR the charge into a courtyard after an assault am-
Battalion already held the western sections. By phibious vehicle crashed through a courtyard
the end of 10 November, Colonel Shupp’s RCT- wall. Although he did not survive his wounds,
1 had captured the entire northwest quadrant of Adelsperger's used unceasing courage and ener-
Fallujah with a classic cavalry screen established gy in destroying the last strongpoint in the Jolan
on the eastern edge of his zone and the two Ma- district.
rine battalions poised to mop up the interior and The broadcast by loudspeakers of the Ma-
continue the attack south of Route 10. rines’ Hymn over Fallujah by B Company, 9th
In the zone of RCT-7, the Government Center Psychological Operations Battalion took place in
fell to 1st Battalion, 8th Marines which began its the early evening of 10 November as units set
movement at 0100 hours on 10 November south in for the night. The observation of the Marine
from the Hadrah Mosque area with two rifle com- Corps Birthday varied throughout the zone, and
panies, then launched Company A at 0400 hours, most units celebrated in small groups during the
mounted in amphibious assault vehicles and es- early morning hours. Several such observations,
corted by tanks and light armored vehicles. The however, such as took place in the command
mounted company seized the center at noon, posts of the larger units, allowed Marines to revel
but the other companies fought for several more in their cherished traditions at the time of great
hours to overcome snipers and pockets of resis- danger.82
tance before securing their sections of Route 10.
D+4 to D+13 (11–20 November)
Two rifle platoons, however, had to return to the
Hadrah Mosque that night to prevent any insur- Colonel Shupp’s RCT-1 now continued the at-
gent reoccupation of the site. tack into southern Fallujah, sending 2d Squadron,
As 1st Battalion, 3d Marines joined the rest of 7th Cavalry south on its same axis of attack as be-
RCT-7 on the Route 10 line, several changes to the fore, Phase Line Henry, to act once again as the
planning took place on 10 November. The rapid supporting effort, beginning at 1900 hours. The
advance of both regiments to Route 10 (Phase armor company leading the thrust encountered a
Line Fran) had eliminated any need for RCT-7 to complex obstacle that required close air support
undertake alone the clearing of southern Fallu- and AC-130 fire to reduce. The armored attack
jah. Therefore each RCT would instead continue continued south to the assigned limit of advance
south following the extended traces of the same for the day, some 1,200 meters south of Route 10,
boundaries and phase lines already in use. The by 0300 hours on 12 November. Supporting arms
securing of the northern part of the city, howev- suppressed enemy fire, and the mechanized in-
er, already taxed the Iraqi forces in the operation fantry company, following in trace, established a
even though they had performed well supporting screen. Operating several hundred meters to the
the assault battalions. Command and control of east, 3d Battalion, 1st Marines began its main ef-
Iraqi units remained problematic and Marine bat- fort attack at 1600 hours on 11 November, under-
talions would remain behind in each regimental taking the mission of clearing the entire zone be-
zone to complete the mopping up phase. There- tween the cavalry advance and the river’s edge.
fore, 3d Battalion, 5th Marines and 1st Battalion, During the daylight hours of the 11th, the in-
3d Marines were assigned to secure the northern surgents in front of RCT-1 had drawn south what
half of Fallujah within their respective regimental men they could regroup and attempted to reorga-
sectors while the assault to the south ensued. nize their defenses. Marines and soldiers moved

into the night, not making much contact. The cav- spirit has saved Marine lives. 3/5 [3rd Bn,
alry screen anchored the regiment’s left, with a 5th Mar] conducted detailed house-to-house
section of either M2 Bradley fighting vehicles or searches and have uncovered tens of thou-
M1A1 tanks at every major intersection. True to sands of unexploded ordnance, which they
form, as the sun came up, the enemy came out to are systematically destroying to ensure the
fight on 12 November. safety of the Jolan. 3/1 [3rd Bn, 1st Mar] suc-
At 1030 hours Marines of 3d Battalion, 1st cessfully seized the southern portion of the
Marines reported strong insurgent contact, receiv- RCT-1 zone. Without regard for their own
ing mortar and small arms fire about 500m south safety, the Marines and sailors of 3/1 made
of Route 10 near the cavalry advance. A Pioneer great gains despite running into some of the
drone showed 8–10 men fighting the along roof- stiffest resistance since the fighting began.
tops of four houses. Shortly after mid-day, the Resistance included suicide attacks by sus-
battalion reported both two companies low in pected foreign fighters.83
ammunition and very low on fuel, yet by 1640
hours, one of these companies had reached the On the other hand the continued clearing
limits of south Fallujah. of Fallujah proved difficult. Enemy contact was
The last major contact by RCT-1 with orga- heavy during the early afternoon of 13 November
nized resistance came the next day (13 Novem- and continued at lesser levels through the night
ber) at 1017 hours, when Marines of 3d Battalion, and into the morning of 14 November.
1st Marines fought squad-sized enemy elements. Marines and soldiers of RCT-1 now entered
Several Marines fell wounded in one house and an even more dangerous period in the operation.
six insurgents in the upper floor prevented four of An increasingly desperate and tenacious enemy
them from being evacuated. First Sergeant Brad- used suicide attacks, snipers, and booby-trapped
ley A. Kasal ran forward from the unit providing buildings to inflict more casualties. The assault
cover of the endangered Marines and joined a troops, however, continued to dominate what
squad making a fresh assault inside the house. they already termed the “ten-second firefight”
Killing one insurgent at close quarters, he was and effectively applied combined arms to eradi-
struck down by rifle fire and fell with another Ma- cate resistance at every encounter.
rine. He shielded the wounded Marine with his As his regiment continued detailed clearing
body from hand grenade fragments and then re- in zone, Colonel Shupp personally crossed the
fused evacuation until all other Marines had been south bridge over the Euphrates on 15 November,
removed. He shouted encouragement to all con- officially opening it for military traffic only. Navy
cerned as more Marines cleared the house. Inside Seabees assessed the north bridge as being in
the house, Corporal Robert J. Mitchell, Jr. leading good condition and it opened shortly thereafter.
the squad Kasal had joined, charged through rifle The next day, shortly after noon the 3d Battalion,
fire and grenades to reach a critically wounded 1st Marines reported that its sweep of the south
Marine and begin first aid treatment. His covering bridge with dogs and explosives ordnance devices
fire permitted a corpsman to join him, and he was disposal teams had located six improvised explo-
then hit while recrossing the lower room to assist sive devices. The removal of these came just be-
other casualties. At close quarters, he killed an in- fore the symbolic crossing of the bridge by Gen-
surgent with his combat knife and then turned to eral Casey, accompanied by Colonel Shupp, led
assist in the evacuation of the wounded. After the by Lieutenant Colonel Willard Buhl, commanding
wounded had been evacuated, a Marine threw a 3d Battalion, 1st Marines.
satchel charge, which brought the house down On the eastern side of Fallujah, Colonel Tuck-
and finished the last insurgent resistors. er resumed his advance with the Army’s 2d Bat-
At the end of 12 November, Colonel Shupp talion, 2d Infantry pushing armor south of Route
signaled that RCT-1 had completed its initial as- 10 at 1900 hours, 11 November operating as be-
sault through the west side of Fallujah: fore along the eastern fringes of Fallujah with 1st
Battalion, 8th Marines further to the west in the
The soldiers of 2-7 [Cavalry] demon- zone. The Marine battalion crossed Route 10 in
strated extraordinary courage in the face the attack at 1500 hours with two companies on
of the enemy. Their firepower and can-do line, tanks in the lead, and assault amphibious ve-

hicles following in trace. Here they encountered rines by platoon back to base camps for 24-hour
their heaviest resistance in Operation Phantom rest periods beginning on 29 November. The 2d
Fury. As the Marines crossed the highway, insur- Squadron, 7th Cavalry completed its withdrawal
gents opened up with automatic gunfire and anti- to Camp Fallujah on 23 November. Continuing
tank rockets. In three hours of fighting both com- discoveries of arms caches plagued the operation
panies battled their way 250 meters to the south in its final weeks, creating security problems
and stopped in some buildings at dusk. They ad- and also permitting renewed attacks in the city by
vanced another 250 meters under the cover of surviving insurgents. The total number of caches
darkness beginning at 0001 hours on 12 Novem- uncovered in the city reached 370 at the end of
ber without incident and again set into defensive the month.
positions. Iraqi troops joined later in the morning Throughout the last weeks of November and
and cleared a mosque with no resistance. At 1800 the first two weeks of December, the 4th Civil Af-
hours, another move south and west under the fairs Group staff worked with a variety of higher
cover of darkness brought the lead companies of commands and the Interim Iraqi Government to
the battalion to the vicinity of the 2d Squadron, develop a return and reconstruction plan for the
7th Cavalry screen of RCT-1 without incident. city that would allow its residents to return to
Although the Army mechanized task force en- their homes but, at the same time, preclude insur-
countered some heavy resistance in the southeast gents from returning to the city. A new scheme
corner of Fallujah, Colonel Tucker’s regiment ef- of internal movement control came into practice,
fectively switched from its attack phase on 15 No- making use of biometric identification technol-
vember and commenced mopping up in the inte- ogy, a variety of scanners, and a new series of
rior of the city. movement control points. The repair of the city’s
Combat operations did not cease with the oc- water system, sewage capacity, and electrical grid
cupation of the city, however, and die-hard pock- was accomplished as the over 200,000 residents
ets of resistance continued even as most insur- of Fallujah began to return and restore the city to
gents sought to flee the city. The reports of the two some sense of normalcy. The I MEF staff created
assault regiments for 20 November showed each an interministerial coordination group, located in
using two Marine infantry battalions in clearing the civil-military operations center, that coordinat-
operations, encountering some defended houses, ed all aspects of Iraqi and Marine stabilization op-
especially in the southern sectors. The Army’s 2d erations in Fallujah.
Battalion, 2d Infantry continued house clearing Without fanfare, the shift from assault to re-
as well, and the cavalry squadron continued oc- covery operations in Operation Phantom Fury/Al
cupying strong points on the boundary between Fajr came on 23 December, the first day that Fal-
the regiments. Of the assault battalions, the Army lujah's inhabitants began to return to the city with
mechanized battalion task force became the first 600 civilians being admitted to the al-Andalus
to depart Fallujah, leaving on 21 November for its District, which was served by the two Euphrates
parent organization.84 bridges. In other respects, the day was little differ-
ent from previous ones as Marine rifle companies
Phase IV Operations in Fallujah
with Iraqi troops attached continued to conduct
(21 November–23 December 2004) security patrols. The 3d Battalion, 5th Marines
No clear-cut end of combat operations and fought 10–15 insurgents in northern Fallujah. Its
beginning of stabilization operations followed Marines employed tanks and air strikes to destroy
the successful assault of the city. The assault bat- the buildings the insurgents occupied. Three Ma-
talions occupied assigned sectors of the city and rines were killed in action and five more suffered
crossed and recrossed them in sweeps and house- wounds. Sergeant Jarrett A. Kraft led three assault
clearing operations, using the attached Iraqi bat- squads on three separate instances to repel in-
talions to the extent that their abilities permitted. surgents and to clear houses. Despite receiving
Colonel Shupp’s RCT-1 reports noted increasing repeated blast effects from grenades and being
efforts at humanitarian assistance and civil-mil- knocked down stairwells, he continued to lead
itary operations in the last third of the month, his Marines with courage and verve. At the same
and Colonel Tucker’s RCT-7 noted the same by time, another squad leader in the same platoon,
27 November and was able to begin rotating Ma- Corporal Jeremiah W. Workman, led his Marines

into several buildings, rescued wounded Marines, ities and identify with the government as
and then personally covered them with his fire their benefactor and hope for the future. We
after receiving fragment wounds in his arms and must destroy any ties to criminal elements
legs. He led his Marines in one more assault be- and seek the assistance of the people. Main-
fore reinforcements arrived to complete the ac- taining security is paramount to enabling all
tion.85 other operations, but it must not consume
The Phase IV (stability operations) plan used our focus.
by I MEF and 1st Marine Division aimed at es-
tablishing competent Iraqi security forces in the As the troops of RCT-1 began to occupy the
city who would require minimal backup by U.S. “secured” eastern half of Fallujah, some surpris-
forces. Civil affairs group teams and detachments es occurred causing some consternation in the
from 1st Force Service Support Group operated regiment. Although combat also continued in the
with every battalion in the Fallujah operation, as- western half, where 3d Battalion, 1st Marines held
sessed damage, and sought to protect infrastruc- security and stabilization responsibilities, most en-
ture wherever possible. In the aftermath of com- gagements and many cache discoveries occurred
bat operations the priorities for Marine command- in the eastern side after 10 December. The 3d
ers in restoring the city’s operation were public Battalion, 5th Marines and 1st Battalion, 3d Ma-
health, public works and utilities (water, food, rines combined to fight and to kill approximate-
electricity, medical), infrastructure (communi- ly 35 insurgents on 12 December using tank fire
cations and transportation), the economic infra- and close air support that delivered four GBU-
structure, emergency services, and finally the re- 12 bombs. Another engagement on the following
evaluation of projects previously begun that might day saw seven bombs dropped and more tank
prove salvageable. During 14–16 December, the fire used to kill five insurgents. After a visit from
Army’s 2d Blackjack Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division the assistant division commander, Brigadier Gen-
departed 1st Marine Division, having transferred eral Joseph F. Dunford, the division was told that
its responsibility for the area outlying Fallujah to more clearing and reclearing operations would
RCT-7. The latter regiment had departed Fallu- be required even as the city was retuned to a
jah city on 10 December, leaving 1st Battalion, more peaceful state.
3d Marines under the tactical control of Colonel As in all combat operations conducted in Iraq,
Shupp’s RCT-1, which now conducted the occu- the civil affairs teams accompanying the assault
pation and stabilization of the city proper. troops included payment teams compensating
Colonel Shupp’s instructions to RCT-1 con- owners for battle damage to property and pay-
veyed the complexity of the change in mission:86 ing death claims to families whose members were
killed during the battle. As soon as feasible, labor
Our operational success depends on and construction contracting would employ local
our efforts in this phase. At no time is the workers and provide basic items (wheelbarrows,
phrase “No better friend, no worse enemy” shovels, etc.) to clear and to repair roads and
more applicable. This phase however, will streets. Humanitarian assistance measures sought
be complicated with no clear beginning and to provide essential services (initially water, food
probably starting as areas of Fallujah are and fuel distribution) to mosques and humanitar-
cleared of enemy activity. Identified forc- ian service centers, operated by Marines of 1st
es must roll into these tasks on the heels Force Service Support Group. Depending upon
of our advance. We must keep the citizens the Iraqi government actions, the civil-military
of Fallujah informed through creative info teams (Marine Corps and U.S. diplomatic) sought
ops that readily offer aid and assistance. to establish once again a civil-military operations
We must reach out to the citizens to reduce center with the local government in the down-
their human suffering and quickly restore town government center capable of coordinating
daily operations. We must introduce the In- military assistance.
terim Iraqi Government as soon as possible The overall stabilization plan culminated in
and steadily transition to their control and the integration of Iraqi security forces into securi-
operations. The citizens must be impressed ty operations to advance to the desired local con-
with the power of Iraq's legitimate author- trol of security (Phase V). This measure consisted

of giving internal security and policing respon- A: Listen, on the streets, it’s just tanks right?
sibility to Iraqis and maintaining U.S. quick re- Nobody on foot . . .
action forces to support subsequent security and B: Yes but you see, a tank is roughly as big
civil military operations.87 as a house . . . You can hit it with a rocket and it
doesn't blow up.
Assessing Operation Phantom
A: What about Jolan?
Fury/Al-Fajr B: War zone.
The second battle of Fallujah defined the ini- A: They said Mujahideen reinforcements
tial I MEF Campaign of 2004–2005. Marines and were arriving.
soldiers fought through the city at close quar- B: Well they haven't arrived yet. There are
ters, frequently engaging in point-blank firefights still Mujahideen in Askeri, only because they re-
and hand-to-hand fighting that consistently van- grouped there from Souq and crossed over the
quished their foes. No enemy tactic or procedure new road. Fallujah is finished. It is the attack of
sufficed to repel the ferocity and effectiveness of all attacks. All the sheikhs have left us and are
squads, teams, and even individual Marines and happily organizing demonstrations and protests
soldiers. Caught in their defensive maze, the in- in other parts.
surgents fought to the death, surrendered, or fled A: How can you say the sheikhs have left?
the city, the latter move becoming increasingly B: They fled with the families from Jolan
difficult as the assault forces cleared the city. and elsewhere. They may still be leaving; they
An exchange monitored between two insur- are still getting families out somehow. Today a
gents demonstrated the overall effect of the battle family of a woman and children had a house fall
in dealing a decisive blow:88 down around them. They got them out and took
A: Where is this shooting? them to Jubeil or somewhere . . .
B: Everywhere. In every area. A: Look, call me if anything develops. I
A: What is it, artillery? don't care what time you call. Try to find A____.
B: Artillery, mortars and tanks everywhere. B: I’ll do what I can. We did burn one
A: Where are you? tank.
B: By the flour mill. A: That’s good at least.
A: They are attacking the flour mill? B: Yes, but if you burn one tank they send
B: Yes, and they are attacking us too. The three more. It's useless.
artillery is destroying us. All of Fallujah is in ruins. A: Two aircraft were brought down. Hang
Not a house is left standing. What can stand? The in there.
tanks come down every street with artillery falling The tactical surprise accomplished at Second
ahead of them. Fallujah ranks as one of several remarkable feats
A: Get out of there! of I MEF and the 1st Marine Division in a highly
B: Where? How? If I go in the streets I get complex battle. The attack disoriented the insur-
shot. If I stay inside I get shelled. And let’s not for- gent defenses at the outset, and they never re-
get the mortars and the aircraft and the snipers! covered their balance. Although the Jolan district
A: But . . . They said the Americans had contained the heart of Fallujah’s insurgency, the
withdrawn! rapid penetration into it forced insurgents from
B: The Americans are everywhere. their positions and prevented a sustained de-
A: They said Nazaal was still safe . . . fense. After the operation Coalition soldiers and
B: Nazaal is a warzone. Marines discovered the majority of safehouses
A: Where is A_____? and other insurgent sanctuaries in the area. In
B: No one knows. the south, specifically in Nazal and Shuhaydah,
A: Try to make it somewhere . . . the assault units found the staunchest defenses,
B: Even if I go in the yard I will be at- including great numbers of prepared defenses,
tacked. such as foxholes, spiderholes, and tunnels inside
A: What about Shuheda? and between fortified houses and insurgent billet-
B: Just bombing there, they have not en- ing areas. Considerable caches of ordnance were
tered yet. found throughout the city.

Table 5-1: Artillery Missions Fired during Second Fallujah Battle
7-8 Nov 8-9 Nov 9-10 Nov 10-11 Nov 11-12 Nov
Call for Fire 47 53 37 35 45
Counter Fire 22 15 10 21 11
12-13 Nov 13-14 Nov 14-15 Nov 15-16 Nov 16-17 Nov
Call for Fire 28 31 24 7 7
Counter Fire 9 8 23 22 4
17-18 Nov 18-19 Nov 19-20 Nov 20-21 Nov 21-22 Nov
Call for Fire 2 1 0 0 0
Counter Fire 10 3 5 4 4

155mm high explosive ammunition expenditure

Expended Daily Avg. Call for Fire Daily Avg. Counterfire
Daily Rate
7–22 Nov Rate, per mission Rate, per mission
5685 379 21.1 11.4

The enemy typically fought in small groups of tering for close air support came to the 10,000–
four to twelve individuals, armed with small arms 12,000 or 11,000–13,000 feet blocks many times
and RPG-type rocket launchers, who generally due to the weather. In the following days, these
chose to fight from inside buildings rather than lower blocks continued in use even when the
out in the streets. Although these groups tended weather was good. Lower altitudes enhanced tar-
to congregate in houses, which were close to one get acquisition by reducing slant range for sen-
another, they fought as individual groups rather sor acquisition and had very limited effect on the
than establishing a mutually supporting series of clearance of artillery fires. Although insurgent an-
positions. Although Marines sustained some casu- tiaircraft missiles were always a concern, the air-
alties from rooftop shootings, most casualties oc- men accepted the risk of low attitude flight need-
curred inside buildings where the enemy waited ed to retain the accuracy demanded in this com-
for assault troops to come to him. These tactics plex environment. Many times fixed-wing aircraft
were probably a result of dominant U.S. firepow- would use the lower block to find or verify the
er on the streets and rooftops. The enemy usually target location and then exit the ring and come in
opened fire on Marines as the latter were enter- at a higher altitude for release of guided bombs.
ing a house or ascending the stairwell. The insur- Several times during the battle multiple aircraft
gents often used rifles and grenades to initiate the in multiple sectors worked on targets both inside
engagements and would usually continue to fight and outside the 5 nautical mile ring.
until killed. Fighting to the death does not mean, The staging of multiple aircraft in the Key-
however, that Marines fought a suicidal enemy. In hole patterns served to maximize the response
many instances, insurgents attempted to escape time and tempo of air support. Often a section of
by throwing down their weapons and either try- aircraft performed target acquisition in the ring
ing to evade U.S. units or approaching them pre- at 16,000–18,000 feet for one assault regiment
tending to be civilians. By all accounts, however, while another aircraft circled at 13,000–15,000
the enemy that Marines encountered in Fallujah feet delivering ordnance for the other regiment.
proved more willing to stand and to fight to the These aircraft shared their space with five to sev-
death than any enemy forces met elsewhere in al- en drones and artillery and mortars while six to
Anbar Province. The insurgents generally did not eight battalions engaged insurgent forces on the
choose to fight at night.89 ground. A thorough knowledge of the plan and
As noteworthy as the ground assault of 1st good situational awareness allowed these opera-
Marine Division and its reinforcements, the em- tions with minimal risks. No friendly fire of any
ployment of the aviation support of the Coali- kind occurred at Second Fallujah as the result of
tion and 3d Aircraft Wing and the various artillery supporting arms fire.
batteries provided precisely delivered supporting Many times rotary wing aircraft flew up to
arms fire. 3,000–4000 feet to avoid the high volume of small
The operating altitudes changed to the poor arms fires and to improve pilot visibility of the
weather plan on D+1. The fixed wing aircraft loi- city. The drone and manned surveillance aircraft

over the city averaged seven at night and four to er three non-battle deaths and five deaths from
five during the day. Although more than antic- wounds received in action.91
ipated, the Keyhole system template accommo- The brunt of these losses fell upon the 1st
dated them well. Marine Division and its attachments.
The employment of Laser Maverick and gun Legend:
attacks required more coordination. The Keyhole 1. KIA: killed in action
template was designed for efficiency and speed, 2. WIA: Wounded in action
and when aircraft used such flat trajectory weap- 3. RTD: Returned to duty
ons the controllers moved the drones and restrict- 4. NBD: non-battle death
ed the maximum elevation of artillery and mortar 5. NBI: non-battle injury
fire. The pilots and forward air controllers modi-
fied the delivery parameters to accomplish the La- Among the immediate results of the second
ser Maverick and gun attacks. While such attacks battle of Fallujah, non-combatants fled the fight-
required more coordination, only minutes were ing in large numbers before the operation, and
required to move the drones and to coordinate many insurgents left the city by hiding in the
other fires. non-combatant populace departing Fallujah. The
During Second Fallujah aviation expended attempts at organizing sympathetic uprisings in
approximately 318 precision bombs, 391 rockets other parts of the province failed. The surviving
and missiles, and 93,000 machine gun or cannon insurgents could only seek to rearm and reorga-
rounds. The artillery consumption demonstrated nize, waiting for a return of civilians to the city.
the relative intensity of the ground fighting dur- In the immediate aftermath, the insurgent opera-
ing the battle:90 tional capacity seemed severely impaired as indi-
The overall Marine Corps casualties for this cated by the notable drop in indirect fire attacks
operation, according to summaries of the Man- on Coalition bases and camps. These indications
power Department, Marine Corps Headquarters, directly encouraged I MEF and high command
totaled 70 Marines killed in action, 651 wound- commanders to set conditions for some form of
ed in action (394 returned to duty), with anoth- exploitation operations.93
Table 5-2: Second Fallujah Battle Casualties 92
Fallujah Assault Force:
HQ RCT-1 5 5
3d Bn, 1st Mar 22 206 123 8
3d Bn, 5th Mar 8 56 39 4
3d LAR Bn 1 36 11 5
HQ RCT-7 15 14 1
1st Bn, 8th Mar 16 102 51 16
1st Bn, 3d Mar 10 79 45 11
Army Units
2d Bn, 2d Inf 5 24 16 1
2d Sqdn, 7th Cav 1 12 5 1
Rest of al-Anbar Province:
2d Bde, 2d Inf Div 9 6 1
2d Bn, 11th Mar 1 1
31st MEU 2 1
2d LAR Bn* 7 5
2d Recon Bn* 1
2d Tk Bn* 3 5 2
2d Asslt Amph Bn* 1 12 7 3
Total 65 582 339 1 54

* present in company strength

Chapter 6: election. During 4–5 December, the Black Watch
Battalion began its return to southern Iraq, hav-
Operations post-Fallujah ing sustained five soldiers killed in action while
serving with I MEF. At that point, all the non-Ma-
The conduct of pursuit operations actually rine Corps reinforcements previously detailed to
began during the last phases of the Second Fallu- I MEF for the Second Fallujah Battle may be con-
jah Battle but continued into January when they sidered as having departed.94
became part of the military operations conducted As 2005 began, priorities for I MEF focused
to support the 30 January elections. A pursuit is upon the 30 January national election, the con-
undertaken when an enemy force has been bro- tinued hunt for and destruction of the insurgents,
ken and no longer can offer effective resistance. the preparation of Iraqi security forces, and the
Main requirement of the pursuing force is speed, return of the civilian populace of Fallujah to its
keeping forces in contact such that fleeing forc- city. The expected arrival of II MEF of course in-
es cannot escape destruction. In the insurgency stilled thoughts of a smooth turnover and depar-
in al-Anbar Province, however, the multi-faceted ture by the sailors and Marines for their home
and numerous enemy factions and elements had stations. For the election to succeed, its security
simply melted into the network of hiding places, and the smooth functioning of the election pro-
sanctuaries, and training areas. Bringing him to cess had to be guaranteed by military authorities
battle under coalition advantage remained as dif- throughout Iraq. Soldiers and Marines carried out
ficult as ever, and making contact proved typi- numerous operations in Areas of Operation Ra-
cally illusive. leigh, Topeka, and Denver, aimed as always at
upsetting insurgent regrouping, destroying arms
Operations outside Fallujah
caches, and where feasible demonstrating sup-
The program of pursuit operations began port for Iraqi security and government entities,
with Operation Plymouth Rock (24–27 Novem- however disparate they might be in their nascent
ber), conducted by 24th MEU in northern Babil state. The border stations with Syria remained
Province. A complicated series of targeted raids closed and Jordanian access limited to authorized
on known and suspected insurgent sites by 1st commercial traffic.
Battalion, 2d Marines were combined with ma- In the eastern part of I MEF’s area of opera-
neuvers by the Black Watch Battalion and 2d Bat- tions (AO) Atlanta, 1st Cavalry Division’s respon-
talion, 24th Marines and Iraqi units in blocking sibilities and the Baghdad political center of gravi-
positions; these raids and maneuvers were in- ty led to the turnover of all of an-Najaf and Karba-
tended to keep the enemy off balance and away la Provinces to Lieutenant General Stadler. Given
from the vital Route 8 linking Baghdad to Kuwait. the number of units already transferred out of the
The two-stage Operation Lightning Bolt (28–30 Fallujah operation, the additional area had to be
November, 3–19 December) saw the 2d Blackjack taken over by Colonel Haslam and his 11th MEU,
Brigade first isolate and clear Amariyah, with the a choice made more logical by that organization’s
Black Watch Battalion blocking from the south, evident success in stabilizing an Najaf since the
and then executing a similar operation on the summer. All the Marine expeditionary units sent
opposite side of Fallujah against Khalidiyah and to Iraq, however, now required relief and return
Karmah, while cooperating with 2d Brigade, 2d to home stations in the very near future.
Infantry Division to clear Saqlawiyah. A second An army brigade would arrive in February
Plymouth Rock operation (22–23 December) re- and relieve both 11th and 24th MEUs of their re-
peated raids in northern Babil Province as 24th sponsibilities in a combined AO South, operating
MEU sought to capitalize on the resulting enemy under the tactical control of the I MEF command-
moves away from the army brigades in area Ra- ing general. For the time being, however, Colonel
leigh. At this last juncture, however, the respon- Johnson’s 24th MEU continued to operate with the
sibility for North Babil and tactical control of the cavalry division, which even took tactical control
24th MEU had already (6 December) moved to of 2d Battalion, 24th Marines on 27 December to
the 1st Cavalry Division, another regional modi- support its operations securing Route 8, while 1st
fication undertaken as the coalition commanders Battalion, 2d Marines continued to cover Taheer
shifted priorities toward Baghdad and the January Firm Base, Eskan Patrol Base, Haswah Police Sta-

tion, and patrols in zone. Only on the first day Although late in energizing activities in al-An-
of February did 24th MEU return to I MEF tacti- bar Province, the Independent Election Commis-
cal control, whence it began relief in place activi- sion of Iraq requested in mid-January that coali-
ties with elements of the arriving 155th Brigade tion military forces provide “life support” (mean-
Combat Team. On 6 February, 1st Battalion, 155th ing shelter and subsistence) at polling centers, the
Infantry and 2d Squadron, 11th Armored Caval- transportation of election materials to the poll-
ry Regiment relieved 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, ing centers, and polling center security by Iraqi
which joined the rest of 24th MEU to Kuwait and security forces onsite with Coalition Forces’ sup-
al-Asad Air Base during 9–11 February. First Bat- port. The Marine commanders, however, had not
talion’s last convoy of ground equipment reached waited for the Independent Election Commission
Kuwait on 18 February. of Iraq and had begun preparations for election
The 2d Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division handed support by surveying and determining the most
over responsibility for Karbala Province to 11th suitable polling sites for several weeks.96
MEU on 22 December, bringing it not only exten- Operationally, the Coalition plan for securing
sive territory but also new Iraqi police and mili- the elections involved controlling borders, secur-
tary units for its Marines to train, to direct, and to ing Baghdad, neutralizing insurgents in selected
mentor. With very little interference from insur- key cities, and supporting the election process.
gents and criminal elements, the 11th MEU ended Dubbed Operation Citadel II, the Coalition mili-
its first campaign in Iraq with major success in tary election support countered insurgent moves
stability operations and in facilitating the election and activities, selected offensive actions against
in Karbala and an-Najaf. On 14 February, Colo- known targets, erected multiple cordons of secu-
nel Haslam transferred authority of his vast area rity for polling sites, and organized the logistical
to incoming commanders of the 155th Brigade support for the election process.
and the next day his organization joined the de- Marines and sailors of the 1st Force Service
parture movements to Kuwait and local air bases, Support Group and the MEF Engineer Group
with the last ground movement entering Kuwait hardened the polling sites with field fortification
on 17 February. By this point, the newly arrived and highway barrier materials. They also received
15th MEU (Colonel Thomas C. Greenwood) had and transported election polling materials and life
arrived in Kuwait and as of 20 January was the support sets to the polling sites for the polling
Central Command operational reserve.95 workers and the Independent Election Commis-
sion personnel who would train and supervise
Security for the 30 January 2005
the workers’ actions. Most of the workers and
Elections IEC-I personnel came to al-Anbar Province via
The Iraqi elections directly affected the pace C-130 flights of the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing, car-
of operations in area Atlanta, as well as the ef- rying some 2,300 of these passengers between
forts to plan and to conduct the repopulation of 26–29 January.97
Fallujah, and it was hoped that the displaced in- At Fallujah, units of RCT-1 cooperated with
habitants could return in time to participate in Iraqi security forces and provided outer cordon
the elections, at the same time they received hu- security for polling centers. Citywide, they en-
manitarian relief and began the reconstruction of forced election curfews, continued to operate the
their city. entry checkpoints, and continued humanitarian
The efforts of RCT-1 Marines and sailors pro- assistance missions. The infantry battalions also
duced one significant benchmark when the con- screened the city perimeter to prevent infiltration
tentious Jolan District opened on 30 December to by insurgents, encountering light enemy contact.
receive Fallujah citizens. The openings of specific A raid conducted on the Peninsula netted 17 men
districts continued until 14 January, when all of suspected of insurgent activity.
them stood open to receive their residents. Civil- In the area surrounding the city, RCT-7 pro-
military operations at this point focused on reset- vided similar security at its polling centers to sup-
tling Fallujah, rendering humanitarian assistance, port the election while enforcing election day re-
and re-establishing Fallujah and al-Anbar Prov- strictions on curfew, driving and carrying weap-
ince’s governance at all levels. ons. Its 2d Reconnaissance Battalion patrolled
Zaidon with the Iraqi 2d Battalion, Muthanna Bri-

Table 6-1: Polling sites established in I MEF area of
gade, during which the troops discovered caches
Operations, January 200599
near Nasser Wa Salaam and Abu Ghraib.
In and around Ramadi, the army 2d Brigade No.
Alt. Polling
enforced curfews, provided the outer cordon MSE Area Polling
at polling sites, and conducted patrols, random Centers
checkpoints, and raids. The insurgents launched 2 BCT Ramadi 10 4
numerous small attacks, several of which targeted Tammin 2 0
polling centers or troops guarding polling cen- Khalidyah 1 1
ters. Marines of 2d Battalion, 5th Marines guard- Habbaniyah 1 1
ed the government center and conducted secu-
RCT-7 Karmah 1 0
rity patrols along Route 10. In western al-Anbar
Nasser Wa Salem 2 3
Province, the battalions of 31st MEU stretched to
RCT-1 Fallujah 3 6
counter insurgent activity in the form of numer-
ous attacks with rockets, mortars, and improvised 31 MEU Hit 1 2

explosive devices. It was during these operations Hadithah 2 1

that a CH-53E crashed 26 January in a sand storm Al Qa’im 1 1
near ar-Rutbar, killing the four-man crew from Trebil 1 0
Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron-361 and the Baghdadi 1 1
26 Marines and a navy corpsman from 1st Battal- Akashat 1 0
ion, 3d Marines. This event remains the deadliest Waleed 1 0
single incident of the entire Iraq war.98
Rutbah 1 0
The bulk of election support actions centered
2/11 Nukhayb 1 0
upon the key cities of Ramadi, Fallujah, Karbala,
Musayib 0 1
and Najaf. But in considering the results of the 30
Ar Ar 0 1
January 2005 election, the ethnic character of the
population was apparent. In the mixed and Shi’a- Total 27 22

dominant provinces of Karbala and Najaf, an es-

timated 90% voter turnout voted at 431 polling crossings reopened and on 2 February, the Iraqi
centers, and women made up more than half of security details returned to their garrisons.100
the voters. In Sunni-dominated al-Anbar Province, The results of the January election became
the Sunni boycott of the election prevailed and known about two weeks later, and the clear win-
only 16,682 voters entered the 49 polling sites. ners emerged among the Shi’ite Islamist “United
The exception came at Fallujah, where 7,679 per- Iraqi Alliance,” the Kurds, and a few secular par-
sons, believed to number one-third to one-half of ties. Sunni Arabs won only 17 national assem-
the eligible voters present, cast their ballots. This bly seats spread over several lists and very few
first of several elections in 2005–2006 created a seats on the provincial assemblies. After the first
275-seat transitional National Assembly, a provin- tumultuous sessions of the national assembly,
cial assembly in each of the 18 provinces, and a a somewhat balanced government formed with
Kurdistan regional assembly. The election system some Sunni representation including the assem-
used proportional representation with voters indi- bly speaker, one of two deputy presidents, one
cating a preference for a list of candidates posted of three deputy prime ministers, and six cabinet
by a specific party or other political entity. ministers. The presidency went to Kurdish leader
Of course, the conduct of a fair and secure Jalal Talabani with Shi’a leader Ibrahim al-Jafari as
election remained the primary objective of the I prime minister.
MEF commanders, and despite the Sunni boycott,
Resettling Fallujah
they met those objectives. The insurgents made
considerable efforts to spoil the events, making 38 Despite U.S. efforts to limit collateral dam-
separate attacks on 16 polling sites during 28–30 age, Fallujah’s residences, mosques, city servic-
January, but no voters were harmed. The Marines es, and businesses all received varying degrees of
and soldiers remained alert after the polls closed damage. The “City of Mosques,” with its over 200
and until all polling workers and their election mosques, perhaps lost 60 of them in the fighting.
materials had left the sites. On 31 January, border An estimated 7,000–10,000 of the approximately

50,000 residences may have been destroyed with December. The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff had ap-
a large portion of the remaining ones damaged. proved the extension of 31st MEU’s deployment
Of the perhaps 200,000–350,000 inhabitants, up in December for another 45 days, but the MEU
to 200,000 may have become displaced persons had to first recover all its units, to move to Ku-
as a result of the two Fallujah battles of 2004. The wait, and to embark in amphibious shipping in
“repopulation” of the city began only after return- time to exit the U.S. Central Command theater by
ees received biometric identification and received 15 March. The turnover came promptly at al-As-
their new identity cards. ad Air Base on 7 February. The 1st Battalion, 3d
Residents of Fallujah continued to return to Marines had returned from Fallujah in later Janu-
the city and evaluate their holdings and life sup- ary and Medium Helicopter Squadron 265 flew its
port means, often departing again to their dis- last combat mission in support of RCT-7 units at
placed persons camps. An increasing number Korean Village in support of Task Force Naha on
gradually remained in the city and sought to re- 7 February, before returning to al-Asad the fol-
establish their lives. Businesses began to reopen, lowing day and rejoining 31st MEU. Colonel Mill-
and the Marines and sailors patrolling the city and er now could begin the retrograde movements
operating the humanitarian assistance sites could of his reunited organization back to Kuwait, us-
sense a sense of purpose. The Iraqis displayed ing both ground convoys and aircraft of 3rd Ma-
an open friendliness toward the Americans, and rine Aircraft Wing. The embarkation on USS Essex
in many cases assisted Marines by showing them (LHD-2) and accompanying ships of Amphibious
hidden weapons caches and unexploded ord- Squadron 11 began on 26 February, and the force
nance. A new newspaper hit the streets in Feb- sailed on 6 March, eventually reaching Okinawa
ruary, and “Al Fajr,” (published by RCT-1) found on 2 April.103
an accepting audience especially because it con- The reconstitution of RCT-7 in AO Denver
tained information on security rules governing during February culminated in the launch of Op-
the city, reconstruction programs, how to make eration River Blitz (20 February–6 March), the
damage claims, and how to obtain medical treat- last major operation of 1st Marine Division be-
ment. On 12 February, Fallujah Traffic Police be- fore its rotation to home bases. Centered in the
gan routine patrols of the city streets.101 western Euphrates River Valley, the operation as-
By 25 February, the pace of resettlement in- signed RCT-7 and the Army 2d Brigade a series
dicated genuine progress. On that single day, al- of counterinsurgency operations against the ma-
most 15,000 civilians entered the city with over jor insurgent sanctuaries and logistical routes to
2,000 vehicles. In addition, 466 contractors and prevent any interference with the pending turn-
1,117 government workers came through the en- over of forces with the 2d Marine Division. The
try control points. By that date, over 87,000 per- staffs of both divisions participated in the plan-
sons had visited the humanitarian assistance sites, ning and execution of River Blitz with 2d Ma-
and 32,546 claims payments totaling over $6.5 mil- rine Division taking over the operation under the
lion had been paid. A shattered city showed signs successor name of Operation River Bridge (10–25
of mending. An estimated 30% of the population March). The transfer of authority between the two
had returned as of the end of March 2005.102 divisions took place on 17 March, and the second
campaign of I MEF in Iraq ended on 27 March. At
Post Election Return to Normal
that point, 307 Marines had died in action in the
Operations in AO Atlanta second campaign, with 3,456 wounded in action.
The increasing stabilization in Fallujah and Added to the 2003 campaign losses, I MEF had
the pending turnover to units of the incoming II sustained 365 killed in action, 3,740 wounded in
Marine Expeditionary Force propelled the rede- action, of which 2,203 had returned to duty. Fur-
ployment of I MEF organizations to their original thermore, there were 90 non-combat deaths and
bases. The departure of RCT-7 for area of op- 145 non-combat injuries in I MEF.104
erations (AO) Denver began on 1 February from In the aftermath of the Fallujah Campaign,
Camp Baharia, with the final turnover of AO Ra- Marines of the outgoing I MEF saw the tide ap-
leigh back to RCT-1 conducted on 5 February. As parently turning against the Iraqi insurgency. The
Colonel Tucker’s immediate task, the relief of 31st operational reporting emphasized the nearing
MEU had to be accomplished rather quickly in

success, and I MEF planning forecasted the pend- walked away from Fallujah. Higher head-
ing establishment of Iraqi regional control.105 quarters got what it wanted . . . .a destroyed
Considerable doubt remained, however, that insurgency in Fallujah or so it would ap-
favorable conditions had been achieved. During pear. They are going to walk away thinking
December, as the Army reinforcements sent to they did their part and the smoldering heap
participate in the Battle of Second Fallujah began of rubble that is Fallujah is going to start
to withdraw from AO Raleigh, Lieutenant Colo- sparking again because higher headquarters
nel Jeffrey R. Chessani, the operations officer of failed to follow though with the resources
RCT-1, sent a poignant memo to his commander, we need to smother the embers. Then they
Colonel Shupp:106 are going to ask us why we let the embers
become a fire again.
I spoke with the [division] G-3 this I sincerely believe . . . our immedi-
evening and he indicated that the chain of ate headquarters is going to contribute to
events that are eventually going to happen snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
is going to happen sooner than we like, but By forcing division to move RCT-7 and 1/8
when we expected it. out of Fallujah before the conditions are
The G-3 indicated that Blackjack Bri- right, Multinational Force-Iraq will in effect
gade would be folding up shop and head- contribute directly to the destabilization of a
ing out on 15 Dec, which means there will situation that is currently under control. I am
be a relief in place beginning on or about not sure they have even thought about let
12 Dec between RCT-7 and Blackjack Bri- alone considered the 2nd, 3rd and 4th order
gade. RCT-7 will take 1/8 [1st Battalion, 8th effects of simply moving Blackjack Brigade
Marines] out of the city with them to relieve out of area Raleigh. This is not a hard one
Blackjack Brigade. RCT-7 will have 1/8 and to read, but they seem to be missing the
2nd Recon Bn to run area Raleigh. As you effects and the situation they will create by
know 1/8 and 3/1 are slated to go home re-deploying the Blackjack Brigade.
on time and currently have a latest available
date of 13 January. If they were to execute In large part, the first stabilization campaign
this, 3/1 would need to leave Fallujah in of I MEF ended with the recapture of Fallujah with
December so they could embark and pre- a large number of local insurgent fighters killed
pare for redeployment. Exactly when would and the defeat of an apparently surging Sunni re-
be up to you. However, their initial cut for bellion. The level of destruction achieved in the
being relieved in place is 15 Dec. Not sure Fallujah battles, however, almost prohibited any
they need an entire month to get ready to repetition of the same level of combat destruc-
redeploy. It can be done in less time. tion by the Iraqi-U.S. leadership. The costs and
. . . But why would higher headquar- efforts required to repopulate and rebuild the city
ters want to create a vacuum like this after would in fact tie down enormous resources when
successfully crushing an insurgency that has the rest of al-Anbar Province remained outside of
been a thorn for more than a year? I un- true coalition control. The battle did not engage
derstand there are other fish to fry in Iraq, the insurgents decisively, for their leadership and
that we are not the only show. What I do many non-local insurgents had likely fled before
not understand is why higher headquarters the November assault, leaving mostly local mili-
would not want to ensure there was some tants behind. Much work remained, therefore, for
semblance of stability in Fallujah before they the incoming II Marine Expeditionary Force.

Part II: Protecting the New Iraqi State
Chapter 7: would remain under the operational control of
the Commander, Multinational Corps-Iraq, who
The Mission Continues also took the responsibility to equip, to train, and
to mentor them in the field. Regardless to the out-
Planning by Headquarters Marine Corps for come of these ambitious plans for Iraq’s future,
a new series of deployments replacing I MEF in the Multinational Force-Iraq staff forecast that a
2005 began the previous summer as it realized force totaling 17 U.S. or Coalition brigades would
that U.S. forces would continue their efforts to be required to meet the security mission for the
establish security and to assist the evolution of ensuing 12 to18 months.107
a free Iraqi national government. In wake of the The Multinational Corps-Iraq staff also under-
First Fallujah Battle and the parallel al-Sadr ris- took a new campaign plan because the scope of
ing in April, the transition to Iraqi sovereignty on the existing one had extended only to the tran-
28 June 2004 took on a rather hollow ceremo- sition to Iraqi sovereignty. Thus, effective from
nial character. The equally symbolic raising of that point, the new mission called for “full spec-
the American flag over the new U.S. Embassy in trum counter-insurgency operations in support of
Baghdad by Marines marking the first time the the Interim Government, and in partnership with
American flag has flown there in 13 years, did the Iraqi security Forces, to provide a safe and
herald some significant changes in U.S. policies secure environment; enabling the functioning of
and plans for the future. legitimate governance and allowing the restora-
The U.S. led Coalition Provisional Authority tion and development of Essential Services and
dissolved itself and legal authority devolved upon the Economy; to assist Iraq in rebuilding itself as
the appointed Iraqi Interim Government, with the a stable and responsible sovereign state and to
United States and Coalition forces operating un- permit the redeployment of Coalition Forces.”108
der the “all necessary measures” language of the In the aftermath of these policy determina-
U.N. Security Council resolutions that identified tions, the Commandant, General Hagee, promul-
the state of conflict existing in Iraq and the need gated his guidance for the relief deployment, ten-
for the Multinational Force to conduct opera- tatively termed “Operation Iraqi Freedom III” by
tions and to detain individuals to help establish the Joint Chiefs of Staff in early July. Based upon
a secure environment.The Multinational Force- initial planning conducted since the requirement
Iraq, commanded by General George Casey, U.S. had first been identified in February 2004, the
Army, replaced Combined Joint Task Force 7 as Commandant published the task organization
the highest military command in the country un- agreed to by mid-summer:
der the control of the Combatant Commander at
U.S. Central Command. In a much-needed orga- II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward)
nizational improvement, Multinational Corps-Iraq, 2d Marine Division
first commanded by Lieutenant General Thomas RCT-8–three infantry battalions, a company
F. Metz, U.S. Army, assumed the operational as- each of light armored reconnaissance, tanks, as-
pects of the campaign. sault amphibious vehicles, artillery and combat
The planned Iraqi Transitional Government engineers.
would succeed the Interim Government after RCT-5–three infantry battalions, a compa-
elections leading to the establishment of a na- ny each of light armored reconnaissance, tanks,
tional assembly, all to occur by 30 January 2005. assault amphibious vehicles, and combat engi-
Iraqi government ministries already bore the re- neers.
sponsibility for governing at regional and local 2d Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward)
level as well as the administration and control Marine Aircraft Group 26–three light attack,
of Iraqi security forces. The U.S. forces in Iraq three medium transport and two heavy helicopter
would no longer control the pay and formation of squadrons, plus one fighter or attack squadron
these security forces. For the foreseeable future, and an aerial refueler detachment.
the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and new Iraqi Army

Ground support units and a squadron of un- As the provincial capital Ramadi will
manned aerial vehicles. be the focus of Anti-Iraqi Forces attacks,
2d Force Service Support Group Anti-Coalition Forces will continue stand-
Six support battalions of various types off attacks, assassinations and coercion of
(The detailed, final task organization appears IIG leaders, Coalition Forces and perceived
in Appendix G) collaborators in an attempt to disrupt elec-
As with the previous guidance given for the tion preparations and de-legitimize the Iraqi
deployment of I MEF, the plan included the au- Interim Government. Anti-Coalition Forces
thority to draw upon normally scheduled deploy- may increase the level of attacks or attempt
ments of ground and aviation units of III MEF a “spectacular” attack prior to the elections
on Okinawa. Planning anticipated the continu- to prevent popular support of the Iraqi In-
ing assignment of an Army brigade to the force, terim Government and promote instability
with the required capability of supporting an ad- throughout the area of operations. There
ditional Army brigade for surge operations. The are indications that the rift between com-
secretary of defense approved the planning on 21 peting agendas of different Anti-Coalition
June. Because the new Multinational Corps-Iraq Forces is widening and Coalition Forces in-
organization placed a lieutenant general in over- formation operations may be able to exploit
all command of the forces, a major general would it. Developing credible Iraqi security forces
now head the Marine Corps contingent. Consid- and performing successful civil military op-
erable thought was given to assigning the com- erations will help win the information op-
manding general, 2d Marine Division to a dual erations war during this pivotal period. The
position as the commander of II MEF (Forward), potential for violence hinges on success or
but in the end the force structure included sepa- failure of these efforts.110
rate commanders and staffs. Marine Corps doc-
trine prevailed amid the inevitable bureaucratic The two regiments of Major General Richard
infighting in the Iraq military command structure, A. Huck’s 2d Marine Division brought six infan-
and Major General Stephen T. Johnson, the dep- try, one reconnaissance, and one LAR battalion
uty II MEF commander, led the new contingent to Iraq, thus lacking two infantry battalions and
relieving Lieutenant General Sattler’s I MEF orga- a provisional military police battalion that 1st Ma-
nization.109 rine Division had brought a year earlier. In the-
The assignment of 5th Marines with only ory, the more robust Iraqi security forces now
three battalions from the 1st Marine Division in present in the province compensated for such a
the June force plan did not survive long, prob- shortfall in ground combat power, but that Iraqi
ably reflecting uncertainties in the readiness of security presence had proven illusory in 2004 and
2d Marine Division forces to handle all compet- remained to be proven in 2005.
ing global requirements. By August, however, the Though the deployment of II MEF varied con-
2d Marines had been selected as the second RCT siderably from I MEF, there was wide agreement
headquarters in the task organization, assigned on the exchange of equipment and like Marine
only two infantry battalions normally assigned to Corps units replaced each other in all cases. For
the 1st Marine Division. the renamed “Operation Iraqi Freedom 04-06.1” (a
The staff officers of II MEF and subordinate new Joint Chiefs of Staff jargon reflecting the fiscal
commands developed the details of the deploy- year and sequencing of the deployment) strategic
ment including the final organization and the deployment by II MEF, little sealift took part al-
identity of almost all units during August and Sep- though the presence of prepositioned shipping in
tember. Given the ongoing campaign of the two Kuwait ports served to provide fresh ground and
Fallujah battles then being waged by I MEF, the aviation support equipment as required. A sin-
studies and planning ranged widely. gle roll-on, roll-off ship, USNS Cape Hudson, sup-
Unlike the situation facing I MEF in the fall ported the II MEF movement. The scheduled air
of 2003, no illusion existed as to the security situ- transport movements of civilian charter and mili-
ation II MEF was about to enter. The initial as- tary aircraft moved the over 22,000 Marines and
sessment of AO Atlanta highlighted the persistent sailors of II MEF in approximately eleven weeks
unrest. during the period 9 January-30 March. This com-

Table 7-1:Typical Monthly Aircraft Usage Data, early 2005114
Type Avg. Missions Flown, each Normal Planning Utilization*
AH-1W 36.6 18.3
UH-1N 41.6 18.8
CH-46E 46.9 18.2
CH-53E 40.3 17.6
KC-130 53.3 36.9
FA-18D 85.8 30.8
AV-8B 59.2 23.2
EA-6B 57.6 29.9
* Weapons Systems Planning Document (WSPD) Standard

paratively unforced pace of the relief of I MEF by of deterioration first. The 2d Assault Amphibian
II MEF permitted sequential reliefs of battalions in Battalion dispatched a team of 90 Marines to Fal-
key areas such as Fallujah and AO Topeka first in lujah in early January 2005 as a “reconstitution
the cycle. It also allowed for a generous overlap detachment” built around the battalion’s A Com-
in forces such that no vulnerability could develop pany. A six-week effort refurbished or replaced
before the transfer of authority taking place. For a total of 84 AAV7A1 series vehicles, including
instance the percentage of I MEF departures to II 42 vehicles brought from Camp Lejeune. After six
MEF arrivals on 10 February stood at 11:26 on 24 weeks, the equipment in the hands of I MEF with
February 24:55, and by 8 March 45 percent of I few exceptions showed readiness in the 80–95
MEF personnel had departed while 75 percent of percent range. An equivalent effort in the follow-
the II MEF manpower had arrived.111 ing month swapped the tanks and tank recovery
One difference in the deployment of II MEF vehicles of the two tank companies with vehi-
compared to I MEF was the much-abbreviated cles drawn from the maritime prepositioned ship-
Reception, Staging, Onward movement, and In- ping.113
tegration of forces phase, which proved mostly Aviation also suffered from heavy use, and
unnecessary because of the predeployment train- serious concerns surfaced in particular with the
ing of II MEF forces in the United States and the readiness of light attack and heavy lift helicopters.
convenience of relieving like forces in theater. The entire aviation complement of I MEF had op-
For example, 3d Battalion, 25th Marines of the erated consistently at high tempo, as shown in
Marine Corps Reserve 4th Marine Division mo- the typical 30-day cycle ending on 9 March (see
bilized at eight home stations in January and de- table 7-1).
ployed to the Air-Ground Training Center, Twen- One particular aspect of materiel readiness
ty-nine Palms, California on 10 January, where troubled II MEF considerably less than its prede-
it conducted combat training through the end of cessor. The various armor enhancement programs
the month. In February, the battalion completed for the wheeled tactical vehicle fleet operated in
its combined arms exercise and conducted a sta- Iraq had reached fruition by February 2005. The
bility and security operations exercise at March Maintenance Center, Marine Corps Logistics Com-
Air Force Base, California. On 19 February its ad- mand, Albany, Georgia had served as the primary
vance party departed for Iraq, and the remain- producer of Marine Corps armor for the program,
der of the battalion flew on 1 March to Kuwait, both in the form of kits and armor plates. This
spending only a day there to change mode of effort included fabrication of the 3/16-inch and
transport to C-130 aircraft for the final arrival at al- 3/8-inch plates for the Marine armor kit as well as
Asad Air Base. It conducted a transfer of authority an explosive resistant coating processes. Later in
with 1st Battalion, 23d Marines on 15 March.112 the year, the equivalent facility at Barstow, Cali-
Some equipment concerns in Iraq had be- fornia became an armor producer. Additional ar-
gun to surface before the arrival of II MEF. The mor components for undercarriage, tailgate, back
high usage rate for ground vehicles and aircraft plates, and gunner’s shields also entered produc-
of all types in just months was the equivalent of tion during 2004. In that year, the Logistics Com-
years of peacetime use. Almost predictably, the mand processed some 5,000 tons of steel to pro-
tracked armored fighting vehicles showed signs

Table 7-2:Tactical Vehicles operated by Marine Corps Forces in Iraq (February 2005) 116

Level 1 UAH Level 2 AOA “Level 3 “Hardening” No Protection Total

On Base Off Base

HMMWV 364 2683 12 196 0 3255

MTVR 0 940 0 31 0 971

LVS 0 236 0 0 0 236

5 Ton 0 179 8 0 187

TOTAL 364 4038 12 235 0 4649

Note: UAH: Up-Armored HMMWV, a new production item (M1114) AOA: Add-on Armor, armor kits, installed
in theater. “Hardening”: expedient or improvised attachment of plating.

duce armor for 5,000 vehicles, including 1,000 de- rifle company to the security force assigned to
livered to the Army.115 al-Asad Air Base. The remaining attachments clus-
The next objective was upgrading the force tered with the RCT-2 headquarters at al-Asad Air
with uparmored Humvees and armor kit Hum- Base for operations as required in AO Denver: 1st
vees and fitting all seven-ton trucks with their spe- Force Reconnaissance Company; Company A, 2d
cific armor systems. The Albany armor installation Tank Battalion; Company A, 4th Combat Engineer
team arriving at Camp Taqaddum in late February Battalion; and Company A, 4th Assault Amphib-
was ordered to begin installation in March, build- ian Battalion.118
ing to a capacity of 200 units per month. The par- Units of RCT-2 then continued its tasks under
allel seven-ton truck armor installation began in Operation River Bridge. This operation remained
May at 40 per month. By 30 April, II MEF reported focused on interdicting insurgent logistal routes
the processing of 276 Humvees by the Marine Ar- east of the Euphrates River between Hit and Ha-
mor Installation Site.117 ditha. Tactics included small unit raids, vehicle
checkpoints, cordon and knock, and cordon and
Initial Employment of II MEF
search. In addition, specialized teams conducted
Colonel Stephen W. Davis, commanding RCT- raids in search of high value individuals to kill
2, deployed his three battalions to Iraq during 24 or capture insurgent leadership. The regiment’s
February–1 March from Camp Lejeune. He con- main effort centered on Task Force 3d Battal-
ducted his relief with RCT-7 by a planned opera- ion, 25th Marines operating in Hit and along the
tion in area of operations (AO) Denver. From 10– Hit-Haditha corridor with direct support from 1st
17 March, RCT-7, followed by RCT-2 from 17–25 Force Reconnaissance Company. The other bat-
March, conducted Operation River Bridge, com- talions conducted tasks in their zones, contribut-
prising of interdiction operations to disrupt and to ing as well to the operation.
defeat enemy elements that might endanger the Although RCT-8, commanded by Colonel
relief as well as countering enemy infiltration in Charles M. Gurganus, conducted its transfer of
the area. On 17 March, RCT-2 effected its transfer authority with RCT-1 slightly later than did RCT-
of authority at al-Asad Air Base. As an indicator of 2, two of its battalions had deployed consider-
the new look hoped for in future operations, the ably earlier in the II MEF deployment schedule to
battalion commander of the 503d Iraqi National relieve battalions covering Fallujah, where they
Guard Battalion, operating out of Camp Hit, at- operated under RCT-1 until the transfer of author-
tended the ceremony. During this phase, 3d Bat- ity. The 3d Battalion, 8th Marines departed home
talion, 2d Marines replaced 1st Battalion, 7th Ma- station 14 January and relieved 1st Battalion, 8th
rines at al-Qaim, and 3d Battalion, 25th Marines Marines in a transfer of authority at Fallujah on 20
relieved 1st Battalion, 23d Marines at Hit, and Ha- January. The battalion immediately commenced
ditha. The 2d LAR Battalion operated initially with its operations in support of Operation Citadel II,
two line companies and K Battery, 3d Battalion, the Iraqi elections. It provided security of poll-
10th Marines attached as a provisional rifle com- ing sites as well as participating in training and
pany as it relieved 3d LAR Battalion at Camp Ko- integrating Iraqi forces into the operation. On 30
rean Village. Each infantry battalion gave up a January, the 3d Battalion, 8th Marines had 11 Ma-

rines wounded in a rocket launcher attack on an clear main supply roads of improvised explosives
observation post just south of Al Karmah, a pre- and other threats. Marines of 3d Battalion, 4th
cursor to what awaited the rest of the II MEF forc- Marines routinely screened Iraqi civilians, govern-
es.119 ment officials, and contractors entering the city
From its California base, 3d Battalion, 4th at entry control points 1, 4, 5, and 6. Elements of
Marines departed on 9 January and moved into 1st Battalion, 6th Marines conducted equivalent
Camp Abu Ghraib on 17 January, conducting its searches at entry control points 2 and 3. RCT-8
transfer of authority with 1st Battalion, 3d Marines and the 5th Civil Affairs Group also worked to
on 20 January. Thus began the third deployment improve the quality of life for the Fallujans and
to Operation Iraqi Freedom for 3d Battalion, 4th the inhabitants of the surrounding areas. The reg-
Marines coming only five months after the bat- iment experienced its first coordinated attack on
talion returned from Iraq and the First Fallujah 2 April, when the Abu Ghraib prison received an
Battle. The battalion assumed responsibility for indirect fire and small arms insurgent attack.121
the southern half of Fallujah. In addition, the bat- Brigadier General Robert E. Milstead’s 2d
talion took responsibility for operating entry con- Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) replaced the 3d
trol point 1, the primary entrance route into the Wing elements in detail, sending a light attack
city of Fallujah for contractors, government of- helicopter squadron detachment to al-Qaim; an-
ficials, and vehicles carrying cattle and produce. other detachment to Korean Village; and a light
The battalion also relieved Company A, 2d LAR attack helicopter squadron, a medium helicop-
Battalion on 13 February and assumed responsi- ter squadron, and most of the unmanned aerial
bility for the battle space west of Fallujah, known vehicles (UAVs) to al-Taqaddum. At al-Asad Air
as the Peninsula.120 Base, Colonel Thomas M. Murray, commanding
The remainder of RCT-8 mostly deployed Marine Aircraft Group 26, exercised control over
with the main body of II MEF from its bases dur- all aircraft squadrons at al-Asad Air Base, includ-
ing 5–15 March. It immediately began relief with ing the second light attack, two more medium,
RCT-1 until assuming responsibility for AO Ra- and one heavy helicopter squadrons, as well as
leigh on 21 March, with a final transfer of author- one squadron of F-18D Hornets, one of AV-8B
ity on 27 March. The leading battalions already in Harriers and another of EA-6B Prowlers fixed-
place, Colonel Gurganus assigned 2d Reconnais- wing aircraft. The usual aerial refueler squadron
sance Battalion to the Zaidon area and 1st Bat- detachment provided logistics support, using the
talion, 6th Marines to Camp Bahariah, east of Fal- KC-130J, a new model now introduced in service.
lujah. An additional battalion deployed with the An Army air ambulance company attached for
regiment, but 1st Battalion, 5th Marines actually casualty evacuations. At Fallujah, the air control
traveled independently from its Camp Pendleton squadron and a detachment of drones supported
home station and simply replaced sister battal- the immediate needs of the II MEF commander.
ion 2d Battalion, 5th Marines at Camp Hurricane The two aircraft wings conducted their transfer of
Point, operating under the Army 2d Brigade task authority on 1 March.
organization and missions on 17 March after an The 2d Force Service Support Group (For-
11-day transfer of authority process. The regi- ward) arrived under the command of Colonel
ment’s combat support attachments settled into John E. Wissler, who was promoted to brigadier
Camp Fallujah before beginning their supporting general in May. The task-organized detachments
missions in AO Raleigh: Battery A, 1st Battalion, deploying from the al-Taqaddum base reflected
10th Marines; Company A, 2d Combat Engineer the new logistics doctrine now well under way in
Battalion; Company B, 2d Tank Battalion; Anti- the Marine Corps. Combat Logistics Regiment 25
Tank Platoon, 2d Tank Battalion; Company B, 2d provided general support to the entire II MEF AO
Assault Amphibian Battalion; and Scout Platoon, Atlanta. Combat Logistics Battalion 2 supported
8th Tank Battalion. the vast AO Denver from Camp al-Asad, while
RCT-8 entered its first full month of opera- Combat Logistics Battalion 8 performed the same
tional control of the area of operations by holding from Camp Fallujah for AO Raleigh, as well as
Fallujah and striving to disrupt insurgent bands Marine Corps needs in area of operations Topeka.
throughout the area of operations. Operation The supporting 22d Naval Construction Regiment
White Feather began on 1 April with a mission to was also based at Camp Fallujah with one of its

battalions, sending the other to ar-Ramadi. The ly elected Iraqi parliament convened for the first
Seabee regiment executed a transfer of authority time.
with the Marine Engineer Group of I MEF on 11 The aviation component of 15th MEU did re-
March, and the two force service support groups port to I MEF tactical control, however, and Me-
transferred authority on the following day. dium Helicopter Squadron 165 operated from al-
Before the II MEF took responsibility for AO Asad Air Base (six AV-8B Harriers) and al-Taqqad-
Atlanta, the odysseys of 11th and 24th MEUs came um (helicopters) bases with the 2d Marine Aircraft
to an end on 14 and 15 February, respectively. The Wing, supporting I and II MEF activities during
new arrival, the Army’s 155th Brigade, also des- the deployment. From its Falcon Base, the rest
ignated an enhanced separate brigade, deployed of Colonel Greenwood’s command, especially 1st
from Mississippi and other home stations and Battalion, 1st Marines commanded by Lieutenant
took responsibility for the norther Babil, Karbala, Colonel David J. Furness, worked for Army com-
and an-Najaf Provinces, now call AO Biloxi. Un- manders while conducting mechanized patrols on
like the previous command relationships, where national route 8, counter-rocket and counter-mor-
Army brigades were under the operational con- tar sweeps, and the usual range of security patrols
trol of the deployed Marine division, the 155th and cordon operations in its sector. The MEU Ser-
Brigade was under the tactical control of the com- vice Support Group 15, under Lieutenant Colo-
manding general, I MEF, with the commanding nel Jay L. Hatton, provided the usual logistical
general, Multinational Corps-Iraq, retaining oper- support for all MEU operations from Falcon and
ational control. Although this arrangement spared carried out six humanitarian assistance operations
the 1st and 2d Marine Division commanders the at villages in the 15th MEU area. In addition, the
additional operational responsibilities, the MEF MSSG-15 Marines conducted a number of security
commanders and staffs had to work out the op- missions to complement the efforts of the infantry
erating relationships, with special attention to air battalion, including route security patrols, secu-
support and logistics responsibilities yet to be rity for raids, and vehicle check points. For these
specified. With a battalion each of motorized in- missions, the Army Multinational Command-Iraq
fantry, armor, armored cavalry, combat engineers, issued 15th MEU a large number of uparmored
and field artillery, the 155th, under Colonel (later Humvees with radios and a few Blue Force Track-
Brigadier General) Augustus L. Collins, proved a er devices to perform these missions and to in-
capable partner in the campaign, operating under terface adequately with the Army command and
the tactical direction of the II MEF commander.122 control systems. After participating in Army di-
Almost unnoticed in the shuffling of the forc- rected Operations River Sweep, Iron Fist, Warn-
es, the 15th MEU (SOC) operated in Iraq during ing Track, and Strong Will, 15th MEU returned
the period 11 March–7 April, but only partially to Kuwait after turning over its responsibilities to
with the I or II MEF. Colonel Thomas C. Green- 3d Squadron, 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment on 6
wood reported this organization for duty as the April, then departing the theater on 22 April.123
new Central Command theater reserve on 23 Jan- The 2d Marine Division executed its trans-
uary, having conducted humanitarian operations fer of authority with 1st Marine Division on 17
in Sumatra and Sri Lanka for two weeks while en March, even as subordinate elements continued
route from the United States. After a period of their own reliefs. Such was the advantage of hav-
combat training in Kuwait, the 15th MEU moved ing major formations of the same service at hand,
to the southeastern edge of Baghdad, and on 11 each containing units of the two U.S.-based Ma-
March occupied Forward Operating Base Falcon, rine divisions. II MEF, however, conducted its
the former base of the 5th Brigade, 1st Cavalry transfer of authority on 27 March, which included
Division. Now under the tactical control of the standing up as Multinational Force-West. Howev-
3d Infantry Division, the Marines and sailors of er, II MEF units continued to flow into theater
the 15th MEU secured a portion of northern Babil until by months’ end—22,630 Marines and sail-
province until the later arrival of the 3d Armored ors of II MEF were in Iraq with 10,599 Army and
Cavalry Regiment the following month. The 15th Navy personnel attached with various units. Ma-
MEU Marines stopped insurgent mortar and rock- rine Corps forces in Iraq totaled 30,887, including
et attacks into the city from the south as the new- 5,699 personnel of I MEF awaiting redeployment.
At this point 12,997 Marine and Navy reservists

of the Marine Corps Reserve were on active duty some 52,010 Marine Corps and Navy personnel
Marine Corps-wide, of whom 92.5 percent served during 10 January–4 April 2005. This effort repre-
in operating forces with 43 percent serving in sented a significant level of achievement for Ma-
Iraq. rine Corps operations but remained somewhat
The relief operation by the two Marine Ex- obscured by what was likely the largest troop ro-
peditionary Forces required 325 inter-theater and tation in U.S. military history.124
1,059 intra-theater airlift missions to transport

Chapter 8: of Fallujah as Multinational Force make cur-
rent safe havens untenable. Key insurgent
Into the Fray leaders may flee.125

Reflecting the overall U.S. strategy in the In the far west, RCT-7 conducted its own con-
spring of 2005, when the Army conducted its an- tinuation of the division’s program with its own
nual major turnover of forces in Iraq, the I MEF Operation River Bridge (10–17 March), continued
and II MEF forces conducted a series of major by RCT-2 through 25 March. It consisted of in-
operations intended to disrupt and damage in- terdiction operations in area of operations (AO)
surgent cells and to prevent any advantage they Denver to disrupt and to defeat insurgent ele-
might seek during the transitioning from experi- ments, prevent infiltration of terrorist bands into
enced to newly arrived units. In al-Anbar Prov- Mosul and Ramadi, and to prevent enemy inter-
ince, these operations differed little from most ference with the relief by RCT-2.
other major efforts mounted against insurgent en- Operation River Bridge focused upon inter-
claves and operating areas. The obvious opportu- dicting insurgent logistical routes east of the Eu-
nity that the transfer of authority period present- phrates River between Hit and Haditha. In Ha-
ed the enemy to make an attempt at significantly ditha, Company L, 3d Battalion, 25th Marines en-
damaging to the U.S. and Coalition troops and gaged insurgents, killing four by an aircraft deliv-
discrediting their mission objectives made stop- ering a GBU-38 500 pound bomb. In Haditha and
ping any enemy actions affecting or occurring Hit, the 3d Battalion, 25th Marines operated with
during this period imperative. tank and assault amphibian support and the as-
The 1st Marine Division’s Operation River sistance of Iraqi National Guard troops.
Blitz (20 February–5 March) began the series of As a result of Operations River Blitz and River
offensive actions as II MEF forces began to ar- Bridge, the enemy was not able to disrupt or to
rive. Typically, it served as an overall directive capitalize on the transfer of authority. Some in-
for actions by subordinate commands to conduct telligence reporting indicated that the enemy did
the actions required to stop insurgent moves and not know or suspect that a relief had occurred
deployments, accounting for local conditions and until it was completed. Further, the detention of
views of local commanders. nine insurgent leaders or facilitators and the kill-
General Natonski estimated likely results at ing of two more significantly decreased insurgent
the outset: activity throughout AO Denver, and especially in
the Hit-Haditha corridor. The intelligence ana-
Operations at both ends of the Husay- lysts suspected that insurgent higher-level leaders
bah-Baghdad corridor preceded initiation of moved to alternate sanctuaries such as Rawah,
operation “River Blitz.” We assess that the Tikrit, and Mosul.
insurgents may perceive the [operations] to A more routine event took place shortly there-
the north in Rawah and RCT-1’s raids in Kar- after with yet another transfer of a commercial
mah and entry control pointss [established] generator for the Mosul power grid from Jordan.
around Nasser Wa Salem and Shahabi as Dubbed Operation Terrapin III (22–31 March),
part of Multinational Force’s overall opera- the convoying of another “Mother of all Genera-
tion. As yet, there is no reporting suggesting tors” through AO Denver occupied RCT-2 until it
that insurgents are fleeing; they are waiting transferred the generator to the 42d Infantry Di-
to determine the scope and duration of Mul- vision across the Euphrates for continued move-
tinational Force operations. The formal re- ment to Mosul. Elements of 2d LAR Battalion and
lease in the media headlining “River Blitz” 224th Engineer Battalion escorted the convoy
will further amplify the scale of the opera- without incident.
tion in insurgents’ eyes. Arabic media agen- In a special effort against saboteurs, 1st Force
cies are providing sensationalized coverage; Reconnaissance Company and 3d Battalion, 25th
al Jazeera news carried a headline of troops Marines conducted Operation Nightstalker I. The
“flooding” into Ramadi. Insurgents will be- first in a nearly continuous series of operations to
gin to flow toward gaps around Lake Thar kill insurgents placing mines and explosive de-
Thar, Akashat, and the Salafist seam south vices on the main supply and auxiliary supply

routes, the operation saw units deploying sniper ation Matador (8–14 May), he sought to sweep
teams and directing precision fires. This first op- enemy sanctuaries north of the Euphrates. With
eration focused on known areas of interest in the only three battalions at his disposal in the vast AO
Hit-Haditha corridor. Denver, he could concentrate forces only at the
expense of drawing down security in the more
Maintaining the Momentum
populated areas, which also tended to be the in-
Operation Outer Banks (1 April–4May) fell surgent objective areas. The key element in Mata-
under the umbrella of 2d Marine Division. Op- dor, therefore, consisted of a very rapid assem-
eration Patriot Shield, covering April–May 2005, bly of designated units from the three battalions
consisted of a series of tactical actions clearing and an immediate maneuver through the objec-
towns that had not seen Coalition forces for sev- tive area, using AAV and helicopter mobility as
eral months in the Hit-Haditha corridor. These lo- available.
cations included Barwanah, Baghdadi, Abu Hyat, The enemy had attacked Camp Gannon the
Muhamadi, Kubaysah, the three train stations in previous month in an unusually brazen coordi-
the Hit-Haditha corridor, and Haqlaniyah. Ma- nated attack. Located on the Iraqi-Syrian border,
rines encountered a few minor small arms en- Camp Gannon occupies an abandoned warehouse
gagements, the ever present mine, improvised ex- complex on the northwest corner of the border
plosive devices and indirect fire attacks, and con- town of Husbayah. Considered the “mouth” of
fiscated several small caches of weapons. Com- the insurgent logistical routes leading to Bagh-
manders estimated that the limited contact and dad and points north, the Marine Corps presence
low resistance to Coalition force moves confirmed there continued to attract attention.
that the insurgents had not found alternate sanc- Beginning at 0815, 11 April, insurgents fired
tuary in lesser population centers but simply had mortars and launched three suicide vehicle
“gone to ground” in the major population centers bombs. They tried to pin down the camp guard
or displaced out of AO Denver. Sniper teams of with mortar and rocket fire while the three explo-
1st Force Reconnaissance Company and 3d Bat- sive-laden vehicles moved in succession to break
talion, 25th Marines combined efforts again for a through and to destroy the base. The first vehicle
repeat Operation Nightstalker II (1–10 April), be- blew up against Guard Post 2, but the defenders
tween Hadithah and Camp al-Qaim. rallied and stopped the next two, a dump truck
On 23 April, RCT-2 received its first Iraqi and a fire engine. The fire engine had a driver, a
Army unit as a partner for combined operations. spotter, and a bulletproof windshield, and carried
The 7th Reconnaissance Company, consisting of bottled gas containers filled with explosives.
34 soldiers, reported for operations. These sol- The initial blast scattered fragments and de-
diers had been former Iraqi Republican Guards- bris, damaging a few structures including the de-
men who then joined the Shawayne Special Forc- tention facility and Post 2. Also, the lightweight
es, one of the first Iraqi units formed to fight for counter-mortar radar was destroyed during the
the new Iraq before the establishment of the new fighting that followed. One officer reported that
Iraqi Army. In eight-man squads, the Iraqi sol- the attack “demonstrates an extremely mature
diers began to work with Marine Corps battalions and capable insurgency. It showed its ability to
throughout AO Denver. In contrast, RCT-2 began mass a very complex attack very quickly.”
to integrate the Iraqi National Guard units in AO The garrison, consisting of Company I, 3d
Denver. Their absorption into the Iraqi Armed Battalion, 2d Marines deployed its quick reac-
Forces ended the long odyssey that had begun in tion force and called for support. Enemy mor-
2003 as the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps. The Iraqi tar and rocket launcher fire continued for an
government offered enlistment in the Army only hour, but AH-1 helicopter gunship fire and F/A-
to the 503d and 504th Battalions. A total of 127 18 air strikes turned the tide against the enemy.
of these personnel agreed to continued service, The small arms volume fire ceased around 0930,
whereupon they boarded buses for their move- but some random shots continued for another 10
ment from Hit to Kirkush Military Training Base hours. The exact number of enemy killed in ac-
for basic training. tion or wounded remained unknown; however,
During May, Colonel Davis shifted his focus commanders estimated that the Marines killed at
to the far west of his zone, where with Oper- least 16 enemy insurgents and wounded 15 dur-

ing the 24-hour engagement. The enemy force, drew to the south side of the river on the 14 May,
including support personnel, must have ap- it attacked into New Ubaydi prior to returning to
proached one hundred. 126 base. All forces returned to al-Qaim by 1930 on
With its Operation Matador, RCT-2 responded 14 May.
to insurgents in the 3d Battalion, 2d Marines sec- At the Ramana Bridge position, Second Lieu-
tor to eliminate their sanctuaries and support sys- tenant Brian M. Stann led his mobile assault pla-
tems in the vicinity of Ramana. Several elements toon of the Weapons Company, 3d Battalion, 2d
comprised Lieutenant Colonel Timothy S. Mun- Marines to seize the position and then defend
dy’s Task Force 3d Battalion, 2d Marines: Com- it by traversing across four kilometers of urban
panies I and K, 3d Battalion, 2d Marines; Compa- terrain at New Ubaydi. Effectively employing air
ny L, 3d Battalion, 25th Marines; Company B, 2d support with his heavy machine gun Humvees
LAR Battalion; Combat Logistics Battalion 2; and and attached tanks, Stann defeated every insur-
the Army’s 814th Bridge Company. The planned gent attack over a six-day period. The regiment’s
opening moves placed two rifle companies, Com- air officer made good use of ground data links to
pany L, 3d Battalion, 25th Marines and Company the Litening system on board the supporting F/A-
K, 3d Battalion, 2d Marines by helicopter assault 18D aircraft, which permitted him to see and then
using six CH-46E and four CH-53E helicopters to direct strikes at the insurgents in New Ubaydi.
operating in three waves. Intelligence received Enemy casualties included an estimated 144
shorty before the operation, however, caused a killed and 40 prisoners. Ongoing intelligence col-
shift to assault amphibious vehicles, because the lection confirmed the presence of foreign fight-
insurgents seemed to be reacting too well in ad- ers. During the operation, six vehicles, rigged
vance. The tank and light armor sections secured with bombs, were captured and destroyed along
the old Ramana Bridge site near Ubaydi, and with a significant quantity of enemy weapons and
tank sections and the Army bridge unit moved bomb-making materials. Friendly casualties as a
to place a temporary span across, permitting all result of Operation Matador included nine killed
RCT-2 vehicles to operate throughout. The as- and 39 wounded. Equipment losses consisted of
sault amphibious vehicles filled with the assault two assault amphibious vehicles, one M1A1 tank,
companies moved forward as well, prepared to one M88A2 tank recovery vehicle, and four ar-
sweep the objective area with mounted infantry mored Humvees.
and tanks, while the LAR company screened the Ten days later, Haditha received virtually the
northern flank. A vehicle accident and other diffi- same treatment. On 24–30 May, RCT-2 conducted
culties, however, in the part of the bridging com- Operation New Market to clear designated ob-
pany led to a 13-hour delay before the assault jectives in Haditha to disrupt and neutralize the
units crossed the bridge.127 insurgents. This operation was led by Lieutenant
The operation produced some fierce fighting Colonel Lionel B. Uruquhart’s Task Force 3d Bat-
during the first 24 hours when both the blocking talion, 25th Marines reinforced with Company K,
position at the Ramana Bridge and the bridge- 3d Battalion, 2d Marines.
crossing units became decisively engaged, lead- Company K, 3d Battalion, 25th Marines made
ing to significant insurgent losses and the clearing a helicopter assault on the left bank of the Eu-
of most of New Ubaydi, which had been consid- phrates, while two companies, Company K, 3d
ered calm after a recent civil military operation. Battalion, 2d Marines and Company L, 3d Battal-
On the morning of 9 May, the amphibious ve- ion, 25th Marines swept into town from the west,
hicles crossed the river and the mounted infantry mounted in assault amphibians and accompanied
commenced clearing operations. By the evening by tanks and LAVs. The operation killed 11 insur-
of the ninth, the Army ribbon bridge became op- gents, wounded eight, and produced 31 detain-
erational and with it RCT-2 established a secure ees. Over 300 82mm mortar rounds were seized
line of communications on the north shore of the and destroyed as were several other, smaller
river. The Task Force cleared in zone from east caches of ordnance. Friendly losses in Operation
to west through Ramana to ar-Rabit. Once at ar- New Market included two killed, nine wounded,
Rabit, the Marines scoured the suspected cave and the disabling of two assault amphibians.
networks lining the dominating escarpment that During one of the 25 May sweeps by Com-
bounded the river valley. As the task force with- pany L, an insurgent ambush pinned down the

command element. To overcome the enemy, Ser- buildings were destroyed by attack helicopter fire
geant David N. Wimberg left his covered position, and fixed wing aircraft bombs to overcome resis-
crossed intense enemy fire to scale a wall and to tance. The advancing riflemen found numerous
enter a courtyard from which the fire originated. caches of weapons and explosive materials, and
Opening the gate to the courtyard, he covered a tank section discovered and eliminated more
the entry of his fire team and then led the assault than two dozen vehicles, rigged with bombs, dis-
on the door of the house containing the insur- covered in a parking lot.
gents. Breaking in, he came face-to-face with four All units withdrew from Karabilah to al-Qaim
insurgents, fired his rifle until he was wounded, on 20 June. While disrupting this insurgent nest,
wounding one, but stunning the enemy. Corporal Task Force 3d Battalion, 2d Marines destroyed 24
Jeff S. Hunter, stepped forward to assist Wimberg, vehicles, rigged with bombs, two explosive de-
firing his rifle at the four men as he pulled the ser- vices, and numerous munitions caches. Marines
geant out of the house. He then led a squad back killed an estimated 47 enemy fighters and de-
into the house and killed the insurgents. Wimberg tained one other suspect. The Marines suffered
died but saved many lives by his selfless actions. one killed, six wounded, and eight non-combat
Hunter virtually repeated the feat three days later, injuries.
leading a squad in three repeated assaults, the Operation Sword (Saif, 28 June–6 July) brought
last with tank support, to capture a house from the RCT-2 clearing effort to the town of Hit. The
which insurgents had ambushed another squad. operation commenced with 1st Force Reconnais-
The 1st Force Reconnaissance Company con- sance Company conducting a raid into Hit aimed
ducted its Operation Night Stalker III during 4–8 at capturing a noteworthy insurgent leader while
June. Snipers killed seven insurgents who were elements of Task Force 3d Battalion, 25th Marines
positively identified while digging and emplacing simultaneously moved into blocking positions to
mines or bombs. Marines also uncovered bomb- isolate the city from the north, east and west. For
making materials that had been cached for use. this operation, Company C, 1st Battalion, 9th In-
This typical discovery included a 152mm round, fantry, Company B, 2d LAR Battalion and two Iraqi
four 130mm rounds, three 122mm rounds, a vid- companies reinforced 3d Battalion, 25th Marines.
eo camera, two Motorola receiver-transmitters, a The raid detained two people while 3d Battalion,
cell phone and a washing machine timer. 25th Marines moved through Hammadi and Com-
During 15–20 June, RCT-2 conducted Op- pany L, 3d Battalion, 25th Marines and Company
eration Spear (Romhe) in the vicinity of Karabi- C, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry, gained a foothold
lah, located on the south shore of the Euphrates in their respective sectors in southern Hit. The
midway between al-Qaim and the border town LAR company drove by night from Rutbah and
of Husbayah. As in previous operations, a show crossed the Euphrates Bridge and secured the far
of force, drawing several units temporarily from shore. The task force cleared Hit and established
nearby RCT-2 camps, aimed at disrupting insur- two “firm bases” intended for permanent occu-
gent refuges and killing or capturing their leader- pancy in an abandoned school and a youth cen-
ship. This force consisted of the RCT command ter. Hit thus became the first town in AO Den-
element, 3d Battalion, 2d Marines; Company L, 3d ver that RCT-2 occupied permanently. Marines of
Battalion, 25th Marines; Company C, 2d LAR Bat- Combat Logistics Battalion 2 provided Texas and
talion; Company A tanks; Company A assault am- Jersey barriers (usually made of concrete to sepa-
phibians; the Iraqi 7th Reconnaissance Company; rate traffic lanes or to stop vehicles, rigged with
the Iraqi 2d Battalion, 4th Brigade; and the 1st bombs) as it fortified both bases. They also set up
Force Reconnaissance Company. After establish- generators and swamp coolers to improve living
ing blocking positions south and northeast of the conditions. Explosive devices remained the most
town, Task Force 3d Battalion, 2d Marines sent likely threat at Hit with 19 being destroyed on 2
Company K, 3d Battalion, 2d Marines and Com- July alone. Operation Sword ended on 5 July with
pany L, 3d Battalion, 25th Marines to clear the the detachment of the Army and light armor com-
town of Karabilah from south to north, beginning panies. From 27 June to 5 July the battalion re-
at 0300. ceived Task Force Lionheart from Colonel Davis’
As they cleared the town, Marines fought nu- control. This task force swept the left bank side
merous engagements with insurgents, and several of the Euphrates River for weapons caches with

limited results. The battalion then received two let hit his helmet, knocking him to the ground
infantry companies and a headquarters compa- with a concussion. Rushing back into the fight,
ny from the 2d Battalion, 1st Brigade of the Iraqi he crossed the kill zone several times to direct his
Army. Each Iraqi infantry company was assigned Marines finding time to retrieve a wounded Iraqi
to a firm base. Company I, 3d Battalion, 25th Ma- soldier in the process. Only when ordered to re-
rines rejoined its battalion from al-Asad Air Base ceive medical treatment did he relinquish com-
security duties and conducted a relief in place at mand at the scene.129
Firm Base 1 with Company L on 19 July. Compa- Colonel Gurganus commenced his portion
ny K remained at Firm Base 2. The battalion also of the division’s Operation Patriot Shield with
transferred its main headquarters from Camp Ha- RCT-8’s Operation White Feather (1–7 April). It
dithah to Camp Hit on 15 July. The Marines of the focused upon the main service roads in area of
two rifle companies conducted joint combat pa- operations (AO) Raleigh and disrupting insurgent
trols with their Iraqi partners daily. Engagements actions, especially those placing bombs. Battal-
with the insurgents varied as the patrols encoun- ions continued integrated patrols with their Iraqi
tered car bombs, explosive devices, and indirect counterparts throughout Fallujah and along near-
and direct fire engagements. Task Force Lionheart by major routes. In addition, the 1st Battalion, 6th
returned in the middle of July and swept south Marines secured Jolan Park to support Operation
of Hit, locating and destroying a large number of Greenback, which was the extensive compensa-
weapons caches.128 tion payment program for the people of Fallu-
In AO Topeka, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines oc- jah who had lost property during the November
cupied the central core of ar-Ramadi, between the offensive. Third Reconnaissance Battalion com-
Euphrates River and the canal, with 1st Battalion, menced its Operation Zaidon Focus with offen-
503d Parachute Infantry (motorized) covering the sive actions in the southern portion of area of
eastern quarter of the city and its approaches and operations Raleigh.
the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry holding the sector Operation Clear Decision (30 April–5 May)
extending south of the canal into farmland be- marked the beginning of RCT-8’s efforts to clear
yond. In its exclusively urban sector, 1st Battalion, towns that Coalition forces had not garrisoned.
5th Marines worked diligently to maintain patrol Here Gurganus deployed Lieutenant Colonel Ste-
coverage and operated entry checkpoints, traffic phen M. Neary’s 3d Battalion, 8th Marines to al-
control points, observation posts, and it secured Karmah, reinforced by elements of 3d Reconnais-
vital government facilities in the city. The continu- sance Battalion, Company B tanks and Compa-
ous patrolling and constant pressure of raids kept ny B assault amphibians, Company A engineers,
the insurgents off balance. During 15–16 June the Combat Logistics Battalion 8, and the RCT-8 com-
battalion saw its heaviest fighting, and simultane- mand group with its security detachment. After
ous attacks against several of its positions con- establishing a cordon with the tank unit at 0300,
firmed that the enemy remained present and of- a pair of CH-46Es dropped leaflets, and 3d Battal-
fensively oriented. The battalion responded with ion, 8th Marines began to clear the town at 0530,
mandatory vehicle inspections at chokepoints, in- using cordon and knock techniques. The recon-
creased patrolling, and cordon and search opera- naissance battalion scoured the countryside north
tions of the more troublesome neighborhoods. of the town. Combat Logistics Battalion 8 and the
Checkpoint duty continually exposed the sol- RCT commander’s security detachment took the
diers and Marines to perils. On 3 May, First Lieu- normal posts of 3d Battalion, 8th Marines during
tenant David T. Russell oversaw his platoon’s op- the operation.
eration of an entry control point in Ramadi when Company L, 3d Battalion, 8th Marines and
13 insurgents assaulted it with small arms, ma- the Iraqi 2d Muthanna Battalion moved into the
chine guns, and grenades. From his position on southern sector of al-Karmah. Marines reestab-
the second level of a building, he saw an insur- lished old Camp Delta and established observa-
gent manning the machine gun and killed him tion posts in and around the city. Scout-sniper
with a single shot. He then crossed to a bunker teams dispersed to several locations to conduct
where one of his Marines needed ammunition, surveillance and to prevent insurgents from es-
ignoring the fire of six insurgents. While direct- caping the cordon. Company B moved its assault
ing subsequent fire and maneuver, a rifle bul- amphibians into the city and secured the police

station to facilitate its use by civil affairs and med- Tank Battalion surged into the northeast region to
ical units. Company I, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines find enemy command and control, logistical, and
and the 1st Company, 2d Muthanna Battalion then training areas. Within hours of arriving in their
moved into the northern sector of al-Karmah. By zone, Marines of Team Gator discovered a cache
2 May, al-Karmah was declared secure with no containing 11 122mm rockets and 71 120mm mor-
friendly casualties and only one civilian casualty tar rounds. Team Gator later found intelligence
from an escalation of force incident. Third Re- materials and military manuals near the northeast
connaissance Battalion continued to find several corner of the regimental security zone. Less than
weapons caches, including a significant cache just 30 minutes later Team Gator discovered an “in-
inside the 3d Infantry Division’s Baghdad area of surgent lair” consisting of several underground fa-
operations. On 13 May, the town was turned over cilities and many more caches. The house located
to the 2d Muthanna Battalion. in this area also held insurgent materials and evi-
Team Brawler, comprising elements of Com- dence of recent use. This huge find by RCT-8 in-
pany B, 2d Tank Battalion, and Team Gator, simi- dicated that the insurgents used this area for train-
larly formed from Company B, 2d Assault Am- ing, to store equipment, and to conduct planning.
phibian Battalion, moved into the regimental se- Dust storms then pummeled all of AO Raleigh
curity sector north of Fallujah and began RCT-8 during 6–8 June, resulting in the early return of
Operation Firm Control (8–16 May). Beginning at Team Gator and Team Brawler from the northern
0300 on 8 May Team Brawler commenced cor- regimental security area.
don and search tasks in the eastern portion of At 0330 on 18 June, Task Force 1st Battalion,
the northern regimental security area, while Team 6th Marines with supporting attachments (Com-
Gator worked the western half. RCT-8 established pany B, 2d Assault Amphibian Battalion and B
a joint combat operation center in the area. Si- Company 2d Tank Battalion) moved to the north-
multaneously, 3d Reconnaissance Battalion con- ern regimental security area to conduct the next
ducted two raids in the Zaidon area in the south- stage of Operation Khanjar. These units received
ern portion of the regiment’s area of operations support from elements of Combat Logistics Bat-
and 1st Battalion, 6th Marines continued with its talion 8 including a fully functional field surgical
operations in northern Fallujah, as did 3d Battal- hospital.
ion, 4th Marines in southern Fallujah. Third Bat- U.S. Army forces located further north out-
talion, 8th Marines continued to maintain security side the II MEF area also operated to support the
in al-Karmah, Nassar Wa Salaam, and connecting regiment, blocking insurgents from fleeing. The
routes. Army’s 2d Brigade supported 1st Battalion, 6th
The move north by Team Brawler and Team Marines providing mortar fire and blocking posi-
Gator began a string of significant events for RCT- tions established southwest of the Marine battal-
8. The first 24 hours produced two indirect fire ion objectives. Aviation and fire support furnished
attacks, five by small arms, and then the discov- key elements of the operation. Battery A, 1st Bat-
ery of three explosive devices. Insurgents made talion, 10th Marines moved two 155mm artillery
several efforts to strike 3d Battalion, 8th Marines pieces north to the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines for-
in al-Karmah, and the tank and assault amphib- ward command post to provide on-call fire sup-
ian units continued to uncover significant caches port to the task force. Marine and Coalition avia-
of weapons and ordnance, including a bountiful tion units came to the fight, providing almost 20
one uncovered on the last day by Team Gator: hours of continual air support during the first day
19 mortars and two rocket launchers found near of task force actions. Company K, 3d Battalion,
Lake Thar Thar. 8th Marines reported for operations as RCT-8’s re-
June inaugurated 2d Marine Division’s Opera- serve to the south.
tion Guardian Sword, and RCT-8 launched Op- The more detailed coverage of the zone by
eration Khanjar (Dagger) during 1–21 June as its the infantry battalion uncovered caches of muni-
contribution, essentially a reprise of May oper- tions that were confiscated and destroyed:
ations in the northern regimental security area.
Attacking as far as the Lake Thar Thar resort to 155mm shells 20

disrupt insurgent operations, Company B, 2d As- 122mm shells 31

sault Amphibian Battalion and Company B, 2d 120mm mortar rounds 233

80mm mortar rounds 45 in the first woman Marine killed during Opera-
82mm mortar rounds 10 tion Iraqi Freedom. The coordinated attack (small
82mm fuzes 4 arms fire also hit the targeted convoy) left five
60mm mortar rounds 69 Marines and one sailor dead and over 12 Marines
60mm fuzes 50 wounded. The insurgents specifically targeted the
60mm mortar tubes 2 women Marines and sailors as they rotated out of
RPG warheads 15 control point duty, obviously seeking a moral as
RPG propellants 5 well as kinetic blow. Marines of Camp Fallujah,
RPG boosters 4 however, resumed their daily rituals with more
Powder bags 5 women Marines ready to conduct woman search-
Primers 8 es. Thus Marines continued to provide basic se-
curity for Fallujah’s inhabitants.
These results remained typical throughout On 30 June, RCT-8 assumed control of AO
the campaign of 2004–2005 for that level of ef- Jackson from the 155th Brigade Combat Team.
fort and indicated that a seemingly inexhaustible This measure expanded AO Raleigh to include
supply of munitions remained within easy reach another 1000 square kilometers. Such bound-
of the insurgents and foreign fighters. Upon re- ary shifts in this area continued to ebb and flow
turn of its units from Operation Khanjar, RCT-8 throughout the Iraq campaign depending upon
had completed numerous major and minor op- the priorities claimed for the Army forces operat-
erations since its assumption of the mission. Thus ing in and around Baghdad.
far, six of its Marines and sailors had died in ac- II MEF headed into July and the pending ro-
tion and 88 more were wounded during combat tation of its Army brigade after a highly active
operations. Still, the focus remained on maintain- period in which U.S. forces and insurgents test-
ing control of Fallujah. ed each other. With limited manpower, the regi-
On the southern approaches to Fallujah, a ments and brigade managed to extend their reach
mobile patrol of Weapons Company, 3d Battal- with operations outside urban boundaries, strik-
ion, 4th Marines ran into an ambush on 19 June ing into the countryside to disrupt enemy sanc-
when an estimated 50 insurgents triggered an ex- tuaries. Inside the urban cores, they continued
plosive device and opened fire with small arms. stability and security operations to deny easy
The section leader on the scene, Corporal Wyatt movement to the insurgents, to assist the public
L. Waldron, ordered his vehicles into the oncom- with civil affairs and security measures, and to
ing automatic weapons fire, gained fire superior- find insurgent cells with cordons and raids. The
ity with vehicular weapons, and then called for a insurgents replied with continuing attacks by ex-
dismounted assault against the enemy flank. Wal- plosives, small arms, and indirect fire. An unset-
dron personally killed five insurgents and cap- tling discovery, given the mission at hand, came
tured two of their fighting positions as the Ma- with the unreliability of the Iraqi Security Forces,
rine assault broke the enemy’s resistance. Wal- which were repeatedly formed and trained but
dron’s team then remounted, pursued, and killed which “dissolved” and had to be re-formed and
16 and captured six more insurgents. Marines re-trained. The Iraqi government and its advisors
found another six improvised explosive devices had yet to develop an indigenous security force
at the ambush site. of any depth and reliability.130
On 23 June insurgents scored a particularly
lethal car bomb ambush in Fallujah that resulted

Chapter 9: tions in mid-December posed an unchanging re-
quirement for II MEF and the other U.S. forces in
Protecting Self-Rule Iraq. With or without the recovery of Iraqi politi-
cal and security authority at the local and provin-
Assessing the Mission cial levels, the elections remained a paramount
Major General Johnson’s campaign planning goal.
before the entry of II MEF into al-Anbar Prov- Coalition forces also adjusted the estimated
ince recognized the essential need for Iraqi se- enemy order of battle by adding a new sub-cate-
curity forces to augment his forces and to take gory of enemy: “Sunni Arab Rejectionists,” influ-
over local security. With no expectation that the enced primarily by former regime loyalists, now
insurgencies could be reduced during the year II posed the most significant threat to stability in
MEF would occupy the province, the creation of Iraq. Although the Sunnis ranked statistically as
Iraqi security forces remained vital to overcome an ethnic minority in Iraq, they had maintained
the II MEF shortfalls in combat strength, com- political, economic, and military dominance over
pared to the previous I MEF force, and to permit Iraq’s other major ethnic groups for nearly six
the establishment of local political authority. The hundred years. Given the Coalition objective of
campaign planning by the staff of Multinational assisting Iraq in forming a democratic form of
Force-Iraq had set specific goals in this regard: government, the Sunnis stood to lose consider-
local control in key cities by 30 December 2004; able influence. The loss of political and economic
provincial authority established by 31 July 2005; power, a lack of security, and decisions made fol-
and constitutional elections in mid-December. lowing the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime
That ambitious plan, however, had already failed acted as catalysts for this reclassified rejectionist-
in that local control in key cities remained an il- based insurgency. While many Sunnis did not
lusion to date. necessarily oppose a new form of government,
Thus, the outlook for Marine Corps command- the perceived injustices imposed on Sunnis since
ers in 2005 changed in the face of these and other the collapse of their minority rule in 2003 created
realities. The establishment of local control could a level of distrust and animosity towards the Co-
only be hoped for in more benign Karbala and alition and Iraq’s Interim Government. This par-
Najaf by mid-2005, and perhaps the “decisive” Ra- ticular insurgency therefore capitalized on distrust
madi-Abu Ghraib sector by mid-December and and animosity to rouse Sunni fears and to create
the elections. Expectations remained that local a pool of recruits. Their motivations reflected a
control might be accomplished in all of al-Anbar wide range of political objectives primarily driven
by March 2006. Provincial control thus would fol- by socio-economic concerns.131
low in al-Anbar by 31 July 2006. The II MEF campaign strategy for counterin-
The planned establishment in al-Anbar of surgency centered upon conducting five “Lines of
Iraqi security forces in the form of a complete Operation” simultaneously to advance local con-
division of two brigades remained key to these ditions and counter the discontent and chaos that
plans. Whether those forces proved capable or fed the insurgencies: Security; “Operationalize”
not, the political goal of conducting national elec- the Iraqi Security Forces; Governance; Economic
Table 9-1: Ground Combat Turnover, July-October 2005
Initial Deployment Replacement Unit Area of Operations Transfer of Authority
3d Bn 4th Mar 2d Bn 7th Mar Raleigh 23 July 2005
2d Bde 2d Div 2d Bde 28th Div Topeka 28 July 2005
3d Bn 8th Mar 2d Bn 2d Mar Raleigh 6 August 2005
3d Bn 2d Mar 3d Bn 6th Mar Denver 10 September 2005
1st Bn 5th Mar 3d Bn 7th Mar Topeka 20 September 2005
3d Bn 25th Mar 3d Bn 1st Mar Denver 21 September 2005
2d LAR Bn (-) 1st LAR 6th Mar Denver 24 September 2005
1st Bn 6th Mar 2d Bn 6th Mar Raleigh 4 October 2005
3d Recon Bn (-) 1st Recon Bn (-) Raleigh 7 October 2005

Table 9-2: Aviation Turnover, August-October 2005
Initial Deployment Replacement Unit Base Relief in Place
VMFA-224 VMFA-332 al-Asad 1 August 2005
HMLA-269 HMLA-167 al-Asad 21 August 2005
VMGR-252(-) VMGR-252(-) Al-Asad 21 August 2005
HMM-264 HMM-266 Al-Asad 24 August 2005
VMFA-142 VMA-223 al-Asad 28 August 2005
HMM-364 HMM-161 Taqaddum 8 September 2005
HMH-465 HMH-466 al-Asad 27 September 2005
HMM-764 HMM-774 al-Asad 30 September 2005
HMLA-775 HMLA-369 Taqaddum 4 October 2005
VMU-2 VMU-1 Taqaddum 6 September 2005

(see Appendix G for the Task Organization of II MEF for second half deployment)
Development; and Influence. These five concepts Influence. Influence binds the other four lines
provided an operational framework for apply- of operation by affecting information content and
ing the kinetic and non-kinetic actions necessary flow in the area of operations, particularly into
to change the environment, which alone could and out of its key population centers. This will
bring a separation of the insurgents from the Iraqi involve affecting three distinct information audi-
population of al-Anbar Province. The campaign ences: anti-Iraqi forces, local and regional popu-
plan defined these lines of operation as:132 lations, and friendly forces.

Security. Create an environment in which in- The operations planned by II MEF and 2d
surgents are not allowed to intimidate or to cause Marine Division sought to implement these lines
fear among the people, to inhibit legitimate self- of operation for the rest of the year following the
governance, or to prevent the development of transfer of authority from I MEF. After the initial
Iraqi infrastructure. series of operations in March designed to protect
Operationalizing the Iraqi Security Forces. The the turnover between the two Marine expedition-
Iraqi Security Forces must be trained, equipped, ary forces, the 2d Division had ordered Operation
supported, and mentored in a manner enabling Patriot Shield in April–May. The two Marine regi-
their organizations to grow in size, confidence, ments and the Army’s 2d Brigade planned and
and skill. The effectiveness of the Iraqi Security conducted numerous local combat operations un-
Forces must be developed so they can assume an der Patriot Shield, noted in the preceding chap-
increasingly greater role, allowing Multi-National ter, to interdict insurgent lines of communications
Force West [II MEF] presence to be proportion- from the border, to operationally shape the Ra-
ally reduced. madi sector by controlling access and establish-
Governance. Create an environment that al- ing Iraqi security forces, and to protect the gains
lows elected officials to govern in an effective made in pacifying Fallujah by disrupting insur-
manner consistent with the expectations of the gent enclaves in the surrounding areas.
electorate. The Iraqi populace must perceive that Under the overarching II MEF operation plan
its local elected officials can provide basic secu- for 2005, Operation Shurouq [Sunrise], the Patri-
rity and quality of life services such as electricity, ot Shield series ended 30 May and gave way to
water, and sanitation. Alleviating legitimate politi- the Operation Guardian Sword (Saif Haras) se-
cal grievances is an important element for a suc- ries during 6 June–15 August. Here, the objectives
cessful counterinsurgency. called for neutralizing the insurgencies in Ramadi
Economic Development. Create an environ- while covering the rotation of combat units and
ment allowing jobs to be created, where people personnel in other units for the second half of
are free to earn a living and can procure or re- the deployment, as well as the Army’s rotation
ceive essential services fundamental to a decent of the 2d Brigade. With the final rotations com-
quality of life, and where critical infrastructure ex- plete in September, the divisional plan Operation
ists to support economic growth. Sanguine Thunder came into effect with the aims
of training and arming Iraqi Police in Northern

Table 9-3: II MEF Combat Power, September 2005138
Combat Power (Air)
AH-1W AV-8B CH-46E CH-53E EA-6B FA-18A+
25/20 10/7 38/35 16/14 5/4 6/6
80% 70% 92% 88% 80% 100%
FA-18D KC-130 RQ-2b UC-35 UH-1N
12/11 6/4 8/7 1/1 15/10
92% 67% 88% 100% 67%
Combat Power (Ground-USMC)
Tank M1A1 LVA AAV Howitzer M198 HMMWV Hardback UAH M1114
34/31 67/63 89/84 14/14 307/288 574/537
91% 94% 94% 100% 94% 94%
Combat Power (Ground) (2-28th BCT)
M1A1/A2 M2/M3 Mortar 120MM Howitzer M109A6 Scout HMMWV Armored UAH M114
43/32 49/47 15/14 8/7 176/158 226/201
74% 96% 93% 88% 90% 89%
Combat Power (Ground-155th BCT)
M1A1/A2 M2/M3 Mortar 120MM Howitzer M109A6 Scout HMMWV Armored UAH M114
74% 90% 100% 83% 100% 93%

Babil, transferring Karbala and Najaf to Iraqi lo- Guardian Sword. These organizations truly had
cal control, and in general supporting Operation few new options for “kinetic” or offensive com-
Liberty Express, the Coalition program for safe- bat operations because their extensive static se-
guarding and supporting the December national curity responsibilities aggravated the relative pau-
elections. city of units available for offensive operations. In
Major General Huck predicted favorable re- addition, the routine logistical and administrative
sults for Operation Guardian Sword in a 30 May support for the three major units of 2d Marine
message to his division: Division, spread over the 335-kilometer corridor
from al-Qaim to Abu Ghraib, required frequent
Operation Patriot Shield comes to a recourse to armed convoys, road sweeps, and
close today [30 May] and Operation Guard- other force protection tasks that reduced even
ian Sword is ready to commence 6 June. I more the resources available for commanders to
feel confident that we will be able to pick employ against enemy targets.
up the tempo of operations and apply more In westernmost al-Anbar Province, Colonel
Iraqi security forces to operations in Guard- Davis deployed 3d Battalion 25th Marines to find
ian Sword. As you know, the Iraqi securi- arms caches and to interdict insurgent flow near
ty forces projections for Operation Patriot Dulab, on the left bank of the Haditha Dam res-
Shield fell short of the mark. Our ability to ervoir. The 3d Battalion, 2d Marines continued its
train, integrate and operate with Iraqi secu- normal cordon and knock operations and similar
rity forces will allow us to significantly in- cache searches in its zone, exclusive of Husaybah
crease our forces. Put an Iraqi face on all of and Karabilah which remained highly contested,
our operations.133 while beginning a site survey for polling stations.
Second LAR Battalion continued patrolling main
As noted in the preceding chapter, the battal- routes, especially against bomb and mortar teams
ions of RCT-2, RCT-8 and the Army’s 2d Brigade and provided direct support to the Army 224th
continued to execute the same types of opera- Engineer Battalion, assigned to clear and to main-
tions, whether under Operation Patriot Shield or tain the main supply routes for the regiments as

Task Force Ironhawk. The 1st Force Reconnais- Iraqi government of a competent security force in
sance Company continued its sniper operations, the form of its 2d Battalion, 1st Infantry Division.
and the Azerbaijani Company, charged with inter- The Army’s 2d Squadron, 14th Cavalry assisted in
nal security at the Haditha Dam, prepared for its isolating the objective area by blocking the bridge
own relief slated for early July. over the river in the direction of Rawah in its sec-
The Army’s 2d Brigade employed 1st Battal- tor. In zone, RCT-2 planned to employ elements
ion, 5th Marines with combined U.S.-Iraqi combat of 2d LAR Battalion, 3d Battalion, 2d Marines, and
patrols, cache sweeps, and stay-behind ambushes 3d Battalion, 25th Marines as well as tank, assault
in western Ramadi, partnered with the Iraqi 2d amphibian, engineer, and Iraqi Army support to
Battalion, 1st Brigade, 7th Division. On the other cordon the two towns, to raid specific targets and
side of Ramadi, 1st Battalion, 503d Infantry con- then to clear them of insurgents.136
ducted a company movement to contact in the That operation never occurred because the
Mulaab district. In Tammin, the 1st Battalion, 9th 3d Battalion, 25th Marines was ambushed. This
Infantry patrolled, deployed snipers, and planned battalion had completed its transfer to Hit by mid-
company-size attacks if targets appeared. The 1st July but also kept units in its former garrison in
Battalion, 506th Infantry partnered with the Iraqi Haditha. On 1 August, insurgents attacked two
3d Battalion, 2d Brigade, 1st Division for patrols sniper teams of the battalion scout-sniper platoon
in Civil Camp and Abu Flies. operating together in a firing position 3.5 kilome-
Colonel Gurganis continued the RCT-8 pro- ters northwest of Haditha on the left (east) bank
gram of security and counterinsurgency opera- of the Euphrates overlooking Barwanah. A third
tions in Fallujah and the rest of the operations sniper team, Team Six, located 2 kilometers to the
area Raleigh. His tank and assault amphibian com- north heard a few seconds of small arms and ma-
pany teams continued to operate in the “regimen- chine gun fire coming from that location, then ra-
tal security area” extending north of Fallujah to dioed the two teams without receiving a response.
the Lake Thar Thar resort. The 3d Reconnaissance Team Six requested permission to move south
Battalion covered the comparable security area to and investigate. The battalion approved and also
the south of Fallujah, where potential polling sta- launched its quick reaction force from Hadithah
tions also required survey and assessment. The Dam. On the scene, Team Six found five Marines
newly secured Karmah area also required com- dead and one missing, and their weapons and
bined operations with the Iraqi 1st Battalion, 4th weapon systems were missing.
Brigade, 1st Division, now based there.134 Lieutenant Colonel Urquhart detailed his L
and Weapons Companies immediately to cordon
Force Rotation in Mid-deployment
Barwanah to search for the insurgents responsi-
Operation Saber (Hissam) covered the rest of ble for this attack. In the early hours of 2 August,
July for RCT-2, an umbrella operation stressing reports from tip lines indicated that a body was
counterinsurgency actions by each battalion in located 3 kilometers south of Hadithah on the
their respective zones during 23–31 July. Aimed right (west) bank of the Euphrates. The body was
at disrupting insurgents while unit rotations took the sixth Marine, and they recovered his remains
place in the other areas of operations, it netted an that day from the village of Haqlaniyah.
average amount of cached arms and munitions This killing of a trained and experienced team
but also resulted in 39 insurgents killed and 177 of Marine rifleman brought a rapid response from
people detained.135 Colonel Davis’ regiment. The forces slated for
The last major operation planned by RCT-2 Operation Lightning Strike II instead were reset
before the rotation of its battalions was Operation for Operation Quick Strike (3–6 August, extended
Lightning Strike II (Darbat al Barq) slated for early to 11 August), a cordon and search of Haqlaniyah
August. This multi-battalion attack on the right or and Barwanah.
south bank of the Euphrates River almost midway While 2d LAR Battalion screened the flanks,
between al-Qaim and Hadithah targeted the city 3d Battalion, 2d Marines moved with Companies
of Anah and nearby village of Qadisiyah. In ad- K and L and 2d Platoon, Company A, 1st Tank
dition to disrupting insurgent activities and elimi- Battalion into an assembly area on the right bank
nating foreign fighters in the zone, the operation of the Euphrates after an Iraqi Special Operations
aimed at demonstrating the deployment by the Company had secured it. At the same time, a task

force of 3d Battalion, 25th Marines with L and 2d and 4th Marine Divisions, II MEF and Multina-
Weapons Companies, and Company A, 1st Tank tional Forces-Iraq.137
Battalion prepared to clear Barwanah on the left The next upsurge of insurgent activity in op-
bank of the river, where the 3d Battalion, 25th erations AO Denver took place 24–29 August at
Marines task force had been operating for three Husaybah, perhaps prodded by the departure of
days, fighting insurgent small arms and mortar Company L, 3d Battalion, 2d Marines from al-
teams with infantry and tank weapons and pre- Qaim to Kubaysah, where it joined 2d Force Re-
cision air strikes. The Marine battalions had with connaissance Company and Company C, 2d LAR
them the 3d and 2d companies, respectively, of Battalion in a cordon and knock clearing opera-
the Iraqi 2d battalion, 1st Infantry Division. These tion. Camp Gannon exchanged small arms and
companies had reported to RCT-2 on 17 July. The rocket fire with insurgents on 24 August. Two
1st Force Reconnaissance Company provided raid days later, the RCT-2 targeting staff identified an
and sniper support as required. Late in the first al-Qaeda safe house and leveled it with multi-
day of the operation, an assault amphibian vehi- ple air strikes delivering two GBU-38 direct at-
cle carrying Marines of Company L, 3d Battalion, tack bombs, six GBU-12 laser-guided 500 pound
25th Marines was hit by an explosive device of bombs, three Maverick guided missiles, and five
such size that it badly damaged and overturned 5-inch unguided rockets on the target. A similar
the vehicle, killing 15 crewmen and passengers. effort the next evening brought eight buildings
On 4 August, Marine battalions attacked north down with a total of 5 GBU-12s, 1 GBU-38, and
and conducted cordon and searches through the 7 Mavericks.  The regiment now considered all
villages. The 3d Battalion, 2d Marines encoun- the enemy’s safe havens inside the RCT-2 area of
tered only sporadic resistance in Haqlaniyah and operation as destroyed. Small arms fire hit Ma-
established a base to support continuing actions. rines of Company I, 3d Battalion, 2d Marines the
Resistance then stiffened for both engaged battal- evening of 29 August, and another air strike de-
ion task forces, and a number of air strikes were stroyed another insurgent house with a GBU-38.
used to destroy buildings from which insurgents As these actions continued, the relief battalion,
fired small arms and rocket launchers. 3d Battalion, 6th Marines began to arrive at al-
Operation Quick Strike, which began as a re- Qaim.
sponse for the killing the Marine snipers, uncov- The force turnover in II MEF covered in part
ered a considerable nest of resistance in the three by Operation Guardian Shield spanned a two-
towns located only a few kilometers south of Ha- month period, reflecting the staggered deploy-
ditha. The operation netted the destruction of ment dates of the combat battalions shown in the
nine vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices accompanying table. In addition, the Army re-
and 23 improvised explosive devices. Marines de- placed 2d Brigade, 2d Infantry Division with the
stroyed seven buildings defended by insurgents, 2d Brigade, 28th Infantry Division, formed prin-
killing 15 and detaining another 63. Friendly ca- cipally from the Pennsylvania, Utah and Vermont
sualties included 14 U.S. killed, six wounded, one National Guard, commanded by Colonel ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­John
Iraqi Special Forces soldier killed, three wounded Gronski. With a one-for-one replacement of bat-
and one assault amphibian vehicle a total loss. talions in operations area Topeka, no let-up in
During 9–10 August, the participating units re- the struggle to pacify and shape Ramadi would
turned to their bases. occur.
These incidents caused considerable media In addition, the 2d Marine Division exchanged
attention in the United States, especially for the artillery batteries and force reconnaissance, tank,
3d Battalion, 25th Marines, which lost 19 men combat engineer, and assault amphibian compa-
killed in three days in an Iraq deployment cost- nies with fresh units from the U.S. In the ground
ing this unit 48 killed in action. For a U.S. public support aviation units and 2d Force Service Sup-
unaccustomed to heavy casualties, the loss sus- port Group, the units remained in place and in-
tained by this reserve forces unit proved especial- stead the personnel rotated during the same ro-
ly devastating to the Marine Corps, the families of tation period. The Ramadi-based intelligence ser-
those lost, and the public. During 12–18 August, vices of II MEF also rotated battalions, as 3d Ra-
the units received visits from the commanders of dio Battalion relieved 2d Radio Battalion on 11

June and 2d Intelligence Battalion replaced 1st In- for the operation extended until 15 December,
telligence Battalion on 24 September 2005. having become another series of combat oper-
The aircraft squadrons of 2d Marine Air- ations protecting the Iraqi election series under
craft Wing mostly rotated during August–Sep- Operation Liberty Express.
tember, retaining two fixed-wing and four rotary The occupation of border posts experienced
wing squadrons and the aerial refueler detach- continuous delays, however, and during Septem-
ment based at al-Asad and two more rotary wing ber the Multinational Force-Iraq commander re-
squadrons and the unmanned aerial vehicle unit stored area of operation Saber to II MEF and re-
at Taqaddum (see table 9-2). linquished tactical control of four U.S. Army units
The combat power now available for II MEF to 2d Marine Division and RCT-2 for the continua-
to employ in AO Atlanta thus amounted to the tion of Operation Sayaid: 4th Squadron, 14th Cav-
following as of 1 September 2005 (see table 9-3). alry; 3d Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry; Task
Operation Guardian Sword ended with the re- Force 2d Battalion, 114th Field Artillery; Company
lief in place by the two Army brigades assigned to F, 51st Infantry; 519th Military Intelligence Bat-
the 2d Marine Division. In its last weeks (through talion; and Task Force Phantom, an intelligence,
15 August), Guardian Sword planned for the surveillance and reconnaissance unit139
newly arrived units to assist with election prepa- The 4th Squadron, 14th Cavalry cleared the
rations and economic development programs and village of al-Ash on 16 September in Operation
to enhance the ability of local leaders to exercise Mustang and repeated the effort at Qadisiyah and
authority. The Army’s 2d Brigade, 28th Infantry Anah on 28–29 September in Operation Lightning
Division received tactical control of the Iraqi 3d Strike, the operation deferred by RCT-2 in August
Brigade, 1st Division and conducted its first ma- because of the substitution of Operation Quick
jor action, Operation Heavy, on 29 August with a Strike to clear Barwanah and to stop counterat-
counterinsurgency clearing of Jazirah. The units tacks against 3d Battalion, 25th Marines. The 3d
of RCT-8, carrying out rotations from late July to Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry cleared a mili-
early October in AO Raleigh, continued actions tary housing compound at Baghdadi during Op-
in and about Fallujah and searched for weapon eration Green Light (21–22 September), and the
caches in Operations Vital Ground (2–14 June), 2d Battalion, 114th Field Artillery road marched
Scimitar (7–14 July) and Southern Fire (24–29 Au- from the 155th Brigade Combat Team in opera-
gust). tions area Biloxi to Hit, beginning on 20 Septem-
Securing the border ber, effecting a relief of 3d Battalion, 1st Marines
there on 28 September.
The emphasis on RCT-2 operations in July The reinforcement of RCT-2 by Task Force 2d
and August continued after Operation Guardian Battalion, 114th Field Artillery provided a boost
Sword because of a higher headquarters order. for the overly extended forces in western al-An-
With his Operation Sayaid (Hunter), the com- bar Province and demonstrated an early success
mander of Multinational Force-Iraq required op- for the 155th Brigade in achieving provincial and
erations within the II MEF AO Atlanta to secure regional control in AO Biloxi, where the cities of
the Syrian border by establishing a presence Karbala and An Najaf remained relatively quiet.
along the border and capturing al-Qaeda foreign That situation thus precipitated the reinforcement
fighters north of the Euphrates River beginning of Colonel Davis’ regiment.140
in mid-July with a projected duration until late The border forces that the Commander, Multi-
August. During this period, combat operations national Forces-Iraq sought to bolster on the Syri-
continued with Operation Sayaid within the Eu- an frontier with Operation Sayaid did not yet exist
phrates River valley and specifically in the cities in the II MEF area of operations. In 2005, only the
already targeted by RCT-2: Hit, Hadithah, Husay- three border zones covering ports of entry at Ar
bah and al-Qaim. Operation Sayaid included a Ar (from Saudi Arabia), Trebil (from Jordan) and
task force from 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment Waleed (from Syria) operated with battalions of
operating out of Combat Outpost Rawah in the three Department of Border Enforcement (DBE)
former RCT-2 zone of operations north of the Eu- brigades manning the border forts in an-Najaf and
phrates River but now designated AO Saber by al-Anbar Provinces. Iraq operated no port of en-
the armored cavalry regiment. Later, the timeline try in an-Najaf Province. The U.S. units stationed

in Camp Mudaysis and at Camp Korean Village Anbar Province, with another brigade and three
operated to support the Anbar and Nukhayb DBE battalions established in an-Najaf and North Babil.
Brigades in al-Anbar Province, and the Army’s In tandem with the political consolidation of the
155th BCT covered the an-Najaf DBE brigade in Iraqi government through the national elections,
AO Biloxi. The DBE services planned a fourth establishing a trained and viable Iraqi security
battalion of its Anbar Brigade at al-Qaim to oc- force remained the real pillar of achieving region-
cupy nine border forts covering the rest of the al control.
Syrian border in al-Anbar Province northeast of The Iraqi Army lacks, and still does at this
the last manned Border Fort 10 at Akashat. After writing, any combat service support capability
it was properly secured, that sector of the frontier and remains dependent upon Coalition support.
would reopen for commerce with Syria by reac- Contractors built a support base at Habbaniyah
tivating the abandoned port of entry facilities at for a division headquarters and two brigades.
Husaybah.141 Some form of base support unit was proposed
for Habbaniyah as the initial Iraqi logistics hub
The Iraqi Armed Forces and its Problems
for al-Anbar Province and adding a second one
In mid-2005, however, realities only faintly when a second division came to al-Anbar Prov-
approached the planned operational capabilities ince. A nearby “India” base was built to support
in al-Anbar Province border facilities. Not only the third brigade.
was the fourth battalion of the Anbar DBE Bri- The units of the new Iraqi Army replaced the
gade not formed and the building of the forts not last of the Iraqi National Guard battalions that had
even contracted, but also the same applied to the proven ineffective in al-Anbar Province because of
third battalion, which simply augmented the first their evident tribal affiliation and vulnerability to
two while awaiting fort construction. In any case, the insurgent murder and intimidation campaign.
the Marine Corps had yet to send the required Thus, no new Army units reconstituted from for-
10 border transition teams for assignment to each merly Sunni-affiliated National Guard forces were
brigade and battalion of the border forces in the acceptable in the al-Anbar Province, and the Iraqi
II MEF area of operations. These ten-man teams, Ministry of Defense policy took recruits from al-
specially prepared and trained at Camp Lejeune, Anbar to units outside the province.
arrived during July and by August had evaluated Initially, the Ministry of Defense and the Co-
the border force battalions based at Najaf, Trebil, alition command assigned the 1st and 7th Iraqi
and Waleed. Given the continuing delays in bor- Army Divisions to II MEF as Multinational Force-
der construction and operations, three of the bor- West for employment in counterinsurgency op-
der transition teams converted to military transi- erations. In addition, the 25th Brigade, organic
tion teams and assisted in the stand-up of new to the 8th Division, drew the assignment to the
Iraqi Army units at Ramadi. In the last two months an-Najaf and northern Babil Province sector (area
of the year, the border posts began to take form of operation Biloxi). In all, the Coalition planned
north of Waleed, and the makings of a three-bri- sending seven brigades to Multinational Force-
gade DBE structure emerged: 1st Brigade operat- West in addition to the specialized military and
ing from an-Najaf and covering all the posts fac- paramilitary units designed for border and inter-
ing Saudi Arabia; 2d Brigade, at Waleed operating nal security tasks.
four battalions covering the posts facing Jordan Under the same plan, the Iraqi 1st Division
and Syria, and a new 3d Brigade al-Qaim oper- headquarters at Habbiniyah exercised control
ated a single battalion stationed in area of oper- over all Ministry of Defense units from Ramadi
ations Saber. The seven Marine Corps transition to the eastern boundary of area of operation Ra-
teams operated with the 2d and 3d Brigades, and leigh. From Ramadi, the 7th Division headquar-
two units of RCT-2 provided the decisive military ters controlled similar forces west of Ramadi to
power if required: 1st LAR Battalion (Korean Vil- the Syrian border.143
lage) and 3d Battalion, 6th Marines (al-Qaim).142 Numerous operational requirements existed
From the outset of its campaign, the II MEF throughout the Marine Corps zone of action and
staff planned to receive control eventually of two several Iraqi Army battalions and brigades de-
Iraqi Army divisions comprising six brigades and ployed to al-Anbar Province before the 7th Divi-
18 battalions for operational commitment in al- sion established its headquarters in the province.

The conditions demanded considerable opera- gade had joined the U.S. Army 2d Brigade at Ra-
tional flexibility by the fledgling Iraqi units to op- madi during Operation Guardian Sword. Their
erate with their American counterparts before the personnel, leadership and equipment shortfalls
rest of the Iraqi Army had in fact developed as a placed them in an eight to 10 month delay in
fully capable and manned combat force. reaching full fighting capability. Their transition
Timing, as usual, counted for almost every- teams came from the three Marine Corps border
thing. By October 2005, the 1st and 4th Brigades transition teams left unassigned because of de-
of the 8th Division, based at an-Najaf and Kar- lays in activating the Iraqi units to cover the Syr-
bala, operated three battalions, all partnered with ian frontier. The remaining units of 7th Division
the U.S. 155th Brigade in area of operations Biloxi formed in July-September 2005 and after training
with military transitions teams provided by the deployed to al-Anbar Province during September
155th. These teams rated the battalions as becom- 2005–January 2006.
ing militarily capable in three to six months. The The manpower requirements for the military
1st Division, which had a Marine Corps transition transition teams providing liaison and training ad-
team since May, arrived in Camp Habbiniyah in vice for elements of the Iraqi Army sent to the
October. Most of its three brigades and nine bat- II MEF area of operations proved demanding. In
talions preceded it, but it required another three addition, local U.S. commanders and staffs spent
to four months to reach a “capable” rating. That considerable effort mentoring their counterparts.
tentative status did not apply to the 1st and 2d These demands fell upon the combat units de-
Battalions, 1st Brigade, 1st Division, which had spite efforts by Marine Corps Headquarters and
joined the U.S. Army’s 2d Brigade at Ramadi and the Multinational Forces-Iraq to provide them
RCT-2 at Hit and Haditha during Operation Guard- from the United States and allied nations. Twelve
ian Sword. Characteristic of the initial operations of the teams fielded in the 2005 contingent came
of the Iraqi security forces, those two battalions “out of hide,” jargon for the receiving Coalition
had operated without their parent brigade (never partner unit providing the team upon arrival. In
assigned to al-Anbar Province) under direct con- all, the Marine Corps provided 366 officers and
trol of 2d Marine Division, yet remained two to enlisted to the teams in 2005, 170 of which came
six months short of being fully fighting capable locally from II MEF. A few of the II MEF Marines
because of their chronic undermanning. became involved with the unending police train-
The Iraqi 7th Division headquarters lagged ing team mission in Fallujah as did Army solders
considerably in arriving in the province, first to in Ramadi. The Iraqi security forces began to as-
Fallujah in January and then to the Iraqi com- semble under the tactical direction of 2d Marine
pound in Camp Blue Diamond, Ramadi in late Division in al-Anbar Province and under the Army
February 2006. Its 1st and 2d Battalions, 1st Bri- 155th Brigade in Najaf-northern Babil Provinces.

Chapter 10: ensure the conduct of free, fair and legiti-
mate constitutional referendum and national
Protecting the New Iraq elections.144

The twin pillars of the U.S. and Coalition strate- To support the referendum, the 2d Marine
gy for 2005 functioned independently of each oth- Division planned continuing counterinsurgency
er. The security situation (first pillar), which was campaigns in AO Atlanta that would provide the
not improving in 2005, largely because of the dila- secure environment for polling sites by the Iraqi
tory process of building Iraqi military and paramil- transitional government and the election com-
itary forces, training and provisioning them, and mission. In particular, the subordinate commands
then fielding them against the insurgents. Despite would “execute focused disruption operations
this setback, plans proceeded for the new national from 1–12 October, targeting extremist groups
government and popular elections under self-im- with the capability and intent of interfering with
posed deadlines of the Coalition governments. For the referendum to disrupt their operational plan-
U.S. and Coalition military forces, the self-govern- ning and execution cycle.”145
ment (second pillar) and election process in Iraq Using Iraqi security forces, then in their initial
became the focus of activity in late 2005 although stages of arrival in the division’s area of opera-
the same counterinsurgency operations conduct- tions, remained essential to securing and to op-
ed in the preceding months continued because erating the polling sites and providing force pro-
the insurgency continued and had to be ended or tection, security, transportation, and sustainment.
minimized. The U.S. and Iraqi forces would have to provide
an election support team for each polling site
Supporting the Election
within the zone for liaison with and support to the
Operation Liberty Express (Tahrir Saia, 1 Sep- election workers.
tember–30 December 2005) covered the military The expected threat to the elections, accord-
actions of II MEF and its subordinate units to pro- ing to 2d Marine Division estimates, included both
vide adequate security and to ensure conditions Muslim extremists and the Sunni Arab resistance.
for a successful Iraqi national constitutional ref- Muslim extremists sought to inflict a high U.S. and
erendum on 15 October 2005 and Iraqi national Coalition casualty rate in Iraq, coupled with an
election on 15 December 2005. Although the 2d aggressive information operations campaign de-
Marine Division provided the major contribution signed to erode public support and to force a Co-
to this operation, it will be seen that the contribu- alition withdrawal from Iraq. At the same time,
tions of the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing and the soon their actions aimed at preventing any strong cen-
to be redesignated 2d Marine Logistics Group re- tral government from establishing itself in Iraq.
mained indispensable throughout the operation. The Sunni Arabs in Iraq had lost ground to the
Major General Huck published his operations Shi’a and Kurdish factions in the 2004 election,
order for Liberty Express on 30 July, setting three and moderates in their ranks sought to regain
phases: completing unit rotation, as an extension some degree of Sunni influence through the po-
of Operation Guardian Sword; operations sup- litical process.
porting the referendum; and operations support- Marine Corps intelligence estimates predicted
ing the national election. He identified his mis- that insurgents focused on Ramadi because of its
sion as: significance in the governmental process and Fal-
lujah because of its symbolic importance. Their
2d Marine Division continues partner- immediate goal remained to discourage voter
ship with the Iraqi security forces and con- turnout through the unfettered use of violence.
ducts combined counterinsurgency opera- The expected tactics included attacking polling
tions in al-Anbar Province to neutralize anti- sites and the areas around them using proven
Iraqi forces, secure designated polling cen- techniques such as indirect fire, improvised explo-
ters, and provide support to the Indepen- sive devices, and sniping. Their information cam-
dent Election Commission - Iraq to maintain paign painted the elections as a conspiracy of the
operational momentum, prevent anti-Iraqi Shi’a, Kurdish, U.S., and Zionist interests against
force interference with unit rotations, and

the Sunni Arabs. Thus, the extremists portrayed cess, which had to remain an autonomous and
themselves as the defenders of Sunnis in Iraq. fair Iraqi action in the eyes of all. Finally, Marine
The Coalition hoped that the moderate Sunnis commanders ordered a surge in counterinsurgen-
and some insurgent groups would urge their fol- cy operations immediately before the voting days
lowers to vote, thereby avoiding their self-inflict- that, combined with the civil-military engagement
ed electoral debacle of 2004. Extremist elements, of the al-Anbar leaders at municipal and provin-
however, increased attacks across the province in cial level, they calculated would persuade the Iraqi
an attempt to prevent voter participation. For the public that participating in the voting was safe.147
Coalition, the worst case resulting from uncontrol- The actions required to support the elections
lable sectarian violence would persuade Sunni Ar- required considerable planning and allocation of
abs that a favorable outcome in the elections re- resources for the 15 November and 15 December
mained impossible. Such an outcome could bring events. In each of the areas of operations in the
them to re-align themselves with extremist ele- II MEF zone, Marines would set up several doz-
ments to attack U.S. and Iraqi forces and to dis- en polling centers, encompassing 15–24 sites in
rupt the election process.146 each area of operations, to handle the voter turn-
The method by which General Huck and 2d out estimated by the Iraqi Independent Election
Marine Division planners sought to meet these Commission to be some 575,000 persons in al-An-
conditions combined the types of combat opera- bar Province. At each of the polling sites, Marine
tions that Marine evaluations considered a success Corps election support teams of one or two Ma-
in Operation Guardian Sword with a civil affairs rines or soldiers and an interpreter would maintain
campaign that focused upon the local Sunni lead- order over the election commission workers and
ers and public opinion. The II MEF Campaign Plan equipment provided by the Coalition. They also
thus continued in effect with the goals of interdic- served to maintain liaison and communications at
tion in RCT-2’s AO Denver, neutralizing extremists each site with the U.S. and Coalition forces. In the
in the Army 2d Brigade’s AO Topeka, principally 2d Marine Division areas, for example, over 170
Ramadi, while continuing to control Fallujah and military personnel and 70 interpreters comprised
the remainder of RCT-8’s AO Raleigh. Marines es- this contingent. Although many of these Marines
timated that they could maintain operational mo- and soldiers came from the civil affairs units, the
mentum throughout al-Anbar Province and there- combat and support units of the division provided
by disrupt insurgent operations, develop and act approximately half of these personnel.
upon intelligence, and establish a “relatively se- Logistical support for the estimated 3,000 poll-
cure environment” for the Iraqi referendum and ing workers included flying them from Baghdad
election. In contrast to the 2004 events, Marines International Airport to al-Anbar province, to al-
could look to additional support in the form of the Asad Air Base, and to al-Taqqadum Air Base; the
newly arriving Iraqi forces units, with up to three polling workers were then driven to camps where
brigades joining to add combat power and an im- they received billeting, subsistence, and final train-
proved measure of internal security in the cities. ing from the election commission. Polling work-
The orders to civil affairs commanders and ers hired within the province reported to local
planners were equally clear. They were to con- bases for transportation to the camps. From these
tinue efforts supporting the nascent provincial camps, the polling workers were driven to military
councils and provincial reconstruction develop- forward operating bases near their polling sites
ment committees and to improve economic and three or four days before the elections. At each
infrastructure development throughout al-Anbar point of entry, the forces screened and processed
Province. Specific actions, however, would also the polling workers and segregated potential se-
support the elections. These included seeking to curity risks for further scrutiny. At all assembly lo-
educate and to influence local and provincial Iraqi cations for the polling workers, Coalition forces
leaders to encourage their followers to participate had to provide emergency medical care, billeting,
in the electoral process and to themselves edu- feeding, and hygienic facilities.
cate the populace about the electoral process and Security measures for the polling worker
the importance of their participation. On the other camps and polling sites required dedicated se-
hand, the U.S. forces had to avoid a perception curity forces in both close and distant protection
that they controlled or directed the election pro- modes and materials for segregating the inner and

middle cordons and the traffic and entry check- erational pattern remained unchanged, as noted
points. Fortification material came from the 30th above in Major General Huck’s orders: interdict
Naval Construction Regiment, but 2d Force Ser- in the west; neutralize insurgents around Rama-
vice Support Group provided all other items for di; and hold Fallujah and areas further east under
the camps. Election materials arrived in packaged firm Coalition control. Largely for this reason, the
containers for each site, and election commission Multinational Force-Iraq Operation Sayaid contin-
personnel retained responsibility for the chain of ued as Operation Sayaid II. Not only would it sup-
custody and accountability of ballots. Route se- port the establishment of the Iraqi forces in al-An-
curity measures included surged sweeps by both bar and strengthen the border defenses, but also
ground and aerial electronic devices. Aviation sup- it would cover the desired interdiction of the al-
port remained dedicated to normal military opera- Qaim-Hit corridor of the western Euphrates River
tions in September and early October, although Valley.
the KC-130 transport-refueler aircraft would sup- Phase II of Operation Sayaid in September
port movement of election commission and poll- continued the efforts to restore Iraqi control of its
ing workers into the air bases. During 11–14 Octo- border with Syria. In addition, II MEF received or-
ber, and on election day, most rotary-wing aircraft ders to construct two combat outposts, north and
(transport and attack) increased flights to support south of the river to support the border defenses
aerial and ground movements. that the Department of Border Enforcement at last
Much of the efforts required in working with began to reconstruct in the Syrian border region
local leaders and public affairs would come from covered by forts 1 through 9. Coalition engineers
the newly arrived (and newly formed) 6th Civil Af- would build the combat outpost in the south while
fairs Group, which took over from the 5th Civil Af- an Iraqi contractor built the other on the north-
fairs Group during 8–22 September. Colonel Paul ern side of the river valley. The planned presence
W. Brier’s concept of support called for a major of Coalition forces, mostly border units and Iraqi
effort to engage the provincial and local civilian Army units, would at last cover the western Eu-
leadership. The governor, provincial council, and phrates River Valley. The Iraqi Army would also
mayors received briefings to inform them of the establish permanent garrisons in al-Qaim, Raw-
importance of the constitutional referendum, to ah, Haditha, and Hit. By default, combat service
encourage them to inform their constituents, and would have to provide support and for all Marine
to provide them with election materials for their Corps forces in western al-Anbar Province.
constituents. Working with the governorate elec- In addition, Marines established random vehi-
tion official of the Independent Election Commis- cle checkpoints on the routes connecting al-Qaim,
sion, Marines of the 6th Civil Affairs Group sought Hadithah, and Hit. As a new initiative, they de-
to assist (1) in developing ideas and strategies to stroyed bridges across the Euphrates at key cross-
identify polling workers from al-Anbar Province ing sites near the Syrian border, thus depriving
to work at the polling centers and (2) in helping infiltrators their usual line of communication. As
the election commission inform the public about a matter of priority, the Haditha sector was cho-
the election processes. Colonel Brier’s command sen for special attention before the referendum,
also played a key role in planning the movement, and al-Qaim before the national election. This pri-
billeting, and training of polling workers for al- oritization clearly reflected the relative security of
Anbar Province, providing civil affairs Marines as each sector and the limited military resources that
members of the election support teams as well as remained a problem in western al-Anbar Province.
liaison personnel during all the polling worker’s Destroying the bridges also indicated the weak-
movements and processing.148 ness of the border security, and the construction
of Border Forts 1 through 8 remained slow, with
Counterinsurgency Operations Before the
forts 1 through 4 still incomplete at year’s end.149
Elections After receiving approval from Central Com-
The combat operations supporting the sum- mand and Multinational Corps-Iraq headquarters
mer turnover of units and personnel gradually to remove the bridges from the “No Strike” tar-
evolved into a new series of operations designed get list, Marine air started bombing the bridges
to shape the battlefield and to disrupt any insur- (the Al Bu Hardan and Mish Al Bridges crossing
gent disruption of the electoral processes. The op- the Euphrates northeast of Karabila and east of

al-Ubayd) on 3 September. On 3 September, the The relative lull during September permitted
aircraft dropped guided BDU-type 500 pound ce- the planning of several larger scale operations for
ment-filled practice bombs, reporting some dam- October, and here Operation Sayaid II began to
age to the bridges, but imagery showed three of show some results. The operations of October co-
the eight bombs did not strike the bridges. Ac- incided with the welcome arrival of the first units
cordingly, the RCT-2’s planners requested another of the Iraqi 7th Division in the form of three battal-
attack. On 6 September, aircraft dropped GBU-12 ions of its 3d Brigade, deploying to Hit, Hadithah,
bombs directed at the bridge abutments. Again, and Rawah. At the same time, the Iraqi 1st Bri-
desired effects were not achieved and would re- gade, 1st Division established its headquarters at
quire an additional strike. al-Qaim with its 1st Battalion, the beginning of a
On 11–12 September, the attacks resumed af- long awaited Iraqi covering force on the Syrian
ter preparing targeting packages employing the border in al-Anbar Province.
M270A1 guided multiple-launched rocket systems Lieutenant Colonel Julian D. Alford’s 3d Bat-
supporting the Army units in AO Saber. Six rock- talion, 6th Marines executed its first major opera-
ets hit the Mish Al Bridge and destroyed it. Air- tion since relieving 3d Battalion, 2d Marines at al-
craft attacked Al Bu Hardan Bridge with GBU-38 Qaim. Beginning in the early morning hours of 1
and GBU-12 bombs following a mechanical mal- October, the battalion began to clear the village
function of both M270A1 launchers. The eight 500 of Sadah and the eastern half of Karabilah under
pound bombs used this time achieved the desired Operation Iron Fist (Kabda bin Hadid), a seven-
effects.150 day effort designed to eradicate insurgents, clear
Division had concurred in the destruction of routes, and to establish battle positions. It also
these bridges using no forward controllers and di- provided a deception operation to distract insur-
rect involvement of ground troops because of the gents while units assembled and prepared for Op-
paucity of ground forces available in western al- eration River Gate. Supported by a platoon each
Anbar Province. Given the number of units rotat- of tanks, combat engineers, and assault amphibi-
ing in RCT-2 during the month, small scale local ous vehicles, Alford’s Task Force cleared Sadah
raids and patrolling remained the norm except for from east to west with three rifle companies on
the Army units operating in AO Saber. line the first day. Insurgents fought from prepared
Apart from its turnover with the incoming 1st positions with small arms, rocket launchers, mor-
LAR Battalion, the 2d LAR Battalion developed tars, and explosive devices. In sporadic fighting,
Operation Cyclone (Zoba’a) with RCT-2 support the Marines killed an estimated 12 enemy and en-
for clearing ar-Rutbah of persistent insurgent ac- camped into positions on a wadi separating Sadah
tivity. Assembling reinforcements at nearby Camp from Karabilah. A troop of the 4th Squadron, 14th
Korean Village on 9 September, the battalion com- Cavalry screened the left bank of the Euphrates
mander, Lieutenant Colonel Austin E. Renforth River, and mobile assault platoons of the Marine
and his staff briefed and incorporated 2d Force battalion’s weapons company blocked the roads
Reconnaissance Company; Company K, 3d Battal- between the two towns.
ion, 6th Marines; and an Iraqi special forces unit The next day saw much stiffer opposition from
into his task force. Moving out of their camp at the insurgents fighting from Karabilah. Advanc-
0100 hours on 11 September, the LAR units estab- ing through the town over the next three days,
lished a cordon of the city and launched two as- Marines employed all their direct fire weapons
sault forces to clear its eastern and western parts. and mortars, and Marine aircraft delivered rock-
The force reconnaissance and Iraqi Special Forces ets, Hellfire missiles, and GBU-12 and -38 guid-
troops cleared their sectors from north to south. ed bombs. The enemy death toll increased to 51
Moving in the opposite direction, south to north, while the task force suffered one Marine killed
the Marines of Company K, reinforced by a sec- and 12 wounded. The operation ended on 7 Octo-
tion of amphibious assault vehicles and a platoon ber, with two battle positions constructed for rifle
of Company C, 2d LAR Battalion, cleared their platoons. Patrolling and small arms engagements
zone. At 1100 hours the next day, the troops had continued for several weeks. The 3d Battalion, 6th
detained a total of 61 people and had confiscated Marines now had a foothold for continued oper-
numerous weapons and explosive devices. ations to the west, where Camp Gannon, garri-
soned by elements of Company L, marked the an-

vil that permitted further “hammering” by Alford’s Iraqi Army presence and in general prepare these
task force through the principal enemy enclave of towns for elections.
Husaybah. But that moment would await further Under the control of Colonel Davis and his
reinforcement and Operation Steel Curtain. Until RCT-2 command group, the operation opened
then, Marines killed an estimated 200 insurgents with isolation moves blocking movement out of
while operating from the new battle positions and the target area: an Iraqi special operations compa-
Camp Gannon. Lieutenant Colonel Alford’s dou- ny blocked movement to the north near Hadithah
ble-size sniper platoon of some 38 Marines trained Dam, and on the left bank of the Euphrates River,
and operating in his Weapons Company, account- the Iraqi 7th Reconnaissance Battalion, 7th Divi-
ed for most of the enemy killed, followed in num- sion covered the eastern flank while 1st LAR Bat-
ber of kills by his attached tank platoon and bat- talion screened and then occupied Barwanah. On
talion heavy machine guns.151 the right bank, 3d Battalion, 504th Parachute Infan-
The Army’s 2d Brigade, 28th Infantry Division try moved against Haqlaniyah by air assault, using
at Ramadi executed its own large-scale sweep at 12 CH-46E helicopters supported by 3d Platoon,
the same time on the southern outskirts of Rama- Company B, 1st Tank Battalion and a company of
di. Operation Mountaineers (Hiba) sought to kill the Iraqi 2d Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Division. At
or capture insurgents and to locate arms caches on Hadithah, 3d Battalion, 1st Marines commanded
4 October. After four Marine CH-47E helicopters by Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey R. Chessani, moved
lifted A Troop, 1st Squadron, 167th Cavalry into a into three zones supported by the tank company
blocking position southeast of the city, Company headquarters and 1st Platoon; another company
C, 1st Battalion 172d Armor Battalion, established from the Iraqi 2d Battalion, 1st Brigade; and the
a cordon isolating the southeast corner of the city 2d Battalion, 3d Brigade, 7th Division.
from the north and two Army infantry companies, During this operation, Iraqi troops discovered
accompanied by the Iraqi 1st and 3d Battalions, sophisticated propaganda production equipment
1st Brigade, 7th Division cleared and secured their in a house in Hadithah. The items seized included
targeted districts on the southern side of the ca- numerous al-Qaeda in Iraq compact discs and au-
nal, while 3d Battalion, 7th Marines cleared the diotapes, three computers, several printers, ban-
northern side of the canal accompanied by the 2d ner makers, multi-disc copiers, and thousands of
Iraqi Battalion and supported by a tank platoon of blank discs and tapes. Troops later discovered a
Company D, 2d Battalion, 69th Armor. Marines sol- complete bomb-making facility in the same town.
diers and Iraqi troops searched all houses and ve- When the operation terminated on 20 Octo-
hicles in a major demonstration of combined U.S. ber, Major General Huck reported construction of
and Iraqi military presence. After being attacked the firm bases underway and polling places se-
by explosive devices, small arms, and rocket fire, cured. The damage to the enemy included 12 ene-
the 3d Battalion, 7th Marines called in both fixed my killed and 172 suspects detained with 30 cach-
and rotary wing air support, which remained over- es and 96 explosive devices discovered. The 3d
head until all objectives had been cleared and the Platoon, Company C, 1st Combat Engineer Battal-
ground Marines had returned to their base.152 ion built the firm bases Sparta, Raider, and Horno
With the even larger Operation River Gate in the three towns (Hadithah, Haqlaniyah and Bar-
(Bawwabatu Annaher), Colonel Davis’ RCT-2 wanah). In addition to the helicopter support for
placed more pressure upon insurgent groups op- the Army paratroopers, RCT-2 also conducted a
erating in the western Eurphrates River Valley, combined air assault raid by 2d Force Reconnais-
well-timed with Operation Iron Fist. Commenc- sance Company and the Iraqi special operations
ing on 3 October, elements of three U.S. and one company in the vicinity of Abu Hyat against a
Iraqi battalion searched the towns of Hadithah, known high value target, taking several detainees
Haqlaniyah, and Barwanah, the scene of the im- in the process. Marines called for air support to
promptu Operation Quick Strike conducted in re- deliver ordnance as large as 2000 pound bombs,
action to the killing of the Marine sniper teams of when targeting a cave complex.153
3d Battalion 25th Marines in August. In addition Operations Iron Fist and River Gate also cov-
to killing foreign fighters and insurgent groups, ered part of the continued Iraqi Army movement
Colonel Davis sought to establish a U.S. and later into al-Anbar Province, as the three battalions of
the Iraqi 3d Brigade, 7th Division deployed to Hit,

Haditha, and Rawah, while the 1st Brigade head- Air Base and Taqaddum Air Base. Even though
quarters and its 1st Battalion of the 1st Division al-Anbar Province had limited cell phone service,
deployed to al-Qaim. On 13 October came an- the commission relied on these phones for com-
other welcome reinforcement in the form of the munications nationwide. Even satellite telephones
13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Colonel James K. failed to connect in western Anbar, and so Marines
La Vine), reporting to Major General Huck for tac- had to assist in unsnarling the communications at
tical direction after it reported to Major General most polling centers.
Johnson for operations and received its own AO The commission’s expectations for local ar-
Tucson on 26 October, where it began counterin- rangements in the eastern part of the zone were
surgency and route security operations. met. Besides moving commission officials, poll-
ing center kits and ballots between air bases and
The Constitutional Referendum,
local distribution points, Marines there provided
15 October 2005 little in the way of logistics support to the com-
The combat operations in al-Anbar Province mission. The “local” model likely succeeded for
preceeded the referendum at all of the polling a number of reasons such as the improved se-
sites selected and surveyed during the previous curity environment, emergent Fallujah leadership,
five months. During the weekend of 1–2 Octo- and the adaptability of Marine and Army units.
ber, the Independent Election Commission-Iraq, The security model used by 2d Marine Division
apparently on the basis of local sentiments and proved effective, however. On 12 October, Marine
because it wished to demonstrate greater self-re- units seized polling sites and immediately moved
liance, changed the logistics and security arrange- pre-staged force protection materials to proper-
ments for the more settled parts of al-Anbar. In- ly barricade the polling sites. Between 13 and 14
stead of using the polling centers surveyed and October, polling workers occupied polling sites
secured by Coalition forces, the election commis- with U.S. units providing security escort. While in-
sion opened approximately 87 independent poll- surgents conducted a few harassing attacks dur-
ing centers, operated and provisioned by the local ing the referendum, no voters or polling workers
Iraqi population, with local police and unarmed were injured at a polling site.
guards for security.  Accordingly, the polling cen- Imperceptible to the outside observer, several
ters east of Ramadi to the eastern limits of the measures taken by II MEF provided for better re-
II MEF area of operations operated with Facility sults than had been in the January 2005 election.
Protection Service and Iraqi police security. In the In the days leading up to the referendum, 2d Ma-
western zones, the original plan prevailed for em- rine Division attacked locations considered like-
ploying Iraqi Security Forces, including Iraqi Army ly firing positions for insurgent rocket and mortar
troops, in the inner and middle cordons of the attacks by indirect fire. During the January 2005
polling centers, backed up by Coalition military election, the daily average of indirect fire attacks
quick reaction forces as the outer cordon.154 had increased from the usual 12 to 36 the day be-
Despite these changes, the II MEF organization fore the election and 57 on the day of the election.
proved sufficient to execute the referendum with Radar coverage of potential attack sites was eval-
few setbacks. Transportation, billeting, and sup- uated to ensure previously used firing locations
plies for the polling workers succeeded except for were appropriately covered. In the case of the
food. Contractors provided food to polling work- referendum, no increase in these kinds of attacks
ers at al-Asad Air Base and Taqaddum Air Base. occurred. Only five attacks by explosive devices
Beyond these arrangements, the plan was to pro- occurred during the voting period, all occurring
vide polling workers with halal meals and bottled while the supporting electronics support aircraft
water. Most workers remained for one to three was off station refueling. The division requested
days at the air bases before moving on to forward continuous airborne fixed wing coverage for close
bases near their polling centers. In some instances air support and surveillance patrols over three sec-
polling workers staged protests due to their dis- tors: Ramadi-Fallujah; Hit-Haditha; and al-Qaim-
satisfaction with halal meals. At Baghdad Interna- Rawah. These aircraft remained on station from
tional Airport, airport security personnel confiscat- six hours before pollings opened until six hours
ed the cellular telephones of election commission after the pollings closed. Finally, E-8 Joint STARS
personnel assembled there for flights to al-Asad aircraft monitored vehicle movement along routes

between Ramadi during voting hours and during terdicting smugglers and insurgents operating in
curfew hours. The aircraft also remained ready to the vast area between ar-Rutbah in the west and
track indirect fire trajectories, although none oc- al-Muhammadi in the east, where Iraqi Route 10
curred in that sector.155 approaches its junction with Route 12 (the main
Due to the detailed planning and actions of route running the right bank of the Euphrates
Marines soldiers and Iraqi security troops, tens of from Hit to al-Qaim). Because of the frequent as-
thousands of voters in al-Anbar Province ignored signments of the LAR battalions to operations in
the threat of attack and cast ballots in the constitu- the western Euphrates River valley throughout the
tional referendum on a remarkably calm day with campaign, Marines had spent little time covering
isolated insurgent attacks but no major bombings the valley to date. Colonel La Vine established his
or mass killings. Ramadi remained a problem, and headquarters at al-Asad Air Base, where his Me-
soldiers forced three of the city’s main polling cen- dium Helicopter Squadron 163 worked under the
ters to close shortly after opening at 0700 hours. direction of 2d Marine Aircraft Wing. He detailed
Hospital officials said that at least seven people 2d Battalion, 1st Marines to Rutbah on 26 October,
seeking to vote were killed by insurgents. Am- where it operated out of Camp Korean Village. At
mar Rawi, manager of the electoral commission the other extremity of AO Tucson, Battery C, 1st
in Ramadi, added that most of the “turnout came Battalion, 11th Marines, which was an artillery bat-
from the outskirts of the city.” Muhammed Jamaili, tery made into a provisional rifle company, cov-
manager of the electoral commission in Fallujah, ered the intersection of the two highways, taking
opined that 93 percent of the city’s 257,000 regis- its direction directly from Colonel La Vine’s com-
tered voters participated in the referendum. The mand post. This security mission also served to
population in the far west, in the area of RCT-2, prepare 13th MEU for its major contribution the
cast a mere 7,510 votes, virtually none at Hit and next month in Operation Steel Curtain.157
Haditha.156 The II MEF staff also worked to support the
Although Sunni Arabs rejected the terms of new “Desert Protector” program, used as a form
the constitution, they took a significant part in the of tribal engagement to produce reliable scouts
voting in this referendum and therefore in the pro- in the province. The initial cohort came from the
cess of moving toward self-government. The sol- Albu Mahal tribe of al-Qaim. They were sent to
diers, sailors and Marines under the direction of II the East Fallujah Iraqi Army Camp for two weeks
MEF could take pride in the results posted in their of training and then returned to al-Qaim to work
three “governorates.” with special operations units as scouts. Coalition
With the approval of the constitution, Opera- and Iraqi commands released little information
tion Liberty Express remained in effect to support about special forces’ missions in Iraq, but 2d Di-
the required 15 December elections for a perma- vision monthly summaries indicated Army, Navy,
nent government. Had the constitutional referen- and Iraqi special forces’ missions excluding AO
dum failed, the National Assembly would have Biloxi.158
been dissolved, and a new transitional govern- In the aftermath of the referendum, where the
ment would have been elected to attempt to write aim of II MEF actions focused upon the main pop-
another permanent constitution, thus reverting to ulation centers, the moment finally arrived to pac-
the awkward situation of the previous year. ify the tumultuous border towns around al-Qaim.
Operation Steel Curtain (al-Hajip Elfulathi) oc-
Continued Counterinsurgency
curred in Husaybah, Karabilah, and Ubaydi from
Operations supporting “Liberty Express” 3 to 22 November and marked the first large-scale
Area of operations (AO) Tucson furnished employment of multiple battalion-sized units of
battle space for the newly arrived 13th MEU el- Iraqi Army forces in combined operations with
ements. Major General Huck charged it with in- Coalition Forces since the Second Fallujah Bat-

Governorate Demographics Votes  Percentage For  Percentage Against

Karbala Shi’a Arab majority 264,674 96.58 3.42
An Najaf Shi’a Arab majority 299,420 95.82 4.18
Al-Anbar Sunni Arab majority 259,919 3.04 96.9
Total 9,852,291 78.59 21.41

tle. The objective was to restore Iraqi sovereign battalions held a quarter of the town, inflicting
control along the Iraq-Syria border and to destroy several casualties on the insurgents and foreign
foreign fighters operating throughout the al-Qaim fighters, who defended with small arms, rocket
region. Beginning in the summer, the combat ca- launchers, and explosive devices. In three days,
pabilities of the Iraqi forces in al-Anbar Province the two battalions cleared the town and encamp-
had grown, approaching the numerical equivalent ed on its eastern limits, having killed dozens of
of two full infantry divisions of Iraqi Army sol- enemy and detaining over two hundred more sus-
diers.  Iraqi soldiers now worked alongside sol- pects while other elements of RCT-2 gathered sev-
diers and Marines in detailed clearing missions. eral hundred displaced persons into holding areas
In addition, Iraqi Army soldiers provided security where they received food, water, and medical at-
and helped facilitate the care and well-being of tention, and processing.
residents displaced from their homes because of The two battalions continued across an open
the operation.  They provided perimeter securi- triangular area between Husabayah and the next
ty and screened displaced civilians to detect for- objective, western Karabalah, clearing houses and
eign fighters trying to infiltrate the shelter areas or encountering explosive devices and mines the next
to escape cordons.  They also helped to distrib- two days, 8–9 November. Shifting to the north, the
ute thousands of meals, blankets, and health and 3d Battalion, 6th Marines cleared western Karib-
sanitation items to their fellow citizens. Operation alah from north to south in three days, encounter-
Steel Curtain also saw the employment of local- ing mostly mines and booby traps, while 2d Bat-
ly recruited and specially trained scout platoons. talion, 1st Marines moved west to east in coordi-
The Desert Protectors assisted the combat units nation. By 12 November, both of these towns had
clearing the city. Because of their familiarity with been cleared of enemy insurgents, foreign fight-
the region, the local tribes, and the local dialects, ers, and their explosive devices.
these scouts could detect suspicious individuals, Leaving 3d Battalion, 6th Marines holding the
including a terrorist attempting to evade identifi- two cleared towns, 2d Battalion, 1st Marines and
cation by wearing women’s clothing, and 21 sus- the Army parachute infantry battalion shifted east
pected insurgents hiding amongst the civilians in to repeat the clearing operation, this time at Ubay-
a displacement camp near Ubaydi. di. Beginning in the early morning of 14 Novem-
Assembling over 4,500 Marines sailors and sol- ber, the Army paratroopers cleared Old Ubaydi in
diers, for the largest Marine Corps operation since a day, while 2d Battalion, 1st Marines took two
the second Fallujah battle, Colonel Davis’ RCT-2 days to clear New Ubaydi against stiff opposition.
began Steel Curtain with a clearing of Husaybah. The 2d and 3rd Battalions of the Iraqi 1st Brigade
His task organization for the operation included also provided a company each in the clearing of
3d Battalion, 6th Marines; Battalion Landing Team this, the last targeted town of the operation. With
2d Battalion; 1st Marines from 13th MEU; 1st LAR the occupation of a battle position in Ubaydi by
Battalion; 2d Force Reconnaissance Company; 3d Weapons Company, 3d Battalion, 6th Marines all
Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry; 4th Squad- three towns had been cleared. As Lieutenant Colo-
ron, 14th Cavalry; and the Iraqi 1st Battalion, 1st nel Alford characterized it to a combat correspon-
Brigade, 1st Division (later joined by 2d and 3d dent on 20 November, “This place has needed to
Battalions). Moving in the early hours of 1 No- be cleaned out for awhile.”
vember, 3d Battalion, 6th Marines concentrated its The two Marine Corps assault battalions lost
three rifle companies at Camp Gannon facing the 10 men killed in the operation, and a total of
town with the Syrian frontier to the rear. Effecting 59 Army and Marine Corps and nine Iraqi Army
a lodgment in the town’s northwestern corner at wounded as opposed to the reported 139 enemy
0400 hours on 5 Novembers and then joined by a killed and one wounded prisoner. A further 388
company of the Iraqi 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, the suspected insurgents became detainees and over
battalion held while 2d Battalion, 1st Marines and a thousand displaced persons entered Coalition
another Iraqi company moved into the southwest humanitarian relief facilities from both Husabayah
quadrant of the town and came abreast at about and Ubaiydi. Operation Steel Curtain saw nearly
1000 hours. Together, the two battalions then ad- continuous air support, with 67 air strikes called
vanced to clear every structure in Husaybah, from in by controllers. Over 100 precision-guided mu-
west to east. By the end of the first day, the two nitions were employed during this operation. Avi-

Table 10-1 Operation Sayaid 2004–2005 Summary162
II MEF Direct Action Enemy Direct Action Casualty Summary
176 Air Strikes 26 Complex Attacks
2 Ground guided missile Strikes 315 Indirect Fire Attacks 50 U.S. Killed
279 Engagments of Enemy actions 310 Total Explosive/Mine Attacks 324 U.S. Wounded
678 IED and Mine Discoveries 241 Explosives Attacks 57 U.S. Non-battle Injuries
20 Vehicle Bomb Discoveries 3 Vehicle Bomb Attacks 4 U.S. Non-battle Deaths
499 Cache Discoveries 12 Suicide Vehicle Bomb Attacks 15 Iraqi Forces Killed
509 Detainee Events = 2308 detainees 53 Mine Attacks 89 Iraqi Forces Wounded

633 escalation of force incidents 1 Suicide Vest Bomber 1 Iraqi Force Non-battle deaths

11 Battalion Level Operations 310 Small Arms/Rocket Attacks 5 Iraqi Forces Non-battle injuries
5 Recuiting Events = 150 recruits 757 Enemy Killed
34 Raids, targeted 64 Enemy Wounded
17 Mosque Enteries
16 Cordon and Search, targeted

2,430,000 Leaflets Dropped

ation also played a key role by providing combat This area assigned not only Hit to the 13th MEU
re-supply of tank ammunition and water as well as but also maintained much of the eastern portion
multiple casualty evacuation missions.159 of former AO Tucson now disestablished. After
In the aftermath of Operation Steel Curtain, a brief period of reconstitution, 2d Battalion, 1st
the Iraqi 1st Brigade began to establish itself with Marines relieved the Army unit at Hit, supported
its headquarters at al-Qaim. As the soldiers of its by Lieutenant Colonel Donald J. Liles’ MEU Ser-
1st Battalion patrolled the streets of Husaybay, vice Support Group 13, with a transfer of author-
Karabilah and Ubaydi, the 3d Battalion occupied ity on 10 December. As the national election ap-
the newly built northern combat outpost on 30 proached, the 2d Battalion, 1st Marines undertook
November, partnering with 4th Squadron, 14th a clearing action across the Euphrates from Hit in
Cavalry in backing up the reoccupied border forts Operation Iron Hammer (Matraqa Hadidia) during
to the north of the Euphrates, and 2d the Battal- 30 November to 4 December. While the 2d Battal-
ion occupied the southern combat outpost on 14 ion, 114th Field Artillery and 1st Battalion, 2d Bri-
November, although then only 15 percent com- gade, 7th Division maintained security in Hit itself,
plete. 160 the Marine battalion, the 1st Company of the Iraqi
The employment of 2d Battalion, 1st Marines battalion, and 30 desert protector scouts crossed
in Operation Steel Curtain came with no relief for to clear the Hai Al Becker district and to establish
the 13th MEU mission in AO Tucson, and the bat- a base for the Iraqi battalion to occupy, thereby
talion’s alternate command group continued to securing the eastern side of the city. With this im-
operate from Camp Korean Village with the as- provement of security, the Hit Bridge was opened
sault amphibian vehicle and light armored recon- to foot traffic. During this operation, troops de-
naissance platoons. The upcoming rotation of the stroyed five explosive devices and detained 19
Army’s 155th Brigade signified that a relief of its suspected insurgents.161
2d Battalion, 114th Field Artillery at Hit would be- During the same month, RCT-8, now under
come necessary. The Army declined to replace the command of Colonel David H. Berger, conducted
battalion, so the II MEF and 2d Marine Division its Operation Trifecta (10–20 November) to disrupt
commanders alerted Colonel La Vine that 13th insurgent activity in the Ziadon area; this opera-
MEU would take responsibility for Hit and its sur- tion included aviation support with a simultane-
rounding battle space. On 23 November, Colonel ous insert of 144 Marines into three landing zones.
La Vine assumed tactical control of the Army bat- The 2d Battalion, 2d Marines conducted a heli-
talion, the Iraqi 1st Battalion, 2d Brigade, 7th Di- borne cordon of Sadan Market while follow on
vision, and a new area of operation “Fairbanks.” forces conducted the sweep. This rapid cordon
prevented insurgents from escaping, and this cor-

don and knock operation also integrated commu- concept for conduct of the election by the Inde-
nications jamming by EA-6B aircraft. The 1st Re- pendent Electoral Commission of Iraq. This aspect
connaissance Battalion also conducted a helicop- bore fruit right away because the commission this
ter insert to support its Operation Southern Hunt- time permited the local citizens of Ramadi to pro-
er. These battalion sweeps resulted in the capture vide security for the polling sites within the pro-
of numerous arms caches and detainees, but no vincial capitol and the surrounding area. Ultimate-
close combat occurred. The reconnaissance battal- ly, this concept provided an expanded voting op-
ion also received dedicated utility helicopter sup- portunity for the citizens of Ramadi by expanding
port on strip alert if its sniper teams were compro- the number of polling sites on election day. The
mised. These aircraft also performed other mis- Ramadi Action Plan to increase Sunni participation
sions, but launched with the sniper extract loca- in Ramadi from only two percent for the October
tions in case they were needed. Ongoing missions 15 Referendum was based on the assumption that
included company-sized raids, cordon and knock intimidation by al-Qaeda of Iraq and other extrem-
operations, and convoy escort. For example, on 1 ist and foreign groups was the principal cause of
December, a sniper attack on civilians produced a the province’s chaos. The plan’s countermeasures
two-company sweep by 2d Battalion, 6th Marines included the assignment of the 2d Special Police
aided by Iraqi Army search teams and a FAST pla- Commando Brigade and the Iraqi Army tank com-
toon (Fleet Antiterroist Security Team) through the pany to Ramadi to assist in bolstering official Iraqi
city zones 51 and 52 to find and to kill the snip- presence in the city.
ers.163 As before, the 2d Marine Division and 155th
The 2d Brigade, 28th Infantry Division con- Brigade began securing polling sites on 12 De-
ducted Operation Tigers (25–26 November), a cember and transporting polling workers and poll-
clearing operation in the Mulaab District of eastern ing material from forward bases to polling sites.
Ramadi with both fixed and rotary wing aircraft in In eastern Anbar, U.S. and Iraqi forces provided
support. Colonel Gronski then sent the 3d Battal- area security and limited logistics support for the
ion, 7th Marines and the 2d Battalion, 1st Brigade, 113 Independent Election Commission-established
7th Division against the same area for a cordon polling centers. In western al-Anbar Province the
and search operation and targeted raids, continu- Coalition forces provided both area and point se-
ing into the adjacent al-Dubaht District in his Op- curity and logistics support for 30 Coalition-es-
eration Shank (Harba) during 2–3 December to tablished polling sites. By noon on 14 December,
find weapons caches and to disrupt enemy activ- troops or police had secured all polling centers
ity. Similar operations covered most other districts throughout al-Anbar Province with their polling
of the city, along with an intensive route clearance workers inside.
effort and several terrain-denial artillery missions, To facilitate the vote and to aid security mea-
all in late November through mid-December. In sures, the Iraqi government declared a national
a local setback, soldiers had to raid the home of holiday during 13–15 December, a nationwide cur-
Brigadier General Shakir to recover the Iraqi Po- few for 13–17 December from 2200 to 0600, and
lice payroll on 4 November. New Iraqi units ar- a prohibition on carrying of weapons, even with
rived in Ramadi, including the 2d Special Police a valid weapons card, during 13–17 December. In
Commando Brigade on 7 December and the 1st addition, the government closed international and
Company, 9th Tank Battalion, equipped with T-55 provincial borders, except for fuel, food, and med-
tanks, on 10 December, indicating the importance ical vehicles; closed international airports; placed
of taming this most dangerous Iraqi city.164 all security forces on full standby status; and pro-
hibited vehicular movement during 14–17 Decem-
Supporting the National Election
ber except for security forces and vehicles with
(15 December 2005) placards issued by the Ministry of Interior.165
Marine Corps and Army commanders in al- Essentially, the U.S. forces in al-Anbar Prov-
Anbar Province benefited greatly from the previ- ince employed the same measures for air support,
ous experiences with election security and sup- electronic support, and surveillance as in the Oc-
port. Planning for the national election in Decem- tober referendum, achieving at least equal success.
ber now incorporated the contingencies of adjust- Approximately 800 polling workers and election
ing to frequent and unpredictable changes in the support team members were flown by helicopter

between the transit centers, e.g., al-Asad Air Base, Yaseen Nouri. The exceptions were towns
and nine different outlying sites. While complex, along the Syrian border, he said, where U.S.
the air movements were executed smoothly be- military operations against insurgents had
cause lift requirements and movement plans were made refugees of local people.
identified and coordinated with higher headquar- Long lines formed outside voting cen-
ters early in the planning process and then syn- ters in Ramadi on Thursday despite an in-
chronized daily with subordinate units. Addition- surgent bombing at 7 a.m., when pollings
ally, back up ground movement plans were de- opened nationwide. Masked guerrillas of
veloped if inclement weather precluded air opera- the anti-U.S. Iraqi Islamic Army movement,
tions. Providing contracted hot meals for polling wearing tracksuits and toting AK-47 assault
workers helped to maintain morale and to allevi- rifles, went out among houses to encourage
ate behavior problems. Additionally, commission people to vote. Witnesses said the guerrillas
officials billeted at the command and control lo- told them: Do not be afraid, we will protect
cations for extended periods required sustenance. you.
In eastern al-Anbar Province, Coalition and Iraqi In Fallujah, children played soccer in the
Army Forces provided area security, while Iraqi streets and crowds gathered in and around
police and local guards provided point security. polling places, enjoying the three-day traf-
In western al-Anbar Province, Coalition and Iraqi fic ban and the release brought by voting.
security forces provided point and area security. “Right now, the city is experiencing a dem-
The troop commitments required for security in ocratic celebration,” said Dari Abdul Hadi
western al-Anbar Province limited the number of Zubaie, the mayor, who compared it to a
polling sites the division could establish. wedding. Many of those who cast ballots
Only two attacks by indirect fire occurred dur- in the city of about 250,000, west of Bagh-
ing the national election, compared to the 10 such dad in Anbar province, said they considered
attacks during the referendum. By almost every voting an act of resistance against the con-
measure, the 15 December election succeeded in tinued presence of U.S. Marines in Fallujah.
al-Anbar Province beyond expectations. Sunnis On Thursday, polling sites were protected
turned out in such large numbers that additional by Iraqi police, while Marines withdrew to a
ballot materials had to be provided from reserves perimeter no closer than 100 yards away.
held by the regiment and brigade commanders in
each area of operations. Six months after the election, negotiations for
Turnout for the election was reported to be a “government of national unity” succeeded and a
high, and just over 12 million people voted, which political Coalition supported it under the leader-
was 75 percent of the electorate. Sunnis in particu- ship of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.166
lar voted in much greater numbers than in Janu-
Closing Out 2005: Counterinsurgency
ary, and perhaps more than in the October elec-
tion judging by the temporary ballot shortages in Operations and Force Realignments
al-Anbar Province. Some insurgent groups appar- With the completion of the national election,
ently kept their promised election day moratorium Operation Liberty Express terminated on 22 De-
on attacks, even going so far as to guard the voters cember. That day also marked the official end of
from attack. As reported in the U.S. press: Operation Sayaid. The Iraqi government had an-
nounced the restoration of control of its borders
The story was the Sunni vote. In Rama- on 30 November, with a celebration conducted for
di, a provincial capital reduced to cratered the benefit of the media. The 3d Battalion, 6th Ma-
buildings and empty streets by two years of rines participated in a flag raising ceremony at bat-
warfare between insurgents and U.S. forces, tle position Hue at Husaybah, signifying the trans-
fighting on the day of Iraq’s Oct. 15 constitu- fer of control of the area from U.S. to Iraqi forc-
tional referendum kept turnout below 2 per- es. General Casey attended, as senior U.S. com-
cent. More than 80 percent turned out Thurs- mander in Iraq, accompanied by the Iraqi defense
day in Ramadi and other insurgent strong- and interior ministers, and the battalion provided
holds in far western Iraq’s Upper Euphrates a rifle company reinforced by tanks as security,
valley, estimated a Ramadi election official, which also included continuous air coverage. In

the view of the II MEF commander, Major General The pending rotation of the Army’s 2d Bat-
Johnson, “This is a significant milestone that will talion, 112th Infantry in December left al-Taqad-
highlight the initial progress to date in border de- dum without a local security infantry unit, and the
fenses, training of Department of Border Enforce- Army offered no replacement for it. The same ap-
ment personnel, and the commitment and grow- plied to the 3d Battalion, 504th Parachute Infan-
ing capability of the Iraqi government and its se- try, which had served in the 2d Marine Division
curity forces.” Although Border Forts 4 through 6 only as part of the Operation Sayaid reinforce-
remained incomplete at the end of the year, Iraqi ments received with the return of area Saber in
Army units had already moved into border town October. The II MEF planners began to study base
garrisons and had manned the combat outposts consolidation as a way to continuing operations
north and south of the Euphrates. Construction with fewer units, although the Iraqi Army forces at
would begin before year’s end in refurbishing the year’s end began to approach what the campaign
former port of entry at Husaybah. In December, plan had envisioned as the minimum requirement
however, the II MEF staff urged higher headquar- for success. In the end, the Army made available
ters to first upgrade the ports of entry at Waleed for al-Taqaddum the Illinois National Guard 2d
and Trebil before opening the port of entry in the Battalion, 130th Infantry, one of many units the
al-Qaim zone.167 Army began to extend to meet increasing man-
Very few “named” counterinsurgency opera- power needs. The future was clear for succeed-
tions occurred in the immediate aftermath of the ing Marine Corps deployments: more and more of
December election, but the ongoing operations these security unit assignments would come from
sufficed to keep order in the province, and a cer- Marine Corps commands.172
tain euphoria could be noticed among the popu- One reduction in II MEF responsibilities came
lation as well as the U.S. and Coalition fighting with the decision by the Multinational Corps com-
forces. In the Hadithah area, 3d Battalion, 1st Ma- mander to realign the provinces of Karabala, Na-
rines ran some sweeps through suspected cache jaf, and northern Babil Province under the Multi-
sites in Operation Red Bull (20–31 December). A national Division-Baghdad, commencing with the
similar operation, Operation Green Trident (23– relief of the 155th Brigade and the transfer of its
31 December), saw 1st Reconnaissance Battalion authority to the incoming 2d Brigade, 4th Infantry
sweeping around the Coalition logistics base area Division on 5 January 2006. Henceforth, the Ma-
Dogwood and uncovering numerous caches. Out- rine Corps contingent took exclusive responsibil-
side Ramadi, 1st Battalion, 172d Armor cleared ity in Iraq for al-Anbar Province.
Tammin and Jazirah on the eastern and northern The expiration of the period that 13th MEU
outskirts as a disruption effort in Operation Bull- had been assigned to Iraq by General Abizaid’s
dog (28–31 December) but in this case fought four Central Command drew closer, but the incoming
engagements, taking 17 detainees and had two at- 22d MEU had been made available for employ-
tacks each by indirect fire and explosive devices. ment in al-Anbar Province in time for a relief by
Clearly, Ramadi remained dangerous.170 like units in AO Fairbanks. The decision by Gen-
The final tally for the long-term umbrella Op- eral Abizaid to permit the 13th MEU to remain
eration Sayaid reported by II MEF summarized the ashore in Hit through mid-February allowed for
results of the 3,840 actions it encompassed during its relief to be incorporated into the rotation of
the second half of 2005, reflecting the vastness of the entire II MEF in 2006. Accordingly, Colonel
western al-Anbar Province inself as well as the ab- Kenneth F. McKenzie reported with his 22d MEU
sence of control over it. to 2d Marine Division on 17 December and re-
At the same time that II MEF’s staff reported lieved 13th MEU on 27 December. Only two more
these accomplishments, it began to adjust to re- months remained for the II MEF campaign at this
ductions in its forces in the aftermath of the elec- point. Since late 2003, 470 Marines had been killed
tions and the focus of effort that Ramadi and Fal- in action and 4,823 wounded in action in Iraq.173
lujah had attracted from the Multinational Corps-

Chapter 11: freedom of movement. Only when augmented by
sufficient and capable Iraqi forces would the Co-
Redeployment and alition begin to provide for the local interaction
Relief of the civilian population. Thus, no reductions in
force levels for the foreseeable future would be
considered. Rather, the existing Coalition forces
Although the previously held illusions of suc- had to maintain their presence and to exploit the
cess in 2004 after the Second Battle of Fallujah successes claimed for Operation Sayaid.
and January 2005 elections had faded for the Ma- The enemy situation by year’s end indicated
rines of II MEF, indications suggested again in that a change of the Sunni resistance in the prov-
early 2006 that the insurgency had passed its apo- ince might be occurring. The insurgency formed
gee and that self-government and security for Iraq part of the larger and complex Sunni-based threat
would be obtained in the near future. The culmi- across Iraq. It continued to demonstrate resiliency
nation of these forces most likely would occur with the ability to re-arm and re-constitute forc-
in the next year’s rotation of U.S. forces, and the es and to fund itself. Filling the power vacuum
incoming I MEF forces might just become the last left by the removal of Saddam Hussein, five ma-
vestige of Multinational Forces-West in Iraq.174 jor groupings of Sunni insurgents continued to
In addition to the December 2005 national operate, estimated in proportions as Sunni reli-
election and the noteworthy Sunni participation gious extremists (30%), former regime elements
that took place, Marines and soldiers also took (10%), emerging elites (7%), and tribes and crimi-
heart in the long-awaited arrival of new Iraqi mili- nals (50%).
tary and security forces in al-Anbar Province. The The oft-touted foreign fighter element in the
Iraqi divisions and brigades even began to take overall insurgency posed less of an immediate
over forward operating bases previously manned problem. In all of 2005, forces under II MEF had
by U.S. forces and emboldened thoughts that the detained 9,695 Iraqis as suspected insurrection-
they would replace American forces in their roles ists, some 40 percent of those captured nation-
and tasks as well. Although fielding an effective ally, compared to only 141 third country nation-
police force remained a difficult objective, plan- als detained or killed, amounting to 30 percent of
ners sought to produce a new police force in those taken across Iraq.
the same manner that an effective national Army Marines and soldiers at the forward operating
seemed to be taking form. bases had reported incidents of combat between
competing insurgent groups during the year. An-
II MEF Assesses the Near Term Missions
alysts determined that the second half of 2005
Major General Johnson and his staff present- had seen a widening schism developing. Extrem-
ed his assessment to the incoming Multinational ists and moderate Iraqi groups pursued divergent
Corps-Iraq commander, Lieutenant General Peter agendas, mainly over the alternatives of partici-
W. Chiarelli, and his V Corps staff in January. Al- pating in the Iraq political process or in continu-
though Marines and soldiers had registered suc- ing to wage war. The Sunni who had previously
cess in 2005, al-Anbar Province remained a dan- rejected the political alternative began perceptibly
gerous place with a local active Sunni insurgency to see political participation as a means to counter
as well as sharing the nationwide insurgency. A the growing Shi’a threat they perceived and to re-
persistent and permanent presence of Coalition store Sunni power and influence in what seemed
troops continued as a requirement for future suc- now an emerging, democratic Iraqi state.
cess. Only with such a sound military presence If the Coalition forces could demonstrate the
could the development of the Iraqi Army and power to restore at last the damaged infrastruc-
Iraqi police forces be undertaken. After fielding ture and to provide local security for the popu-
the Iraqi military and police units required Co- lation, U.S. analysts foresaw a possible weaning
alition force partners as backups and for further of the Iraqi insurgents from violence and redi-
training to make them effective forces. rectiong them into supporting the political pro-
Operating in tandem, Coalition and Iraqi forc- cesses.
es needed both experience and numbers to carry The reconstruction effort in al-Anbar Prov-
the fight to the enemy and deny it sanctuary and ince drew from a fiscal pooling of $202.5 mil-

lion from the Iraq relief and Reconstruction Relief their level of support, calculating numbers of for-
Fund, $65.5 million of the Development Fund for mer police officers, equipment and infrastructure
Iraq and $92.3 million of the Commander’s Emer- remaining and required for each town and vil-
gency Response Program. The first two programs lage. The teams included engineers able to as-
supported 239 projects in al-Anbar Province, all sess station suitability and actually begin drafting
but 10 under contract by 10 January 2006. Those the renovation projects. After finishing their sur-
projects completed by then amounted to the fol- veys, the teams returned to al-Qaim and began
lowing: screening candidates for the police academy. Po-
lice transition teams then took over and sustained
Amount ($million) Project
the process.
33 (25%) electrical substations and distribution
The fielding of an effective police force in al-
39 (30%) potable water; wastewater systems Anbar Province was the priority task for the Mul-
26 (20%) healthcare and education facilities tinational Force-West during 2006: the goal was to
police and fire stations; Army and border transition from Coalition and Iraqi security forces
28 (20%)
enforcement to civilian police. The plan for reconstruction of
8 (5%) roads and bridges the police sought to establish nine Iraqi police
districts deploying 11,330 policemen in the prov-
The Commander’s Emergency Response Pro- ince, with the main concentrations at these loc-
gram added local projects reported in separate atins:
al-Qa’im and Hussayba 2,000
Water and Sanitation $26.1 million Hadithah 800
Telecommunication $11.4 million Hit 900
Education $9.2 million Ramadi 4,000
Healthcare $5.8 million Fallujah 1,700
Others $39.8 million
(other districts were ar-Rutbah, Rawah, Anah, and Hab-
During the same year, the fielding of Iraqi se- The “Fallujah Model” consisted of screen-
curity forces to al-Anbar Province had improved ing and vetting the candidates and training them
markedly: at the Baghdad or Joint Iraqi Police Center. Af-
ter their training and equipping, the police units
Nov 04 No effective forces
would deploy with advisors, local military assis-
Mar 05 2,829 Personnel
tance, and with a system of mentoring and part-
Jan 06 19,000 Personnel
nering with experienced police officers including
Projected: 21,000 Personnel transition teams from Coalition nations. Ongoing
2 Division headquarters
7 Army brigades (21 Battalions) assessment and retraining remained the last cru-
Mar 06
2 Special Police battalions cial parts of the model.
7 Border Defense Force battalions
1,700 Fallujah Police The establishment of local police would sig-
nal the ability of Iraqi security forces to at last
The missing link at this juncture was the po- take the lead in providing local security, freeing
lice forces required for the Euphrates River valley U.S. and Coalition forces for purely military op-
west of Fallujah.175 erations to support the pacification of the prov-
The “Year of the Police” in al-Anbar
Province, 2006 Combat Operations Continue with the
The Marine Corps commanders and their Rotation of Forces
planners saw the solution of the problem of es- Operations in al-Anbar Province in the first
tablishing a police force, based on the model two months of 2006, leading up to the relief of II
used in Fallujah. Beginning in al-Qaim and work- MEF by the incoming I MEF forces, fell under Op-
ing through the Hadithah-Hit corridor, assessment eration Patriot Shield II (2 January–4 April 2006).
teams engaged the local leadership to determine Because of the almost continuous rotation of bat-
talions and squadrons during the period, no ma-

jor operations occurred in January and February. dozers each and progressively excavated a berm
The operational objective remained to disrupt, to surrounding the town, thus preventing any traf-
neutralize, and to interdict insurgent operations fic from entering or departing except through the
in every area of operations while the reliefs took control points. This effort considerably reduced
place. the city’s value as a logistical haven for insur-
In a single month, therefore, the division’s gents.
units conducted the following operations: North of Fallujah, 1st Reconnaissance Battal-
ion inserted teams by helicopter to scout suspect-
Jan 2006 Operation Unit
ed insurgent locations and to disrupt activities
4–8 Morgan 4/14th Cavalry
during the changeover of an infantry battalion in
3d Battalion, 1st Marines; Dam Se-
4–14 Bullshark
curity Unit the city. Dubbed Operation Lakota Sunrise (22-29
6–10 Hedgehog 1st Battalion, 2d Marines January), the effort sent teams ranging widely in
9–25 Sky Train 1/506th Infantry a cordon and search southward from the shore of
14–25 Red Bull II 3d Battalion, 1st Marines Lake Thar Thar and also in interdiction operations
15–26 Koa Canyon 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines along an east-west corridor some 20 kilometers
16–25 Cache Sweeps 2d Battalion, 2d Marines north of the city.177
18–25 Western Shield 1st LAR Battalion The relief of II MEF by I MEF in early 2006
22–29 Lakota Sunrise 1st Reconnaissance Battalion demonstrated once again the value of replacing
23–24 Arabian 4/14th Cavalry like organizations as well as indicating some new
aspects of the deployment effort in the continu-
A few examples must suffice of the many ing campaign for al-Anbar Province. Although re-
reported in the period. Operation Red Bull II lieved of its operational responsibility for an-Najaf
teamed 3d Battalion, 1st Marines with the Iraqi 2d and Karbala Provinces upon the departure of the
Battalion, 2d Brigade in counterinsurgency opera- 155th Brigade, Major General Johnson negotiat-
tions aimed at three towns downstream from the ed with the Army commands for specific replace-
Hadithah Dam. Beginning on 14 January, com- ments for the 22d MEU, 1st Battalion, 506th Para-
panies and sniper teams moved into assigned chute Infantry at Ramadi, and Task Force Phan-
zones and then commenced clearing operations tom. Although not successful in replacing the last,
simultaneously in four zones. Company K cleared a highly specialized unit, he did receive assurance
South Dam Village, while Companies I and L and by 20 January that the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry
the Mobile Assault Company cleared Senjick, would replace the 22d MEU in AO Fairbanks and
Khaffayrah and the nearby train station. The last that the airborne battalion would not depart its
phase, ending on 25 January, saw companies L current Ramadi assignment.178
and I clearing each side of the river up to the AO The combat power fielded by II MEF, with
Fairbanks boundary with 22d MEU. The opera- the departure of the 155th Brigade, now became
tion netted only one detainee but uncovered 31 the following for 2006, intermittently swelling by
caches and two explosive devices. the addition of a Marine Expeditionary Unit (see
At nearly the same time, Colonel McKenzie’s table 11-1 page 114)
22d MEU launched 1st Battalion, 2d Marines in The relief of the 2d Battalion, 69th Armor by
Operation Koa Canyon (15–26 January), a com- the 1st Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry in the
bined sweep on both sides of the Euphrates with 2d Brigade, 28th Infantry Division at Ramadi of-
the Iraqi 1st Battalion, 2d Brigade moving north ficially began the 2006 transfer of authority effort,
to south from Jubbah to the Hit operating base. and the first Marine Corps organizations to par-
The operation resulted in 20 detainees and the ticipate in the process executed their transfers on
discovery of three explosive devices while uncov- 23 January 2006, when the 2d Battalion, 7th Ma-
ering 44 caches of weapons and ordnance. rines turned over its sector in Fallujah to the 3d
Far to the west, the 1st LAR Battalion con- Battalion, 5th Marines newly arrived on its third
ducted a novel isolation action on ar-Rutbah in rotation to Iraq.
Operation western Shield (16–25 January). After In contrast to previous turnovers of Marine
establishing three traffic control points and bat- Corps forces in Iraq, the transfer of authority be-
tle positions, Lieutenant Colonel Robert R. Ko- tween II and I MEF lasted over three instead of
sid’s Marines brought in three teams of four bull- two months. The last unit of the 2d Marine Di-

Table 11-1: II MEF Combat Power, January 2006179
Combat Power (Air)
AH-1W AV-8B CH-46E CH-53E EA-6B FA-18A+
25/19 10/6 35/33 16/14 5/4 11/10
76% 60% 94% 88% 80% 91%
KC-130 RQ-2B UC-35b UH-1N
6/5 8/7 1/1 11/9
83% 88% 100% 82%
Combat Power (Air) (22d MEU)
AH-1W UN-1H CH-46E CH-53E AV-8B
4/2 2/2 12/11 4/4 6/5
50% 100% 92% 100% 83%
Combat Power (Ground) (USMC)
Tank Combat LAV FOV AAV FOV Howitzer M198 HMMWV Hardback UAH M1114
33/27 75/73 94/92 12/12 313/293 709/661
82% 97% 98% 100% 94% 93%
Combat Power (Ground) (2d Brigade)
M1A1/A2 M2/M3 TRK Mortar Howitzer M109A6 Scout HMMWV Armored UAH M114
43/43 50/45 16/16 8/8 177/170 279/270
100% 90% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Combat Power (Ground) (22d MEU)
Tank combat LAV FOV AAV FOV Howitzer M109A6 HMMWV Hardback
4/3 5/4 15/14 6/4 18/16
75% 80% 93% 67% 89%

vision departed Iraq in mid-April: Company A, support units, and both his wing staff and that
2d Assault Amphibian Battalion. In particular, the of Marine Aircraft Group 16, which had relieved
aircraft squadrons arrived and departed with little Marine Aircraft Group 26 on 7 February, oper-
or no overlap, and the gaps in the Marine Corps ated at half-strength until more personnel arrived
air order of battle perhaps reflected the global from the United States. Effectively, this measure
demands upon the aviation arm. When Colo- guarded against a perceived personnel manning
nel Jonathan G. Miclot relieved Brigadier Gen- trend of major rotations occurring increasingly
eral Milstead as aviation component commander early in the calendar year. All of Colonel Miclot’s
on 8 February 2006 at al-Asad Air Base, his 3d aircraft squadrons, however, continued en route
Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) only had ground to the theater of operations, and squadrons of the
Table 11-2: Ground Combat Turnover January–April 2006
Initial Deployment Replacement Unit Base Transfer of Authority
2-69th Armor 1-506th Inf Ramadi 4 Jan
2d Bn, 7th Mar 3d Bn, 5th Mar Fallujah 23 Jan
2d Bn, 2d Mar 1st Bn, 1st Mar Fallujah 5 Feb
22d MEU 1-36th Inf Fairbanks 14 Feb
RCT-2 RCT-7 Denver 16 Feb
RCT-8 RCT-5 Topeka 21 Feb
3d Bn, 6th Mar 1st Bn, 7th Mar Denver 16 Mar
1st LAR (-) 3d LAR (-) Denver 21 Mar
3d Bn, 7th Mar 3d Bn, 8th Mar Topeka 25 Mar
3d Bn, 1st Mar 3d Bn, 3d Mar Denver 26 Mar
2nd Bn, 6th Mar 1st Bn, 25th Mar* Fallujah 7 Apr
1st Recon Bn 2d Recon Bn Fallujah 11 Apr
* Of the Marine Corps Reserve infantry battalions, the 1st Bn, 25th Mar became the first to deploy for a second
tour in Iraq, March 2006.

Table 11-3: Aviation Turnover January-April 2006

Departing II MEF Incoming I MEF Base Present at MEF transfer 28 Feb

VMFA-332 VMFA-533 al-Asad VMFA-533
HMM-266 2d Bn, 224th Avn (ANG) al-Asad ­—
VMGR-252(-) VMGR-352 al-Asad VMGR-252/352
HMLA-167 HMLA-269 al-Asad ­—
HMM-161 HMM-268 TQ —
VMA-223 VMA-513 al-Asad VMA-223
VMU-1 VMU-2 Taqaddum VMU-1
HMH-466 HMH-361 al-Asad HMH-466
HMM-774 HMH-463 al-Asad HMM-774
HMLA-369 HMLA-169 Taqaddum HMLA-369

Table 11-4: Casualties Reported by II MEF During 2005–2006184

Killed Wounded Non-battle death Non-battle injuries
Marine Corps/Navy 175 1568 13 150
Army 73 507 8 46
Iraqi Forces 72 315 2 13
Total 320 2390 23 209

2d Wing’s order of battle maintained the required sion headquarters departed Iraq during February,
functions. Such flexibility remained characteris- and the 1st Marine Division headquarters did not
tic of Marine Corps aviation, but there was more deploy to Iraq with I MEF. Major General Huck
variation: two of the usual three medium heli- took command of II MEF and the Multinational
copter squadrons in the Marine aviation order of Force-West on 31 January.180
battle were replaced in this period by a heavy This unusual departure from standard Marine
helicopter squadron of CH-53D helicopters and Corps organization and doctrine began with the
a Virginia Air National Guard helicopter battalion consolidation of the 2d Marine Division and II
that operated the UH-60 series Blackhawk heli- MEF staffs and operations centers at Camp Fal-
copters. lujah on 31 January 2006. The measure had its
This turnover also maintained an element of origins in 2004, when Major General Mattis as-
continuing Army ground reinforcement in the sumed responsibility from the 82d Airborne Di-
province, but it could only be a temporary one vision and noted how that division handled the
until the Army spring rotations were completed. ground command and control requirements—
The Army, equally strained as the Marine Corps, specifically, the Army’s method was to detail a
could not leave all its units in Iraq—most would commanding general and two deputy command-
have to rotate to the United States following their ers for maneuver and support. He also sensed
normal rotation schedule. The Army units in ar- that the physical division of Marine Corps head-
eas of operations Saber and Fairbanks under RCT- quarters staffs between Camp Fallujah and Camp
2 continued to operate until their rotation dates Blue Diamond might not be efficient. “This was a
to the United States, extended in some instances, ground intensive campaign, with no deep battle
but in the end I MEF would find itself only with and only limited aviation play, apart from the per-
the Army brigade at Ramadi as in its original cam- sistent interest of USAF commands in the use of
paign in al-Anbar Province. USMC aviation. On the other hand, the support
The last turnover of major subordinate com- function remained as intensive as any corps level
mands under the two Marine expeditionary forc- operation. It made little sense to have layers of
es came on 14 February when Colonel David M. command and we could make economies.” Ma-
Richtsmeier’s 1st Marine Logistics Group (For- jor General Mattis approached the Commandant,
ward) relieved Brigadier General Wissler and his General Hagee, with his ideas, and the concept
2d Group at Taqaddum. No changeover between lay fallow until the following year. During his visit
divisions occurred because the 2d Marine Divi- of April 2005, the Commandant asked Major Gen-

eral Johnson to study such manpower savings be- Major General Richard C. Zilmer, commanding
tween the two staffs. After planning discussions general of the forward command element, as-
with Major General Huck and staff lasting two sisted by Deputy Commanding General for Op-
months, Major General Johnson assured General erations, Brigadier General Robert B. Neller, and
Hagee that they could consolidate the staffs early Deputy Commanding General for Support, Brig-
enough such that I MEF would be able to dupli- adier General David G. Reist, the commanding
cate the structure upon arrival. The restructuring general, 1st Marine Logistics Group.182
of the II MEF command element provided a sin- Major General Huck relinquished his respon-
gle staff capable of functioning both in the MEF sibilities to Major General Zilmer as Commanding
role of Multinational Force-West and in directing General, Multinational Force-West, on 28 Febru-
the ground war as had the staff of the Marine di- ary 2006. The first campaign of II MEF in Iraq had
vision.181 come to its conclusion.
The resulting organization essentially charged Major General Johnson shared his thoughts
the II MEF “current operations” staff section with on his command’s accomplishments during a 6
performing the daily ground operations coordi- January 2006 video briefing he conducted from
nation among the remaining ground combat ele- his headquarters for a Pentagon press conference
ments, two regiments and an Army brigade com- in Washington DC [see sidebar below].183
bat team. The commanding general of the MEF As the first units of II MEF began to redeploy
received two deputy commanders, one for op- to their home bases at the end of January, the
erations and the other for logistics. These actions final tally of operations showed that its Marines
reorganized the MEF command element structure sailors and soldiers had conducted 9,476 direct
and functioning more toward that of an Army actions consisting of the following: (1) discover-
ground corps headquarters. The resulting econo- ing and destroying 2,141 improvised explosive
mies in manpower and materiel could be realized devices; (2) destroying 1,950 arms caches; (3) tak-
in this instance only because of the much less de- ing 4,607 offensive actions of various types; (4)
manding air-ground coordination and the fixed firing 638 counter-battery fire missions; and (5)
set of military requirements in the current coun- conducting 140 formal operations. These actions
terinsurgency campaign. In the end, the incoming killed 1,702 and wounded 405 insurgents, and de-
I MEF command headquarters exercised control tained 10,578 suspected insurgents.
over three regimental-sized ground combat ele- The human cost to friendly forces was heavy.
ments, an aircraft wing, and a logistics group. During this initial campaign in Iraq of the II MEF,
Accordingly, when I Marine Expeditionary its assigned Coalition forces sustained some 2,942
Force (Forward) reported for operations in Iraq, casualties.
at its head stood neither Lieutenant General Sat- At the time of the transfer of authority be-
tler nor his deputy I MEF commander but instead tween Major Generals Huck and Zilmer on 28

Briefing by Major General Stephen T. Johnson

Commanding General, Multinational Force-West and
II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) 6 January 2006
I believe 2006 is going to be another decisive year for Iraq and for her people. They’ll begin
to see the benefits of the recent election and the increased capability and strength of their devel-
oping security forces. Since I last briefed you, the Iraqis of al-Anbar have stepped forward and
exercised their right to vote in unprecedented numbers. al-Anbar saw more than 250,000 Sunnis
vote in the October referendum and approximately 370,000 in the December election. The people
have shown their resolve by participating in a new and unfamiliar process, but one that offers
hope for the citizens of Iraq.
If you look back over the past year at al-Anbar Province, the growth of the Iraqi Army in size,
capability and professionalism has been quite remarkable.  Last April, there were two Iraqi Army

brigades in al-Anbar Province. Today, partnered with Multinational Force-West units, we have two
divisions of the Iraqi Army that comprise nearly 20,000 soldiers. Currently three brigades have the
lead in counterinsurgency operations in their own area, and across the region, Iraqi Army battal-
ions are bearing an increasingly larger share of the counterinsurgency fight. Along the entire bor-
der with Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, construction is complete on all but a few of the forts, and
the soldiers of the Iraqi border forces are patrolling and providing security.
In the coming year in al-Anbar Province, I think you’re going to see continued progress in
four key areas.  First, that of presence. After the recent and successful operations along the west-
ern Euphrates River Valley, a persistent presence has been established at key points with Coalition
forces and increasingly capable Iraqi Army forces. This presence is providing the conditions under
which Iraqi police will be introduced and assist the local governments in assuming a greater role
in providing services to their people.
Secondly, Coalition force partnering with the Iraqi security forces will be key. Coalition part-
nership with Iraqi security forces for training of operations is key to their continued growth.
Through this partnership, Iraqi security forces and readiness will grow, security conditions will
improve, and opportunities for good governance, reconstruction and economic development will
Third, police. The reestablishment of Iraqi police in Fallujah has been a success story. With
1,200 trained police on the streets supported by limited numbers of Iraqi Army and Coalition forc-
es, Fallujans were able to vote safely and in large numbers in the recent election and the referen-
dum.  With 350 locally recruited police in training and 160 more in training, the force will soon
reach its authorized strength of 1,700.
In other parts of the province, an assessment of conditions conducive to the introduction of
police in towns and cities is under way. Police stations are being identified for repair. The local
police chief has been nominated in the al-Qaim region, and Iraqis are screening and recruiting
potential policemen. The reintroduction of a professional police force in al-Anbar will provide lo-
cal leaders with security and stability that they need to take care of their own. These police will
start to be introduced over the coming months in conjunction with the completion of their train-
ing. And finally, the political process.  As a result of the recent elections and increased persistence
conditions are favorable for change and for providing Iraqis with an opportunity to take advantage
of the choices that are before them.
We are hearing an increasingly larger number of moderate voices. We want to give the politi-
cal opportunities, political process a chance.  The people want an inclusive government that pro-
vides an alternative to the violence like we saw yesterday in Ramadi and to sectarian divisiveness.
They want to focus on the needs of their community: schools, hospitals, jobs and their families.
We’re continuing to see a Sunni insurgency in al-Anbar Province, and I think we will continue
to see it manifested until the political process has time to develop. The people have gone to the
pollings and voted. They’ve elected officials. Those officials will be seated and that process will
allow people to see that they have the opportunity for success, that they have the opportunity to
be heard, and that there are alternatives to violence.
The detainees that we take in this province are primarily local. They are people who live in
the towns in the Euphrates River Valley. When we fight them, we fight them locally. That’s where
they live, and that’s where they come from. The vast majority is local. And while there is an ele-
ment of foreign fighters who influence or who try to influence the local insurgency, it’s a very,
very small part of the insurgency.
Ramadi is not in flames. There are key places where there are more insurgents than are oth-
ers, and we, along with our Iraqi security force partners, are going after them. But I do not see
that Ramadi has become a place where they are focusing a lot more effort. I think, again, it is lo-
cal people, local insurgents, primarily, who are causing the difficulties in key places, not the en-
tire town of Ramadi.

As far as turning it over [to Iraqi forces], our forces are still partnered with those Iraqi security
forces. We still provide support — logistics support, communication support and so forth, and we
still work very closely with them. But they’re taking the lead in planning in a number of areas.
Also, where and when those forces take over is a function of how long they have been together,
how long their training is — or how long have they been functioning together. Some have only
come out of training since September, those in the western Euphrates primarily, and those to the
east are a little more mature. One size doesn’t fit all with the Iraqi security forces. Some will mature
more quickly, and others will take longer. I suspect within the next — probably in the next four to
six months you’re going to see a number of forces who will be able to take an increasing role in
the lead or increasing lead here in this area, down here in the Fallujah-Ramadi area, and it’ll take
a little longer for those that are newer out in the Euphrates River Valley to assume a greater role
in their area. But I think in 2006 you will see a continuation and a continuing to mature of these
forces throughout the battlespace.

February, the combat losses to the I and II MEF tember, 2003 now totaled 5,541 (500 killed in ac-
in Iraq since the first departure of forces in Sep- tion and 5,041 wounded in action).185

Chapter 12: fashion. The initial employment of the entire 3d
Battalion, 11th Marines—an artillery battalion—as
Continuous Operations a provisional military police battalion in 2004 set
the mark for using artillery units in other roles,
Although no large urban battle occurred in such as provisional military police units. What
the II MEF campaign in Iraq, the myriad tasks followed were widespread use of artillery units
confronting its soldiers, sailors and Marines dif- as well as headquarters and line companies from
fered little from the previous year’s effort. The 4th Tank and 4th Assault Amphibian Battalions as
immediate military tasks included the continuous provisional military police units. Provisional small
requirements for military checkpoints, patrols, boat detachments for Haditha Dam security came
police patrols, road sweeps, offensive missions, from assault amphibian, reconnaissance, light ar-
raids, cordons, and searches. The force protec- mored reconnaissance units, and an infantry regi-
tion requirements were equally large, and the ad- ment headquarters. In the Marine aircraft wings,
ditional penetration by 2d Marine Division units the 2d and 4th Light Antiaircraft Defense Battal-
into the towns and villages surrounding the major ions were employed as provisional infantry bat-
cities and in the western Euphrates River valley talions defending al-Asad Air Base. Antitank pla-
multiplied greatly the number of camps, forward toons, not needed as such, were used as convoy
operating bases, and camps requiring garrisons escorts and mobile reaction forces. The scarcity
and guards. of civil affairs units and graves registration or per-
These continuous missions required every- sonnel remains platoons caused the formation of
one to perform typical infantry roles and tasks provisional units to perform these tasks as well,
regardless of the type of unit or its members’ Mili- drawing from various organizations of the Marine
tary Occupational Specialties (MOSs). Units past Corps Reserve.
and present were expected to provide their own
Civil Affairs in the II MEF Campaign
security; the degree to which most organizations
undertook counterinsurgency operations exceed- One of the most predictable aspects in the
ed past requirements, however, thus affecting the Marine Corps campaign in Iraq remained the con-
ability of units to provide force protection. Every- tinuing scarcity of civil affairs organizations avail-
body had his or her duty manning guard posts able for employment. The Marine Corps had only
and check points, mounting convoy security, and two Civil Affairs Groups, both comprised of the
conducting all kinds of surveillance. Proper force Selected Marine Corps Reservists: 3d Civil Affairs
protection in populated areas, however, required Group based at Camp Pendleton, CA and 4th Civ-
more than sentry duty; it also required frequent il Affairs Group based at Anacostia, Washington,
sweeps well outside the perimeter; local counter- DC. As the campaign in Iraq entered its third year,
insurgency measures; and serving in quick reac- the tempo and duration of operations made clear
tion forces designated for responses both inside that the 3d and 4th Groups would deploy to Iraq
and outside the camps. Marines and soldiers of every seven months. Accordingly, the Comman-
all MOSs found themselves conducting offensive dant approved establishing two provisional Civil
missions such as raids and neighborhood sweeps. Affairs Groups to provide operational and per-
Because of the shortage of women in the com- sonnel relief for the two existing groups. These
bat units who could be used to search female two units were designated the 5th and 6th Civil
civilians, suspects, and detainees, most female Affairs Groups (Provisional). On 4 January 2005,
Marines, sailors, and soldiers in the force found the Marine Corps activated the 5th Civil Affairs
themselves searching such females. Group (Provisional), using cadre drawn primarily
In addition, the Marine Corps employed many from the 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, 4th Ma-
units in the Iraq campaign in “provisional” roles, rine Division and deployed it to Iraq from March
i.e., performing missions they were not trained to September 2005 with the initial II MEF contin-
or meant to perform. Combat engineer, amphibi- gent.
ous assault, and artillery units were often used as Planning continued to prepare and to activate
provisional infantry units in the Marine Corps and the 6th Civil Affairs Group (Provisional) to pro-
other services. The Iraq campaign saw the fielding vide civil affairs support for the second increment
of provisional units in an increasingly widespread of the II MEF in Iraq slated for deployment in

September. The 6th Civil Affairs Group was acti- tachment comprised five civil affairs teams with
vated on 1 June 2005, less than a month after it six to seven Marines in a team.
had been established, using cadre drawn princi- The 5th Civil Affairs Group deployed to Iraq
pally from the 4th Maintenance Battalion. with II MEF and relieved the 4th Civil Affairs
In each case, the challenge remained to iden- Group at Fallujah on 10 March 2005. It immedi-
tify over one hundred ninety Marines and sailors ately began to work with the Temporary Fallujah
from Marine Corps Reserve Forces to comprise a City Council, established a temporary civil-mili-
complete group and to qualify most of them in tary operations center in al-Karmah, and began
the civil affairs military occupational specialties to facilitate completion of key projects, such as
required for officers and noncommissioned offi- reopening the Ramadi Glass Factory. In western
cers. For instance, only the commanding officer al-Anbar Province, teams worked with RCT-2 to
and fourteen Marines joined the 6th Civil Affairs support operations. During June, the Group was
Group with civil affairs qualifications, and the re- reassigned to the 2d Marine Division because it
mainder of the unit’s members had to qualify for contained most of the key civil affairs functions.
civil affairs. This civil affairs training greatly com- The 5th Civil Affairs Group formed the Provin-
plicated existing requirements to complete other cial Reconstruction Development Committee, and
required combat skills training they would need a new provincial civil-military operations center
for deployment to Iraq. opened at Ar Ramadi. On 21 September, the 6th
Civil affairs training began using mobile train- Civil Affairs Group took over the civil affairs func-
ing teams formed by the 3d and 4th Groups after tions and continued the mission, with increasing
their return from Iraq. As a result of their experi- attention to the pending constitutional and na-
ences, the training teams brought not only “book” tional elections
training to the provisional Civil Affairs Groups, The 6th Civil Affairs Group continued to
they also brought recent experience and “lessons maintain its Headquarters Detachment with the
learned” from their tours of duty in Iraq. The 2d Marine Division headquarters at Camp Blue
training covered a full range of civil affairs topics: Diamond. A civil affairs “cell” of 10 Marines from
roles and missions units; civil military operations; the Group served in the G-5 (Plans) staff section
the Iraqi Transitional Government; and interac- of the II MEF command group at Camp Fallu-
tions with U.S. government agencies, nongovern- jah, where Detachment 1 operated the govern-
mental organizations, and the media. Additional ment support team and civil-military operations
training focused on the law of war, information center at al-Fallujah and the second (provincial)
operations, psychological operations, human ex- center at ar-Ramadi in the governor’s complex.
ploitation teams, interpreters, negotiations, and Detachment 2 supported the Army brigade in Ra-
mediations. In addition to the classroom training, madi. Detachment 3 supported RCT-2 operations
the Marines of the provisional groups participated in the western al-Anbar Province. Detachment 4
in practical exercises such as how to hold town remained at Camp Fallujah to support RCT-8 in
meetings and to manage crowds while conduct- area of operations (AO) Raleigh. Between Sep-
ing patrols. The civil affairs training conducted by tember and December 2005, three events influ-
the 3d and 4th Civil Affairs Group teams, com- enced the 6th Civil Affairs Group’s operations and
bined with the mandatory completion of the U.S. civil affairs operations: Operation Sayaid; the con-
Army correspondence course and three months stitutional referendum on 15 October 2005; and
“on the job training,” finished the necessary quali- the election of the permanent Iraqi National As-
fication of the provisional groups. sembly on 15 December 2005.186
Each civil affairs group organized personnel The civil affairs groups provided military sup-
into a headquarters detachment and four civil af- port for the provincial and local governments
fairs detachments. Detachment 1 comprised the critical to the success of the Coalition through-
government support team and the Marines who out al-Anbar Province. Before 2005 the provin-
would man the civil-military operations center co- cial government of al-Anbar Province and the city
located with the II MEF operations center in Fal- councils of most major cities in the province re-
lujah. Detachments 2, 3, and 4 would support the mained mostly ineffective. Insurgents continued
ground combat elements in the field. Each de- to intimidate and infiltrate these bodies. Al-Fallu-
jah remained the sole major exception, where the

insurgents had been removed, and the citizens al-Ubaydi. In the Hit area they provided 1,200 hy-
were attempting to begin self-governance. During giene kits, 2,000 water buckets, 1,600 kerosene
2005 the 2d Marine Division strove to remove the heaters, 1,700 sweaters and 10,000 blankets and
insurgents from all the major cities: ar-Ramadi, several thousand pounds of food items. Addition-
Habbaniyah, al-Qaim, and Rutbah. In the process ally, civil affairs personnel delivered 39 primary
several smaller towns became safer. Immediately care health care kits enabling the Iraqi Ministry of
after each city or town was cleared of insurgents Health to provide service to 1.5 million citizens
the civil affairs detachments began to work with of al-Anbar Province. The overall reconstruction
the leadership of the city. The civil affairs Ma- efforts resulted in completing 483 projects worth
rines talked continuouslsy with local officials to $18.3 million with 183 projects valued at $13.3
address their needs and to determine priorities million in progress.
for projects to improve the quality of life for civil- The civil affairs effort discovered the absence
ian inhabitants. of a functioning plan for economic development.
Headquarters Battalion, 2d Marine Division Utilizing key individuals, a plan was developed
installed a communications network at the Pro- to engage U.S. agencies to determine programs
vincial Civil Military Operations Center at Rama- for economic development and what funding was
di to support the Iraqi Transitional Government. available to move an economic plan forward. An
This service helped facilitate a more expeditious engagement plan was developed to begin purs-
flow of information to research and staff recon- ing an economic development plan in al-Fallujah.
struction projects for the province. The civil af- Al-Fallujah was chosen based on the improved
fairs detachment supporting RCT-8 rehabilitated security situation. Execution typically began with
the al-Fallujah mayor’s building. This building a simple meeting with Iraqi businessmen and
was to become the center for the ongoing efforts quickly grew to include more businessmen, key
by local officials to make al-Fallujah autonomous leaders, representatives from the United States
and self-sufficient in governmental matters. Agency for International Development, the Iraq
A key civil affairs function in every opera- Reconstruction Management Office, and non-
tion in the Marine Corps campaign in Iraq aimed governmental organizations. Civil affairs Marines
at building positive relationships and securing developed relationships to fund a micro-financ-
the trust of Iraqi citizens and influential local of- ing program and to develop a business center to
ficials. This process began with by distributing promote economic growth, training, and better
150 billion Iraqi dinars as financial compensa- business practices. The plan injected more than
tion for damages and loss caused by the insur- $5.0 million in Iraq Reconstruction Management
gents and operations against them. The Iraqi Pro- Office funds for micro-financing in al-Anbar Prov-
vincial Reconstruction Development Committee ince. From this beginning in Fallujah, the same
promoted provincial government capability and plan was moved to Ramadi where 6th Civil Af-
legitimacy as it acted to determine the alloca- fairs Group began developing a business center
tion of Coalition projects. Two water treatment and a systematic micro-financing. Civil affairs ac-
facilities were restored in addition to construct- tions also established an agriculture development
ing five water treatment facilities for villages in plan addressing irrigation as the primary means
al-Anbar Province that provided fresh water for to improve crop production. Utilizing primarily
over 100,000 people. The civil affairs relation- the United States Agency for International Devel-
ship with electrical representatives brought im- opment Office of Transitional Initiative Funds, ca-
provements to three substations, and the installa- nals were cleared of debris.
tion of additional electrical transformers increas- The Regional Reconstruction Operation Cen-
ing electrical output. Using funds from the Com- ter supported II MEF, the Iraqi government, the
mander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP) U.S. Embassy, and all organizations involved in
allowed the refurbishing of over 25 schools for reconstructing of Iraq by coordinating reconstruc-
use by more than 10,000 students as well as pro- tion efforts, information, logistics, and security
viding medical supplies, incubators, and funding between the contracting community, military, and
for new medical clinics. Civil affairs Marines pro- Iraqi government. The reconstruction program in-
vided food, water, shelter, clothing, blankets, and cluded 531 projects in al-Anbar Province, valued
medical assistance to 4,000 displaced persons in at $440 million with 92 percent contracted and

45 percent work-in-place by February 2006. The the demand for the drones, now employed day
reconstruction projects restored essential services and night.188
in several infrastructure sectors including electri- Second Marine Aircraft Wing’s close air sup-
cal, water, wastewater, health, education, securi- port remained highly valuable on the battlefield.
ty, justice, transportation, and communication.187 In an action typical of the larger, multi-battalion
operations, the week-long combat of Task Force
Aviation Support
3d Battalion, 2d Marines in Operation Matador
The chief aviation challenge in 2005 contin- (May 2005), numerous air strikes contributed to
ued to be the excessive operation of aircraft, large- success in battle: strikes from one armed drone,
ly because of the continuous need for numerous 12 helicopters, and 16 fighter-bombers damaged
specific mission types. The daily routine support enemy forces during the action.189
of personnel and cargo movements directly sup- As the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing and Marine
porting combat operations required strip alert air- Aircraft Group 26 prepared to relinquish opera-
craft constantly ready to provide casualty evac- tions to the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing in 2006, the
uation, medical evacuation, tactical recovery of tabulated statistics below showed of the pace of
aircraft and personnel, quick reaction forces, and aviation operations in the first II MEF campaign
both rotary-wing and fixed wing close air support in Iraq:
responding to “troops in contact.” Other mainstay
missions, usually conducted daily, included con- 56,267
Total Sorties (102,797 flight hours)
voy escort, armed reconnaissance, intelligence-
surveillance-reconnaissance over-watch of critical 1,997
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Sorties
(10,847 flight hours)
areas and routes, fixed-wing aerial refueling, and
Air Traffic Control Actions 297,633
radio relay.
Casualty and Medical Evacuations 4,417
Specialized missions included electronic sur-
Passengers carried 164,349
veillance and jamming missions flown by Marine
Cargo lifted 9,080 short tons
Corps and Navy detachments of EA-6B aircraft in
Tactical air requests completed 12,038
frequent rotation from bases in the United States
Air support requests completed 40,810
to al-Asad Air Base. While technical details and
capabilities remain classified, the efforts of the
detachments and aircrews frequently required 14 In executing the tactical air requests, the air-
hours per day of coverage of priority areas such craft, both fixed and rotary-wing, expended 209
as Ramadi and important surface routes. tons of ordnance, including 3,176 rockets and 614
In general, aircraft of all types under control precision guided munitions. The Wing’s aircraft
of 2d Marine Aircraft Wing during the 2005–2006 flew some 3,900 convoy escort missions and the
campaign operated at 2.5 times greater than ac- ground support services pumped 64 million gal-
ceptable usage specified in technical documenta- lons of aviation fuel, while another 30 million gal-
tion. Few measures existed to reduce this high lons were used in aerial refueling.190
usage rate given the global commitments of Ma-
Logistics Operations
rine Corps aviation and the high priorities of al-
most all the missions being flown. One possible The unhealded science of logistics remained
remedy remained the unmanned aerial vehicle at the heart of the II MEF campaign in Iraq, how-
program, the drones flown by Unmanned Aerial ever overlooked by the combat reports and pub-
Vehicle Squadrons One and Two. Only two of licity. The new look in task organized combat lo-
these squadrons, each comprising three detach- gistics regiments and battalions in the old Marine
ments, existed in the Marine Corps, however, and Corps force service support groups proved itself
their Pioneer and Scan Eagle drones already flew in the caldrons of the 2005 campaign. The redes-
to the maximum extent that the craft and their ignation of II MEF’s force service support group
operators could sustain, exceeding 1,100 hours a as the 2d Marine Logistics Group on 9 November
month, using over a dozen of these devices. Iron- signaled the culmination of this important organi-
ically, more mission capabilities and new tech- zational evolution.
nical upgrades had been developed and intro- The activities of the Brigadier General Wissler’s
duced by operators since 2004, which increased 2d Force Service Support Group, redesignated 2d

Marine Logistics Group, at the al-Taqqadum Air drivers. The demands in December grew partly
Base centered on the overall coordination of non- from the national election support but also from
aviation logistics activities in AO Atlanta, includ- the decision made by the commander, Multina-
ing theater responsibilities for route and convoy tional Corps-Iraq, to close the Coalition logistics
security; support to almost all Coalition forces in base at Camp Dogwood, further ordering II MEF
the area of operations; operations and security of to effect the transfer of U.S. equipment, munitions
Camp al-Taqqadum; and supervising tenant activ- and supplies to Taqqadum. On 28 December the
ities supporting II MEF. The principal subordinate last convoy departed Dogwood for Taqqadum,
units (8th Engineer Support Battalion, Combat Lo- completing the movement of 599 tractor-trailers
gistics Regiment 25 and Combat Logistics Battal- in the month.
ions 2 and 8) all executed continuing and special Related to all the reshuffling of storage ca-
tasks specific to their missions and assigned areas. pacity, the Group completed the enlargement of
These units provided the critical and continuous Taqqadum’s field ammunition storage point in
logistic support to the 2d Marine Division and all December to a new explosive weight of 35 mil-
its attached units and partially to the Army’s 155th lion pounds, adding seven new magazines. An
Brigade as well. Related tasks included convoy equally important task performed by the Group
and route security, road sweeps and repair and came in the maintenance retrograde of worn
explosive ordnance disposal support, aided in the equipment to the Arifjan, Kuwait rework facility
last three functions by companies of the 8th Engi- operated by Commander, Marine Forces Central
neer Support Battalion, usually in direct support Command, and to the depots in the United States.
to the combat logistics battalions. A constant flow of generators, material-handling
Locally at Camp Taqqadum, the Marine Ar- equipment, construction equipment, and combat
mor Installation Site operated throughout the year systems flowed by air and ground transportation
installing kits and new protective features on the in and out of Iraq.
wheeled tactical vehicles of the force, principally Security at Taqqadum largely centered around
Humvees and seven-ton trucks. Although the rate the assigned infantry battalion provided by the
of installation increased, the continued turnover Army: first by the 2d Battalion, 112th Infantry of
of vehicles gave an endless aspect to this work. the Texas National Guard and then by the 2d Bat-
Improvement of the cargo and personnel capac- talion, 130th Infantry from the Illinois National
ity of the airfield came with the completion of the Guard. These soldiers not only provided point
Joint Air Cargo Operations Terminal in late June defense of the base and related facilities but also
2005. The consolidated passenger and air cargo mounted most of the essential security patrols in
facility improved the ability of Taqqadum to func- the surrounding areas required to stop insurgents
tion as an air logistics hub. Because of the grow- capable of firing mortar shells and rockets into
ing threat to ground transportation, air transpor- the base or firing hand-held missiles at aircraft us-
tation continued to grow in priority and quantity ing the base
through the campaign. The group engineers also In the field, Colonel Robert Destafney’s Com-
consolidated the use of Taqqadum as a primary bat Logistics Regiment 25, based at Camp Fallu-
stop in the theater ground resupply system oper- jah, performed the general support logistics mis-
ated by the Army support system. A convoy mar- sions for the Group, essentially provisioning the
shalling yard entered service the same month, a two direct support combat logistics battalions
vast graveled lot suitable for handling the new supporting RCT-2 and -8 and the Army brigade
convoy routes also introduced in the theater. at ar-Ramadi. The primary means for the resupply
The theater transportation network also de- was by convoy in the eastern part of AO Atlanta
pended to a great extent on privately contracted and by air in western al-Anbar Province. The lat-
flat-bed delivery systems, drivers, and other com- ter effort required a daily C-130 sortie dedicated
mercial equipment items supplied by the principal to the regiment’s requirements, but occasionally
contractor, Kellog, Brown and Root. By December the support of operations in the west required up
2005, the contracted support was so inadequate to three daily flights as well as ground convoys
that 2d Marine Logistics Group had to employ or- sent as far as Camp Korean Village.
ganic tactical vehicles and engage in open con- The situation for the two direct support bat-
tracting of third country national equipment and talions varied drastically with the terrain and sup-

ported organizations. At Camp Fallujah, Lieuten- support company worked to expand the al-Asad
ant Colonel Patrick N. Kelleher directed his Com- Air Base ammunition capacity and found consid-
bat Logistics Battalion 8 out of Camp Fallujah to erable work constructing forward operating bas-
support RCT-8 and the Army brigade at ar-Ra- es, permanent bases, and platoon battle positions
madi, especially its attached Marine Corps infan- in the area as more towns and villages came un-
try battalion, with occasional missions support- der continuing presence and control of U.S. and
ing the 155th Brigade in AO Biloxi. In a typical Iraqi forces.
month, the battalion dispatched up to 100 sup- Because of the distances involved and relative
ply convoys, also termed ‘combat logistics pa- scarcity of quick reaction forces, the convoys and
trols’ in the new vernacular, to supported units road sweeps of Combat Logistics Battalion 2 and
as well as hundreds of crane and material han- its attachments almost always relied upon recon-
dling missions. The military police and explosives naissance, escort, and close air support by light
ordnance disposal platoons performed dozens of and attack helicopters of the 2d Marine Aircraft
convoy escort, road sweep, road repair, and ex- Wing. The air logistics effort in Al-Anbar province
plosives disposal missions each week. The bat- supporting II MEF forces contributed in no small
talion maintenance company provided dozens of way to the high operating tempo of the 2d Marine
vehicle recovery missions and contact team vis- Aircraft Wing. At the end, the 2d Marine Logistics
its each week, including several dozen “rapid re- Group staff calculated that it had saved 3,115 out-
quests” in the same interval. The battalion also bound and 5,034 inbound tractor-trailer equiva-
coordinated explosive ordnance disposal for the lent loads of cargo by employing air transporta-
region, handling responses called in on the tele- tion. Using aircraft to move supplies undoubtedly
phone hotlines for that purpose. Because of its prevented many casualties that many have been
personnel composition, the battalion also provid- incurred in ground transportation especially giv-
ed a squad of female Marines each day for duty en the increasing mine and improvised explosive
with RCT-8 entry control points and checkpoints device threat in theater.191
to assist in screening and searching Iraqi wom- In summarizing its activities in this first II MEF
en. Engineers of the battalion constructed sever- campaign in Iraq, the 2d Marine Logistics Group
al of the control and checkpoints for RCT-8 and noted that it had completed the following:
provided engineer support to RCT-8, the II MEF
headquarters group, and Iraqi security forces in Activity Number
AO Raleigh. combat logistics patrols 3,900
In the non-urban “wild west” of al-Anbar security and transportation escorts 17,500
Province, Colonel William S. Aitkin’s Combat Lo- miles driven 2,800,000
gistics Battalion 2 relied much more on aviation explosive ordnance disposal calls 4,937
support in performing its mission as well as us- patients treated at six trauma centers 20,380
ing three ground supply routes while supporting dental patients attended 23,390
RCT-2 and its units from al-Asad Air Base. With surgeries performed 818
Company A, 8th Engineer Support Battalion in di- units of blood transfused 1211
rect support, the battalion also undertook road route repairs 1,126
sweeps, road repair and explosives disposal tasks gallons of fuel dispensed from 16 sites 138,756,000
throughout AO Denver. The surface convoys, short tons of ammunition distributed 1,230
several dozen per month, drove to Korean Vil- supply transactions handled 2,325,000
lage, Hit, Hadithah and al-Qaim initially, expand- short tons of mail delivered 10,847
ing their routes as other towns came under con-
trol of RCT-2 and Iraqi forces. The initial airdrops
began in April and became a regular adjunct to The 30th Naval Construction Regiment used
helicopter support to the outlying operating bas- its considerable construction capabilities to im-
es. The frequency varied according to operations, prove camps and facilities throughout the II MEF
but the routine became three helicopter missions area. Typical contributions included electrical and
and two airdrops to al-Qaim per week with one force protection upgrades to existing buildings,
additional airdrop to Camp Korean Village. The constructing roads and berms, runway repairs,
engineers of the battalion and attached engineer and building camps for Iraqi security forces rang-

ing from the 670-man combat outpost south in nization better met the requirements of a service
the border defense scheme to the Iraqi 1st Divi- component under a combatant command such as
sion’s headquarters camp at ar-Ramadi for 2,100 CENTCOM rather than the ad hoc contingent acti-
persons.192 vated using MARFORPAC personnel “diverted” to
become the nucleus of the MARFORCENT com-
Institutional Infrastructure
ponent. The key functions for MARFORCENT at
for the Marine Corps MacDill comprised plans, operations, command
At the conclusion of the II MEF campaign of and control, and support. MARFORCENT exer-
2005–2006, the Marine Corps itself demonstrated cised operational control over approximately
the changing circumstances of the conflict, and 23,000–29,000 Marines and Sailors spread from
one notes a perceptible shift between the initial Djibouti to Afghanistan. A forward staff continued
planning for forces for Iraq to a new recognition to operate at Bahrain but now as a sub-unit of
that the campaign had no clear endpoint. Marine a permanent component staff—MARFORCENT—
Corps forces could count on taking responsibil- for that theater, not as part of a component staff
ity for al-Anbar Province for the foreseeable fu- created and manned by MARFORPAC personnel
ture. Among the institutional changes most in who “converted” into a MARFORCENT staff.193
evidence were the enlargement of Marine Corps The increasing commitment of U.S. forces
staffing with Central Command, creating Marine against terrorist and other irregular forces in 2001
Corps Special Operations Command, and Deacti- brought increased pressure on the Marine Corps
vating the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (An- to contribute more manpower and materiel to the
ti-Terrorist). structure of the U.S. Special Operations Command.
On 3 August 2005, Lieutenant General Sat- After consultations, the Commandant agreed on 9
tler assumed command of Marine Corps Forc- November 2001 to re-establish the Special Opera-
es Central Command (MARFORCENT) in a new tions Command-Marine Corps Board to examine
headquarters at Tampa manned with a separate enhanced inter-operability between the two en-
staff, standing alone from his I MEF headquar- tities. On 4 December 2002, General Hagee di-
ters at Camp Pendleton. The previous Marine rected the activation of a Marine Corps Special
Corps component of CENTCOM was also MAR- Operations Command Detachment for a two-year
FORCENT, but MARFORCENT at that time was proof-of-concept operation with Special Opera-
a part of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific (MAR- tions Command. Personnel began reporting to the
FORPAC) and a “subsidiary” of MARFORPAC that new unit in March, and on 20 June 2003 Detach-
was activated only when needed. When activat- ment One activated at a new compound locat-
ed, MARFORCENT was staffed by MARFORPAC ed at Camp Del Mar, Camp Pendleton, California.
personnel and became the Marine component of This detachment reported to the commander, Na-
CENTCOM. val Special Warfare Command for operations on 1
Given the large number off responsibilities December and deployed to Iraq on 6 April 2004
that MARFORPAC and its commander already had, establishing a base of operations near Baghdad
the ad hoc creation of the Marine component for International Airport. Selected personnel from the
CENTCOM from MARFORPAC assets was deemed intelligence element of Detachment One served
no longer practical or functional. Accordingly, with outlying task units and with other govern-
U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command be- ment agencies, and the remainder formed Task
came its own organization, “breaking away” from Unit Raider under Naval Special Warfare Task
MARFORPAC; the two organizations were no lon- Group-Arabian Peninsula and commenced direct
ger related. action raids and other operations. On 2 October
A major commitment of personnel and re- 2004, the Naval Special Warfare Task Group-Ara-
sources were required for this change. Brigadier bian Peninsula closed its operations and Detach-
General Anthony L. Jackson became Lieutenant ment One returned to Camp Pendleton.
General Sattler’s deputy commander and managed The proof of concept undertaken by Detach-
the MARFORCENT staff, which occupied build- ment One spawned continuing interest in a Ma-
ings adjacent Central Command’s headquarters at rine Corps component for the joint command,
MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, Florida. In leading to a positive decision by the secretary of
addition, a permanent MARFORCENT staff orga- defense. Accordingly, on 24 February 2006 the

Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Com- mand, it also terminated the existence of an un-
mand was established at Camp Lejeune under the usual Marine Corps initiative forged in the imme-
operational control of the Combatant Command- diate aftermath of the terrorist strikes on the U.S.
er, U.S. Special Operations Command.194 in 2001. The brigade had not existed since the
The activation of the Marine Corps Forces institutional abandonment of the permanent Ma-
Special Operations Command paralleled the si- rine expeditionary brigade headquarters by the
multaneous deactivation of the 4th Marine Expe- Marine Corps in 1992. Its reactivation on 29 Octo-
ditionary Brigade (Anti-Terrorism) (4th MEB [AT]) ber 2001 at Camp Lejeune represented a change
at Camp Lejeune. Although deactivation was nec- of the Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Opera-
essary to provide personnel for the new com- tions Capable) doctrine of the 1980s.

Epilogue: to move the Iraqi security units into the towns
and to shift the U.S. forces outside the urban ar-
New and Old eas in permanent base camps already under con-
struction to replace the forward operating bases
The 2004–2005 security and stability cam- improvised from Iraqi military and government
paign by Marine Corps forces in Iraq began with compounds.
the objective of reversing the nascent Iraqi insur- Into this tenuous situation of early 2004 came
gency and beginning the process of rebuilding a Marines of the I Marine Expeditionary Force, re-
shattered society. The emerging resistance against turning after the brief and successful 2003 opera-
the allied Coalition that had defeated Iraq in 2003 tion in which the Iraqi defenses had been over-
took U.S. forces and civilian authorities by sur- come with such quick, decisive and violent action
prise. Higher authorities calculated that the ex- that vast areas and major cities fell with relative
tended presence of occupation forces, the persis- ease to U.S. and Coalition control. The summer
tent application of counterinsurgency and secu- and fall occupation duty experienced by approxi-
rity techniques, and the fielding of Iraqi security mately 8,000 Marines of the 1st Marine Division in
forces would pacify the country. In parallel with the largely Shi’ite populated areas between Bagh-
the establishment of security, the U.S.-directed dad and Basra bore little resemblance to the chal-
Coalition Provisional Authority projected the cre- lenges that the new campaign in al-Anbar Prov-
ation of a provisional Iraqi government and the ince would bring.
facilitation of democratic elections at national and The Marines sailors and soldiers comprising
regional levels such that “governance” would be the Multinational Force-West comprised by I MEF
established within a year of the scheduled mid- and its reinforcements came prepared for the
2004 “reversion of sovereignty” to the Interim challenges in the spring of 2004 and harbored no
Iraqi Government. illusions that the “Sunni Triangle” would prove
In almost every aspect, the expectations of easy as a security and stabilization operation. The
these higher civil and military authorities proved extent to which the various Sunni insurgencies
overly ambitious and, in effect, repeated their and small foreign terrorist elements thrived in
earlier underestimation of resistance and insur- both urban and rural areas exceeded all predic-
gency in Iraq. The U.S. military forces deployed tions. Although leaders such as Lieutenant Gener-
in Iraq remained undermanned and thus incapa- als Conway and Major General Mattis sensed that
ble of maintaining the security presence in nu- the larger numbers of infantry they introduced in
merous Iraqi towns that could and did shelter the area of operations would significantly effect
dissident elements that plotted and executed vi- the security situation, the number of Marines re-
olent attacks upon security forces and civilians mained woefully insufficient to cover an area of
alike. Predictably, hopes that an Iraqi constabu- approximately 32 percent of Iraq’s total surface
lary could be formed failed when a large contin- area. To that end, the Marine Corps commanders
gent of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps refused to saw only the possibility of applying the patience,
participate in face of the Sunni revolt in al-Anbar persistence, and presence of their troops, and at-
Province and the al-Sadr uprising of April–August tacking the insurgent leadership when detected
2004 or otherwise failed to report for duty in as- and raiding the sanctuaries of the insurgents to
sisting U.S. and Coalition forces in smaller scale destabilize their activities.
security operations throughout Iraq. The Iraqi These realities came to fruition very quickly
Civil Defense Corps had received too little ba- in the spring of 2004. After a few sporadic en-
sic training, no more than three to four weeks in counters with insurgents in each of the regimen-
duration, intended for the more benign environ- tal zones, the ambush and murders of the civil-
ment expected in mid-2003. Instead, these newly ian contractors in Fallujah and the mutilation and
formed and untested units faced insurgents and display of their corpses brought the unwelcome
extremists that had gained combat experience orders to I MEF and 1st Marine Division compel-
fighting against well-armed and seasoned troops, ling an impromptu urban clearing operation that
mostly fielded by the United States. Nevertheless, exposed the scope and depth of the insurgencies
when the first annual rotation of U.S. forces be- in the province at large. The two Fallujah bat-
gan in the spring of 2004, preparations continued tles remained pivotal in the I MEF campaign of

2004–2005 although the successful measures for police remained on duty, this force amounted to
subduing that urban center could not be repeated approximately 2,000 Iraqis. A reasonable formula
because of the cost and destruction wrought in for counterinsurgency would have required over
its execution. Even as the scheduled election of thirty battalions of combat troops for al-Anbar
January 2005 took place, the situation faced by Province. The I MEF was comprised of only elev-
I MEF and the incoming II MEF that would re- en U.S. battalions, not counting provisional units
place it remained all too clear. Until some form employed for base defense, and the II MEF ar-
of reliable Iraqi security forces could be estab- rived in early 2005 with even fewer battalions.196
lished in sufficient numbers and competence, the The Iraqi security units displayed key vulner-
U.S. Marine Corps forces in al-Anbar Province abilities: they were subject to local infiltration, in-
and some neighboring provinces would have to timidation, and threats by local Sunnis. Regard-
wage an aggressive campaign. The enemy had to less of the degree of assistance provided by lo-
be dug out of his enclaves and brought to battle cal Marine and Army units, even including the
but in selected cases and in situations in which vaunted Combined Action Platoon doctrine used
the rest of the province would not suffer without successfully by the Marine Corps in Vietnam, the
sufficient security. At the same time, what few Iraqi battalions failed to the point of wholesale
Iraqi security forces could be established had to breakdown. A few units manned by Shi’a or Kurd-
be nurtured and mentored to the point that they ish soldiers, however, proved much less vulner-
could at least operate with U.S. forces such that able to the Sunni insurgent intimidation tactics. In
the Coalition could begin to overcome the cul- general, however, the Iraqi units fielded in 2004–
tural barriers that separated the public from the 2005 lacked strength, experience, and resilience
Coalition forces that sought to protect it. to fight the insurgents or to continue operating
The firepower and military technology wield- for sustained periods of time. The Iraqi defense
ed by Marine Corps forces with all their training establishment also failed consistently to replace
and expertise remained decisive, vital weapons losses of Iraqi soldiers and to provide adequate
when combat occurred: armored vehicles, artil- equipment for their forces in al-Anbar Province.
lery, and various forms of air support could and With the eventual arrival of over two divisions
did dominate portions of the battlefield, but in of the Iraqi Army in the province by early 2006
the end the Marines soldiers and sailors used ri- along with a marked improvement in the military
fles, grenades, and explosives to confront insur- competence of the Iraqi soldiers, the continuing
gents at close quarters to eliminate their hold over problems of violence and insecurity in the Ma-
the population. Such work did not always fall to rine Corps’ areas of responsibility began to dissi-
the lot of the infantrymen, who remained sorely pate. These units drew their soldiers largely from
under strength for the distances and scope of the the Shi’a population but added somewhat to the
assignments. Many military personnel, regardless existing discontent of the Sunni population of al-
of specialty, found themselves engaged in rou- Anbar Province.
tine scouting, patrolling, convoying, and screen- Improvements in security, realized by the end
ing tasks in which ambushes or other forms of of the two year pacification campaign, meant that
combat led to counterattacks, pursuit, or search a certain part of the Sunni population could be
and clearing operations that many men and wom- persuaded to cooperate with governmental au-
en of I and II MEF and other services experienced thorities and to participate in the basic restoration
for the first time. of Iraqi governance, rebuilding damaged towns
The progress in fielding an Iraqi security force and cities, and opposing the further use of vio-
proved maddenly slow. What the Marines of I lence. Results remained uneven, and already in
MEF initially found in al-Anbar Province largely early 2006, the continued evaluation of ar-Ramadi
comprised only seven Iraqi Civil Defense Corps as one of—if not the most—dangerous cities in
battalions, renamed Iraqi National Guard after the Iraq suggested that it, not the infamous al-Fal-
assumption of sovereignty by the Interim Iraqi lujah, functioned as the true center of the Sun-
Government. These units mostly comprised local ni resistance and insurgency in the surrounding
Sunnis recruited and trained by the U.S. Army, lands. The continuing campaign to gain control
and only one such unit could be moved from over ar-Ramadi, without resort to the devastation
its recruiting locale. When added to what local wrought against Fallujah, remained a slow and

often unrewarding process of vigilance, combat, that could be overcome only by gaining experi-
and persistence. Aerial and artillery bombardment ence and applying it at a rapid pace. The myri-
in many ways threatened to become counterpro- ad tasks facing Marines in both urban and wide-
ductive. The Sunni population continued to re- open rural terrain almost defy description. A se-
sent its lost status in the former regime, and local ries of broken cities and communities literally lay
leaders were skeptical that U.S. forces would con- at their feet, occupied by inhabitants thoroughly
tinue to fight insurgents and terrorists with vigor. demoralized by the shock of war and occupation,
The Sunni population also believed that the Iraqi lacking any level of experience in self-govern-
national government would ever earn Sunni sup- ment and self-sufficiency to make a concerted ef-
port and participation in moderate forms of po- fort at rebuilding. The Marines, however, did not,
litical action. as other armies have done, celebrate victory with
For the men and women serving in the two triumphant parades and speeches. their actions
Marine Expeditionary Forces and the periodically and attitudes were low key and those of profes-
deploying Marine Expeditionary Units, the tasks sional warriors who had accomplished their mis-
at hand remained all too obvious and challeng- sions to the best of their abilities. They did not
ing. Marines could not engage in self-doubt or treat the Iraqis as the enemy or a conquered peo-
self-pity. All the day-to-day violence, aggravated ple. They did not hoist American flags atop build-
by devastating explosions of improvised devices, ings in triumph.
mines, and suicide bombers, had to be endured In a remarkable series of events, the Marines
with patience, resolve, and tactical savvy. They and their comrades reached into themselves and
continued to treat the population as a peaceful drew upon their training, discipline, pride, dedi-
entity, requiring the Marines’ protection and vigi- cation to duty, physical readiness, and fighting
lance. The dissident and insurgent elements re- spirit to adapt to the novel conditions and dan-
quired the use of violent force, but still preserv- gers of counterinsurgency missions and executed
ing the essential humanity of the situation such them with steady resolve, overcoming setbacks
that Marines soldiers and sailors could discern the and generally remaining benign in victory.
boundaries between the violence of combat and Those mission successes and achievements
the limitations posed by a nearby civilian popu- did not come without cost. During the campaign
lace that in the end had to be “won over” to the of 2004–2005, some 500 Marines of Multinational
cause of the western occupier and the awkwardly Force-West were killed while serving in Iraq with
functioning native government. For the Marines, thousands more wounded—many grievously—in
soldiers, and sailors of the MEFs in Iraq, service combat. Since 20 March 2004, elements of I and II
there was their “finest hour,” especially since MEF, augmented by the rest of the active and re-
it was under great military and political pres- serve establishments, have provided continuous
sures such as being outnumbered at times; being presence in Iraq.
watched from near and far for any signs of weak- The new battle streamers on the MEFs’ col-
ness; being second-guessed by military and civil- ors symbolize much. They represent more than a
ian officials and the news mdia; operating under year of the lives and the service of the individual
restrictive rules of engagement preventing them Marines and sailors. They recall the 500 fellow
from using their full array of combat power and Marines and sailors who lost their lives for the
weaponry; and fighting an enemy, often at close mission and who made the journey home ahead
quarters, who did not wear a uniform and who of their comrades. They represent great courage
blended in the population of noncombatant ci- in battle. They represent remarkable stamina over
vilians. In such an environment, the thought of months and even years. They represent unshak-
failure or letting down one’s fellow Marines re- able honor tested iin a war against a treacher-
mained, as it had historically, unthinkable, and on ous, often invisible enemy in the worst of condi-
the contrary, the attitude and accomplishments of tions, just as previous generations of Marines and
the Marines inspired new legendary feats of cour- sailors did at Guadalcanal, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, the
age in the long history of the Marine Corps. Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sanh, and Hue City. They
The Marine Corps forces in Iraq, with the re- represent immeasurable personal sacrifice by the
inforcing organizations that joined it in Multina- MEFs’ Marines and sailors and their families.
tional Force-West, operated with initial handicaps

Endnotes make up most of the remainder of the
classified collection held by the archives
The principal sources for this and subse- at the Gray Research Center. These docu-
quent chapters are the official records and ments, as the case of the above classified
working papers held by the Marine Corps Ar- files, most frequently appear in electronic
chives, Gray Research Center, Marine Corps files stored on CD-ROM and DVD stor-
University located at Marine Corps Base, age discs. Apart from identifying them by
Quantico, Virginia. In addition, certain refer- title and provenance, where feasible, the
ence materials located at the Marine Corps His- remainder of the citation of such a docu-
torical Center, Marine Corps University, have ment perforce consists of electronic loca-
been used. Relevant Classified records held by tion script following the CMCC registry
the archives of the Gray Research Center were number of the host disc.
examined and catalogued by the author dur- For example, the Headquarters Marine
ing 2006-2007. Because no formal inventory or Corps Operations Center (POC) “current
finding aids have to date been produced by operations brief” for 18 February 2004
the archives, the classified records used herein (POC 040218) can be located thus: S-1767-
are identified by use of their classified mate- 06\Feb04. Easily done, in such a case, but
rial control center (CMCC) registry number a reader follows a more complex series to
assigned by the CMCC, Marine Corps Combat find a December 2004 command brief of
Development Command, Quantico, the cog- Regimental Combat Team 1, cited in Chap-
nizant security management authority. These ter 5 thus: RCT-1 CommandBriefDec04,
registry numbers take the form of S-1234-06, S-3925-06\1stDivChonologyDec04\RCT1
in which the letter designates a classification of Jul Dec04 PartIV\I Tab. Note the run-to-
secret, the four numbers the sequential assign- gether name of the file, shown in its elec-
ment of the item or document by the CMCC tronic format, vice the more literary “RCT-
in its registry, and the last numbers the year 1 Command Brief (December 2004).”
of accession into the control system, I.e. not
Chapter 1
the date of the document concerned. Although
less satisfactory than a true inventory, the use 1. MEF laydown 23Aug03 from “I MEF Op-
of the CMCC registry numbers permits the re- eration Iraqi Freedom Brief 12 Dec03” (S-3937-
searcher to locate the requisite items. 06).
The following types of documents most fre- 2. Colonel Nicholas E. Reynolds, Baghdad,
quently proved useful in the compilation of Basra, and Beyond (Annapolis: Naval Insti-
this history: tute Press, 2005), 147-56. This work serves to
Command Chronologies (ComdC)–the date as the Vol. I of the present series, pre-
monthly, semi-annual or annual historical ceding this volume; 1st Mar Div draft Opera-
report required of all Marine Corps orga- tion Iraqi Freedom II ‘book’ (unpublished, un-
nizations under the Marine Corps Histori- dated) [hereafter 1MarDiv OIFII], Ch 1. This
cal Program. Unclassified ComdC are filed draft command narrative manuscript was in-
by the archives by year and originating tended to complement the volume written by
unit, and can be requested by researchers the division staff on OIF I, later published as
in the archives reading room. Lieutenant Colonelonel Micahel S. Groen, inter
Operations and Intelligence Summaries alia, With the 1st Marine Division in Iraq, 2003
(OpSum, IntelSum) of various commands (Quantico: History Division, Marine Corps Uni-
and units, usually classified. versity, 2006). After the departure of MajGen
Situation Reports and Intentions Messages Mattis from the division, the OIF II book proj-
(SitRep, Intentions) of various commands ect became stillborn. Copies may be found
and units, usually classified. in RefSect, and MCU S-0072-07\; HQMC PPO
Briefings, plans, and other working pa- Ops Brief 7Nov03.
pers of operational units, gathered by 3.HQMC, EOS Update Briefing, 15Oct03;
field historians and, on occasion, for- S-3991-06.
warded by Marine Corps organizations,

4. Marine Corps Historical Center, Hagee Mar04 shows E/2/11 arriving Kuwait 28Feb04,
oral history, part I, 14 July 2005. Unedited and S-0306-06\1MarDiv Classified\Disk2\RCT-1
unreleased version provided by Dr. Fred Al- Mar04PartV\CC A/1/11 Feb-Mar04]
lison. 14. CG Talking Points–OIF II Update,
5. Marine Corps Chronology 2003, Refer- Ground Dinner - 18 January 2004, S-3937-06.
ence Section, Marine Corps Historical Center 15. Ibid.
[hereafter, RefSect].
Chapter 2
6.Headquarters Marine Corps Operations
Center (POC) “current operations brief” for 17 16. 1MarDiv OIF II, CH 2.
Dec03, 01Dec03, 23Feb04, S-1764 to 1816-06 17. POC 040105, 040112, 040128; “Force
[hereafter POC by dates as filed: e.g. 031217, Flow Update” 28 Jan 2004, S-3937-06.
031201, 040223]; at this point, only five Ma- 18. 1MarDiv ComdC JJ04.
rines remained to return from the 2003 cam- 19. “Draft I MEF OM and RIP Frag
paign, the last of the special purpose Marine 2/18/04,” S-3937-06 \Archived OIF-II-1
air-ground task force. There still remained Ma- files.
rines of Detachment B, 4th Air-Naval Gunfire 20. ComdC of 1MarDiv, 3rd MAW, 1st FSSG,
Liaison Company (ANGLICO), the 5th Fleet 1st Marines 7th Marines 1st BSSG, all JJ04
Antiterrorist Support Team (FAST) platoon at 21. RCT-1 ComdC Aug04.
the embassy, Marine Fighter Squadron 312 22. “I MEF input DRAFT 2 MARCENT to CJTF
(VMFA-312) afloat nearby on board carrier USS 7 confirmation of dates” 23Jan04 in S-3937-06 \
Enterprise (CVN-65), and personnel serving in RIP&TOA; 1MarDiv ComdC JJ04 (unclassified);
joint and special staffs in Iraq totaled 507 in “Sequential Listing of Significant Events (U)”
the theater. The Marine Corps reached its low- S-3801-06\1MarDiv JJ04; 1FSSG ComdC JJ04;
est point in overseas deployments during 2003 3MAW (fwd) ComdC 10Feb-31Mar04.
in late November, just under 11,000 Marines 23. “First 60,” S-3937-06; From 1MarDiv OIF
excluding personnel permanently stationed II, Ch 2: “The 15 plays developed as a result
overseas. (POC 031121) of discussions between the Chief of Staff Colo-
7. Kenneth W. Estes, “1st Armored Division: nel Dunford, CG and Assistant Division Com-
Operation Iraqi Freedom, May 2004 -July 2004” mander. Conceptually the 15 plays represented
(Wiesbaden: HQ 1st Arm Div, 2005); Charles the scripted plays that a football team might
E. Kirkpatrick, “V Corps Becomes CJTF-7: The use in the opening quarter of a football game.
Month of Plans and Decisions” (Heidelberg: The San Francisco 49ers had successfully used
HQ V Corps, draft Nov04). the concept and the division staff felt that they
8. 1MarDiv OIFII , Ch 1; POC 031121. could successfully exploit a similar construct.
9. CG, 1stFSSG ltr 30Oct03, ComdC JD03. The assessment by the OPT and staff was that
10. 3MAW ComdC JD03. the Division would build upon the successes
11. 1MarDiv OIF II, Ch 2. Note on the “RPG” of the 82d Airborne Division. Indications were
series rocket launcher: popularly referred to that the 82d had done a good job in establish-
in open press and other sources as meaning ing a secure environment in their zone. Divi-
‘rocket propelled grenade,’ it remains less well sion planners recognized that although the 82d
known, but more properly, as a Russian acro- had let some enemy sanctuaries remain, the
nym, Reaktivnyi Protivotankovyi Granatomet, bulk of the Divisions focus could be on the
meaning ‘Rocket-propelled Anti-Tank Grenade stability mission. The 15 Plays identified the
Launcher.’ Most such weapons encountered in opening actions required to support both the
Iraq were RPG-7 and RPG-16 marks] security and stability mission in the Al-Anbar
12. “I MEF OIF II RFP MSG FINAL,” S-3937- Province. The weight of effort in the 15 Plays
06\ Archived OIF-II-1 Files. focused on the stability mission. Eventually the
13. Last minute sourcing of 2 firing bat- 15 Plays would develop into 18 actual plays
teries of arty from MARCENT planning doc in and would be included and Annex X in the
“Matrix_ New_Baseline_09_JAN_2004_1100,” 1stMarDiv Operations Order (OpOrd).”
showing no such batteries at that point; S-3937- 24. Operation Iraqi Freedom-II ASE Com-
06\Archived OIFII-1 Files; RCT-7 ComdC Feb- pletion Schedule, System description, POC

040129; See also Lieutenant General Michael 40. 1MarDiv OIF II, Ch4; 1MarDiv ComdC
A. Hough, “State of Marine Aviation,” Marine JJ04; RCT-1 ComdC Apr04.
Corps Gazette 88 (May 2004), 5:11-27. 41. 1MarDiv Intentions 040401-8; RCT-1
25. PPO 040129; USCENTCOM msg was his ComdC Apr04.
040803ZJan04; CJTF-7 reported a shortfall of 42. “1/5 Frag Order 005-04” 11Apr04, Ref
2,780 uparmored HMMWVs in Iraq. Sect, 1-5 Historical Docs OIF1-2.
26. Brigadier General William D. Cato, 43. 1st Bn, 2d Mar, 1st Bn, 5th Mar, A
“Rapid Acquisition in Support of Operation Battery, 1st Bn, 11th Mar, and RCT-1 Comd-
Iraqi Freedom II” Marine Corps Gazette 88 CApr04.
(May 2004), 5:48-50. 44. U.S. Army National Ground Intelligence
Center, “Complex Environments: Battle of Fal-
Chapter 3
lujah, 1 April 2004,” S-4504-06.
27. RCT-7 ComdC Feb-Mar04 45. 1MarDiv ComdC JJ04
28. ComdC of 1MarDiv, 3rd MAW, 1st FSSG, 46. J. Smith silver star citation, RefSect; Cap-
1st Marines 7th Marines 1st BSSG, all JJ04; pi- tain Smith and his company are also covered in
lot controller handbook 15 June 05, S-0265-06\ the earlier fighting in Robert D. Kaplan’s essay,
FECC Encl\Air Web Page Files “Five Days in Fallujah,” The Atlantic Monthly
29. POC 040418. 294 (July/August 2004), 1:116-26.
30. Combat Power 15Apr04; S-3937-06\I 47. 1MarDiv ComdC JJ04; U.S. Army Na-
MEF Sitreps\SitrepOfficer\AsstSitrepOfficer\ tional Ground Intelligence Center, “Complex
Combat Power. Environments: Battle of Fallujah 1, April 2004,
31. Gretchen A. Sparkman “COLISEUM Re- S-4504-06.
quirement K506-04-0029-S,” a contracted pré- 48. CJTF-76 April FragO 581; Estes, “1st Ar-
cis, S-4522-06\HistoricFiles\Al-Anbar Histori- mored Division: Operation Iraqi Freedom, May
cal; Lewis Owen, “Tigris-Euphrates river sys- 2004 -July 2004” (Wiesbaden: HQ 1st Arm Div,
tem.” Encyclopedia Britannica (2007) ; “2004 2005).
World Data,” Encyclopedia Britannica (2006). 49. 1MarDiv 8 Apr Intentions, modified lat-
32. RCT-7 Intentions messages, 19-29Mar04 er to “our pending request to add a tank com-
[hereafter by file date, e.g. 040319-29], S-3933- pany, track [amphibious assault vehicle] com-
06\Intentions Mssg\Mar04\RCT-7  ; RCT-7 pany, and artillery battalion to our task organi-
ComdC Feb-Mar04; 1MarDiv Sequential List- zation”; 11Apr Intentions.
ing of Events, S-3801-06. The TOW antitank 50. 2d Bn, 4th Mar Intsum 040406-7, S-0306-
missile was never named, leaving only the ac- 06\DiskFour\2-4Jan Apr(Sec)TabKS2\T\KS2\
ronym for “tube-launched, optically-directed, INTSUMS\APR; Morel and Copeland Navy
wire-guided missile.” Cross, Baptista, Bronzi and E. M. Smith silver
33. 1BCT Intention messages, 040321-30, star citations, RefSect.
S-3933-06\Intentions Mssg\Mar04\1BCT. 51. 1MarDiv Intentions 13Apr07.
34. 1MarDiv ComdC JJ04; 1MarDiv Sequen- 52. Ibid, 14Apr07
tial Listing of Events, S-3801-06 53. 1MarDiv 17Apr07 Intentions.
35. Michael S. Groen, “The Tactical Fusion 54. 1MarDiv Intentions Apr-May04; 1Mar-
Center,” Marine Corps Gazette 89 (April, 2005) Div ComdC JJ04; RCT-7 ComdC Apr and May
4, 59-63. 04.
36. CG 1MarDiv Intentions 040327, 28 and 55. 1MarDiv Intentions May-June04; 1Mar-
31; S-3933-06\Intentions Mssg\Mar04\March04 Div ComdC JJ04; CC RCT-1ComdC May and
Intentions Messages. Jun04.
56. RCT-7, ComdC May and Jun04; silver
Chapter 4
star citation Matthew A Lopez, RefSect.
37. 1MarDiv ComdC JJ04; 1MarDiv OIF II, 57. 1MarDiv Intentions 040426.
Ch4. 58. USMC Chronology, RefSect; POC
38. 1MarDiv CC JJ04; 1MarDiv Intentions 040518, 040621, 041004; 24 July report to 1st-
040401, S-3933-06\Intentions Mssg\Apr04. MarDiv by 24th MEU based upon 1MarDiv In-
39. 1MarDiv Intentions 040403. tentions message that date.

59. POC 040518, 040621, 040720; CC 11 73. POC 041001; 1stMarDiv ComdC, JD04;
MEU JD04; G-3, I MEF, “Information Memoran- RCT-1 and RCT-7 ComdC, JD04; 31st MEU, “Op-
dum on Operations in An Najaf for the Period eration Phantom Fury, Mission Analysis Brief-
of 31 July 2004–28 August 2004,” S-3810-06\ ing 28Oct04,” S-3925-06\1stDivChronology\
Najaf Narrative v.III10Sept04.pdf; Perhaps the Ops History\ChronFileS3; On 13 September,
most important mosque in the world to Shiite Colonel Toolan relinquished his command of
Muslims, Imam Ali Shrine is the burial site of RCT-1 to Colonel Lawrence D. Nicholson, who
Mohammed’s brother-in-law and successor, as- a few hours later received wounds from an
sassinated in 661 A.D. incoming shell on his convoy. Colonel Shupp
60. S-3937-06\IMEF sitreps\Jul04\11th (1st Marine Division assistant chief of staff,
MEU sitrep 31Jul04. G-7) assumed command of 1st Marines the fol-
61. Frank Kozlowski, John R. Way, and lowing day. Colonel Elvis Blumenstock, in his
Bradford A. Wineman, “ ‘Whatever It Takes,’ comment on the draft manuscript of 14 May
- U.S. Marines in the Battle of An Najaf, 2004” 2008, clarified the confusing support arrange-
unpublished manuscript, (Quantico: Marine ments for the 31st MEU and RCT-7 during their
Corps Historical Center, 2007). For details of exchange of area responsibilities during Op-
Generals Metz and Casey, see beginning of eration Phantom Fury.
Chapter 7. 74. App 11–Intell Est, RCT7 FragO 0220-
62. Jackson, 89; G-3 I MEF “Information 04 31Oct04, S-3813-06\RCT-7 docs\Operation
Memorandum on Operations in An Najaf…” Phantom Fury CD
63. POC 040604 cites USCENTCOM RFF 75.”RCT-7 Mission Analysis and COA De-
Serial 325 (020847Zjun04; POC 040621 cites velopment Fallujah 24Sep04,” S-3815-06\
COMMARFORPAC DEPORD 151900ZJun04; 31 Chessani\planning docs; cf. “Falluja II OPT”
MEU ComdC JD04 (1Oct04) RCT-1, S-3815-06\Chessani\planning
64. POC 040720 docs.
76. 1MarDiv ComdC JD04.
Chapter 5
77. Ibid.
65. IMEF Cdr Update 11May, S-3709-06\ 78. RCT-1 “Air in Fallujah”, S-4501-06; For
CdrsUpdate Highlighted\May04. details and illustrations, see “Aviation FiresCon-
66.MajGen Amos in IMEF Cdr Updates Ops”, S-3925-06\1stDivChronology Dec04\
5May, 20 May, S-3709-06\CdrsUpdate High- RCT1 Part IV\H Tab\”Phantom Fury Air Brief
lighted\May04. v.3.ppt” (11/2/2004). “I MEF OIF2.2 11 Sept for
67. “Talking points for Fallujah Brigade Sit- BG Mcabee,” S-3811-06\MEF briefs historical\
uation,” S-3811-06\MEF Briefs; IMEF Cdr Up- VIP briefs\VIP briefs for WEB. Fred Allison,
dates 1May-1Sept04, S-3709-06\CdrsUpdate “Urban CAS Marine Corps Style Fallujah 2004”
Highlighted\May04 unpublished essay, Marine Corps Historical Di-
68. “OIF II Aircraft loss Report (as of vision (December, 2007).
14Sep04)” in POC 041001; Sitrep 092200Sep04, 79. 1MarDiv ComdC JD04.
S-3709-06\IMEF Sitrep\Sep04. 80. MNF-I “Fallujah Strategic Mission Anal-
69. Clifton Distinguished Flying Cross cita- ysis Briefing (3Oct 04),” S-4501-06.
tion, RefSect. 81. RCT-1 Intentions Messages, S-3925-
70. Slide, “Laptop Standalone” (7Sep04) 06\1st Div Chronology Dec04\RCT1 Part III
and briefing, “Shaping Fallujah” (9Sept04), TAB C\November Intentions; RCT-7 Inten-
S-3811-06\MEF Briefs for Historical Purposes\ tions messages, S-3925-06\1st Div Chronolo-
VIP briefs gy Dec04\RCT-7 July-Dec04\RCT-7 Command
71. “TF 6-26 Fallujah Shaping Operations” Chrono\RCT-7\ November Supporting docs;
(27Sept04), S-3811-06\MEF Briefs for Histori- Lee Silver Star citation, RefSect.
cal Purposes\VIP briefs\Prospective Slides. 82. First noted on I MEF Sitrep of 9 No-
72. 1MarDiv Frag Orders 0295, 0300 and vember.
0314-04, S-3925-06\1DivChron\DivClasChron 83. RCT-1 Intentions, S-3925-06\1st Div
IV items; 1MarDiv ComdC, JD04 Chronology Dec04\RCT1 Part III TAB C\No-
vember Intentions; RCT-7 Intentions, S-3925-

06\1st Div Chronology Dec04\RCT-7 July- 3519-06; POC briefs, where avail; I MEF CC
Dec04\RCT-7 Command Chrono\RCT-7\ No- JD04\S-3925-06; I MEF OIF2\S-3933 to 3945-
vember Supporting docs; 2-7 Cavalry, “Opti- 06; Of interest is Department of Defense “Fal-
mized Fallujah Storyboard, S-3925-06\1st Div lujah Update 05 Nov 04” S-4503-06, copy of
Chronology Dec04\2-7 Cav; Adelsperger Navy which has penned on the cover, “POTUS Brief”,
Cross (posthumous) and Kirk Silver Star cita- suggesting that it possibly was part of the fi-
tions, RefSect. nal briefing given the president of the United
84. RCT-1 Intentions 12 Nov04, S-3925- States before the battle. “Optimized Train Sta-
06\1st Div Chronology Dec04\RCT1 Part III tion Reconnaissance Results,” RCT-1, S-3815-
TAB C\November Intentions; 06\Chessani\planning docs for photos of RCT-
85. RCT-1 Intentions (various), S-3925- 1 assembly areas, routes; See “Iraqi Order”
06\1st Div Chronology Dec04\RCT1 Part III RCT-1, S-3815-06\Chessani\planning docs for
TAB C\November Intentions; RCT-7 Inten- details of RCT-1 assault, plus detailing of Iraqi
tions (various), S-3925-06\1st Div Chronolo- FOF for pacification, Phase IV.
gy Dec04\RCT-7 July-Dec04\RCT-7 Command
Chapter 6
Chrono\RCT-7\ November Supporting docs;
RCT-1 intentions, 12Nov04; Kasal and Mitchell 95. POC 041124 and 041209; 1MarDiv
Navy Cross citations, Refsect. ComdC JD04.
86. I MEF sitreps, Nov-Dec 04; The RCT-1 96. POC 041209, 041222, 050202, 050207,
ComdC Dec04 also notes 23 December as the 050211, 050218.
beginning of Phase IV operation; Krafft and 97. POC 050111, 050120, 050124.
Workman Navy Cross citations, RefSect. Col- 98. “Election draft FragO” (MNF-I), S-4522-
onel John Ballard comments on draft manu- 06\HistoricFiles\Elections; I MEF sitreps26-
script, 11Jun08. 31Jan04.
87. “Phantom Fury Phase IV” S-3815-06\ 99. I MEF sitrep, 30Jan04.
Chessani\planning docs; also in RCT-1 Frag 100. POC 051024.
order 001(Phase IV) to OpOrd 003-04 (Phan- 101. 1MarDiv ComdC JJ05
tom Fury), S-3815\RCT-1 FragOs. 102. Ibid.
88. 1MarDiv, “Phase IV ConOps” (11)ct04), 103. I MEF, “Operation Iraqi Freedom II.2
S-4501-06; “Phantom Fury Phase IV” RCT-1, August, 2004-March, 2005,” author files.
S-3815-06\Chessani\planning docs. For per- 104. 1MarDiv, 31st MEU and 7th Ma-
haps the best short essay on the Second Fal- rines ComdC JJ05; POC 041209 contains CJSC
lujah battle, see LtGen John F. Sattler and Lieu- 041329Z DEC 04 on the 45 Day extension; oth-
tenant Colonelonel Daniel H. Wilson, “Opera- er details from POC 050124 and 050211.
tion Al Fajr: The Battle of Fallujah–Part II,” Ma- 105. POC 050329.
rine Corps Gazette 89 (July, 2005) 7:12-24. 106. POC 050218.
89. “Intercept from Phantom Fury;” S-4501- 107. “Thoughts on the Current Situation
06 - redacted for declassification purposes. in Raleigh and Fallujah,” S-3815-06\Chessani\
90. Majar A.R. Milburn “Lessons Learned; Planning Docs.
Operation Phantom Fury” 5 Jan 05, S-4501-06;
Chapter 7
RCT-1 CommandBriefDec04, S-3925-
06\1stDivChonologyDec04\RCT1 Jul Dec04 108. “CASB-12Jun04, with attached OPlan
PartIV\I Tab. Sovereign Iraq (May04 draft),” S-4521-06\TOA
91. RCT-1 “Air in Fallujah”, S-4501-06; Ar- and After.
tillery table from S-4501-06, unknown prove- 109.Ibid.
nance. 110. 24Jun04 draft CMC planning guid-
92. As of 27 Dec 04, cited in POC 041227 ance for Operation Iraqi Freedom III, CMC
“Source: HQMC CRC manpower officer.” 081328ZJul04, and LOI for II MEF Operation
93. POC 041227. Iraqi Freedom III OPT 2-20Aug04; S-4521-06\
94. Significant sources for details of Sec- Operation Iraqi FreedomIII.
ond Fallujah include: 1MarDiv JJ04SignEvents, 111. “AO Atlanta Assessment” in 2d Intel
S-3801-06; Fallujah Capt Winslow\S-3515 to Battalion,”Operation Iraqi Freedom III OPB

040902” briefing, S-4521-06\Operation Iraqi 131. RCT-8 ComdC JJ05; 1st Bn, 6th Mar
Freedom III OPT. ComdC JJ05 also featuring excellent maps;
112. POC daily briefings, Jan-Apr05. Waldron Silver Star citation, RefSect.
113. 3d Bn, 25th Mar ComdC JJ05.
Chapter 9
114. II MEF ComdC Feb-Apr05; 2nd AA
Battalion ComdC JJ05; RCT-8 ComdC JJ05. 132. MEF Campaign Plan 28Jan05, S-0259-
115. POC 050317. 06\MNF-W Sitreps\OpOrd-Annexes; the “per-
116. Marine Corps Logistics Cmd, Com- ceived injustices imposed on Sunnis,” typically
dC2004. included the Coalition Provisional Authority’s
117. POC 050222. “De-Baathification” policy, disbandment of the
118. POC 050317; II MEF ComdC Feb- old, Sunni-controlled Iraqi Army, and the lack
Apr05. of Sunni representation on the U.S.-appointed
119. RCT-2 ComdC JJ05; Note there was Iraqi Governing Council.
no artillery firing battery in RCT-2 in the Mar- 133. “Multi-National Force West (MNF-W)
Sep05 deployment. Davis comment on draft, Operations Order 1-05 (Title: Operation Iraqi
10Jun08. Freedom 04-06 Campaign Plan)”, S-0259-06\
120. 3d Bn, 8th Mar ComdC Jan05. Opord-Annexes.
121. 3d Bn, 4th Mar ComdC Jan-Mar05; 134. 2MarDv Intentions 050530, S-
A/2d LAR Bn ComdC Jan-Apr05. 4489-06\2dMarDiv\2dMarDiv Intentions
122. RCT-8 ComdC JJ05. Messages\05May.
123. POC 050211-15; 155th BCT Sitrep 135. 2MarDv Intentions 050606, S-
132000Feb05, S-4489-06\155BCT\05 Feb. 4489-06\2dMarDiv\2dMarDiv Intentions
124. POC 050125, 050308, 050317, Messages\05Jun.
050404,050407; 1st Bn, 1st Mar ComdC JJ05; 136. RCT-2 ComdC Jul-Sep30: 40 weapons,
MAG-26 ComdC, Mar and Apr05. 300 various artillery rounds, 1 81mm mortar
125. 2MarDiv Sitrep 050317, S-4489- tube, 2 60mm mortar tubes, 2 107mm rocket
06\2MarDiv Intentions Messages\05 Mar ; POC launchers, 2 improvised launchers and a num-
050331 ; II MEF ComdC Feb-Apr05. ber of 120mm warheads captured.
137. POC 050801
Chapter 8
138. POC 050804; RCT2 ComdC Jul-Sep05;
126. 1stMarDiv Intentions 050221, S-4489- 3d Bn 2d Mar ComdC Aug05; 3d Bn, 25th Mar
06\2dMarDiv\2dMarDiv Intentions. ComdC JD05; A/1st Tk Bn ComdC Aug05.
127. RCT-2 ComdC JJ05; Steve Fainaru, 139. II MEF Sitrep 050901; S-0259-06\MNF-
“The Grim Reaper, Riding a Firetruck in Iraq: W Sitreps\05 Sep.
Marines Recount Dramatic Assault At Base 140. TF Phantom consisted of the XVIII
Near Syria” Washington Post, (10Apr05), A1. Airborne Corps long range surveillance com-
128. RCT-2 ComdC JJ05, 3d Bn, 25th Com- pany, augmented by an Airscan aircraft capa-
dC Mar JJ05; for op order and maps, photos ble of conducting live video surveillance, plus
see S-4491-06\Operation Matador\S3. ground-based signal intelligence support, mas-
129. RCT2 ComdC JJ and Jul-Sep05, 3d int sensors, tactical human intelligence team,
Battalion, 2d Mar ComdC July05, 3d Battalion, and intelligence production section. “Task
25th Mar ComdC JJ, JD05; Stann and Wimberg Force Phantom Tacon To 2d MarDiv (revised)”;
(posthumous) Silver Star citations, RefSect. S-0627-06\publishedfragorders.
Task Force Lionheart comprised elements of 141. “FECC Classified Command Chronol-
the RCT-2 Headquarters Company, Company ogy May 05 to Dec 05; S-4523-06\G-3\FECC;
B, 4th Combat Engineer Battalion (RCT-2 re- RCT-2 ComdC Jul-Sep05.
serve), and Company K, 3d Battalion, 25th Ma- 142. Sources including photos: “BTT Lo-
rines. Davis comment on draft. cation” “POE Brief v7.1” and “Al Qaim COA
130. 1st Bn, 5th Mar ComdC JJ05; Russell Brief,” S-0266-06\ISF\DBE.
Silver Star citation, RefSect. 143. POC 050505, 050601, 050831; “BTT
Location 25 Dec,” S-0266-06\ISF enclosures.

144. “Strategic Basing & ISF Laydown Nar- curfew across the entire country and banned
rative” (16Apr05), S-4489-06\ISF. all private vehicles from driving on the roads
145. Ibid. on election day, leaving Iraq’s 15.5 million reg-
146. “MNF-W ISF Monthly Status,” POC istered voters to walk to polling centers if they
050831; 7th IA Div movement in POC 060215; wanted to cast a ballot.
MTT data from POC 051031. 160. POC 051028; 13th MEU ComdC JD05;
The checkpoint covered by C Battery, 1st Bn,
Chapter 10
11th Mar provided relief for 2d Bn, 114th Field
147. 2MarDiv Frago 0158-05 of 30Jul05: Artillery, which had occupied Hit the previous
Operation Liberty Express; S-4509-06\Elec- month.
tions Turnover. 161. 2MarDiv G-3 ComdC Sept, Oct,
148. Ibid. Nov05.
149. Ibid. 162. 13th MEU ComdC Oct-Dec05; ComdC
150. “Div Liberty Express OPT Outbrief (08 3rd Bn, 6th Mar Oct-Dec05; “012400CDec05.
Aug 05) V.2 (Optimized)” [with excellent illus- Op.Sayaid.Effects.Complete”, S-0261-06\
trations], S-4509-06\Elections Turnover\Liber- Dec05; 2MarDiv G-3 ComdC Nov05.
ty Express Documents. 163. II MEF, “012400CDec05.Op.Sayaid.
151. Ibid. Effects.Complete,” “012000CDec05.ISF.Lay-
152. II MEF Future Ops [staff section] Com- down,” S-0261-06\Dec05; 2MarDiv G-3 Com-
dC JD05, S-4523-06\G3\FOPS; “Border Fort dC Nov05; MNF-W Sitrep 051110, S-0259-06.
Code Words 5-18” (15Jan06), S-0266-06\ISF 164. 2MarDiv G-3 ComdC Nov05 and Dec05;
enclosures\DBE. 13th MEU ComdC JD05; “021600CDec05.
153. FECC Classified Command Chronolo- Cg.Loo.Briefing.Graphics,” S-0261-06\Dec05
gy May 05 to Dec 05; S-4523-06\G3\FECC. 165. 2MarDiv G-3 ComdC Nov05;
154. POC 051003; 3d Bn, 6th Mar ComdC “010001CDec05.Op.Hard.Knock;” S-0261-06\
Oct-Dec05; 1st Tk Bn ComdC JD05; Foncon Dec05.
au with Lieutenant Colonel Alford, 3Jun08; 166. 2MarDiv G-3 ComdC Nov05 and
The POC briefing and the 2MarDiv G-3 Com- Dec05; “021600CDec05.Cg.Loo.Briefing.Graph-
dC Oct05 curiously had the operation name in ics”; S-0261-06\Dec05
German: “Operation Eisenfaust.” 167. 2MarDiv G-3 ComdC Dec05; “Div Lib-
155. POC 051003; 2MarDiv Hq Bn G-3 erty Express Transition Brief (11 Dec 05)”; S-
ComdC Oct05. 0237-06\1-LibertyExpress Documents.
156. 2MarDiv Hq Bn G-3 ComdC Oct05; 168. S-0237-06\After Action Reports; El-
POC 051019; I MEF Future Ops ComdC JD05, len Knickmeyer and Jonathan Finer, “Iraqi
S-4523-06\G3\FOPS; “270001.Cdec05.Firm. Vote Draws Big Turnout Of Sunnis: Anti-U.S.
Bases.Hadithah.Haqliniyah.Barwana”; S-0621- Sentiment Is Motivator for Many,” Washington
06\Dec05. Post (December 16, 2005), A1; Kenneth Katz-
157. 2Mardiv 061212COct05 Mod 2 To Fra- man “Iraq: Elections, Government, and Consti-
gO 0158-05, S-4509-06\Elections Turnover\ tution” CRS Report RS21968 (Washington DC:
Liberty Express Documents\Div Liberty Ex- Congressional Research Service, 2006)) The In-
press FragO. dependent Electoral Commission of Iraq con-
158. After action reports of 2d Marine Di- firmed the election results on 10 February. The
vision, 8th Marines and 2d Brigade: S-4509- United Iraqi Alliance Coalition received 128
06\Elections Turnover\Liberty Express Docu- seats; Kurdish Alliance 53; Iraqi Tawafuq (Con-
ments\After action reports. sensus) Front (Sunni Arab) 44; Allawi’s Iraqi-
159. John Ward Anderson and Jonathan ya 25; Iraqi Front for National Dialogue (Sunni
Finer, “Pollings Close in Iraq: Large Numbers Arab) 11, Kurdish Islamic Union 5 (remaining
Turn Out Despite Sporadic Violence” Wash- 9 seats divided between, Al-Risaliyun, Libera-
ington Post (October 15, 2005). Colonel Ste- tion and Reconciliation Gathering; Iraqi Turk-
phen Davis comments to draft manuscript, men Front, Al-Rafidain, Mithal Al-Alousi, Yezi-
11Jun08. Iraq also sealed its borders, closed di Movement).
Baghdad International Airport, threw a night

169. 2MarDiv FragO 660-05 “Re-Es- 180. Turnover data from POC 060101-
tablish Iraqi Control Of The Border Cele- 060228, passim.
bration,” S-0267-06\PublishedFragOrders; 181. Mattis to au tel interview 12Oct07.
“312200CDec05.Force.Laydown,” S-0261-06\ Johnson comment on draft mansuscript 27
Dec05; II MEF, G3 Future Ops ComdC JD05 May 08.
4Feb06; S-4523-06\G-3\FOPS. 182. I MEF ComdC JJ06.
170. 2MarDiv G-3 ComdC Dec05; 183.
“312400CDec05.3.1.Op.Red.Bull” “Green Tri- printitem.aspx?print=http://www.defenselink.
dent” and “Bulldog,” S-0261-06\Dec05. The 85 mil/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=879
small caches found by 1st Recon Bn yielded 184. “MNF-W Combat Operations in
an impressive quantity of munitions: 742 artil- Review”(28Jan06), S-0262-06\Jan06.
lery rounds, 980 mortar rounds, 70 rockets, 17 185. POC 060301.
small arms weapons, 14 RPG launchers, 183
Chapter 12
RPG rounds and 149 grenades. 3d Bn 1st Ma-
rines found the following in its 63 caches: 77 186. 5th CAG ComdC Sept-Dec05; 4th CAG
artillery rounds, 163 mortar rounds, 72 rock- ComdC JD05; 5th CAG ComdC JD05; 6th CAG,
ets, 24 small arms weapons, 15,700 small arms “Finding Guide for the Records of the 6th Civil
munitions, 1925 anti-aircraft rounds, 15 RPG Affairs Group (Provisional),” in a 362Mb disc
launchers, 72 RPG rounds, 18 grenades, and filed with the ComdC JD05 and Jan-May06.
78 electronic devices. No end seemed in sight Operational archives of 5th CAG are in S-4488-
for the quantity of munitions available to insur- 06, for 6th CAG in S 0237, 0238, 0243-06.
gents of all kinds. 187. II MEF Presidential Unit Citation Award
171. II MEF, “312301CJan06.MNFW.Op- Recommendation 2005–2006, RefSect.
erations.Rollup.As.Of.28Jan2400c.Complete,” 188. MAG-26 ComdC Mar05; VMU-1 and
S-0261-05\Jan06. VMU-2, ComdC 2005; II MEF Aviation Univer-
172. II MEF FOPS ComdC JD05. sal Needs Statements on UAV, common data/
173. 2MarDiv G-3 ComdC Dec 05; casual- ground links and pods are contained in S-0265-
ties from POC 060103. 06.
189. 2d MAW, “Operation Matador 8-14 May
Chapter 11
Rollup;” S-0265-06\Aviation Strike Reports.
174. In the strange nomenclature of the 190. “MNF-W Combat Operations in Re-
Joint Staff, the II MEF 2004-2005 deployment, view (28Jan06), S-0262-06\Jan06.
known as Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) 04- 191. 2d MLG, CLR-25, CLB-2, CLB-8 Com-
06.1 and 06.2 would be relieved in 2006 by I dC March-December 2005.
MEF’s 2006-07 deployment, known in its two 192. “MNF-W Combat Operations in Re-
increments as: OIF 05-07.1 and 07.2. For obvi- view (28Jan06), S-0262-06\Jan06.
ous reasons, these terms are not used in this 193. U.S. Marine Forces Central Command
history. ComdC Aug-Dec05.
175. II MEF, “Al Anbar: Near Term Way 194. Lieutenant Colonel John P. Piedmont
Ahead (13Jan06),” S-4557-06\G3 1of7\V Corp USMCR, “The Formation And Deployment Of
Brief on Al Anbar (13 Jan) (ver5.2). Marine Special Operations Command Detach-
176. Ibid. ment One” (Quantico: Marine Corps Historical
177. “MNF-W Combat Operations in Re- Center, 2006).
view (28Jan06),” S-0262-06\Jan06; 22nd MEU 195. 4th MEB (AT) ComdC 2004-2005; Anti-
ComdC JJ06; POC 060103-060228. terrorism Bn, 4th MAB(AT) ComdC 2004-2005
178. POC 060120. 196. Carter Malkasian, “Did the Coalition
179. II MEF Sitrep 051231, S-0259-06\MNF- Need More Forces in Iraq? Evidence from Al
W Sitreps\Dec05, already showing departure Anbar,” (Alexandria: Center for Naval Analy-
of 155th Bde. ses, 18 November 2006), 9-10.

Appendix A (14 August–27 January 2005); Col Lawrence D.
Nicholson (27 January–1 April 2005)
Command and Staff List G-4: LtCol John J. Broadmeadow (1 Janu-
ary–14 March 2004); LtCol Jeffrey Q. Hooks (15
I Marine Expeditionary Force (Fwd) March–31 August 2004); Col Jeffrey M. Horigan
(1 September–21 November 2004); Col Grego-
Commanding General: LtGen James T. Con-
ry R. Dunlap (22 November 2004–)
way (–11 September 2004); LtGen John F. Sat-
G-6: LtCol Paul Miller (1 January–5 Octo-
ber 2004); LtCol Brian M. Barton (6 October–31
Deputy Commanding General: MajGen
December 2004); LtCol Paul Miller (1 January
Keith J. Stalder (–29 May 2004); BGen Dennis
2005–30 March 2005)
J. Hejlik
G-7: LtCol Daniel J. Odonohue (22 Feb-
Chief of Staff: Col John C. Coleman
ruary–31 May 2004); Col Michael A. Shupp (1
G-1: Col William J. Hartig (–26 May 2004);
June–14 September 2004); LtCol Jeffery W. Fulz
Col Eric D. Bartch
(15 September 2004–30 March 2005)
G-2: Col James R. Howcroft (–30 June 2004);
G-X: Col Michael W. Manske (1 January–30
Col Ronald S. Makuta
June 2004); Col Ralph N. Brown
G-3: Col Larry K. Brown (–30 June 2004);
Headquarters Battalion: LtCol Michael A.
Col Michael R. Regner
Biszak: Col Stephen C. Baker
G-4: Col Bruce E. Bissett (–30 June 2004);
2d Battalion, 4th Marines: LtCol Paul J. Ken-
Col Andrew Reynosa
G-5: Col Anthony L. Jackson; Col Richard
2d Battalion, 5th Marines: LtCol Newman
O. Bartch
3d Battalion 24th Marines: LtCol Milton L.
G-6: Col Marshall I. Considine; LtCol Martin
E. Lapierre
3d Battalion 11th Marines (Prov. MP): LtCol
G-7: Col Richard W. Spencer
Thomas J. Connally
G-9: Maj Florian Limoco (–23 August 2004);
2d Battalion 11th Marines (Prov. MP): LtCol
Maj Banjamin P. Stinson
Michael M. Frazier
I MEF Headquarters Group: Col John C.
Regimental Combat Team 1: Col John A.
Cunnings; Col Joseph H. Bruder IV (7 June–)
Toolan (to 13 September 2004); Col Michael A.
1st Marine Division (-)(Rein) Shupp
2d Battalion, 1st Marines: LtCol Gregory P.
Commanding General: MajGen James N.
Mattis (1 January–19 August 2004); MajGen
3d Battalion, 1st Marines: LtCol Willard A.
Richard F. Natonski
Assistant Division Commander: BGen John
2d Battalion 2d Marines: LtCol James G.
F. Kelly (1 January–15 July 2004); BGen Joseph
F. Dunford, Jr.
1st Battalion, 5th Marines: LtCol Brennan T.
Chief of Staff: Col Joseph F. Dunford Jr. (1
January–15 July 2004); Col Robert J. Knapp (16
3d Battalion, 5th Marines: LtCol Patrick J.
July 2004–)
G-1: LtCol Robert R. Kosid (1 January–30
2d Battalion, 24th Marines: LtCol Mark A.
August 2004); Col Geffrey L. Cooper (31 Au-
1st Reconnaissance Battalion: LtCol Rory E.
G-2: LtCol Michael S. Groen (1 January–15
Talkington; LtCol Joseph C. Marello
July 2004); LtCol George H. Bristol (16 July
2d Reconnissance Battalion: LtCol D. R.
G-3: LtCol Clarke R. Lethin (1 January–31
May 2004); LtCol Joseph A. L’etoile (1 June–
Regimental Combat Team 7: Col Craig A.
14 July 2004); Col Lawrence D. Nicholson (15
July-13 August 2004); LtCol Joseph A. L’etoile

3d Battalion, 4th Marines: LtCol Bryan P. Marine Aircraft Group 16: Col Stuart L. Knoll
McCoy (–15 April 2004); Col Guy M. Close
1st Battalion, 7th Marines: LtCol Christo- HMLA-36: LtCol Stephen W. Hall
pher Woodbridge HMLA-169(-): LtCol Lloyd A. Wright
2d Battalion, 7th Marines: LtCol Philip C. HMM-268: LtCol David S. Foy
Skuta HMM-365: LtCol James S. O’Meara
3d Battalion, 7th Marines: LtCol Matthew A. HMM-774, 4TH MAW: LtCol John M. McGo-
Lopez nagle
1st Battalion, 8th Marines: LtCol Brandl HMH-361: LtCol Anthony L. Winters
1st Battalion, 23d Marines: LtCol Stevens VMFA(AW)-242: LtCol Kevin M. Iiams
1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battal- VMA-542: LtCol R. A. C. Sanborn
ion: LtCol William R. Constantini VMA-311: LtCol C. A. Arnold
3d Light Armored Reconnaissance Battal- 571st Air Ambulance Company (Army): Ma-
ion: LtCol Stephen R. Dinauer jor Eric G. Rude
1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division: Col Ar- Marine Wing Support Group 37: Col Juan
thur W. Conner G. Ayala
2d Brigade, 2d Infantry Division: Col Gary Marine Air Control Group 38: Col Ron R.
S. Patton McFarland; Col Jonathan G. Miclot (from 1 July
3d Marine Aircraft Wing (–)(Rein)
VMU-1: LtCol John H. Newman
Commanding General: MajGen James VMU-2: Lt Col Douglas M. Hardison
F. Amos (–30 May 2004); Maj Gen Keith J.
1st Force Service Support Group (–)(Rein):
Chief of Staff: Col Gerald A. Yingling; Col Commanding General: BGen Richard S.
Rex C. McMillian (1 July–17 October 2004); Col Kramlich
Rick W. Schmidt Chief of Staff: Col Charles L. Hudson; Col
G-1: Col Paul D. McGraw (–25 April 2004); Tracy L. Mork
LtCol Douglas G. Olbrich G-1: LtCol Mark C. Hickman; LtCol Lyle E.
G-2: LtCol David M. Wargo (–31 August Forcum (15 February 2005); Capt Richard C.
2004); LtCol Andrew P. Veith (1 September Garcia (16 February–15 March 2005)
30–November 2004); Maj Christopher A Rad- G-2: Capt Robert B. Burgess (30 January–1
ford April 2004); Capt Craig R. Schwetje; Capt Rob-
G-3: Col Jonathan G. Miclot; Col Curtis E. ert B. Burgess (1 January–April 2005)
Haberbosch (1 July–19 August 2004); Col Ken- G-3: Col Lawrence D. Foy; Col John P.
neth J. Lee Sheehan
G-4: Col Donald W. Zautcke; Maj Kevin C. G-4: LtCol Todd L. Lloyd (–6 June 2004); Lt-
Rosen (1-31 July 2004); Maj Ignacio Soria Col Erick P. Thomas (7 June–14 March 2005)
G-5: Maj Michael R. Kennedy (10 Febru- G-6: LtCol James B. Fritz (–31 June 2004);
ary–31 March 2004); Maj Gregory W. Taylor (1– Maj Robert K. Maldonado
22 April 2004); Maj Arend G. Westra (23 April 2d Battalion, 10th Marines (Provisional Se-
2004–30 September 2004); Maj Richard C. An- curity): LtCol Terrence P. Brennan
dersen Headquarters and Service Battalion: LtCol
G-6: LtCol Rodney H. Taplin; LtCol Steve A. Thomas N. Collins (–May 2004); Maj Harold B.
De La Cruz (1 July–1 December 2004); LtCol Ira Eggers (6–9 May 2004); Maj Emily J. Elder (10
M. Cheatham May–30 June 2004); LtCol Thomas B. Eipp
G-9: LtCol Johnathan L. Pirkey BSSG-1: Col Gregory R. Dunlap
Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3: Lt- CSSG-11 (1st Transportation Support Bn):
Col Glenn A. Murray (–15 April 2004); LtCol Col David B. Reist; Col Elvis E. Blumenstock
David A. Demorat

CSSG-15 (1st Supply Bn): Col Michael E. Deputy Commanding General: BGen
Kampsen; Col John T. Larsen Charles S. Patton
CSSB-7 (1st Maintenance Bn): LtCol Adrian Chief of Staff: Col John L. Ledoux
W. Burke; LtCol Drew T. Doolin G-1: LtCol John R. Armour; Maj Blair
CSSB-1 (7th Engineer Support Bn): LtCol S.Miles
John M. Schultz; LtCol Kurt M. Kemster G-2: Col John T. Cunnings;
120th Engineer Battalion Combat, Heavy G-3: Col Glen T. Starnes; Col Thomas L.
(Army): LtCol William E. Bartheld Cariker
G-4: Col John J. Fitzgerald; Col Donald C.
I MEF Engineer Group
Commanding: Rear Admiral Raymond K. G-5: Col Kenneth D. Bonner
Alexander G-6: Col Sean T. Mulcahy
Rear Admiral Charles R. Kubic G-8: Col Steven B. Vitali
G-9: Col Edward D. Daniel
11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (SOC): Col
II MEF Headquarters Group: Col Daniel E.
Anthony M. Haslam
BLT 1/4: LtCol John L. Mayer
2d Marine Division
HMM-166 (Rein): LtCol John W. Guthrie
MSSG-11: Lieutenant Col Ted A. Ruane Commanding General: MajGen Richard A.
13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (SOC) (Op-
Assistant Division Commander: BGen Jo-
Con MND-S) (11–25 October 2003): Col Mi-
seph J. McMenamin; BGen James L. Williams
chael R. Regner
Chief of Staff: Col Robert G. Sokoloski
BLT 1/1: LtCol Brian D. Beaudreault G-1: LtCol Jack Ciesla
HMM-163: LtCol Bruce A. Haines G-2: LtCol Andrew J. Gillan
MSSG-13: LtCol ScottA. Dalke G-3: Col Robert H. Chase (–10 August
24th Marine Expeditionary Unit: Col R. J. 2005); Col John P. Holden
Johnson G-4: Col Michael E. Rudolph
G-6: LtCol Scott R. Sizemore
BLT 1/2: LtCol Durkin G-7: Col Richard B. Fitzwater
HMM-263: LtCol Osbourne Headquarters Battalion: Col David K.
MSSG-24: LtCol Coglianiese Hough
31st Marine Expeditionary Unit: Col W. Lee 1st Battalion, 5th Marines: LtCol Eric M.
Miller Smith
3d Battalion, 7th Marines: LtCol Roger B.
BLT 1/3: LtCol Michael R. Ramos Turner Jr.
HMM-265: (Rein) LtCol M. G. Glavy Regimental Combat Team 2: Col Stephen
MSSG-31: LtCol J. Vohr W. Davis
Task Force Black Watch (UK) 3d Battalion 2d Marines: LtCol Timothy S.
1st Battalion, The Black Watch Regiment: 3d Battalion 6th Marines: LtCol Julian D. Al-
LtCol J. Cowan ford
3d Civil Affairs Group: Col Michael Walker 2d LAR Battalion: LtCol Richard A. DeForest
4th Civil Affairs Group: Col John R. Ballard (–5 July 2005); LtCol Austin E. Renforth
II Marine Expeditionary Force (Fwd) 1st LAR Battalion: LtCol Robert R. Kosid
3d Battalion 25th Marines: LtCol Lionel B.
Commanding General: MajGen Stephen T. Urquhart
Johnson; MajGen Richard A. Huck (31 Janu- 3d Battalion 1st Marines: LtCol Jeffery R.
ary–28 February 2006) Chessani

4th Squadron, 14 Calvary: LtCol Mark A. Marine Aircraft Group 26 (-)(Rein): Col
Freitag Thomas M. Murray; Col David J. Mollahan
3d Battalion, 504th Infantry Regiment: LtCol VMFA-224: LtCol Wilber E. Thomas
Larry Swift VMFA-332: LtCol David A. Wilbur
2d Battalion, 114th Field Artillery Regiment: VMFA (AW)-142: LtCol Charles B. Sagebiel
LtCol Gary E. Huffman VMFA (AW)-242: LtCol Kevin M. Iiams
Regimental Combat Team 8: Col Charles VMFA-224(AW): LtCol Wilbur E. Thomas
M. Gurganus (–9 August 2005); Col David H. VMFA-142: LtCol Charles B. Sagebiel
Berger VMA-223: LtCol Andrew G. Shorter
3d Battalion 8th Marines: LtCol Steve M. VMA-311: LtCol Robert C. Kuckuk
Neary VMAQ-1: Col Mark E. Wakeman
2d Battalion 2d Marines: LtCol James J. Min- VMAQ-2: LtCol Michael W. George
ick VMAQ-4: LtCol Phillip K. Zimmerman
1st Battalion 6th Marines: LtCol William M. HMLA-167: LtCol Lawrence E. Killmeier
Jurney HMLA-269: LtCol Joseph M. Jeffrey
2d Battalion 6th Marines: LtCol Scott D. Ai- HMLA-369: LtCol Thomas D. Weidley
ken HMLA-775: LtCol Bruce S. Orner
3d Battalion 4th Marines: LtCol Andrew R. HMM-161: LtCol Robert M. Brassaw
Kennedy HMM-264: LtCol Gregory M. Douquet
2d Battalion 7th Marines: LtCol Joseph A. HMM-266: LtCol Joseph E. George (–18 De-
L’Etoile cember 2005); LtCol Leo A. Kilgore
3d Reconnaissance Battalion: LtCol Daniel HMM-364: LtCol Michael R. Hudson
R. Masur HMM-764: LtCol Jacques C. Naviaux
1st Reconnaissance Battalion: LtCol Joseph HMM-774: LtCol John J. McGonagle
C. Marello HMH-465: LtCol Paul A. Pond
2d Brigade Combat Team, 2d Infantry Divi- HMH-466: LtCol John H. Celigoy
sion, U.S. Army: Col Gary S. Patton DET, VMGR-252: LtCol Kenneth Zielick
2d Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Di- 571st Air Ambulance Company (Army): Maj
vision (Mechanized): Col John Gronski Eric G. Rude
224th Engineer Battalion, Iowa National 82d Medical Company (Army): Maj Dustin
Guard: LtCol Todd M. Jacobus K. Elder
Marine Wing Support Group 27 (Fwd): Col
2d Marine Aircraft Wing (Fwd)
Scott M. Anderson
Commanding General: BGen Robert E. Mil- Marine Air Control Group 28: Col Mark R.
stead Cyr
Chief of Staff: Col John T. Rahm; Col Thom- VMU-1: LtCol John H. Newman
as M. Murray VMU-2: LtCol Mark A. Werth
G-1: CWO Donald F. Page; Maj Robert A.
2d Force Service Support Group (Fwd)
G-2: Col Robert K. Beauchamp; LtCol Di- 2d Marine Logistics Group (Fwd) [as—of 9 No-
eter G. Jobe vember 2005]
G-3: Col John C. Kennedy; Col Darrell L.
Commanding General: BGen John E.
G-4: Col Robert J. Drummond; Col Peter M.
Chief of Staff: Col J. E. McCown
G-1: Major Mark R. Schroeder (–April 2005);
G-6: LtCol Kenyon M. Gill (–23 April 2005);
Major John J. Depinto
Maj James E. Munroe
G-2: Capt Ryan P. Januaryosek (–July 2005);
Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2
Major Eugene P. Wittkof
(Fwd): LtCol Todd W. Schlund; Maj Elmer K.

G-3: LtCol Francis X. Carroll (–July 2005); 8th Engineer Support Battalion (-)(Rein):
Col Paul K. Durkin LtCol T. V. Williams (to­–5 June 2005); LtCol D.
G-4: Major David E. Jones (–March 2006) W. Elzie
G-6: LtCol Carlos O. Urbina (–March 2005); Combat Logistics Battalion-2: Col W. S. Ait-
LtCol Karl J. Gannon (–July 2005); LtCol Doug- kin (–29 August 2005); LtCol B. E. Nickle
las E. Mason Combat Logistics Battalion-8: LtCol P. N.
Headquarters and Service Battalion(-) Kelleher (–11 September 2005); LtCol F. X. Car-
(Rein): LtCol J. R. Gambrino; Maj P. T. Deutsch roll
(22–28 Septembert 2005); LtCol D. M. Smith Combat Logistics Regiment-25: Col Robert
2d Battalion, 112th Infantry: LtCol W. A. W. Destafney (–11 Septembert 2005)
2d Battalion, 130th Infantry: LtCol Mark

Appendix B
Selected Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations
AA–Assault Amphibian
AAA–Antiaircraft Artillery
AAOE–Arrival and Assembly Operations Echelon
AAV–Amphibious Assault Vehicle
ACE–Aviation Combat Element
ADC–Assistant Division Commander
ADOCS–Automated Deep Operations Coordination System
APOD-Air Port of Debarkation
APOE–Air Port of Embarkation
ASLT–Air Support Liaison Team
ASOC–Air Support Operations Center
ASP–Ammunition Supply Point
ATARS–Advanced Tactical Air Reconnaissance System
ATO–Air Tasking Order
BCL–Battlefield Coordination Line
BCT–Brigade Combat Team
BDA–Battle Damage Assessment
BFT–Blue Force Tracker
BSSG–Brigade Service Support Group
C2PC–Command and Control Personal Computer
CBR–Counter Battery Radar
CE–Command Element
CEB–Combat Engineering Battalion
CENTCOM–U.S. Central Command
CFACC–Coalition Forces Air Component Commander
CFLCC–Coalition Forces Land Component Commander
CG–Commanding General
CGS–Common Ground Station
CIP–Combat Identification Panel
Class II–Batteries
Class VIII–Medical Supplies
Class IX–Repair Parts
CMOC–Civil-Military Operations Center
CPAO–Consolidated Public Affairs Office
CP-Command Post
CPX–Command Post Exercise
CRAF–Civil Reserve Air Fleet
CSS–Combat Service Support
CSSB–Combat Service Support Battalion
CSSC–Combat Service Support Company
CONPLAN–Contingency Plan

CONUS–Continental United States
COP–Common Operational Picture
DA–Dispersal Area
DAC–Division Administration Center
DASC–Direct Air Support Center
DIA–Defense Intelligence Agency
DOC–Deployment Operations Center
DS–Direct Support
DSA–Division Support Area
EMCON–Emissions Control
EOD–Explosive Ordnance Disposal
EPW–Enemy Prisoner of War
FAC–Forward Air Controller
FAD–Field Artillery Detachment
FARP–Forward Arming and Refueling Point
FOB–Forward Operating Base
FOE–Follow on Echelon
FPOL–Forward Passage of Lines
FRAGO–Fragmented Order
FRSS–Forward Resuscitative Surgery System
FSCC–Fire Support Coordination Center
FSS–Fast Sealift Ships
FSSG–Force Service Support Group
GBS–Global Broadcasting System
GCE–Ground Combat Element
GOSP–Gas-Oil Separation Plant
HDR–Humanitarian Daily Ration
HET–Human Exploitation Team
HF–High Frequency
HHA–Hand Held Assay
HUMINT–Human Intelligence
IC–Intelligence Community
IMINT–Image Intelligence
IMO–Information Management Officer
IO–Information Officer
IPSA–Intermediate Pumping Stations
JDAM–Joint Direct Attack Munition
JMEM–Joint Munitions Effectiveness Manual
JSTARS–Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System
KAF–Kuwaiti Armed Forces
KI–Killbox Interdiction
KLF–Kuwaiti Land Forces
KMOD–Kuwaiti Ministry of Defense
LAR–Light Armored Reconnaissance
LASER–Light Amplification through Stimulated Emission of Radiation

LAV–Light Armored Vehicle
LD–Line of Departure
LOC–Line of Communication
LSA–Life Support Area; Logistical Support Area
LTO–Logistics Tasking Order
LZ–Landing Zone
MACCS–Marine Air Command and Control Squadron
MAG–Marine Air Group
MAGTF–Marine Air-Ground Task Force
MANPAD–Man-Portable Air Defense
MARCORSYSCOM–Marine Corps Systems Command
MAW–Marine Aircraft Wing
MCIA–Marine Corps Intelligence Activity
MCRE–Marine Corps Readiness Evaluation
MCWL–Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory
MDACT–Mobile Data Automated Communication Terminal
MEB–Marine Expeditionary Brigade
MEF–Marine Expeditionary Force
MEFEX–Marine Expeditionary Force Exercise
MEG–MEF (Marine Expeditionary Force) Engineer Group
MEWSS–Mobile Electronic Warfare Support System
MLC–Marine Logistics Command
MOD–Ministry of Defense (Kuwait)
MOI–Ministry of the Interior (Kuwait)
MOPP–Mission Oriented Protective Posture
MOS–Military Occupational Specialty
MOUT–Military Operations on Urban Terrain
MP–Military Policy
MPF–Maritime Prepositional Force
MPSRON–Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadron
MRLS–Multiply Rocket Launcher System
MSC–Major Subordinate Command
MSTP–MAGTF Staff Training Program
MWSG–Marine Wing Support Squadron
MWSS–Marine Wing Support Squadron
NBC–Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical
NBCRS–Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Reconnaissance System
OCD–Obstacle Clearing Detachment
OMC-K Office of Military Cooperation-Kuwait
OPCON–Operation Control
OPLAN–Operations Plan
OPP–Offload Preparation Party
OPT–Operational Planning Team
ORCON–Originator Controlled
OSW–Operation Southern Watch

PA–Public Affairs
PALT–Public Affairs Liaison Team
PIR–Priority Intelligence Requirement
PLI–Position Location Information
POL–Passage of Lines
POW–Prisoner of War
PRR–Personal Role Radio
QRF–Quick Reaction Force
RA–Regular Army
RCT–Regimental Combat Team
RFF–Requested for Forces
RG–Republican Guard
RGFC–Republican Guard Forces Command
RIP–Relief in Place
ROC–Rehearsal of Concept
ROZ–Restrical Operation Zone
RRP–Refueling and Replenishment Point
RSO&I–Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration
RUC–Reporting Unit Code
SAPOE–Sea and Aerial Ports of Embarkation
SASO–Security and Stabilization Operations
SIGINT–Signal Intelligence
SIPRNET–Secret Internet Protocol Routed Network
SLTLP–Survey, Liaison, and Reconnaissance Party
SMART-T–Secure Mobile Antijam Reliable Tactcal Terminal
SOP–Standing Operating Procedure
SRG–Special Republican Guard
SPINS–Special Instructions
SPOD–Sea Port of Debarkation
SPOE–Sea Port of Embarkation
SSE–Sensitive Site Exploitation
SSM–Surface-to-Surface Missile
TAA–Tactical Assembly Areas
TACON–Tactical Control
T/E–Table of Equipment
TEWT–Tactical Exercise Without Troops
TIO–Target Information Officer
TIP–Thermal Identification Officer
T/O–Table of Organization
TPC–Target Procesing Center
TPFDD–Time-Phased Force Deployment Data

Appendix C February-March
Arrival and assembly of I MEF, covering over
Chronology of Events 800 kilometers from the staging areas in Kuwait
to Forward Operating Base St. Mere, Iraq.
2003 15 March
1 August 3d Marine Aircraft Wing assumed responsibil-
Medium Helicopter Squadron-165 (HMM-165) ity for airspace management and aviation support
becomes the last Marine Corps aircraft squadron for the area of operations in al-Anbar Province.
to return from the initial Iraq campaign.
20 March
3 September
1st Marine Division transfers authority with
I MEF transfers authority to the Polish-led Mul- 82d Airborne Division, thus I MEF assumes duty
tinational Division (Center-South). Three weeks as Multinational Force–West.
later, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, handed control
25-27 March
of an-Najaf to a Spanish-led force (22 Septem-
ber). The delay in the second transfer stemmed Marines of RCT-1 conduct offensive actions at
from a violent upheaval in the city beginning on the northeastern sector of the city of Fallujah, suc-
29 August. ceeded in taking control of the Cloverleaf inter-
11-25 October
28 March
13th MEU (SOC) in al-Faw region, under oper-
ational control of the British command in South- 3d Brigade, 82d Airborne Division is relieved
eastern Iraq, conducts Operation Sweeny. by 1st Marines, detaches from 1st Marine Divi-
sion operational control, the last major relief in
5 November
al-Anbar Province.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
31 March
announces the Marine Corps return to Iraq as
part of the next U.S. troop rotation. Insurgents ambush four armed security con-
tractors riding in two unmarked all-terrain vehi-
21 November
cles from security services contractor Blackwater
The Marine Corps reaches its lowest point in USA. The four Americans die amid a volley of
overseas deployments during 2003, with less than hand grenades, and a local mob desecrates the
11,000 Marines (excluding personnel permanent- bodies, setting fire to them, and hanging two of
ly stationed overseas). them inverted from the nearby Old Bridge over
the Euphrates River.
27 November
General Michael W. Hagee, Commandant of
the Marine Corps, announces Marine Corps rota- The first Fallujah battle under Operation Vigi-
tion policy for Iraq. lant Resolve (3-30 April 2004). 2d Battalion, 1st
Marines, and 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, moves
9 December
into to the volatile Iraqi city of Fallujah. 2d Bat-
Company C, 4th Light Armored Reconnais- talion, 2d Marines, blocks access from the south,
sance Battalion, returns to home station after and later 2d Battalion, 4th Marines joins the as-
three months in Iraq followed by a six-month sault force. The purpose is to isolate and seek
Unit Deployment Program rotation in Japan. out insurgents holing up in the city following the
murder and mutilation of the four American con-
2004 tractors. The bitter fighting throughout the month
14 January leaves numerous Marines dead or wounded and
with no real peace after the Coalition orders Ma-
I MEF begins its deployment from the United rines to scale down attacks and eventually with-
States. draw from the city before a decisive offensive can

be launched. Although a tenuous cease-fire con- begins operations in the province of North Babil,
tinues in effect for Fallujah, Shi’a [al-Sadr] militia Iraq.
begin spreading violence to several other cities,
31 July
including parts of Baghdad, Kut, Karbala, and
Najaf. 11th MEU assumes operational control of the
an-Najaf and al-Qadisiyah provinces in Iraq, ini-
4 May
tially working under the Polish-led Multi-National
The U.S. Joint Chiefs alert 24th MEU that it Division (Central-South), but then reports to I
will be sent on 24 July, two months earlier than MEF on 8 August, for the same area.
5-27 August
29 May
Combat in an-Najaf: A cease-fire signed in June
Major General James F. Amos turns over com- between members of radical Shi’ite cleric Muqta-
mand of the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing on to Major da al-Sadr’s militia and Iraqi officials in Iraq ended
General Keith J. Stalder and departs to take com- when the militia launched attacks against Marines
mand of the II MEF at Camp Lejeune, NC. of the 11th MEU and Iraqi security forces in Na-
jaf. After failed negotiations by Iraqi authorities,
27 May
the final operations began the night of 24 Au-
11th MEU departs the U.S. ahead of the planned gust, with Marines and Army cavalrymen battling
sortie date of 17 June as part of Expeditionary through the streets and buildings through the fol-
Strike Group 3, commanded by Marine Brigadier lowing day, culminating with Marines encircling
General Joseph V. Medina, as U.S. forces concen- the Imam Ali Mosque at a distance of 100 meters
trate to respond to insurgent successes. by the end of the 25th. Amid heavy fighting, the
issue never came into doubt. However, the Sadr
28 June
militia had suffered terrible losses, and resistance
The “transfer of sovereignty” to Iraq. The came to an end. A face-saving settlement bro-
U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority dissolves kered by Grand Ayatollah Sistani brought truce
itself, and legal authority devolves upon the ap- on 27 August, and the insurgents withdrew from
pointed Iraqi Interim Government (IIG), with U.S. the city.
and Coalition forces operating under the “all nec-
29 August
essary measures” language of the United Nations
Security Council resolutions that identified the Major General James N. Mattis relinquishes
state of conflict existing in Iraq and the need for command of 1st Marine Division to Brigadier
the Multinational Force to conduct operations and General Richard F. Natonski and departs for
to detain individuals in order to help establish a Quantico, Virginia, where he will take command
secure environment. The U.S.-led Coalition trans- of the Marine Corps Combat Development Com-
ferred sovereignty two days early to the interim mand. Natonski is frocked to the grade of major
Iraqi government. The surprise early handover general after taking command of the 1st Marine
was done in the hope that it would decrease in- Division.
surgents’ chances to sabotage Iraq’s step toward
12 September
Lieutenant General John F. Sattler becomes
30 June
commanding general, I MEF, relieving Lieutenant
Marines raise the American flag over the new General James T. Conway, who departs to the
U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, marking the first time Pentagon to become the Director of Operations,
the American flag has flown there in 13 years. J-3, Joint Staff.
16 July 18 September
11th MEU begins arriving in an-Najaf. 31st MEU begins training ashore in Kuwait at
the Udairi Range.
24 July
7 October
24th MEU reports to 1st Marine Division and

The Marine Corps schedules its last undeployed Babil.
Marine Corps Reserve infantry battalion, 3d Bat-
21 December
talion, 25th Marines, for Iraq in early 2005.
11th MEU assumes operational control of Kar-
29 October
bala Province from the Multi-National Division
4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Anti-Ter- (Central-South).
rorism) is activated as a non-rotational Anti-Ter-
22-23 December
rorism Battalion. Unlike previous infantry units
assigned in rotation, the new AT Battalion is per- Operation Plymouth Rock II, again in North
manently assigned to 4th MEB (AT) and exempt- Babil.
ed from the Unit Deployment Program rotation
in order to concentrate on the battalion’s special- 2005
ized mission of combating terrorism. 14 January
8 November
All districts of Fallujah remain open for resettle-
Beginning of the second Fallujah battle. The ment by city inhabitants. An estimated 30 percent
largest military operation since the opening days of the population returns by the end of March.
of Operation Iraqi Freedom began just after sun-
9-17 January
set 7 November as thousands of U.S. and Iraqi
troops pushed into the insurgent-held city of Fal- 3d Battalion, 4th Marines, deploys for the third
lujah. The city had been in rebel control since time in the Iraq campaign. The first Marine Corps
April after I MEF was instructed to halt all offen- battalion to enter Baghdad in the opening days
sives. Operation Phantom Fury (later renamed of the war in 2003, the unit was the first infantry
Operation Al Fajr or Dawn) began the evening battalion to deploy to Iraq three times, setting up
after the Iraqi interim president declared martial camp near Fallujah.
law on the city and surrounding area.
26 January
15 November
A CH-53E crash in western Iraq claims the lives
Marines, soldiers, and Iraqi security forces of 30 Marines and one sailor while conducting a
overrun the last major sites of insurgent resistance security and stability operation near Ruthbah in
in the southernmost section of Fallujah. Eighty- western al-Anbar Province. Twenty-seven of the
three Marines and one Navy corpsman lost their victims are from 1st Battalion, 3d Marines. This
lives in the November fighting, with hundreds remains the war’s deadliest single event for U.S.
more wounded. Mopping up operations continue forces.
through December with sporadic flurries of fight-
30 January
A majority of Iraqi voters participate in an elec-
24-27 November
tion conducted by their transitional government,
Marines, British, and Iraqi forces launch Oper- electing a 275-member Transitional National As-
ation Plymouth Rock, aimed at asserting control sembly. The vast majority of Sunnis boycott the
of North Babil Province. election.
1 December 6 February
The Pentagon announces that the number of 24th MEU is relieved by the incoming Army
U.S. troops in Iraq will be increased from 138,000 155th Brigade.
to about 150,000. The increase is due primarily
14 February
to the need for increased security for the national
elections scheduled for January 2005. 11th MEU is relieved by the incoming Army
155th Brigade.
6 December
14-16 February
24th MEU reports for operations to the 1st
Cavalry Division, continuing its missions in North 15th MEU arrives in Kuwait.

20 February—5 March 15-16 June
Operation River Blitz is begun by 1st Marine Heavy fighting in ar-Ramadi, where 1st Battal-
Division in support of the unit reliefs. RCT-7 fol- ion, 5th Marines, operates under direction of the
lows with Operation River Bridge (10-17 March), Army 2d Brigade, 2d Infantry Division.
continued by RCT-2 through 25 March.
17-22 June
1 March
RCT-2 executes its third major offensive in six
3d MAW is relieved by 2d MAW as responsible weeks in western al Anbar. Operation Spear fo-
for air operations in Multinational Force-West. cuses on the rebel stronghold of Karabilah, near
the Syrian border.
7 March
28 June-6 July
3d MAW completes the longest deployment
in its 62-year history as it heads home after 13 Operation Sword brings RCT-2 to the town of
months in Iraq. Hit, which becomes the first new town in area
of operations Denver (western al-Anbar) that the
11 March
Coalition permanently occupies.
15th MEU moves to the southeastern edge of
7 July
Baghdad and occupies Camp Falcon, operating
(less aviation) under the operational control of RCT-2 launches it sixth offensive in al-Anbar
the Army 3d Infantry Division. province since May. Operation Scimitar begins
with raids in the village of Zaidan, approximately
17 March
20 miles southeast of Fallujah, where at least 22
The incoming 2d Marine Division executes its suspected insurgents are detained.
transfer of authority with 1st Marine Division.
22 July
27 March
VMAQ-4 completes the first six-month deploy-
The incoming II MEF conducts its transfer of ment by an EA-6B Prowler squadron to Iraq.
authority with I MEF, which includes standing up VMAQ-4 is replaced by VMAQ-1.
as Multinational Force-West.
23 July
11 April
Insurgents score a particularly lethal car bomb
Insurgents attempt to overrun a Marine base ambush in Fallujah, resulting in the first women
on the Syrian border using small arms, mortars, Marines killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
suicide car bombs, and a fire truck loaded with The coordinated attack (small arms fire also hits
explosives. The raid on Camp Gannon at Husay- the targeted convoy) leaves five Marines and
bah results in three wounded Marines but no one sailor dead and more than a dozen Marines
American deaths. wounded.
2 May 3-6 August
Two VMFA-323 F-18 fighter jets collide over RCT-2 launches Operation Quick Strike, an of-
Iraq, killing both pilots. The planes had launched fensive operation aimed at disrupting insurgent
from the USS Carl Vinson in support of opera- activities in the Iraqi cities of Hadithah, Haqlini-
tions. yah, and Barwanah after 3d Battalion, 25th Ma-
rines, receives two lethal ambushes.
7-14 May
30 September
RCT-2 executes Operation Matador near the
Iraq-Syria border. 3d Battalion, 25th Marines, returns to Camp
Lejeune. The Marine Corps reserve battalion lost
25 May
48 men in action, including 19 over a two-day
Marines and other troops move into the Iraqi period in early August.
city of Haditha.
15 October

First phase of Operation Liberty Express takes 21 December
place with the National referendum as Iraqis vote I MEF begins redeploying to Iraq.
on the ratification of their new constitution.
27 December
21 October
13th MEU relieved by 26th MEU at al-Asad Air
13th MEU reports to 2d Marine Division for Base.
28 October
5 January 2006
U.S. reaches its peak strength to date in Iraq:
161,000. With the departure of the Army 155th Brigade,
II MEF relinquishes responsibility for North Babil,
5-17 November
Karbala, and Najaf provinces and reverts to al-
RCT-2 executes Operation Steel Curtain, as- Anbar Province as its sole operational responsi-
sembling more than 4,500 Marines, sailors, and bility.
soldiers to clear three Euphrates River Valley
15-27 January
towns along the Iraq-Syria border.
1st Battalion, 2d Marines, and Iraqi army sol-
1 December
diers execute Operation Koa Canyon along the
Ten Marines from 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, Western Euphrates River Valley in Iraq.
die and 11 others sustain wounds during a pro-
8 February
motion ceremony. The Marines had gathered in
an old flour mill near the Iraqi town of Fallujah 3d MAW relieves 2d MAW for air operations in
for the ceremony when a hidden explosive de- al-Anbar Province.
vice was triggered.
24 February
5 December
4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Anti-Terror-
By message ALMAR 061/05, Headquarters Ma- ism) (4th MEB (AT) is deactivated at Camp Leje-
rine Corps announces a secondary mission for une.
Marine Corps artillery units. The new mission
24 February
assigns each artillery regimental headquarters and
each battalion a secondary civil-military opera- Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Com-
tions function. The artillery units are given the mand (MARSOC) is activated at Camp Lejeune,
lead on civil-military operations in their respec- under the U.S. Special Operations Command.
tive Marine divisions to help relieve the Marine
28 February
Corps Reserve civil affairs groups.
I MEF relieves II MEF as Multinational Force-
15 December
Operation Liberty Express: the Iraqi national
19 March
election selects a permanent 275-member Iraqi
National Assembly. Third anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Appendix D
Gen James T. Conway Col Thomas L. Cariker
Gen (Ret) Michael Hagee Col Robert H. Chase
Gen James N. Mattis Col (Ret) Guy M. Close
LtGen James F. Amos Col Mark R. Cyr
LtGen Richard S. Kramlich Col Stephen W. Davis
LtGen Richard F. Natonski Col Robert W. Destafney
LtGen John F. Sattler Col Paul K. Durkin
LtGen Keith J. Stalder Col Thomas C. Greenwood
MajGen Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. Col (Ret) Curtis E. Haberbosch
MajGen Dennis J. Hejlik Col (Ret) Anthony M. Haslam
MagGen (Ret) Richard A. Huck Col John P. Holden
MajGen (Ret) Stephen T. Johnson Col Michael E. Kampsen
MajGen John F. Kelly Col John C. Kennedy
MajGen Robert E. Milstead, Jr. Col (Ret) Stuart L. Knoll
MajGen Michael R. Regner Col (Ret) John T. Larson
MajGen James L. Williams Col James K. La Vine
BGen David H. Berger Col Kenneth J. Lee
BGen Charles M. Gurganus Col Clarke R. Lethin
BGen Ronald J. Johnson Col (Ret) Ron R. McFarland
BGen Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr. Col (Ret) Steven E. McKinley
BGen Thomas M. Murray Col Jonathan G. Miclot
BGen Lawrence D. Nicholson Col W. Lee Miller
BGen (Ret) Charles S. Patton Col David J. Mollahan
BGen David B. Reist Col Glenn T. Starnes
BGen John A. Toolan, Jr. Col Michael A. Shupp
BGen John E. Wissler Col Darrell L. Thacker
Col Scott M. Anderson Col Craig A. Tucker
Col (Ret) John R. Ballard Col (Ret) Michael Walker
Col Elvis E. Blumenstock LtCol Francis X. Carroll
Col Paul W. Brier LtCol Joseph A. L’etoile
Col (Ret) Larry K. Brown, Jr.

Back Cover: The logotype reproduced on the
back cover has as its major element the oldest
military insignia in continuous use in the United
States. It first appeared, as shown here, on Ma-
rine Corps buttons adopted in 1804. With the
stars changed to five points, the device has con-
tinued on Marine Corps buttons to the present

Estes Covers 1-4.indd 2 5/26/09 8:43:47 AM