November 10, 2004


U.S. pours force on guerrillas (EDWARD HARRIS, November 10, 2004, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

American forces bottled up guerrillas in a narrow strip of Fallujah's alleys and streets Wednesday after a stunningly swift advance that seized control of 70 percent of the insurgent stronghold. [...]

Insurgents have been trying to open a "second front" with a wave of attacks to divert U.S. forces from their offensive in Fallujah.

In Fallujah, the military said U.S. troops pushed insurgents into a section of the city flanking the main east-west highway that bisects the rebel bastion. At least 71 militants had been killed as of the beginning of the third day of intense urban combat, the military said, with the casualty figure expected to rise sharply once U.S. forces account for Iraqis and foreign fighters killed in airstrikes.

As of Tuesday night, 10 U.S. troops and two members of the Iraqi security force had been killed, a toll that already equaled the number of American troops who died when Marines besieged the city for three weeks in April.

Major Francis Piccoli, of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, characterized fighting overnight as "light to moderate" and said U.S. casualties were "extremely light."

Piccoli said U.S. forces that pushed south through Fallujah's central highway overnight now control 70 percent of the city. He said troops would move on Wednesday into the strip of territory where guerrillas were bottled up. "The heart of the city is what's in focus now," he said.

Why "stunningly"? How could it have been otherwise?

Rebels, Guns and Money (JAMES A. MARKS, 11/10/04, NY Times)

The Marine and Army forces now entering Falluja, Iraq have prepared for this fight for some time, and not just since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime last spring. Our military has a long history of training for and battling against unconventional enemies - the Revolutionary War, the Indian wars, Vietnam and, in particular, a battle few American think much about: the invasion of Panama City in 1989.

In the effort to topple the corrupt government of Manuel Noriega, the American military pulled off one of the most complex and risky operations in the history of warfare. The elements were daunting: a diversity of urban and jungle terrain; a need to synchronize air power, airborne troops, light forces and special operations troops (some 23,000 Americans in all) on nearly 30 simultaneous missions; and a desire to keep civilian casualties and damage to a minimum. Yes, some things went wrong, and two dozen Americans were killed. But on the whole it was an overwhelming success.

That fight served to inform, teach and train a generation of leaders, many of whom are entering Falluja today. The young lieutenants, corporals and privates of 15 years ago are now battalion commanders and senior sergeants in Iraq. They carry with them the scar tissue of experience.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 10, 2004 10:29 AM

I agree. this is much more one-sided than the Brits against the Mahdis. The Rags have virtually nothing beyond section-level weapons, and we have countermeasures for those.

There is a time and place in which an economy-of-force defence is permissible. Such as the Alamo, or Bastogne. Hopeless defenses, especially of cities where civilians and protected structures are put at risk may be a war crime. After we're finish shooting them, we could shoot them

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 10, 2004 10:51 AM

Now it gets interesting, seems Allawi's relatives were kidnapped.

Call off Fallujah or they die.

Posted by: Sandy P at November 10, 2004 11:14 AM

The speed with which the terrorists are deteriorating in Iraq is truly impressive. They once held large swathes of territory. Then they held a few cities. Then it was attacks on American installations. Now, it is the occasional police station and kidnapping.

Posted by: Bart at November 10, 2004 11:51 AM

Mr. Judd: It's stunning because to the media the US military, all contradicting evidence ignored, is the preserve of morons, incompetents, and lunatics. In other words, the US military is just like a M*A*S*H episode - the military is Frank Burns and the media is Hawkeye Pierce - and nothing it does will ever, ever, work right.

Except, of course, when it does function, which is most of the time.

Posted by: Mikey at November 10, 2004 2:20 PM

From the Front:

'Setting their own lives at scant value compared with the honor and freedom of their people and the independence of their national government, brave Iraqi soldiers recklessly assaulted antidemocratic rebels in the narrow streets of Fal . . . '

O, never mind.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at November 10, 2004 8:21 PM