Sunday, April 20, 2008

Visit to Downtown Fallujah

With limited Internet access the past couple of weeks I am playing catchup.

Last week I returned to Fallujah to attend a City Council meeting and visit Marines of 2nd Platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines operating out an old hotel in the heart of Fallujah in the Fallujah City Government complex. Four of these Marines were completing their second tour in Iraq, and another was serving his third—all five serving previously in the Fallujah vicinity. Expecting a more hostile environment, 2nd Platoon arrived after the Awakening Movement had taken root in Fallujah. They were surprised to find that instead of being shot at, or parents pulling their children in the gates of their compounds, the children played freely in the streets, and adults came out of their compounds and waved. Children often came up to them and held their arms as they walked down the street, or begged them to play soccer, while adults came up to them to talk. These young American diplomats told me they occasionally had meals with Iraqi families, or shared a cup of chai tea. They also told me how they frequently delivered food bags to the poorer families, and school bags filled with school supplies to the schools in their precinct.
That night I went out with second squad on a mobile patrol through the city as they showed their replacements the city. While there were no women out that late, men and boys sat on the front steps of their compounds, whereas others socialized in groups on the sidewalk. Some storeowners sat in their stores hoping for a late customer. Everywhere we went the Iraqi Police and Sons of Iraq kept a diligent watch on the city, controlling movement from precinct to precinct. We stopped in one neighborhood and dismounted for several minutes as the patrol leader had a friendly conversation with an Iraqi man smoking a cigarette on his from porch.
The “Samurai” of 2nd Platoon left Fallujah with their battalion this week after seven months in the heart of Fallujah. The entire battalion left without a single casualty or a single moment of combat.
Meanwhile, the Awakening has not only led to better security in Fallujah and al Anbar Province, as well as better relations with U.S. forces, but has led to more tips from locals regarding finding weapons caches and killing al Qaeda terrorists.

For on the massive weapons caches:

For excellent unbiased journalism on Iraq:


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