I wrote on November 27, 2004, that there was no Falluja victory by American military. See the full article: http://www.thetruthseeker.co.uk/article.asp?id=2581
At the time, I believed the battle fell back to typical guerrilla attrition, such as hit-and-run attacks, in and around Falluja. Now more and more evidence points to a worse situation than what I estimated back in November. It is not unfair to describe the situation as an American military defeat in Falluja.
The U. S. military certainly won’t admit any defeat or the true extent of American casualties. Reports from the Iraqi rebels definitely contain their fair share of propaganda. It is not easy to reach a realistic assessment by a concerned citizen like myself. My conclusion is based on circumstantial evidences that are available in the public domain.
Here I will present the evidence and my conclusions:
The Falluja assault was planned not only as a military offensive, but also a PR stunt within the context of a broader strategy. The offensive was well advertised in advance via media and started right on schedule after the November US presidential election. Media were embedded and charged into Falluja along with the marines and soldiers to beam the American military power to the world via TV images. All hospitals were not allowed to announce civilian casualties and journalists were kept away from the hospitals to minimize any negative PR. In fact, Falluja hospital was one of the first targets:
“FALLUJA, Iraq, Monday, Nov. 8 – Explosions and heavy gunfire thundered across Falluja on Sunday night and Monday morning as American troops seized control of two strategic bridges, a hospital and other objectives in the first stage of a long-expected invasion of the city, the center of the Iraqi insurgency.
“The hospital was selected as an early target because the American military believed that it was the source of rumors about heavy casualties.”
The media blitz was and still is an essential part of the strategy. It is to convince Iraqis, Americans, and the rest of world that American military power is irresistible. The American dictated agenda is the only way. The legitimacy generated from the up-coming Iraqi election can then be used to pressure NATO and UN for a new mandate to send troops to help achieve American policy goals in Iraq and reduce American troop numbers. The American policy goals are to keep permanent U. S. military bases in Iraq and to have a 3,000-person staff of U. S. Baghdad embassy administrate Iraq behind the scenes. This strategy of Falluja victory, followed by elections, followed by forcing NATO cooperation is described in detail in an article:
Plenty of Strategy, Just No Exit, by Mark Rothschild
“The Pentagon’s Fallujah-based exit strategy hinged on the success of the campaign – initiated on Nov. 8 – to subdue the Sunni city. Military planners had hoped that the reconquest of Fallujah would severely cripple the insurgency and thereby herald a period of relative calm before the January Iraqi elections. It was also believed that the success of Fallujah II would preclude the necessity of calling up further U.S. troops.
“The Pentagon exit strategy presupposed valid Iraqi elections as an essential prerequisite for garnering international peacekeepers to supplement overstretched U.S. troops. In the event that the elections were deemed a success, Old Europe would be hard-pressed to refuse afterwards to participate militarily alongside the U.S.
“The administration’s plan for solving the troop crisis is for the UN to endorse a NATO-led peacekeeping mission to Iraq. Such a NATO peacekeeping mission would allow the U.S. to maintain operational control of its troops on the ground while utilizing the troops of allied countries to accomplish U.S. policy goals.
“One of the main U.S. policy objectives for Iraq is the establishment of permanent U.S. military bases in the country.”
The Falluja II offensive is “the largest concentration of heavy armor in one place, since the fall of Berlin (1945).” This was the first time since World War II that “an American armored task force” has been turned “loose in a city with no restrictions”.
The impression we got from the press leading to Falluja II assault is that our military will deliver a clear-cut victory. The tide was about to turn decisively in favor of America. Indeed, strictly inside Falluja and for the first 4 or 5 days, the offensive was a success, as confirmed by journalists at the frontlines. Michael Ware, the Baghdad Bureau Chief for Time Magazine, charged into Falluja with an Army element and witnessed some fierce fighting. In an interview on November 24, Ware called the Falluja assault “a sweeping military victory,” even though he considers Iraq in general “an absolute disaster.” Here we have a seasoned journalist with a critical view of the Iraq War that witnessed the military success from the frontlines. Ware’s interview can be heard at:
After the initial success, bad signs began appearing. The first was the rebel’s successful takeover of Mosul, the third largest city in Iraq, on November 10-11. This move by the rebels immediately forced 1,000 America troops to be rushed from Falluja back to Mosul, effectively weakening the Falluja siege.
Then, came the attacks in and around Baiji, where Iraq’s largest refinery is located. This refinery produces gasoline for both Iraqi civilian use as well as use by the U. S. military. U. S. troops were called in to replace Iraqi National Guards to protect the refinery. Iraqi rebels failed to overrun the city or the refinery, but managed to blow up pipelines around Baiji. This led to severe fuel shortages later in Baghdad. See the story:
Acute petrol shortage adds to chaos of Baghdad
The civilian fuel shortage also meant a shortage of local fuel for the military. The U. S. was forced to ship in more fuel from sources outside of Iraq to supply the military needs.
Attacks at other cities and towns also pinned down many American troops.
Then, since mid-November, we had a media blackout from Falluja. This points to a serious deterioration over Fallujah by the US military.
The US Military started asking for more troops: first 5,000 more and then, right before Thanksgiving, the number was increased to 12,000. Sending 12,000 more troops to Iraq right before the holiday indicates that the deployment of additional troops was unexpected and needed out of some sort of emergency situation.
On December 2:
U.S. Embassy Bans Use of Airport Road Employees in Baghdad Will Travel Increasingly Dangerous Route by Helicopter
Banning the use of airport road is not a confidence vote for the security situation around Baghdad. It is a clear admission that the rebels are able to intensify attacks on supply lines. (The airport road is a supply route.)
Iraqi resistance groups claimed that they never lost Falluja entirely and fighting never stopped in the city and its suburbs. They were also reportedly attacking U. S. troops laying siege to Falluja from the rear. That being said, announcements coming out of the Iraqi side are usually unreliable. Remember those laughable claims made by Baghdad Bob, the nickname for the former Iraqi Information Minister?
However, this time, the rebels’ claims were substantiated by other news sources and developments. Around November 20-22, Chinese news agencies and Christian Science Monitor reported fierce fighting in Falluja. U. S. military also admitted at that time that some “pockets of resistance” to be stamped out. And, since mid-November, the return of Falluja residents had been postponed repeatedly. Something was wrong in Falluja.
On December 10, the military made another excuse for not re-opening Falluja:
“An army spokesman said the estimated 250,000 people that fled the (Falluja) assault cannot return until the risk posed by stray animals and sewage is eliminated.”
US warns on Falluja disease risk
On December 13:
Sabotage suspected in Iraq blackout (around Baghdad)
More fighting reported on December 14:
US retaliates after 8 Marines killed in Fallujah
Dec. 14: News that confirmed supply line attacks:
“WASHINGTON (AP) – The Air Force is making more cargo flights over Iraq to keep Army transport trucks off the country’s dangerous roads, accepting the increased risk to planes and added cost to reduce the threat on the ground, officials said Tuesday.
“During the last month, the Air Force reorganized the operations of its cargo lifters and is now flying about 450 tons of cargo around Iraq daily, said Lt. Col. Mike Caldwell, an Air Force spokesman. That’s an increase of about 100 tons a day over its previous average, he said.”
The rebels’ attacks of supply lines started affecting the military.
And, yet more attacks were reported:
Marines Face More Cunning Foe in Fallujah
On December 18:
Four Iraqis killed in US air strike near Fallujah (town of Ameriyat)
Ameriyat is a small town 6 miles from Falluja. Two weeks before this news story was published, The rebels claimed that Iraqi fighters had been using Ameriyat as a staging area to attack U. S. forces from the rear. American forces bombed and attacked Ameriyat and clashed with the rebels near the town. This news confirmed not only the earlier rebel reports, but also the continued fighting around Falluja.
Finally, U. S. admitted that Falluja was not under control and that the residents could not return. The report also mentioned that 6 marines were killed in Falluja the day before.
US marines do not recommend return of residents to Fallujah
December 19 was a very bad day for the American forces in Iraq. Attacks spread to the Shiite south.
“Suicide bombers blew themselves up in the Shia holy cities of Najaf and Karbala yesterday, killing at least 62 people and wounding 129.”
In Baghdad, three election workers were dragged out of their car and executed under broad daylight on a street not far away from the Green Zone, the symbol of American occupation in Baghdad. No Iraqi police or National Guards intervened. Journalists caught the entire attack on camera.
Six weeks from elections, 65 are killed on day of terror in Iraq
December 22: the now infamous suicide attack at the mess hall of a US military base in Mosul, killing 22 Americans.
As of January 12, 2005, two months after Falluja II offensive, Falluja is still partially under rebel control and only 8,000 or so (out of 300,000) residents returned to the city. American forces in and around Falluja are still regularly attacked and bombarded by the rebels. Two more marines were killed around Falluja on Jan. 12. (That is, another 10-20 wounded, according to the usual fatality-wounded ratio.)
From Reuters: Two U.S. Marines Killed in Western Iraq
Since my November article, the Iraqi rebels continue to attack U. S. supply lines – now with ever increasing effectiveness. Read the following news story of January 12. Unless you are seeing things through Fox News-colored lenses, we cannot help but to get an impression that American troops are under siege and the rebels are tightening the noose.
“The Air Force is flying in as many as 800 tons of cargo a day into Iraq – up more than a third since November. Every ton in the air is a ton that doesn’t have to be hauled by truck over Iraq’s dangerous roads.
(Note: 800 tons per day is almost double the airlift amount reported in the Dec. 14 story above.)
“Reducing the number of truck convoys is one way to reduce the number of Americans killed or wounded by roadside bombs and ambushes, which is why the U.S. military is relying more and more on airlift to supply the 150,000 troops in Iraq.”
“Every member of the crew who can afford to take his eyes off the instruments keeps a lookout for ground fire.
“With clear skies, it’s a good day for flying. But does that make it a safe day for flying?
“It’s a good point. The clearer it is the easier it is to see us,” Kresmer said.
“The best defense is flying high. “Only some of their more sophisticated weapons can reach up and touch us at this altitude,” said the pilot.
“When it’s time to land, Kremser handles his cargo plane like a racecar, banking sharply to become as difficult a target as possible.
“Another load of troops and all their gear delivered out of the reach of the insurgents – at least for now.
Dangerous Skies Over Iraq
Another telling story, this time from The Washington Times, Jan. 04, 2005: “Nowhere is safe” (scroll down, in the middle of the page)
“Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, recently returned from his second fact-finding mission to Iraq, this latest with a small group of fellow members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, including committee chairman Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican; ranking member Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat; and Sen. Evan Bayh, Indiana Democrat.
“It was during a private meeting at the offices of interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi that Mr. Allawi told the senators to move their chairs away from the window – for fear an insurgent sniper might take aim at the American scalps.”
Part Two: American Military Defeat in Falluja II