Falluja Counterstrike

Troops Wait Eagerly to Reenter Fallouja [otbblog/jamesotb]

Marine officials have insisted that any military strike would be “precise” and “overwhelming.”

Col. J.C. Coleman, chief of staff for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, said this morning that Fallouja was key to stabilizing central Iraq.

“Fallouja is a barrier on the highway to progress. We’re going to eliminate that barrier without damaging the highway,” he said.

Coleman said the slayings of the four American civilians triggered a rethinking of Marine strategy.


In Washington, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz briefed members of the House Armed Services Committee on plans for retaliation. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon), the committee’s chairman, said the classified briefing suggested that a reprisal could entail the use of U.S. air power.

“Obviously, we have very competent people who have, since the beginning of the war against terrorism, had the ability and know-how to put together a blueprint to, No. 1, identify the perpetrators of the terrorist actions and, No. 2, to hunt them down and eliminate them,” Hunter said.

Hunter’s son, also named Duncan, is a Marine serving in Fallouja.

Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of the 1st Marine Division here, has told his troops that this is a “war of patience,” and that sometimes they will be unable to respond, even when they suffer casualties.

Patience is a difficult sell for some. Most of the younger troops enlisted after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. in an effort to “get into the fight.”

“It’s hard” to be patient, said Lance Cpl. Michael Shaffer, 22, of Owensboro, Ky. “Unfortunately, I know it’s more a mental fight than a physical fight. If we go in and tear up the place, the Iraqi people will resent that and we’ll just have more trouble.”

Indeed. As vicerally satisfying as going in and leveling the place would be, it would play into the hands of our enemies. The calm, precise use of force is always much more impressive and is the hallmark of a professional force.

Via Robert Prather

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, Terrorism, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. BigFire says:

    Like wretchar over at Belmont Club said, the Marines are not in a hurry to rush the place. Unless the killers managed to escape in the ensuing minutes, they’re still in Fallouja, trapped.

  2. Rodney Dill says:

    Couldn’t get the name and password to work.