Skip to comments.Outgoing Marine General Faults Fallouja Strategy
Posted on 09/19/2004 11:45:01 AM PDT by elfman2
Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, who stepped down Sunday to become deputy director of operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, provided insight
The order to attack Fallouja and the subsequent command to halt came down the chain of command from Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top officer on the ground at the time, Conway said. The Marines expressed objections but proceeded
Then came the order to stop advancing. Conway indicated that he was stunned by the move. He suggested that the decision-makers had not quite understood the magnitude of their earlier directive to attack
"I would simply say that when you order elements of a Marine division to attack a city, that you really need to understand what the consequences are, and not perhaps vacillate in the middle of something like that," Conway said. "Once you commit, you've got to stay committed."
(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...
"Would our system have been better? You'll never know for sure. But at the time we certainly thought so."
"We follow our orders. We had our say. We understood the rationale, and we saluted smartly and went about the attack.
"When we got here, we were told by the 82nd that you can go into Fallouja, spend 45 minutes, no more. After the contractor incident, we were told that we had to attack Fallouja. I think we certainly increased the level of animosity that existed, and we're living with that."
In three days we had taken a third of the city. We were quite happy with the progress . We thought we were going to be done in two days."
"I would simply say that when you order elements of a Marine division to attack a city, that you really need to understand what the consequences are, and not perhaps vacillate in the middle of something like that. Once you commit, you've got to stay committed."
"The status quo in Fallouja cannot stand."
The origin of the orders to halt the attack on Fallujah isnt clear from this article, but others are more specific.
- USA Today 5/1 Mr. Bremer in turn sort a put in the order to hold back.
- BBC 4/11 Paul Bremer, said the ceasefire came at the request of members of the Iraqi Governing Council
- National Review 4/12 Bremer ordered the suspension of offensive operations by the Marines in-and-around Fallujah.
- AP 4/10 Marines agreed only grudgingly to a halt in fighting.
- NYT 4/9 U.S. officials said the pause was ordered by L. Paul Bremer
- LA Times 4/29 Bremer and Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, have at least once ordered the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force to postpone the scheduled attack, with the approval of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, defense officials said.
- Washington Times 4/15 council members Friday in scolding Mr. Bremer The protests resulted in orders to end the Marine assault Kind of hard to imagine what Gen. Sanchez was thinking when he ordered the Marines to cease fire"
- Military.com 9/14 A senior Marine official told Marines just rotating into Iraq in July that U.S. forces were ordered into and out of Fallujah for political reasons, but it was "nothing to gnash your teeth about." Marines are there to follow the orders of civilian authorities.
Since our strategies in falluja didn't work, I would expect any competent officer to offer explanations why it didn't work and to come up with ideas on how to do it better, what to learn from it, etc..
But of course not in public, especially if the demands originated from Rumsfeld or the Administrations local representative, Bremer.
Even these few quotes are pushing the edge of disloyalty. Im sure its being debated internally.
The LA Times article is more specific on what Conway wanted to do instead.
At the time they pulled back, I seem to remember that it was reported that it was Conway's idea.
Only the pullback associated with the Fallujah Brigade takeover. Conway was prohibited from assaulting Fallujah for almost a month, and he needed to find a way to free his troops for other commitments.
elfman2, you have an excellent point, he shouldn't have given the comments publically while we're still in conflict... telegraphing his thoughts to the enemy.
The order to attack Fallouja and the subsequent command to halt came down the chain of command from Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top officer on the ground at the time, Conway said. The Marines expressed objections but proceeded.
I dont know. Both have been quietly removed from command.
I dont think it needs to be even that destructive to satisfy everyone except our enemy and domestic opposition. Just give the ground commanders there (that means Marines) the preponderance of authority to design an assault and give them the resources they need.
Oh yea, and promise them that that they will not be withdrawn due to objections by the Iraqi Interim Government, The Arab League, The EU, Alawi, Kofi, or Kerry. Just fight the battle like every successful battle has been fought.
The marines would have wrapped up Fallujah in short order but political considerations got in the way. Now we have to give the insurgents controlling Fallujah another three months for the political purpose of getting by the Presidential election. This will enable the opponents time to harden their defenses and make the retaking of Fallujah that much more difficult and costly in lives. Political ezpediency is NOT the way to wage war.
I think Conway was toast anyway, in terms of career advancement. Too independent and pro-common sense. We need more like him. And, I will risk the rath of many toe-the-line freepers, but I would also like to see Rumsfeld--and some of the folks around him--resign. I'm sick of the arrogant BS we've heard from him since the war officially ended. As far as I'm concerned he and his inability to be straight with the American people are bringing Bush down. We need new leadership in the Defense Dept with the balls to conduct the fight like it needs to be fought, and the intelligence to listen to others who must might have experience and knowledge in the field. This goat-rope will endanger all of us even more if it isn't concluded successfully.
Hey, what happened to all the "new sheriff in town" propaganda? When they RIP'd the 82nd ABN, there was a lot of USMC talk about there being a "new sheriff in town" and that they were going to bring law and order to Fallujah. Senior Marine officers openly ripped the 82nd Airborne as not being aggressive enough.
I agree with the hard-line approach, but now that the USMC's got some 'splaining to do, this guy starts making excuses?
I cant post all of the Times article, and left out his explanation of what he wanted.
The Marines, who had just taken over responsibility for Fallouja from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, wanted time to work on a strategy they had tried elsewhere, conducting combat operations while reaching out to citizens through development projects and other incentives. They never got the chance
"We felt like we ought to probably let the situation settle before we appeared to be attacking out of revenge," Conway, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, said.
"When we got here, we were told by the 82nd that you can go into Fallouja, spend 45 minutes, no more," Conway said. "After the contractor incident, we were told that we had to attack Fallouja. I think we certainly increased the level of animosity that existed, and we're living with that."
The Marines had an arguably successful experimental program, "CAP", of working close with the natives in South Vietnam. But the higher ups didn't want to go with something so unusual, despite the success.
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