In the former capital of the former Islamic Caliphate
Michael Totten tells the story of the bad-boy city of Fallujah, a place so mean even Saddam was afraid of it; where for decades travelers were urged to stay away. Fallujah along with Ramadi was to be heart of AQI's caliphate.
The insurgency arose in Fallujah before spreading to the rest of the country. Perhaps it is fitting, then, that the insurgents—now on the run elsewhere in Iraq—were first beaten here in the City of Mosques.
Totten describes how it happened. Here are some excerpts, but read the whole thing.
When Petraeus surged additional troops to Iraq in January 2007, the light footprint model was replaced with aggressive counterinsurgency operations that, perhaps counterintuitively, prioritized the protection of local civilians over American forces. ...
The barriers also divide each section of the city into intimately patrollable precincts. Inside these precincts, U.S. Marines and Iraqi police have forged a straightforward agreement with civilians: we’ll keep you safe if you identify insurgents and lead us to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and weapons caches. Americans no longer patrol in Humvees, as they did at the peak of the insurgency. Instead, the Marines have embedded themselves, so to speak, in Fallujah’s communities. They have transformed large rented houses into Joint Security Stations that look and feel like low-budget university co-ops, where they share sleeping quarters, eating areas, movie rooms, and makeshift gyms with Iraqi police. They live together, work together, study Arabic and English together, and, above all, patrol their own neighborhoods together. ...
“The al-Qaida leadership outside dumped huge amounts of money and people and arms into Anbar Province,” says Lieutenant Colonel Mike Silverman, who oversees an area just north of Ramadi. “They poured everything they had into this place. The battle against Americans in Anbar became their most important fight in the world. And they lost.”
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