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Mission 32 - Tactical
Fallujah: Operation al-Fajr (Dawn), Part 2

The idea here is to make a cordon around the city to make sure insurgents don't get out. But part of the goal was to depopulate the city beforehand. See, it doesn't matter that you're going to let a lot of insurgents out by announcing your arrival. In fact, that was sort of the idea. Break them up and add to the disorganization. If you keep them running, they can't stay prepared. By telling them we're coming to get them, it makes the insurgency fragment and weaken. Now they have to restructure as another unit somewhere else, and that becomes increasingly difficult.

So the pressure came and they fragmented. They left big piles of munitions behind, tons of high explosives that they couldn't exactly stuff in their pockets and run with. So we recovered a great deal of weaponry that can't be used against us in the next operation. That's pretty encouraging. So we keep moving. We keep after them.

For the enemy, this sort of operation is a real deterrent to recruiting. An operation like this is a real losing proposition to al Qaeda because it's where the US really excels. Any time we can catch the enemy in a high intensity position, we will win. The terrorists have to maintain control of a certain region, so we arrive on the scene where they're subject to our rigorous warfare and it gets them every time.

At the same time, I think it is a big mistake for them to flee Fallujah. By staying and fighting, they could have gained sympathy for their cause. They would have had a better chance at inflicting more casualties, which in turn could have played out really well for them in the media. But we'd have taken Fallujah no matter what.

The operation takes place at night where we have the advantage of night vision. The insurgents wake up, and we're within 50 feet of them. We could exploit their security by coming in under the cover of darkness.

The Marine and Army regiments attacked from north to south. They acted as one unit, but the combined forces gave way to a good mix of weaponry and tactics. They made five lanes of activity, a huge regiment that swept on down through the city. The troops all acted as assault forces in what was an expansion of a cordon and knock. It was a meticulous door-to-door assault on Fallujah.

The big difference here is that it was a cordon and knock REAL hard. Because the enemy was dropping mortars on the advancing troops on the front line, we called in the artillery. The armored units had Bradleys that were employed. We knocked the doors down with artillery. We used C-4 to breach walls. We busted down doors with sledge hammers. Our guys blew huge holes that created a really high shock value, which was needed because the Marines simply didn't know what was behind the walls and doors and entryways.

It was a tough fight with a historically low casualty rate, simply an amazing victory for an operation this size.

From an interview with US Army Staff Sergeant Dan Snyder


Fallujah: Operation al-Fajr (Dawn), Part 2

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