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Mission 35 - Forces
Fallujah: Operation al-Fajr (Dawn), Part 3

Friendly Forces

With a total membership of 45,000, the Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) is the principle Marine Corps fighting unit. The largest and most powerful Marine Air Ground Task Force, the MEF is always ready for combat operations in nearly any environment with little advanced warning. Urban warfare and terrorist response is their specialty. By combining air, ground, and logistical support elements, the force uses total domination to exploit its enemy’s weaknesses. The MEF’s crushing offensive lineup includes battalions of reconnaissance, surveillance, artillery, tank, anti-aircraft, engineering, light-armored, aircraft, and support.

First activated in 1969 in Camp Pendleton, California, "The Magnificent Bastards" of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment have fought battles in numerous countries and provided a pivotal role in major conflicts since WWI, including Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in Southwest Asia, Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, and presently, Operation Vigilant Resolve in Iraq.

The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force entered the hostile cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in March 2004, relieving units from the 82nd Airborne Division and the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment
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1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment

The 3rd Marine Regiment was formed December 20, 1916. During World War I, the regiment was heavily involved in the pacification of the Dominican Republic.

The 3rd Marine Regiment was called upon as part of the World War II military expansion, where the regiment fought fierce battles at Bougainville and Guam. Following World War II, the regiment was ordered to China to fight against communists. By 1965, the 1/3 was deployed to Vietnam, where they provided security for the Da Nang Air Base. The 1/3 would eventually participate in 48 major operations in the Republic of Vietnam.

The 3rd Marine Regiment was one of the first combat forces to deploy to Saudi Arabia in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. The regiment became the first American unit to be engaged by Iraqi artillery, rocket, and missile fire. It answered in force by conducting artillery raids in Kuwait, the first ground offensive against the Iraqis. The 1/3 conducted the only helicopter borne assault of the war and also managed to secure the Marine Corp’s final objective, Kuwait International Airport.

The 1/3rd arrived in Iraq in September, tasked with quelling insurgent activity in Fallujah and the surrounding areas.
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1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment

Out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines was first activated in 1940. The unit participated in five World War II campaigns and was deployed to Lebanon in 1958. The 1/8 also participated in the Cuban Missile Crisis and the intervention in the Dominican Republic.

In 1983, the battalion served as part of the multinational peace keeping force in Lebanon. Seven years later, the 1/8 brought their battlefield expertise to the Middle East for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In 1993 and 1994, the unit twice conducted operations in Bosnia.

In March 2003, elements of the 1/8 arrived in Mosul, Iraq. Alongside the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, the 1/8 fought in various combat operations as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Most recently, Company A was at the forefront of the large-scale operation to regain control over the city of Fallujah, and is currently conducting security operations designed to clear the remaining insurgents from the city.
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3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment

The Third Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment was organized in June 1917 on the eve of World War I. Just six days later, the battalion deployed to France where they succeeded in numerous campaigns.

Beginning in 1921, the security of the US mail service fell to the 3rd battalion. By 1927 they would be back on the battlefield, this time in Nicaragua, followed by battles in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

On December 1, 1990, the 3/5 deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Desert Shield as a Battalion Landing Team with the 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade. The battalion became part of the largest amphibious task force assembled since Vietnam, distinguishing itself in combat operations in Al Wafrah, Kuwait. At the end of hostilities, the 3/5 took part in Operation Sea Angel, delivering critical food and supplies to Bangladesh where cyclones had caused mass destruction.

The 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines has accumulated seventy-seven decorations in testament to its courage and strength in the battlefield. With a long line of tradition and experience in hostile territories, the men and women of the 3/5 are responsible for securing sections of Iraq’s perilous Anbar province, including the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah.
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1st Infantry Division

For 87 years, the “Big Red One” has been involved in some of the toughest fighting the world over.

First constituted in 1917 as the 1st Expeditionary Division, the unit was a mix of Army soldiers from various US posts and from along the Mexican border. Within a month, the division was officially organized in New York.

The 1st Infantry became the first members of the American Expeditionary Force to see combat action during World War I. In the spring of 1918, elements of the 1st attacked the German defenders at the French town of Cantigny with a brutal, frontal attack on German positions. The division stormed the town and burned their enemies out of basements and cellars. It was a victory for the Americans, one that publicized the skill and tenacity of the “fighting 1st”.

The 1st Infantry Division was at the forefront of some of the toughest battles of World War II. The Fighting 1st landed in North Africa in 1942 and poured over the Sicilian coast a year later. On June 6, 1944, the First Infantry was part of the D-Day landing team which suffered severe casualties but still managed to secure a hold on "Hitler's Fortress Europe" at Normandy. A decade later, the 1st Infantry Division was battling in Vietnam, then in Desert Storm, and in Kosovo.

Fighting side-by-side with Iraqi troops, the 1st Infantry is waging effective counter-insurgency operations in Iraq. Cordoning off hotspots and targeting guerillas, the First Team has been commended for their precision and stealth in hostile territories like Samarra, Ramadi, and Fallujah.
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1st Cavalry Division

The "First Team" took to the battlefield in 1855 when the men of the 1st Cavalry protected America's settlers in the Western frontier against Sioux, Comanche, Arapaho, Apache, and Ute Nations during the Indian Wars. Six years later, the 1st Cavalry entered into fierce, horse-mounted Civil War battles at Bullrun, Antietam, Gettysburg, Wilderness, and Appomattox. Just prior to World War I, the Cavalry engaged Pancho Villa's forces during the Mexican exploration, the last of the Cav's large horse-mounted battles.

By 1940, technological advances like tanks and aircrafts replaced horses and, three years later, the 1st Cavalry Division entered the Southwest Pacific as foot soldiers following the attack on Pearl Harbor. The First Team fought in Korea and then Vietnam, where the 1st Cavalry’s signature patch was altered. The yellow background was changed to a drab, olive green to conceal the soldiers from enemy forces.

Today's 1st Cavalry Division has more than 17,000 soldiers and is the foremost heavy-armored division in the US Army. Seven brigade-sized elements include combat aviation engineers, division artillery, and division support brigades. The 1st Cavalry has an air defense artillery battalion, signal battalion, military intelligence battalion, personnel services battalion, chemical and military police companies, and a horse cavalry detachment.

The swift power of the 1st Cavalry is no military secret. Our government depends on these men to lead the way on the battlefield with the highest level of technology and human ingenuity. Former Commander of the Allied Forces, General Norman Schwarzkopf, in the opening days of Operation Desert Storm, barked a terse order that sums it up: "Send in the First Team. Destroy the Republican Guard. Let's go home."
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17,000 recruits have joined the new Iraqi Army, which includes well-trained Kurds from other militias and former Saddam-era policemen. The new battalions are better qualified and equipped than other Iraqi security forces, but only 7,000 members are considered fully trained at this point.

The Iraqi Army undergoes continuous instruction and morale-building to improve the strength of its troops. Last April, an Iraqi Army battalion refused to board helicopters to join the fighting in Fallujah, but now the Army enters the battlefield as an aggressive force capable of securing buildings and storming mosques, a powerful reinforcement to Iraqi police and National Guard units.

After the Iraqi Army took control of the main police station in Fallujah, they immediately raised the Iraqi national flag to symbolize the major role thousands of Iraqis had in the offensive.
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The foremost Iraqi special operations unit is a combination of Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds working together under the training of US Special Forces. With a number of members hailing from Iraqi Special Ops, the 36th Commandos take on dangerous missions, including the task of clearing gunmen out of mosques and challenging heavily armed insurgent militias.

There are five elite Iraqi battalions ready for limited action, but the 36th is the most unified, battle-ready unit thus far. It’s dubbed “the commando battalion” because its 400 troops can skillfully carry out commando-type operations.

The 36th Commandos played a pivotal role in the assault on Samarra last month, securing the city’s Golden Mosque and capturing 25 insurgents. In Fallujah, the 36th Commandos work with Marines and the US and Iraqi Armies to maintain control of government and public buildings, often engaging in bloody battles with rebel forces.
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 Enemy Forces

There are dozens of insurgent groups carrying out attacks against coalition forces in Iraq: rebel forces consisting of regime loyalists, nationalistic groups opposed to the US presence, formerly suppressed Islamists, and a variety of jihaddist groups and foreign militias. It is often difficult to separate the various factions as many are closely-aligned al Qaeda groups led by master terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, or even possibly the same group operating under various names.
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Al-Faruq conducts their military operations in different regions, including Fallujah, where they claimed to have attacked a Bradley fighting vehicle, killing six Americans. Al-Faruq has claimed responsibility for a number of other specific attacks against U.S. forces, including an ambush on American Special Forces. The group of 6,000 to 10,000 also claims responsibility for destroying three armored vehicles and killing 10 soldiers in Ramadi. Referring to itself as the military arm of an Islamic resistance organization called the Islamic Movement in Iraq, the Brigades were coordinated in early June. Members may include secular Sunni Arabs and former employees and supporters of Saddam's regime. Al-Faruq Brigades have set up small cells or "squadrons" with Islamic names that serve different functions in the army, such as reconnaissance or combat.
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With a name that beckons back to Iraq's history of fighting British colonialism, the Revolution has claimed responsibility for anti-American attacks in hopes of preventing further intervention by US and coalition forces. The group has used the Al-Jazeera media outlet to call on other Arab and Islamic countries to send troops to Iraq to aid insurgents.
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This Sunni group is composed primarily of ethnic Kurds from northern Iraq and has been linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network. It was formed just days before the September 11th attacks by a merger of two terrorist groups brokered by Osama bin Laden in one of his Afghanistan training camps. Ansar al Islam has also been closely linked to bin Laden associate Abu Musab al Zarqawi and is held responsible for numerous terrorist attacks, including bombings and assassinations of pro-American Kurdish political leaders. Ansar al Islam is believed to have been manufacturing Ricin, a deadly chemical weapon, in their mountain stronghold in northern Iraq just before the American invasion.
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This extremist group vows to fight any Muslim or Arab that cooperates with the coalition's reconstruction efforts in Iraq. The Armed Vanguards were unknown prior to 2003, when the Ramadi-based group claimed responsibility for the attack on the U.N. Headquarters in Baghdad which killed 23 people and wounded 100. They have an ongoing mission to drive coalition forces out of Iraq and threaten to wage global jihad against all US supporters.
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The Islamic Armed Group of al Qaeda's Fallujah branch has claimed responsibility for the armed resistance against U.S. Forces in Iraq and promises to produce attacks that will "break America's back."
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This group also calls itself The Active Religious Seminary. The militia wing of this movement, the Mahdi Army, consists of 500-1000 trained combatants and another 5,000-6,000 active participants. In early April 2004, the militia attempted to occupy and gain control of police stations and government buildings in Baghdad, engaging coalition forces in battle using small arms and RPGs. Ongoing fighting south of Baghdad has progressively involved al-Sadr's Al-Mahdi Army. This militia force also has strong ties to Iran with powers there funneling money to al-Sadr since 2003 as part of a way to settle an Iraqi Shiite power struggle in Karbala. Also, Iran's Revolutionary Guard is allegedly setting up camps and training centers along the Iranian-Iraqi border to train elements of the Mahdi Army.
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The Return surfaced in mid-June. Its members, former security service members and Iraqi armed forces soldiers, organized and spread cells throughout numerous cities including Baghdad, Mosul, and Ramadi. US government analysts believe the pro-Saddam elements of the Ba'ath Party reorganized as Al-Awdah after the war began.
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This organization seems to be based on nationalist and religious fervor. The Black Banner Organization calls for its followers to sabotage oil supply and industry to prevent it from being taken over and used to profit Western interests.
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Successful in killing some supporters of the head of the Iraqi National Congress, the group runs on both a pro-regime and religious platform. The National Front accepts ex-Republican Guards into its ranks, and it was one of the first insurgent groups to appear during the war.
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This Sunni Islamist group claims Palestinian Islamist Abdallah Azzam as its spiritual mentor. In Pakistan in the 1980s, Azzam was also the spiritual leader of choice for Osama bin Laden.
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With covert organizations throughout Iraqi cities, the Guards have an intelligence infrastructure they can readily use for political influence and military action against coalition troops and the Iraqi people. According to one Iranian defector, the Revolutionary Guards started infiltrating Iraq through hundreds of Iranian intelligence agents long before the current war. Many of them were Iraqi refugees of Iranian origin expelled by Saddam Hussein back in the 1970s and 1980s. They infiltrated back into Iraq through Kurdish areas not under Ba'ath party control. The Revolutionary Guards also allegedly have close ties to key Osama bin Laden aide Egyptian terrorist Ayman al-Zawahiri.
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Fallujah: Operation al-Fajr (Dawn), Part 3

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