The end of the battle of Fallujah was one of the lowest points of the entire U.S. military effort in Iraq. "Most of Fallujah is returning to normal," President Bush asserted on April 28, after a series of aerial bombardments. It was a stunningly inaccurate statement. Not one of the objectives of the Marine attack had been achieved. The attack order, as stated in a Marine briefing, was to "capture/kill the murderers of the coalition contractors while conducting offensive operations . . . to restore law and order and build long-term stability." The desired end state, as stated in that briefing, was to make it impossible for terrorists to destabilize the city again. When the fight ended, the murderers had not been apprehended and law and order had not been restored. What's worse, in the following weeks it would become painfully clear that it was the murderers of the contractors who enjoyed free rein in the city, not the Marines. "We turned the city over to the Fallujah Brigade -- which was made up of people we'd been fighting against," said [Colonel John] Toolan.
© 2006, Thomas E. Ricks. All rights reserved.