November 14, 2004

"Had we done in April what we did now, the results would've been the same."

Marine Maj. Gen. Richard Natonski, who designed the ground attack on Fallujah, describes the brilliant, ahead-of-schedule takeover of the city:
"Maybe we learned from April ... We learned we can't do it piecemeal. When we go in, we go all the way through. We had the green light this time and we went all the way."
The linked article has some nice details on the military tactics:
Natonski described the six days of ground war as a "flawless execution of the plan we drew up. We are actually ahead of schedule."

Several pre-assault tactics made the battle easier than expected, he said.

Insurgent defenses were weakened by bombing raids on command posts and safe houses. Air-dropped leaflets may have also demoralized some defenders and convinced some residents that the city would be better off under government control, he said.

In the days before the raid, ground troops feinted invasions, charging right up to Fallujah's edge in tanks and armored vehicles. Natonski said these fake attacks forced the insurgents to build up forces in the south and east, perhaps diverting defenders from the north, where six battalions of Army and Marine troops finally punched into the city Monday.

The deceptive maneuvers also drew fire from defenders' bunkers, which were exposed and relentlessly bombed before the ground assault.

"We desensitized the enemy to the formations they saw on the night we attacked," Natonski said.

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