Friday, August 31, 2007
Fallujah: A battle like no other
In all the war in Iraq, there has been nothing like the battle of Fallujah, November 2004.

From the beginning, insurgents in Iraq have planted fields of hidden bombs, fired countless shots from sniper nests, and launched mortars and rockets onto opposing soldiers and civilians alike, but only once have insurgent forces tried to directly stand up and engage Coalition troops in head-on fighting.

The Battle of Fallujah was the most intense, sustained combat American forces have seen since Vietnam, and the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Bravo Company was right in the middle of it.

Over the past few months, I have traveled the country visiting with the troops of Bravo and others who witnessed Fallujah, trying to understand precisely what happened in that horrifying and relentless clash. What emerged is an extraordinary tale of heroism, survival, heartbreak, and success.

Insurgents claimed they could hold the city against the American onslaught; we found that they failed miserably.

Human rights advocates have said Fallujah involved a wholesale slaughter of civilians by American troops; we found no evidence to support that claim.

Critics have suggested the vastly superior U.S. technology is the only way Americans won; we found that in the tight corners and darkened houses of the city, much of the technology proved of little use, and American troops prevailed because of their superior training, discipline, and courage.

In this war, where so many days seems the same, the Battle of Fallujah remains a remarkable milestone. If you want to understand this war, you have to know Fallujah.

-- By Tom Foreman, CNN Correspondent

Preview: Snipers on the hunt
Preview: Marine down
Posted By CNN: 2:30 PM ET
  23 Comments
I will never understand this war, Tom.

God bless our troops and keep them safe. And prayers for the CA family that are burying their second son lost in the war.
Posted By Charlotte D, Stockton CA : 2:57 PM ET
So, do you think the Senators and Congress Rep whose plane was shot leaving Iraq at might change their view of how the war is going (and realize it ain't so great, especially for our troops and the many thousands of innocent Iraqis caught in this mess)? Or did they see those rocket propelled grenades through rose-tinted airplane window glass?

What will it take to "win" in Fallujah and elsewhere? And how many people will die before then?
Posted By Norah, West Chester, PA : 4:00 PM ET
I will never understand this, either. My baby cousin is an Army major who served two tours in Iraq. My friend died in the States of injuries sustained while serving in Iraq. I am very protective and prejudiced and against this war with my whole being as a result of that involvement and loss. Our military is the best in the world, and our soldiers can handle anything thrown at them. They shouldn't have to, not in the way they have been asked since this conflict began. They deserve more than they've been given by our government. And they deserve the continued support of our citizens no matter what. God knows they've been asked to do extraordinary things in extraordinary ways. The powers that be need to get this thing right and send our troops home. Or maybe they should go over there and do their own "dirty work" if they believe this cause is as noble as they purport it to be.
Posted By Tammy C., Berwick, LA : 5:54 PM ET
Thank you Tom, as the wife of a Sgt who fought in the battle of Fallujah with 1/8 Bravo, your documentary tonight will mean a better understanding of what he has been through. I have long awaited for this to air, and am very excited to (finally) see it.
Posted By Marjouri Straub : 7:22 PM ET
I love watching the belligerent nationalistic government we are saddled with fail over and over and over again in Iraq. Liars and fools they were, and it is very satisfying to see them fail every single day.

I'd prefer to see this war end, but it never will, so I must make due with watching jerks and buffoons having their idiocy exposed at every turn.

6 Months max, eh Rummy? $200 Billion was 'very very high'? The no-bid contractors get rich and build garbage.

If only innocent lives weren't being lost over there, I could laugh my butt off every time I look at the news and see that, yet again, things are going wrong in Iraq.

When you ignore the advice of your own generals, world-renowned anthropologists, historians and sociologists, this is what you get: incompetence, greed and corruption at every turn.

I'm just glad nobody I know is being abused by the government so Bush could play war in the sand.

Big thanks to the guys who were enlisted before this war began. I'm sorry you had to be used like this, to create a legacy for a drunk driving coke-head who ran every business he had into the ground.

Come home safe.
Posted By FatSean : 7:43 PM ET
I'm hoping that your post is indicative of what your special "Anvil of God" will be about tonight. I have looked forward to seeing this special since July when it was first scheduled. Your other two specials - River of Secrets and Lion in Winter - helped me understand more of what was going on in the war than many of the reports that CNN does. I'm sure this will add to that knowledge.

Thank you for trying to help us understand Fallujah and the rest of the war. My nephew is a soldier there and I really want to understand what he is there for and how much of a chance we have of accomplishing it.

Annie Kate
Birmingham Al
Posted By Annie Kate : 7:53 PM ET
Why are men still dying in Iraq? Why don't we take off the gloves and use the full military might of the US?
Posted By Sam, Dallas, TX : 8:16 PM ET
I think we need to stop being political over in Iraq and start being militaristic. That's my opinion; it's one man's opinion.
Posted By Cary - Lowell, IN : 8:18 PM ET
I don't believe in the "if we're nice to Islamo-fascists, they'll leave us alone" attitude.

I pray every day for our troops, but I do understand that good men have to take action against evil, or be overcome by it.
Posted By xtina chicago IL : 8:23 PM ET
This terrible war has seemed somewhat distant until now. A friend's cousin, a wonderful 25 year-old young man has been the latest tragic casualty in this needless war. A new father, with his future taken from him and his family by terrorists. How many more of our children must die before the Bush administration realizes their mistake?
Posted By Michael Eye, Cedar Rapids, IA : 10:05 PM ET
As a daughter of a veteran, I can say I am forever grateful to the military for their service and the endless work they do for our country. I can't say it enough, Thank you. Thank you and your families for the sacrifice, the hardship and the courage to be in our military. I pray for you all daily. Take Care
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 10:36 PM ET
My cousin was Lcpl. William "Billy" Miller. My prayers are with all of our troops who are still fighting every day. My prayers are also with all of the family members who mourn over a fallen loved one and those who must face daily the reality that their son or daughter may not return.

Thank you for "The Anvil of God" report and how you honored the memory of those who have fallen fighting for freedom.
Posted By Angie, Bay, AR : 12:11 AM ET
Hi Tom,
Good comments on your part. About the slaughter of civilians by American troops, I think the former (and present) government of Iraq has nothing to envy of any other when it comes to human rights and disrespect for differences. I too think this battle was a vicious one. I started reading Bing West's "No True Glory" which recounts that battle. Mr. West also has a site www.westwrite.com.
It certainly would be awesome to see our troops come home but this is not only about oil refineries! It's against a people that is obviously attempting to establish itself all over this globe to change and control it.
God Bless those men and women in service indeed. Not everyone has the courage to fight for what most of us take for granted - FREEDOM IN ALL ASPECT.
Posted By Lyne, Laval, Qc CANADA : 1:05 AM ET
We missed 360 last night, which is an awful irony ... we've been trying to catch it for weeks. Our son Jeremy was with 1/8, Weapons Co., and was close to many of these Marines. What was especially poignant was the clip on Kirk Bosselman. Kirk was one of Jeremy's best friends. There were seven or so of them who called themselves "The Rogues" from early on in their Marine careers. Jeremy visited at the Bosselman home several times. Jeremy has a tatoo of a kneeling, praying Marine on his forearm, with Kirk's name and the scripture reference, John 15:13 - "Greater love has no one than this, than he lay down his life for his friends."

I'm sorry I missed it. But it would've have been a wrenching experience, I'm sure. Jeremy - and we - are proud of his service. He is an honorable young man. As were his comrades.
Posted By Tony Martin : 10:50 AM ET
Wow, I know that "Anvil of God" has been postponed many time last month, but it was certainly worth the wait. It was truly chilling to hear what the troops found in the things left behind by the insurgents. Thanks for another incredible war story.

Susan Lemarie, Fairfax, VA
Posted By Anonymous : 3:47 PM ET
I watched "Fallujah" from beginning to end-twice. Is it someones perception that these civilians were killed out of anger? Someone has to pay",they say,someone has to be held accountable. I'd like someone to tell ME who and why.

Why not hold the insurgents responsible? Saddam? How about his honor the president? You know, the one that talks about "pre-emptive" strikes being a declaration of war. Well, hell, What allows him to do it but no one else?

I wish to God someone would put him and a few others out there to ask for ID while the enemy was taking down his friends,(both of them) I know,he could die, but not to worry, we'll tell his Mom and Dad how much we "appreciated" their sacrifice.

How can anyone watch "Fallujah"and "Ambush and still hold our men for trial? But that's okay! THEY volunteered. They WANTED to go. Just ask "G", he'll tell you!

Maggie
Posted By Maggie, GVMO : 6:50 PM ET
My brother was a Sarge with the 1/8 during those weeks in Fallujah and my aunt has been talking about this upcoming special for months. Thank you for the raw, honest portrayal of an event that hit home for us with such intensity during this confusing war. Although my brother and many of his men returned from the battle alive, I still feel the losses deep within my heart for those that didn't make it. We all do...

Grace, NYC
Posted By Anonymous : 11:29 PM ET
Tom, this was a wonderful special.
I don't support the war, but I do
support our troops. I wish it were
possible that all those young men and women that serve could come back alive and in one piece. Your story did justice to the men who
fought at Fallujah, I am truly saddened by what our troops and their loved ones have to endure before they return home.
Posted By Barbara-Dalton Ga : 2:19 AM ET
So what does the battle of Fallujah mean? Well, It provides us a glimpse on how well US soldiers have been trained. But that's not the issue, nor the claim claim that Fallujah involved a wholesale slaughter of civilians by American troops is true or not. Yes, we may be touched by the courage, the bravery of the US soldiers. But why they need to show their courage in the middle east? What for?
I wish all the American soldiers can safely home and the Middle East can approach its normalcy as soon as possible. The Iraq war is really a shame in the human history.
Posted By Reyeszjj : 4:33 AM ET
When I read this I was reminded of just how much the soldier's story has become axiomatic of war since WWI; the war in Vietnam fractured that story to a large degree, as it was the first war to enter our living rooms, and we saw a great deal more than the soldier's story.

Still, that story is given more "credit," or authority that all the other stories of war, and so the embedded war correspondent is also giving amplification to that story.

But the fact is, we see so much more today than that soldier's story with our 24 hour global information systems. The eyes of the television and the internet are wide open, and though the soldier's story, and the famous or infamous battles are of course important, they are no longer the only stories.

There are stories of children and women, of families and refugees and hostages and tortures and atrocities. In other words, there are stories on non-combatants writing themselves alongside the soldier's story--including the stories of the so-called enemy, which in the case of this particular war, we've been unable to accurately name.

So with respect, the statement "to understand this war, you have to know Fallujah," is only part of a larger story in which the soldiers participate.
Posted By Lidia Yuknavitch : 1:36 PM ET
Hi Anderson,

It broke my heart to see how the marine got shot and was just lying there in the middle of the road, and when the two other marines went for the rescue, they inevitably got shot too, a sure target. Its too easy for them too predictable. The tragedy increases Did they shoot the others who went to rescue those three or did they wait for things to cool down .Couldn't there be a better way.Less traditional and heroic, such as those bullet proof shields the cops use. or propel a bullet proof tent over the victim until rescue, or send a dog like a St. Bernard to drag the body out.
Or perhaps send those grenades that blur their vision, like smoke grenades that copes use to disperse crowds while they remove the bodies. My heart aches... I pray you can figure out a better way, and tradition can make room for a better life for those who are caught in that deadly role.

Also, were we poaching their oil ?
It would be time to answer that question. Were we exploiting the arabs? Were we making extravagant profits from their resources, profits prohibited by the old and new testament. were we stealing...
It would be high time to look at that.


what are those poor guys dying for?
songs and tales of heroism does not bring back mommies and daddies little boy or girl.

I know you care.

Suzanne.
Posted By SUZANNE SMITH, MONTREAL, CANADA : 2:52 PM ET
Tom,

Thank you, Amanda and the rest of the CNN crew for telling the story of these fine young men. Let history judge the war, but let's not lose sight of the fact that our future depends on the integrity and efforts of people like them.

I count among my friends several families who lost a son with the 1/8. To them I say, Semper Fidelis.

USMCPOP

Proud Father of
USMC LCpl. Karl R. Linn
KIA 1/26/2005 Haqlaniyah, Iraq
Posted By USMCPOP : 4:12 PM ET
Without a doubt, this feature has been one of the best reports on the war I have seen, and I'm a complete news nerd and watch them all (thank you tivo). My faith in CNN as a new source was starting to wain, its been seriously filled with fluff lately. I was wondering if you've been taking your leads from E! This report, however, was excellent in content, reporting, and certainly in photos and film clips.
Thank you for the incredible coverage.
Posted By ELECTIONGRRRL : 9:35 PM ET
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