E-mails from Major Dave Bellon

Major Dave Bellon regularly sends e-mails home to his father from Iraq. They are all listed at The Greenside. While you would never know it by watching the news, but WE ARE WINNING!
"Sent: Wednesday, June 02, 2004 2:58 PM

Dad –

Some interesting developments out of Fallujah and Iraq in general that I wanted to share with you. Since we have agreed to stay at arms reach with Fallujah, we have been able to focus our efforts on the surrounding towns and villages. The result is that we have made great inroads in breaking up insurgent cells through ambushes and raids. Even more important, we have begun to establish an early and still fragile rapport with the people of these areas. The areas are historical sanctuaries for terrorists so they are important.

One town in particular that we have been successful in is near Fallujah. During the April fight in Fallujah, the muj (mujahadeen) took the town over and used it as a base of operations of sorts. From all reports, they were brutal on the people and very quickly subjugated the town. During one of the ordered pauses in the Fallujah fight, we chopped a rifle company off the line with a very aggressive battalion commander. Basically he was told that we thought the muj were running lose in the area and that he should head up there and "develop the situation." I have gotten to know this guy pretty well here. He is a very good commander and a tough guy. In fact, I remember telling him that if he went past a certain point, he would be decisively engaged. We had estimated that if he got into a decisive engagement, he could be outnumbered by as much as 5:1. You can imagine what he did. He took his Marines right to that point.

Sure enough, the fight was on. It was a 360 degree engagement that lasted 8 hours. An 8 hour firefight is an eternity. To put it in perspective, this guy was in both OIF 1 battle for Baghdad as well as the Fallujah fight. He states that the firefight up near this town was the toughest he has been in. We fired quite a bit of artillery and brought in a number of sorties of close air for them. By the time it was over, the estimates (now confirmed) are that they killed over a 100 muj. We could not understand why they kept coming but they did (more on that later). Throughout it all, very accurate mortar fire up to 120mm was falling inside the Marine position. Automatic weapons and RPGs were crisscrossing through the perimeter. The Marines just laid there in the micro terrain and squeezed off well aimed shots.

The Battalion Commander stayed that day until his guys broke the muj and he "owned the field" (his words). He then withdrew back to his original position. In the same town, we now have Marines living 24/7. They are conducting joint patrols with the Iraqi Police and the ICDC (Iraqi Civil Defense Corps). When they first arrived, the people were very standoffish and even hostile. Now we are getting more and more walk up intelligence (where the locals literally risk their lives in order to walk into our lines and tell us where the muj are). The reason for the turnaround is simple. We have pushed through the bow wave of intimidation and terror that dominated the town when the muj were there. The Marines did it through aggressive raiding and downright obstinate refusal to budge regardless of the costs. The people were watching the entire time and have made up their own minds where their best future lies. It has gotten to the point where the mujahadeen are now firing mortars indiscriminately into the town as it is the only effective means of maintaining any kind of influence over the people. Yesterday, they grievously wounded two citizens doing just that.

That is not to say that the town is a bed of roses for the Marines as we still have plenty of contact in the area and it is very dangerous but we are grinding them down and are about to put a good pounding on the enemy in the next few days. The people are talking and we are about to pay some more visits in the middle of the night.

I could give you a couple more examples but it is a good illustration of what kind of work the Marines are doing every day.

As far as Fallujah goes, we have not been allowed to get back in there with any real numbers yet. Initially, it was confounding. However, a very interesting dynamic has developed. Since we have stayed out of Fallujah and focused elsewhere, the mujahadeen have had their run of the town. As they have had no one to fight, they have turned their criminal instincts on the citizens. The clerics who once were whipping these idiots into a suicidal frenzy are now having to issue Fatwas (holy decrees) admonishing the muj for extortion, rape, murder and kidnapping. It is unfortunate for the "innocent people" of Fallujah but the mujahadeen have betrayed themselves as the thugs that they are by brutalizing the civilians. There are, in fact, reports of rape, etc from inside the town.

While the muj are thugging away inside the town, we are about 1/2 mile away paying claims, entering into dialogue and contracting jobs. The citizens come outside the city for work and money and are treated like human beings. They go back inside and enter a lawless hell. In short, the muj have done more to show the people what hypocrites they are in a few short weeks than we could have hoped for in a year. The result is more and more targetable intelligence. If we are given the green light, we can really go to town on these guys (no pun intended). However, as much as we would like to do just that, the optimal solution is to empower the Iraqis to take care of it themselves. That is precisely what we are doing.

Equally astounding is evidence that these "holy warriors" are taking drugs to get high before attacks. It is true, as we pushed into the town in April many Marines came across drug paraphernalia (mostly heroin). Recently, we have gotten evidence of them using another drug BZ that makes them high and very aggressive. Cowards and hypocrites. They don't have the nerve to fight without calming their fear with drugs. Between highs, they are robbing people and raping young girls. Some jihad.

Unfortunately, Al Qaeda is here and they are some of the most brutal beings that you can imagine. I say "beings" because they do not qualify as human beings. They prey upon the "holy warriors" above and are in league with them teaching them tactics and employing them to execute attacks. Money to pay for the attacks comes from neighboring states. Al Qaeda, the same people that espouse creating a Islamic State that is global and living under the "purist form of God's laws", are working with drug addicts and rapists. Someone will have to explain that one to me some day.

For now we are gearing up for the inevitable offensive that the former regime guys, local criminals and Al Qaeda will wage this summer. It will be brutal as they are on a systematic campaign to murder anyone who is even half-way moderate. If any leader gains traction that is not 100% anti-coalition and pro-anarchy, is at immediate risk. Yesterday's positive world media coverage of the naming of the interim government will probably accelerate the mayhem somewhat. It is a fight that is inevitable. So long as we can keep the Iraqi people's nerve up and keep as many leaders alive as possible, we will crush the enemy when he surfaces. We are hopeful to take a little wind out of their sails with some pre-emptive work over the next few days.

I will let you know how it goes. "
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