U.S. Marine Operations in Iraqby Lt. Col. Kenneth W. Estes
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This is a story about Marines and a tough mission: the Marines of I and II Marine Expeditionary Forces were deployed to Iraq during 2004–2006 and confronted a violent insurgency and a nation in chaos. Though the Marines came to fight—they did so admirably in al-Fallujah, ar-Ramadi, and other hot and dusty locales in al-Anbar Province—they also laid the foundation for a secure and stable Iraqi society.
Though security and stabilization seemed improbable if not impossible in al-Anbar Province, the apparent intractable insurgency was beaten with gritty determination that Marines have always brought to the fight. Besides using warfighting skills, the Marines also employed their expertise in civil affairs to help rebuild a nation in disarray.
The military occupation of al-Anbar Province required patience, perseverance, and fortitude. The cities and towns were damaged, inhabitants demoralized, and little remained of civil authority. Hopes remained high that the occupation would be short–lived and that the Iraqis would pick themselves up and rebuild. However, those hopes died hard on the harsh realities of post-invasion Iraq. As the Marines
took up new and unplanned responsibilities, insurgent violence continued and increased, generated by the national disarray of all social institutions. For the I and II Marine Expeditionary Forces, nation building and combat operations would proceed alongside one another for most of their service in Iraq.
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