I have had several requests for advanced copies of New Dawn. Like you all, I am waiting for the book to roll off the presses. I have no review copies left, so I am starting a series that I will be updating throughout April. I will start at the beginning of the book and post the Foreword, Preface and Chapter 1.
LTG Thomas F. Metz USA (ret.)
In this superbly written book detailing the battles for Fallujah, Richard Lowry focuses on powerful accounts of the tactical campaign. Braving the toughest urban combat since World War II, our Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen cleared the way for success at the operational and strategic levels of Operation Iraq Freedom (OIF-I). As the Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNC-I) commander during Operation New Dawn, I was honored to observe the superb performance of our young men and women; quite simply, their valiance turned the tide. Today’s readers and tomorrow’s historians will be most thankful that Richard devoted years of his life to ensure New Dawn not only accurately documents these battles, but also rightfully gives the credit to those young Americans whose sacrifices made success possible.
In the fall of 2001, I was already on orders to leave my assignment in the Pentagon as Vice Director of the J8 to command the 24th Infantry Division and Fort Riley, Kansas. On the afternoon of September 11th – after the Twin Towers had collapsed, after American Airlines Flight 77 had slammed into the Pentagon, and after I saw first-hand the devastation that could be wrought by global terrorism – I knew that I would be focused on training and preparing soldiers for war. I had no vision of what that war would look like, but I knew that the Army in which I enlisted after high school graduation and had served ever since was going to be at war in the twilight of my career.
That afternoon, I could not have envisioned becoming the CENTCOM Chief of Staff during the final planning phases of Operation Iraq Freedom, nor of taking command of the III Corps, deploying it to Iraq, and becoming the senior commander of the ground forces there with the mission of helping its people hold their first free elections.
I had never heard of Fallujah, and I certainly could not envision developing a Corps Operation three years later to rid this city of the thugs, criminals, foreign fighters, insurgents and Al Qaeda operatives whose occupation of Fallujah was a significant obstacle to Iraqi democracy. On the afternoon of September 11th, I could not have imagined that my entire career would now point to one operation – an end to the enemy occupation of Fallujah, which was a malignant tumor that needed to be cut away and destroyed. Defeating the enemy in Fallujah would be essential to Iraq’s first successful elections in January 2005. Fortunately, we had the world’s best warfighters, whom Richard has so aptly honored in his book.
On my pre-deployment sight survey prior to moving III Corps Headquarters to Iraq, I met with General Abizaid and learned that LTG Ric Sanchez would remain in Iraq as the Coalition Joint Task Force-7 (CJTF-7) Commander focused on the strategic level of Operation Iraq Freedom. General Abizaid needed me to focus on the day to day operations. As Colonels, Ric and I overlapped for a year at Fort Riley and were accustomed to working together. Based upon General Abizaid’s guidance, I leaned into the operational fight and intelligence that supported it. With a career in the operational Army, I was ready to use my education, training and experiences to successfully achieve our goals in Iraq.
Violence was down in the first three months of 2004 due to Saddam’s capture, but that changed March 31st when insurgents in Fallujah dragged four Blackwater contractors from their SUVs, beat them savagely, and set them on fire. The brutal desecration of their bodies – pictures of which were infamously broadcast around the world – prompted some leaders to advocate immediate retaliation. But although a response was justified, hindsight tells us a more carefully considered one would have better served our short- and long-term goals.
Two concurrent decisions proved also to be missteps – the capture of one of Muqtada al-Sadr’s top deputies and the closure of Al Hawza, a newspaper published by his supporters. And for good reasons, many leaders – from Anbar, Baghdad, CENTCOM, DoD and on to the White House – were focused on a battle of revenge in Fallujah. But because of these three uncoordinated, concurrent decisions with respect to Fallujah and Sadr, the Coalition was fighting extreme Sunni and Shia forces across almost the entire country of Iraq by the second week in April.
As LTG Sanchez and Ambassador Bremer focused on Fallujah, I turned to the remainder of the country to help the Coalition’s division and brigade commanders get the resources to successfully put down the uprising. The enemy destroyed about a dozen bridges on our main supply route from Kuwait, and ambushed convoys at will across the country. Battle was joined in neighborhoods across Baghdad. Five thousand gallon tankers could be seen burning from our headquarters. The British and coalition partners were holding their own in the south, but the Poles and coalition partners in south-central Iraq needed help.Read the full post and comments »