"Dude, give me the sniper rifle. I can take them out - I'm from Alabama." - Sergeant Anyett to Captain Kirk Mayfield
Fallujah is getting pinched. The river to the west is blocked and the Army and Marines are moving in, pushing the terrorists into the center of the city. Time is on our side. So is the "will to win". BTW, how did you folks in 'bama like that quote? Well, there's many more gems in the article below.
Tanker Schreiber sends this article (he always finds the great ones) that captures the military flavor of what's happening in Fallujah. Some call it payback or revenge, others think that it's an important job to do.
Toby Harnden in Fallujah observes American soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division taskforce avenging their fallen comrades as battle begins
After seven months in Iraq's Sunni triangle, for many American soldiers the opportunity to avenge dead friends by taking a life was a moment of sheer exhilaration.
As they approached their "holding position", from where hours later they would advance into the city, they picked off insurgents on the rooftops and in windows.
"I got myself a real juicy target," shouted Sgt James Anyett, peering through the thermal sight of a Long Range Acquisition System (LRAS) mounted on one of Phantom's Humvees.
"Prepare to copy that 89089226. Direction 202 degrees. Range 950 metres. I got five motherf****** in a building with weapons."
Capt Kirk Mayfield, commander of the Phantoms, called for fire from his task force's mortar team. But Sgt Anyett didn't want to wait. "Dude, give me the sniper rifle. I can take them out - I'm from Alabama."
Two minutes tick by. "They're moving deep," shouted Sgt Anyett with disappointment. A dozen loud booms rattle the sky and smoke rose as mortars rained down on the co-ordinates the sergeant had given.
"Yeah," he yelled. "Battle Damage Assessment - nothing. Building's gone. I got my kills, I'm coming down. I just love my job."
Phantom Troop had rolled out of Camp Fallujah, the main US military base, shortly before 4am. All morning they took fire from the Al-Askari district in Fallujah's north-east, their target for the invasion proper.
The insurgents, not understanding the capabilities of the LRAS, crept along rooftops and poked their heads out of windows. Even when they were more than a mile away, the soldiers of Phantom Troop had their eyes on them.
Lt Jack Farley, a US Marines officer, sauntered over to compare notes with the Phantoms. "You guys get to do all the fun stuff," he said. "It's like a video game. We've taken small arms fire here all day. It just sounds like popcorn going off."
Another marine stepped forward and began to fire an M4 rifle at the city. "He's a reservist for the San Diego police. He wants a piece of the action, too".
A Phantom Abrams tank moved up the road running along the high ground. Its barrel, stencilled with the words "Ali Baba under 3 Thieves" swivelled towards the city and then fired a 120mm round at a house where two men with AK-47s had been pinpointed. "Ain't nobody moving now," shouted a soldier as the dust cleared. "He rocked that guy's world."
One of Phantom's sniper teams laid down fire into the city with a Barrett .50 calibre rifle and a Remington 700. A suspected truck bomb was riddled with bullets, the crack of the Barrett echoing through the mainly deserted section of the city. The insurgents fired 60mm mortars back, one of them wounding a soldier.
There were 25mm rounds from Phantom's Bradley fighting vehicles, barrages from Paladin howitzers back at Camp Fallujah and bursts of fire from .50 calibre machineguns. One by one, the howitzers used by the insurgents were destroyed.
"Everybody's curious," grinned Sgt Anyett as he waited for a sniper with a Russian-made Dragonov to show his face one last, fatal time. A bullet zinged by.
Dusk fell and 7pm, "A hour", the appointed hour to move into the city, approached. The soldiers of Phantom all reflected.
"Given the choice, I would never have wanted to fire a gun," said Cpl Chris Merrell, 21, manning a machinegun mounted on a Humvee. "But it didn't work out that way. I'd like a thousand boring missions rather than one interesting one."
On his wrist was a black bracelet bearing the name of a sergeant from Phantom Troop. "This is a buddy of mine that died," he said. "Pretty much everyone in the unit has one."
One fear playing on the mind of the task force was that of "friendly fire", also known as "blue on blue".
"Any urban fight is confusing," Lt Col Newell, the force's commander, told his troops before the battle. "The biggest threat out there is not them, but us."
His officers said that the plan to invade Fallujah involved months of detailed planning and elaborate "feints" designed to draw the insurgents out into the open and fool them into thinking the offensive would come from another side of the city.
"They're probably thinking that we'll come in from the east," said Capt Natalie Friel, an intelligence officer with task force, before the battle. But the actual plan involves penetrating the city from the north and sweeping south.
"I don't think they know what's coming. They have no idea of the magnitude," she said. "But their defences are pretty circular. They're prepared for any kind of direction. They've got strong points on all four corners of the city."
The aim was to push the insurgents south, killing as many as possible, before swinging west. They would then be driven into the Euphrates.