- "The enemy, as we expected, is surging as we approach the U.S. and Iraqi election period..." - US Marine Colonel Craig A. Tucker
Amy K. sends the latest update from Colonel Tucker, Commander of the Marine Regimental Combat Team - 7. Previous letters from Colonel Tucker are here (a memorial service with photos) and here (about the media).
Dated 19 October 2004
Hello again, after a long hiatus. Last 6 weeks or so have been busy as we worked to establish the new battalions in their areas of operations and worked to get the "old' battalions home. 3/7, 2/7, and 1st LAR are all safely home and on their block leave period. 1/7, 1/23, and 3d LAR have assumed their battlespace and continue to perform superbly.
The enemy, as we expected, is surging as we approach the U.S. and Iraqi election period and enter Ramadan. Enemy activity in this AO has picked up, to the enemy's detriment. They are not very smart, and when they decide to come out and fight are easily killed. His patterns remain the same as we saw in April: move 50-150 terrorists into a city or community, use terror and intimidation to assume control, kill and maim local citizens, get his picture taken with is RPG and AK-47, then wait to see himself on the evening news. Interesting side note to ask how often you see pictures of these guys posturing and how often you see pictures of them fighting. Then compare that to how often you see pictures of U.S. servicemen fighting and how often you see pictures of them posturing. Provides a good metric for who is winning this thing: the enemy postures when the cameraman is present, but when it comes to fighting he is the most base of cowards. You don't see many images of these guys fighting because they're too busy hiding or running once the fighting starts. They're much more comfortable beheading innocents. Side note also demonstrates how, with the best of intentions and within the rightful bounds of our constitution, the press becomes unwitting collaborators in the enemy's information operations campaign. This is a fight for the will of the American and the Iraqi people. He targets the Iraqis through murder and intimidation; he targets you through the images.
Anyway...we have fought him well in a number of engagements over the past week or so. TF 1/23, 1/8 and 2d Force Recon Co performed magnificently in an operation in the city of Hit that killed 30 or so terrorists without harming an innocent Iraqi and restored both security and governance to a city taken over by the bastards for a 72 hour period last week. Of greater significance, the 503d Iraqi National Guard Bn fought as the RCT-7 main effort, were the first ones into the city, and remain there today providing security for the community. The enemy chased out of Hit moved into the city of Rawah about 50 miles west, TF 1/8 and an Iraqi Army Unit hunted them down there, killed 10-15 more and restored that community to its citizens.
In other parts of the AO, Iraqi police and National Guard and Border Police have fought off numerous attacks on their own…in my mind the most striking example of the progress we continue to make across the AO. The enemy cannot maintain this surge for long: the Iraqi people are rapidly tiring of him, the Iraqi Security Forces are fighting back, and we are killing them with stunning regularity. He surges in order to influence the American and Iraqi elections; when both proceed as planned, his efforts will begin to crumble.
We now have 2 police academies, 2 ING training academies, and 2 Iraqi Border Police Training academies operational. We continue to see the fruits of these efforts in the increasing professionalism, confidence, and competence of the Iraqi Security Forces. Firefights are dramatic and make the news; but where we are going to win this is through the establishment of viable Iraqi Security Forces. It is a challenging road, fraught with friction, but every day we see progress. Training ISF remains our main effort and will continue to be both our main effort and our ultimate ticket home with victory.
The civil effort continues apace also. Our most significant current effort is the construction of the hospital in Ar Rutbah..a $1M effort that will provide medical services to a community currently 4 hours away from the closest medical care.
Your Marines and Sailors continue to perform with courage and intellect in this most complex and ambiguous of conflicts. We are anxiously awaiting election day in the hopes that the media picture and national dialogue will transition from the subjectivity of politics to the objectivity of national interest. Building a democracy is a dirty business-has been throughout the history of democracy from ancient Greece through the present day. Regard our national effort here through the prism of that reality.
RCT-7 remembers the sacrifices of LCpls A. R. Boyles and R. Mateo, KIA 24 Sep 2004 vic Fallujah; Cpl. I.T. Zook, KIA 12 Oct 2004 vic Husaybah; Cpl W.I. Salazar KIA 15 Oct 2004 vic Husaybah; Sgt Owen, U.S. Army, KIA 15 Oct 2004 vic Husaybah; SPC J. Santos, U.S. Army, KIA 15 Oct 2004 vic Husaybah.
Please remember their families in your prayers.
Share your Courage. And standfast.
Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps