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THE MARINES TAKE ANBAR: The Four-Year Fight Against Al Qaeda
Successful campaigns are won by brains. Whether they be wars for terrain or battles for city streets, planned by higher-ups and fought by ordinary soldiers, it’s always the same: the mind, first; the heart and soul, second.
This scholarly analysis, “The Marines Take Anbar—The Four-Year Fight Against Al Qaeda,” echoes with clarifying detailed explanations for the ancient maxim: “Any force that combines daring initiatives with a maximum of careful planning is unbeatable, even if it is outnumbered three or even five to one by an ill-organized and unimaginative enemy.”
During the four-year campaign for Anbar, Iraq’s largest providence in the Sunni Triangle, between March 2004 and the summer of 2008, the Corps’ legendary I and II Marine Expeditionary forces, suffering bewilderment and battle defeats at first, finally secured and stabilized the al Qaeda stronghold. By considering the essential social and cultural organizational conditions, as well as the psychological core of the enemy and its allies, the MEFs, with supporting units from the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force, Iraqi military and other coalition countries, employed impromptu but well-thought-out methods in gaining control of Anbar province.
In his splendid foreword, Major General Donald R. Gardner, USMC (Ret), President Emeritus, Marine Corps University, writes: “Throughout that campaign, Marines drew upon their long history of fighting small wars and insurrections to adjust and adapt to the province’s complex environment and devise novel and effective counterinsurgency strategies ... you could not win that war with kinetic operations.”
Page after page of Shultz’s anatomy of a classic military campaign suggests, subtly and discerningly, that brains and bravery always win over brawn. Although he cites the sagacity and piercing intellects of such formidable personalities as MajGen John Kelly, Colonel Joe Dunford, General John Allen, MajGen Richard Zilmer, Col Sean McFarland, Gen George Casey and Brigadier General Robert Neller, and a legion of others too numerous to mention in this limited space, the author suggests that a host of anonymous officers were equally involved in achieving Anbar’s final permanence.
They were the ones who not only gathered critical information and ensured supplying men and material, but also made a variety of suggestions that top combat leaders took on board to make and carry out decisions.
“The Marines Take Anbar—The Four-Year Fight Against Al Qaeda” is a first-rate, step-by-step account of military adaptation and improvisation under often horrific circumstances that match any campaigns in the annals of Corps history. The lessons learned from the Anbar story are not only for Marines to study but also for everyone in U.S. military and civilian security institutions.
The author concludes: “Given the persistence of irregular conflict challenges, these lessons will likely have an enduring applicability in the years ahead. They should be assiduously examined, dissected, and, where appropriate, institutionalized into training, organization, and preparation for future irregular challenges.”
Certainly a must-read for all military personnel.
THE MARINES TAKE ANBAR: The Four-Year Fight Against Al Qaeda.
By Richard H. Shultz Jr.
Published by Naval Institute Press.
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Today in USMC History
Historic Leatherneck Magazine Covers
Leatherneck Staff Artist, Technical Sergeant Robert Fleischauer, felt that our July cover should be commemorative of the Fourth of July. Since the members of the missile units are probably the Corps' best rocketeers, he picked them to perform a standard Fourth of July action. Whether or not the "Honest Johnny" is useful as a combat piece is a matter for debate, but you can't beat it for morale." [July 1957.]
“The Join Up on the Nick” by Major Alex Durr, USMCR, a member of the History Division, Marine Corps University, Quantico, Va.
Hospitalman Daniel T. Bobic, assigned to Headquarters and Service Company, 3d Battalion, Second Marine Regiment, rappelled at the Jungle Warfare Training Center in Okinawa, Japan, in late April, 2002.
The oldest post of the Marine Corps, Washington, DC, is celebrating 200 years of excellence. Posed near the Barracks main gate were members of the official Color Guard of the United States Marine Corps (left to right): LCpl Joseph N. Keough, rifleman; Sgt Blake L. Richardson, Color Sergeant of the Marine Corps; Cpl Gerardo A. Guajardo, organizational color bearer; and LCpl Gregory A. Serwo, rifleman.
GySgt Verlando Frazier, East Coast Food Service Management Team, looked ready to dig into some of the new items included in MREs.
This photo by Sgt Earnie Grafton of Marines from Fox Co., 2/4 shows varied emotions as they greeted the coalition forces outside Kuwait city.
A fleet of trucks was needed to transport Dr. Felix de Weldon’s original model of the Iwo Jima flag-raising statue from the sculptor’s home in Newport, R.I., to the grounds of the Marine Military Academy at Harlingen, Texas. After the statue’s arrival, a nearly around-the-clock effort by skilled workmen was required in order to have the memorial reassembled and ready for dedication ceremonies on April 16, 1982.
In April this year (1981), two squadrons of AV-8A “Harriers” sailed for the Mediterranean aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau. Purpose of the cruise was to demonstrate the Navy/Marine Corps team’s capability to augment naval forces in any area of the World on short notice and to provide at-sea training for Marine Harrier pilots.
The cover of Leatherneck’s Bicentennial issue is an oil painting by the late Colonel Donald L. Dickson, USMCR. The painting depicts General George Washington’s Colonial troops at Gadsby’s Tavern in Alexandria, Va., during the French and Indian War.
Sightseeing tours for the men of the Marine Barracks, San Juan, Puerto Rico, include a trip to the El Morro Fortress. San Juan is now retired as a Post of the Corps.
The Marines in Vietnam have found that the programs which work best are those which operate close to the people. Our July cover is a mixed media (acrylic and charcoal) by Art Editor James L. Hopewell. It catches the spirit of Marines who enjoy their relationship with the Vietnamese around them.
In Naples, Italy, Marines are responsible for the internal security of the Headquarters of NATO’s Southern European Command, while the elite Carabinieri Corpa provides external security. PFC Robert M. Mallard’s NATO shield was admired by a Carabiniere as the two men prepared to take up their side-by-side posts at the entrance of the imposing NATO Headquarters, which appears in the background of this cover.
"We've Fought In Every Clime And Place": Stamping out the Caco Insurrection in the Republic d' Haiti.
January 2002: The Marines engraved another mark in the rich history of the Corps when they came from more than 400 miles offshore to establish a forward operating base south of Kandahar in the war on terrorism. The Marine CH-46 helicopter on the cover, photographed by PH1(AW/SW) Greg Messier, USN, fought in the desert sand to land and resupply Marines such as the ones (inset) photographed by Sgt Joseph R. Chenelly.
January 2001: This firefight during the Frozen Chosin Reservoir Campaign of 1950 was painted by “Chosin Few” veteran Jack Cannon, who served with Company B, 1st Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment and resides in the warmer climes of New Mexico. The cover was part of Leatherneck’s 50th anniversary salute to the Korean War veterans.
January 1992: This cover photograph of runners during Marine Corps Marathon XVI in Washington, D.C., was photographed by Sgt Deirdre Hallett.
January 1991: This month’s cover by Ross Simpson captures the Marines’ waiting-but-ready posture in the Middle East.
January 1982: Participants in the Sixth Annual Marine Corps Marathon presented a colorful spectacle as they began the 26-mile, 385-yard run in Washington, D.C., November 1, 1981. The cover photo, by Tom Bartlett, was taken from a bridge overlooking Highway 50 about a half-mile from the starting line.
January 1981: Nearly 7,800 runners participated in the Fifth Annual Marine Corps Marathon held in northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. The oldest finisher was 78; the youngest was 10. Leatherneck staffer Ron Lunn pre-positioned himself near the Nation’s Capitol to photograph runners during their 14th mile of the 26-mile, 385-yard course.
January 1972: This month’s cover, by Marine Combat Artist Peter Gish, shows members of the New Corps sightseeing in the Old World. While on liberty in Athens, Greece, the 3d Bn, Eighth Marines, were able to tour the Erektheon Porch and Cariatides. The water color is from the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Art collection.
Originally Published December 1983 -- Something tells us that we could date the cover without knowing when it was published.
Originally Published December 1972 -- We're not sure what's more interesting, Santa or the old style gas pump.
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This November 1992 article in the Marine Corps Gazette looked at the uniform regulations of 1859 and the attempt to standardize uniforms within the Corps. Read the story and see more pics.
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