View Full Version : Wounded Marine returns to comrades, lifts troops' morale

05-02-04, 05:04 AM
Wounded Marine returns to comrades, lifts troops' morale


FALLUJAH, Iraq ---- One of the first bullets that insurgents fired down the dusty Fallujah street during the April 6 ambush struck 23-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Brad Simmons in the head just beneath his helmet.

The 7.62 mm round from an AK-47 impacted on his right side, burrowed three inches below his ear and burst through his right sideburn.

It looked at first like a fatal wound.

"I actually thought he was dead," said Pfc. Philip Marquez, a friend who said he thought it was "all over" for their whole squad when bullets started crashing into walls all around them and he heard Simmons yell: "I'm hit! Doc, I'm hit!"

But Simmons wasn't finished.

"He was down, all bleeding and stuff, and he's telling us, 'I'm fine! I'll be OK!' " Marquez recalled two weeks later. "Jeez, I mean we were supposed to be telling him that."

Marquez said Simmons' grit inspired him and the others to fight on.

"He was saying: 'You sonsa*****es! I'll be back!' " Marquez recounted from his spot behind a machine gun, eyes wide like he was reliving the moment.

"It was like a morale booster. It was weird ---- there were so many feelings flying around.

"That actually helped me," Marquez said. "I just thought: 'OK we're gonna be all right.' "

Tougher than the pros

Marines later said that what seemed even more remarkable than Simmons' defiance in the face of death was his determination to rejoin his comrades in Fox Company who were still out there, somewhere, battling rebels in Fallujah.

That same spirit seemed to carry Simmons and Fox Company through the trials, dangers and exhaustion of three weeks of battle.

And last week, after more than three weeks of trying to convince doctors and his leaders that he was fit for duty, Simmons finally rejoined his platoon at the home they had fought to defend for nearly three weeks against wave after wave of rebel attacks.

With scars hardly visible, a Purple Heart and a bit of a salty swagger, Simmons hopped back into the ranks Friday just as Fox Company, and the entire 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment were getting ready to pull out of Fallujah and begin "phase two" of their operation outside the city.

"You've got NBA players who stub their toe and they're out for a whole season," said Sgt. Warren Hardy, one of the Marines who was there when Simmons returned. "But a Marine gets shot in the head and he's back at the front line in 10 days."

Hardy said his comparison was not original: He had heard variations of it repeated as Simmons' story became part of the lore and as Simmons entered the pantheon of heroes from the Marines' monthlong siege of Fallujah.

Ambush sparked battle

In the first chilly hours of April 5, two Marine battalions ---- 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment (2/1), and 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment (1/5), both from Camp Pendleton ---- first moved on Fallujah to set a cordon around the city of about 280,000 to prevent rebels from entering or leaving.

At about 2:30 a.m. April 5, just minutes after they arrived, Fox Company 2/1 was hit with a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire.

It was there in the cold dark of morning that Cpl. Tyler Fey of the Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie, Minn., a combat engineer attached to Fox, was killed, making him the second 2/1 Marine killed in the campaign.

Another Marine, Pfc. Leroy Sandoval Jr., 21, of Houston, had been killed March 26 during the Marines' first raid into the city. Some say that action fueled the violence that made the cordon necessary.

On April 6, the day after, Fox Company launched a small patrol into the city.

It was only a few hundred yards ahead of the spot where the first Marines were killed, but it was far enough to enter what some Marines would soon call "the belly of the beast," sucking the Marines into the city and turning a cordon and search operation into the worst combat U.S. forces have seen since the invasion last year.

Lance Cpl. Anthony Dilling, one of the Marines who walked alongside Simmons, said that the crowds of Iraqis that had gathered in the street suddenly vanished down alleyways and into homes as the Marines approached.

Before they vanished, little boys darted by pointing their hands like imaginary machine guns at the Marines, making horrible sounds with their mouths that Dilling said the Marines would understand soon enough.

'We started all this'

"We had gone firm ---- taken a knee ---- for a minute, then all of the sudden the streets cleared out," said Dilling, recounting the ambush as he remembered it two weeks later after seeing Simmons again for the first time.

"We knew the s--- was comin' down.

"And sure enough: We took two and a half steps and the street like exploded.

"We were taking fire from everywhere," he said. From his perch atop a roof and behind sandbags two weeks later, he pointed out the corners, buildings and alleyways where the Iraqis were firing.

Under fire, the Marines from 2nd Platoon fought back enough to pull back to cover until two tanks arrived to help.

Braving a hail of bullets, Navy corpsman Michael "Doc" Meaney rushed across a street to help Simmons before a Humvee arrived to whisk him back to a nearby train trestle where the other Marines watched in horror.

Dilling, who returned with Simmons, climbed the trestle as his friend was carried away to the hospital and as his leaders assembled more men to re-enter the city and fight off the attackers.

Reaching the tracks, Dilling sat head in hand, stunned for a moment as the seriousness of Simmons' wound sank in and Dilling realized that his friend would probably not return.

Moments later, Dilling and the others were called back into the city where they spent the night defending a house near the original ambush site ---- where 2nd Platoon leader Lt. Josh Jamison would later say, "We started all this," and where they would fight for the next three weeks.

'A pretty good Marine'

During the first week, the battalion fought to secure the first few blocks of the northwest corner of Fallujah ---- surviving mortars, RPGs and almost constant sniping from rebels in the neighborhoods to the south ---- Fox Company's Marines began hearing rumors that Simmons had survived his wound from that first day.

Cpl. Christopher Ebert, 21, of Forest City, N.C., said he was thrilled when he returned to the Marines' base near Fallujah and bumped into Simmons, who was not only alive, but doing well.


05-02-04, 05:05 AM
"He says he wants to get out here in about a week," Ebert said one day while on guard on the roof watching for insurgents in the streets below. "Crazy bastard!"

Ebert said it made him feel silly for *****ing about the conditions in the field.

"I don't know how he survived it. And he's a good sport about it, too," Ebert said, shaking his head. "He's a pretty good Marine."

When Simmons finally returned Friday, it was as if he had never left.

The Marines' silent, stiff-lipped reception was the same as their reaction when he disappeared from their ranks three weeks before: After initial shock, they pretended it never happened ---- tough guys getting through another tough day with their heads up and eyes dry.

Simmons said his recovery and return was no big deal. And besides, "I got the guy who got me. I sleep very well at night," he said.

"I'm not stupid. I don't want another Purple Heart. No one really wants to come back out here," Simmons said Saturday, taking his turn behind the machine gun that his fellow Marines have manned day after day as they've defended their small patch of Fallujah.

"It was tempting," to go to Germany or home to St. Louis for treatment, he said. "But when everybody's out there doing their jobs, I felt like a turd not coming back."

Leaving Fallujah ---- together

While Simmons said he fought hard to return in time for a last big offensive against the insurgents, Fox Company 2/1 and the rest of the Marines were ordered this weekend to pull back from Fallujah to the countryside and begin what some leaders are calling "phase two" of their seven-month deployment to Iraq.

A new all-Iraqi force led by a former general in Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard entered the city Friday and began patrolling. The attacks against Marines almost ceased, and the U.S. troops started pulling back.

Simmons, like most of the others, said that while he was "disappointed" that they did not "finish the job," he would do as he is told.

"Orders are orders," he said Saturday, adding that "if they (Iraqis) stop shooting at us, then we'll go home. It's up to them when we leave."

Reflecting on the ambush that nearly got him, and on the Marines' tough fight in Fallujah overall, Simmons' thoughts were simple and echoed the words of other Marines from Fox Company on Saturday.

"I'm just glad everyone made it," he said, adding that he was sorry to hear about the deaths suffered by the other companies in the battalion.

Now, whether it's in Fallujah or elsewhere, he said he was just thankful to be back with "the guys."

"You come out here and we've just got each other," said Simmons near the end of his guard shift Saturday. "That's it. And when that's all you've got, you just hang on with whoever you can and get through it."

Staff writer Darrin Mortenson and staff photographer Hayne Palmour are reporting from Iraq, where they are with Camp Pendleton Marines. Their coverage is collected at www.nctimes.com/military/iraq.


Marine Lance Cpl. Brad Simmons looks out over the section of Fallujah known as Golan Saturday while standing guard on a roof that Marines have been occupying for three weeks. Simmons, who just rejoined his platoon, was shot in the head by an insurgent during an ambush while he and fellow platoon members were on patrol in Golan on April 6.



05-02-04, 05:06 AM
Church works to help injured Marines


VISTA ---- It's the minor creature comforts from home that can make the healing process a little more bearable for Iraq-based U.S. Marines injured in battle.

Troops seek the simple pleasures of toothpaste, shampoo, soap, and other amenities normally taken for granted as they heal from shrapnel wounds that cut up their arms and legs or bullet wounds that pierced their shoulders or rib cages.

That's the message from Chief Petty Officer Steven Crowder, 35, a chaplain's assistant who e-mailed his friends at Faith Lutheran Church of Vista and mentioned that injured service men and women in Iraq are in need of bathroom supplies while healing.

"He asked if we could be part of that effort, and we thought it would be a fantastic opportunity for our congregation to show support for military personnel and their family," said Chris Coletti, the church's director of youth ministries.

A Camp Pendleton spokesman said the base does not keep statistics on how many Marines and soldiers have been wounded in Iraq.

About 3,864 U.S. servicemen and women have been listed as wounded in action since the March 2003 invasion, and about half of those injures are minor, according to an April 28 article written by Karl Vick of The Washington Post.

However, the article also states that "doctors at the main combat support hospital in Iraq are reeling from a stream of young soldiers with wounds so devastating that they probably would have been fatal in any previous war."

Church members received Crowder's e-mail on April 20 and immediately responded, Coletti said. The church's high school youth group opted to lead the effort and second-grade students and older are working to assemble the hygiene kits, he said.

"We like to give back to the community," said Luke Noll, a 16-year-old Vista High School student and member of the youth group. "God helped us when we needed help, and we need to give back. When (Marines) are wounded, they really need help."

The response from the 900-member congregation has been generous, Noll and Coletti said.

"After we announced this to them, we immediately had donations of items, and checks started rolling in," Coletti said. "A lot of retired military personnel are in the congregation."

Cash donations total about $250, and those who don't give money give "whatever they have, shampoos and whatever toiletries," Noll said.

Prayer books are also included in the care packages.

"They don't have to read them, we just want to get the word out about God," Noll said.

Monetary donations will go toward shipping costs, and the youth group is sending the supplies to Crowder, who will distribute them, Coletti said.

Contact staff writer Jennifer Kabbany at (760) 631-6622 or jkabbany@nctimes.com.



05-02-04, 05:07 AM
Lonestar Dustoff MEDEVAC supports Marines in Iraq
Submitted by: 3d Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification Number: 200443071358
Story by Sgt. Nathan K. LaForte

AL ASAD, Iraq(April 30, 2004) -- The Marine lay in the Army medical evacuation helicopter while an Army flight medic went to work stabilizing his broken leg. He thought about the rocket-propelled grenade that had hit his leg, and about why it hadn't exploded when it hit him.

Staff Sgt. Bryan P. Resh, flight medic, Army 507th Medical Company (Air Ambulance), also thought about the Marine's situation, while he continued to work on the leg. On one hand, the Marine was lucky to be alive. On the other, he did just get evacuated from a firefight because he got shot with an RPG.

The medic said he and his fellow crewmembers decided that today had to be the Marine's day.

"We were discussing whether it was the luckiest day of his life or the worst," the Shelton, Neb., native said. "He was busted up, but (the RPG) didn't go off. He didn't lose his life or his leg. I'd say it was the luckiest."

Whether it was luck or good planning, the events set in motion long before this late-April day, brought this and many other Marines under the care of the 507th Medical Company, nicknamed the Lonestar Dustoff.

Picking up Marines and soldiers is their mission, according to Army Maj. Jack R. Leech, the 507th's commander.

"We stand ready 24-hours a day, seven-days a week to evacuate casualties by air to the appropriate level of care," the Louisville, Ky., native explained in a letter to his family. "We are in direct support of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force."

The company of soldiers arrived in Iraq mid-February to perform MEDEVAC missions for the Camp Pendleton-based Marine unit. They are attached to Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

The area of responsibility for the Lonestar Dustoff is the Al Anbar Province in Western Iraq, which was under the control of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, N.C., only a few months ago.

Because the Dustoff is the only full Army unit based with the Marines, there was an initial adjustment period for both services, explained Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Scott E. Nicholson, MEDEVAC pilot-in-command, 507th Medical Company (Air Ambulance).

"Obviously, there are growing pains," the Temple, Texas native noted. "It's a whole new experience for the Army and Marines to integrate for such a long period of time. There's an education process that goes both ways."

The change is different, but not unwelcome to the soldiers, according to Spc. Wesley K. Hill, UH-60 Blackhawk crew chief, 507th Medical Company (Air Ambulance).

"It's a different experience as far as the (working) environment," said the Van, Texas native. "We're used to the Army atmosphere. The Marines run things a little different, but you just adapt and adjust and it all comes together."

The 33-year-old crew chief explained that the Marines he's seen have really helped the MEDEVAC crew perform their jobs.

"I am really impressed how they set up perimeters at the (landing zones) when we land," he said. "I also appreciate the chaser support they provide. I have gained a lot of respect for them because of their attitude."

The chaser support comes in the form of an armed Marine AH-1W Cobra that is responsible for the security of the immediate area around the Blackhawk during the entirety of each flight. Leech remarked that the crews don't usually have chaser support, but the escort's benefits have done the aircrews a lot of good, especially with all the anti-coalition attacks happening in the Western Area, which includes the cities of Fallujah, Ramadi and Baghdad.

"The support we get from the escort has been tremendous," he said. "The deterrent they provide can really make a difference between one of our crews getting shot down or not."

He noted that the Cobra pilots are selfless in their protection of the MEDEVAC crews who save the lives of their fellow Marines on the ground.

"They put themselves between us and the greatest perceived threat," he said. "They do everything they can to allow us to do our mission."

That mission usually requires the Dustoff aircrews to be in the air in as short a period of time as possible to give the patients the best chance of survival, said Resh.

"The biggest thing we battle as far as injuries is speed because of vascular compromise, which can result in loss of life or limb," he revealed. "We can be off the ground in eight to 10 minutes. That is from the time the phone rings till we're in the air."

Just as the MEDEVAC crews gain a psychological benefit from the Cobra escorts, the ground Marines and soldiers also get a confidence boost from the quick response of the Dustoff, he added.

"It's a big morale booster when the ground guys call and we can get there in half the time they think it'll take," he exclaimed. "Nothing beats getting there and they aren't ready because they thought it would take longer."

This speed is one of the reasons that Dustoff has developed such an important meaning to the company. The nickname originated in Vietnam, when the MEDEVAC helicopters would fly in to a hot zone, grab the wounded and take off in seconds, "dusting off" any personnel standing around.

Over time, the Army eventually turned the name into an acronym which describes everything the unit stands for, claimed Leech. It stands for "dedicated unhesitating support to our fighting forces," which is what he has his unit provide.

Nicholson was quick to point out that there is no service or country designator anywhere in their title.

"If there is a wounded person on the battlefield, we will get them," he concluded. "We treat them all the same and that is with the best care we can to save their lives. We haul all spectrums."

"If they are a living, breathing human, they can go in our aircraft," he finished.

Leech agreed with Nicholson and added that it shows the compassion of our armed forces that we will treat even our enemy's wounded.

"I'm proud that we do the right thing; that we set the example and will treat even our enemies," he said. "If the (terrorists) get there hands on us, we've seen what can happen, but we respect when someone has lost the ability to fight. I wish everyone had the same respect for human life."

Hill concluded that sometimes it is a difficult job "doing the right thing" as his commander put it.

"Picking up the enemy wounded shows how gracious we are as a nation," he said. "We have compassion and we show it. It is hard when you have to transport our wounded and theirs, but somebody has to be the grown up."

According to the soldier, even though it is hard, helping others is what keeps the crews going and will keep them going in the future.

"It makes me feel part of something important when we're doing what we can to get someone out of a bad spot," he concluded. "We might save (someone's) leg or life. You feel good when you save a life, and we get to be part of that."


Army Staff Sgt. Bryan P. Resh, medic, and Spc. Wesley K. Hill, UH-60 Blackhawk crew chief (both in flight equipment), with the 507th Medical Company (Air Ambulance), assist medical personnel from a Combat Support Hospital, with loading their transit patient into a medical humvee after he was medically evacuated to the facility for treatment, April 26. Resh, a Shelton, Neb., native and Hill, a Van, Texas, native, airlifted the Iraqi worker to the CSH from Al Asad, Iraq, where the worker broke his leg while working aboard the installation. The medical company MEDEVACs anyone wounded within Western Iraq, to include military servicemembers, Iraqi civilians, coalition forces personnel and enemy prisoners of war. Photo by: Sgt. Nathan K. LaForte



05-02-04, 05:10 AM
Submitted by: 1st Force Service Support Group <br />
Story Identification Number: 20045252132 <br />
Story by 1st FSSG Public Affairs <br />
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CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq(May 2, 2004) -- Supporting efforts to quickly...

05-02-04, 05:57 AM

Press Release on Iraqi Security in Fallujah

I Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD)
Public Affairs Office
Camp Fallujah, Iraq

April 30, 2004




CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq – As part of the overall effort to restore security and stability in Fallujah, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force is overseeing the formation of the 1st Battalion of the Fallujah Brigade. The mission of this interim organization, to be completely integrated with that of I MEF, is part of the ongoing aspiration to have Iraqi Security Forces fully cooperate with Coalition Forces to perform security tasks and, eventually, to assume responsibility for security and stability in Fallujah and other cities. The Coalition objectives remain unchanged-- to eliminate armed groups, collect and positively control all heavy weapons, and turn over foreign fighters and disarm Anti-Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah. The Coalition welcomes the assistance of the Iraqi forces, including the 1st Battalion of the Fallujah Brigade, in efforts to achieve these objectives.

Like most of the existing Iraqi Security Forces, this battalion will be recruited largely from former soldiers of the Iraqi Army. The battalion will be employed in Fallujah alongside the 1st MEF to assist in the return of peace and stability for the city. Their employment will facilitate the flow of support and foster rapid reconstruction, thereby stimulating the job market for citizens inside the city. The Battalion will function as a subordinate command under the operational control of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and 1st MEF will provide the resources and equipment necessary to ensure mission accomplishment by this force.

Until the battalion’s units demonstrate a capability to man designated checkpoints and positions, Marines will continue to maintain a presence in and around Fallujah. Consistent with our duty to provide security, Coalition Forces will maintain their right of freedom of movement in all areas of the AOR. As calm is restored, families will be allowed to return to the city, and during the transition, the number of families allowed into the city on a daily basis will increase to 200.

After commencing the restoration of law and order inside the city of Fallujah, Iraqi security forces inside the city will assist police with investigations to identify the murderers and mutilators of the four American contractors on 31 March, and the criminals responsible for the 14 February attack on the Fallujah Police Station. When captured, those persons will be tried in the Iraqi judicial system.




05-02-04, 06:37 AM
'We Won': Fallujah Rejoices in Withdrawal <br />
<br />
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Naseer Nouri <br />
Washington Post Foreign Service <br />
Sunday, May 2, 2004; Page A01 <br />
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FALLUJAH, Iraq, May 1 -- Covering their...

05-02-04, 06:48 AM
U.S. Hostage Tommy Hamill Escapes in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq - American hostage Thomas Hamill was found by U.S. forces south of Tikrit Sunday after he apparently escaped from his captors, the U.S. military said.

Hamill, 43, of Macon, Miss., who had been held since an attack on a convoy April 9, was "in good health," said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt.

Kimmitt said U.S. military units were patrolling a petroleum pipeline when Hamill, a truck driver for Halliburton Corp., approached and identified himself.

"Mr. Hamill apparently escaped from a building," Kimmitt said. "He has spoken to his family. He is now ready to get back to work."

Hamill was among seven employees of Halliburton subsidiary KBR, formerly known as Kellogg, Brown & Root, missing since an April 9 attack on their convoy west of Baghdad, about 90 miles from Tikrit. The bodies of four of the employees have since been found.

Hamill's wife, Kellie Hamill, said the call she received about 5:50 a.m. that her husband had been found alive "is the best wake up call I've ever had. There has been a lot of praying and I am so grateful to everybody."

Kellie said she had little information other than "they just told me he was OK." She said she had no idea when her husband would be returned home or when she would be able to see him.

"I want everybody know he's been found. I'm going to be shouting it from the rooftops," she said.

The remains of a second military man missing in the convoy attack, Sgt. Elmer Krause of Greensboro, N.C., were identified April 23, according to a statement issued by the Department of Defense (news - web sites).

Also kidnapped in the attack was a U.S. soldier, Pfc. Keith M. Maupin, who was seen alive days later in video footage aired on the Arab television station al-Jazeera. His fate remains unknown.

The day after his abduction, Hamill's kidnappers released video footage of him standing in front of an Iraqi flag. A spokesman off camera demanded that U.S. troops end their siege of the city of Fallujah, where four American civilians were killed and mutilated last week.

"Our only demand is to remove the siege from the city of mosques," a spokesman said in a tape given to the Al-Jazeera television network. "If you don't respond within 12 hours ... he will be treated worse than those who were killed and burned in Fallujah."



05-02-04, 08:49 AM
Marines slated to get new unmanned planes

Four small drones being sent to Iraq
By Otto Kreisher
April 29, 2004

WASHINGTON – Marines in Iraq soon will get a new, high-tech flying drone to help them spot potential threats in the volatile city of Fallujah, thanks to some quick work by the Navy's top innovators.

The Navy has bought four small unmanned spy planes and is sending them to the Marines, a senior Navy official said.

The aircraft should be ready for use in Iraq by mid-May, the official said.

"This is going to change the way the Marines do things," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The new aerial vehicle, called the Silver Fox, is about 6 feet long, with 8-foot wings, and weighs 20 pounds, the Navy said. Powered by a large model-airplane engine, it can be launched by a portable, compressed-air catapult.

Flying at its usual operating altitude of 1,000 feet, the Silver Fox would be virtually invisible to an enemy. But its state-of-the-art camera and small transmitter can relay high-resolution images of objects on the ground to a Marine using a laptop computer.

The Silver Fox can stay in the air for several hours, guided by Global Positioning Satellite signals or by an operator on the ground, the Navy said.

That kind of information could be lifesaving help to Marine forces if they have to fight their way through the narrow streets of Fallujah or other Iraqi cities.

The Silver Fox was originally developed and produced by the Office of Naval Research and a small Arizona company to help Navy warships detect and avoid whales during operations. It was modified for its new tactical missions in less than a month and will be accompanied to Iraq by an ONR team to help the Marines put it into use, said Capt. John Hobday, a Navy Reserve officer who directs the ONR's Tech Solutions office.

With its small size, ease of operation and longer endurance, the Silver Fox will augment the Marines' small, battery-powered Dragon Eye drone when larger and more capable drones such as the Predator are unavailable.



05-02-04, 09:07 AM
I think this is where my son is...

05-02-04, 03:45 PM
Agonizing choices

May 1, 2004

WASHINGTON -- ``We came here to start a soccer league,'' said a Marine major after a fierce firefight in Fallujah last week. ``Instead, they are forcing us to topple mosques.'' The attempt to manufacture soccer mullahs, like ordering thousands of Frisbees for distribution to playful Iraqis, may seem like episodes from a Graham Greene novel -- ``The Quiet American in Mesopotamia.''

But before the games can begin, the war must be won, and no war is won until the losing side knows it has lost. ``An uptick in localized engagements'' was the U.S. command's description of the current wave of violence that menaces the four main roads from Baghdad to Syria, Jordan, Turkey and Kuwait. And Bush administration voices still dismiss the insurgents as ``gangs'' and ``thugs.''

``The enemy did not run,'' said another Marine officer after another Fallujah battle. ``They fought us like soldiers.'' The enemy is coordinated and clever. The attack by two speedboats loaded with explosives that targeted a tanker taking on Iraqi oil in the port of Basra failed, in the sense that one boat was destroyed before it could strike the tanker, and the one that struck the tanker did not explode. But the attack succeeded in this sense: overnight the insurance rate for tankers shipping Iraqi oil exports doubled. This ``terror premium'' could make Iraqi oil too expensive for sale at the world market price, further damaging Iraqi reconstruction efforts at a time when pandemic violence in Iraqi cities has confined many private contractors to protected compounds.

By storing weapons and munitions in mosques and by firing from minarets, the insurgents do indeed compel U.S. forces to damage mosques, or adhere to rules of engagement that endanger American lives or preclude retaking any cities the insurgents choose to turn into combat zones. But if U.S. forces are to economize violence, they must disabuse the enemy of his recurring delusion that the United States is paralyzed by squeamishness about violence and its collateral damage.

Also, the enemy must not be allowed to bog down U.S. forces, or Iraqi units organized by and reporting to U.S. commanders, in protracted urban sieges -- sieges leavened by dickering about weapons surrenders. Such standoffs give the insurgents huge infusions of prestige for holding the superpower at bay and being treated by the superpower as a legitimate interlocutor.

If such standoffs are the real alternatives to forceful suppression of the insurgents, then it is feckless to object to such suppression because the insurgents hope to draw America into violence that will alienate the population. The population may detest an America that fights its way to control of cities, but the population will have contempt for an America that is unable or, worse, able but unwilling to wrest cities from insurgents.

Patrick J. McDonnell and Tony Perry of the Los Angeles Times report from Fallujah that some Marines criticize the tactics of the 82nd Airborne, which recently turned responsibility for the city over to the Marines: ``From the Marines' standpoint, the paratroopers left Fallujah to the insurgents, carrying out a containment strategy and allowing enemy forces to fester and grow.''

The 82nd tried to avoid a provocative presence, concentrating on targeted raids based on intelligence. Approximately 1,000 houses were searched, hundreds of suspects were arrested and many senior aides to Saddam Hussein were killed or arrested. McDonnell and Perry say the 82nd's tactics ``left a core insurgent element in Fallujah'' but ``also resulted in fewer casualties, both civilian and military.'' The 82nd lost only one paratrooper in its six months in the city, which ``while always restive, never deteriorated into open revolt.''

Marines, report McDonnell and Perry, say ``the veneer of relative calm was deceptive. The city has served as a `center of gravity' for insurgent activity throughout western and central Iraq."

All this will be studied by the services for years to come. Meanwhile, military commanders in Iraq face agonizing choices entailed by those antiseptic political locutions ``regime change" and ``nation building." The commander in chief seems not to fathom the depth of the difficulties when he describes the insurgent cleric Moqtada Sadr as a person who will not ``allow democracy to flourish." ``Allow"? If some bad people would just behave, democracy would sprout like tulips?

At a memorial service this week for Daniel J. Boorstin, the great historian who was Librarian of Congress from 1975 to 1987, and who died recently at 89, a eulogist recalled Boorstin's belief that history is ``a cautionary science." It is, but only if you know some. Those who do, will not send Frisbees to combat zones.

©2004 Washington Post Writers Group