Operation Vigilant Resolve

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On March 18, 2003, Coalition forces would launch the initial attacks on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. A full invasion of the country followed, and Hussein was overthrown from power. While the end of Hussein’s oppressive reign was considered a victory for many of the Iraqi people, the Sunnis of the Ba’ath Party refused to accept his demise. Although the Sunnis were in the minority, the city of Fallujah would remain home to many of the Ba’ath Party supporters. On March 31, 2004, almost a year to date from the end of Hussein’s reign, four American Blackwater contactors working in Fallujah were attacked, brutally beaten, burned and dismembered by a group of Iraqi insurgents. Two of the bodies were hung from a bridge for all of the citizens of Fallujah to see, and a mob style celebration took place in the city. The highly publicized incident would be the igniter for the First Battle of Fallujah, known as Operation Vigilant Resolve. On May 1, 2004, the battle would end with the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the city and control being turned over to the newly formed Fallujah Brigade. The mission as a whole was a failure, and the shortcomings of Operation Vigilant Resolve were ultimately a demonstration of the underestimation of the power, size, efficiency, organization and control that the Insurgent Forces had in Iraq as well as the lack of a consistent strategic plan from the American forces.
In 2003, Fallujah was an industrial city comprised of shoddy cinder block buildings, subsidized factories, and a limited availability of electricity. The city contained forty-seven mosques in its neighborhood and was known as the city of a hundred mosques. It comprised of two thousand blocks of courtyard walls, tenements, concrete houses, and ...

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...cate effectively compounded the issues surrounding cultural differences between the groups. The religious leadership of the city openly supported and promoted violence against Americans. In Fallujah and the surrounding area, ambushes and roadside attacks were increasing. Multiple interpretations of the rules of engagement increased tensions. As soon as someone fired in battle, the Americans could lawfully fire back, which led to an increased number in civilian casualties. Insurgents realized that Americans would not back down and they began to stage their attacks in areas that were likely to lead to a higher number of civilian casualties. According to one Iraqi policeman, “That’s why Fallujah is boiling… American Soldiers conducted humiliating house searches, breaking furniture, frisking men and women and stealing cash and jewelry.” (Foulk, 2007, p. 19).
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