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NGIC Assessment

(U) Complex Environments: Battle of Fallujah I, April 2004
(U) Purpose (U) This is the second of a series of assessments that analyzes recent warfare in complex environments. Enemy employment of asymmetric tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) during the Battle of Fallujah in April 2004 offers many useful lessons learned in how a relatively weakadversary can prevent the United States from accomplishing its military objectives.

(U) Key Points • (S//REL TO USA, MCFI) The insurgent defense of Fallujah was a dispersed, nonlinear defense in depth that involved networks of small combat cells. Mobile cells, often only the size of a fire team, conducted a fluid defense using hit-and-run attacks, ambushes, and standoff attacks. • (S//REL TOUSA, MCFI) Insurgent TTP were designed to allow Marine units to penetrate in depth into their territory so they could set up ambush and swarming opportunities on isolated targets. The insurgents constantly sought to isolate Marine units in order to destroy them piecemeal. • (S//REL TO USA, MCFI) There was no central leadership in charge of all insurgents. We assess that the insurgent leadershipmodel was similar to the Shura council model employed in November 2004. • (S//REL TO USA, MCFI) Insurgents deliberately fought from sensitive areas such as mosques, schools, and residential areas. Mosques served as command centers, fighting positions, weapon caches, rallying points, and hospitals. Minarets were used by snipers, observers, and forward observers. • (S//REL TO USA, MCFI) The basicinsurgent supply concept was to pre-position and prestock food, water, and ammunition in caches throughout the city and depend on limited resupply once fighting began. Most caches in the city were inside buildings; those outside the city in the surrounding rural areas were often in palm groves. • (S//REL TO USA, MCFI) The outcome of a purely military contest in Fallujah was always a foregoneconclusion—Coalition victory. But Fallujah was not simply a military action, it was a political and informational battle whose outcome was far less certain. The effects of media coverage, enemy information operations (IO), and the fragility of the political environment conspired to force a halt to U.S. military operations.

(U) Introduction (S//REL TO USA, MCFI) In April 2004, elements of the First MarineExpeditionary Force (I MEF) launched an offensive into the Iraqi city of Fallujah to clean out an insurgent sanctuary, secure lines of communication, and arrest the perpetrators of a 31 March 2004 Blackwater ambush that killed four American civilians. (U) Physical and Human Terrain (U) Fallujah is a city of approximately 285,000 people situated in the Al Anbar Province about 40 miles west ofBaghdad. Spread across 25 square kilometers in a roughly rectangular shape, most of Page 1


Fallujah's 50,000+ buildings are residential, except for the industrial (Sina'a) sector in the southeast. Typical homes are one or two stories high, constructed of brick or concrete blocks, with flat roofs and enclosed courtyards and perimeter walls (orthere is a wall on the perimeter of the roof). Many neighborhood streets are orderly and arranged in a grid pattern; the exceptions being twisting alleyways and a tangle of streets in the northeast Jolan district and the industrial area in the southeast. (U) The following is a useful description provided by U.S. Marines: (U) The layout of Fallujah is random. Zoning distinguishing between residential,business, and industrial is non-existent. (U) The streets are narrow and are generally lined by walls. The walls channelize the squad and do not allow for standard immediate action drills when contact is made. This has not been an issue because the majority of contact is not made in the streets, but in the houses. (U) The houses are densely packed in blocks. The houses touch or almost touch...
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