Marines fighting insurgents in Falluja in 2004. The insurgents are back, and many Marines wonder if their sacrifice was in vain. Ashley Gilbertson for The New York Times
Falluja’s Fall Stuns Marines Who Fought There -- Richard A. Oppel Jr., New York Times
Adam Banotai was a 21-year-old sergeant and squad leader in the Marine Corps during the 2004 invasion of Falluja, a restive insurgent-held city in Iraq. His unit — which had seven of 17 men wounded by shrapnel or bullets in the first days of the invasion — seized control of the government center early in the campaign.
So when Sunni insurgents, some with allegiances to Al Qaeda, retook the city this month and raised their black insurgent flag over buildings where he and his men fought, he was transfixed, disbelieving and appalled.
“I texted a couple of friends,” said Mr. Banotai, now a firefighter and registered nurse in Pennsylvania. “Everyone was in disbelief.”
“I don’t think anyone had the grand illusion that Falluja or Ramadi was going to turn into Disneyland, but none of us thought it was going to fall back to a jihadist insurgency,” he said. “It made me sick to my stomach to have that thrown in our face, everything we fought for so blatantly taken away.”
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My Comment: The big fear is that the events that are happening now in the Middle East may result in U.S. forces returning back to the battles that they had won just a few years back. The establishment of a safe Al Qaeda haven in western Iraq.eastern Syria is a long term strategic threat to the U.S. .... with the worst case scenario being a launching pad to send terror groups to strike at U.S. targets throughout the Middle East and elsewhere.
Update: This former U.S. Marine who fought in Falluja has a different take on what is happening there .... I helped destroy Falluja in 2004. I won't be complicit again -- Ross Caputi, The Guardian