Throughout post-Saddam Iraq Fallujah was a trouble spot for the new Iraqi government and the Coalition forces. During the Surge, Navy Reservist Daniel Green worked with tribes in the district and the local government to get them into the fight against the insurgency and help turn the city around. He wrote about his experiences in Fallujah Redux along with General William Mullen III. This is an interview with Green about what happened in Fallujah in 2007. He can be followed on Twitter at @fallujahredux.
1. Fallujah went through two massive battles in 2004. Afterward security deteriorated. What was the situation like in the city at the start of 2007 when the Surge was announced?
The residents of Fallujah were interested in turning against the insurgency but did not yet have an opportunity do so in terms of a population-centric campaign that empowered them to enlist in their own defense. In March 2007 we had a complex attack take place against the Government Center in the middle of the city and about 750 security incidents in Fallujah and the surrounding area. We were constantly pressuring the enemy but did not yet have a viable local partner to defeat the local insurgency. By October 2007 we had less than 80 security incidents in the city and in the countryside. Additionally, the nature of the violence had changed to more individual attacks which were increasingly unsuccessful.
2. Tribal leaders in Anbar started coming to the United States for help fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq starting in Qaim in 2005. They were barely supported until the Anbar Awakening in the Ramadi district in 2006. In Fallujah, it was different as many of the major sheikhs had fled to Jordan and Syria. You worked on tribal outreach for U.S. forces in Fallujah. What was going on with the tribes in the area, and what steps did you take to get them to join the fight against the insurgency?
Then Brigadier General John R. Allen, USMC was in charge of all tribal outreach at a strategic level. He regularly traveled to Jordan to personally lobby tribal leaders to come to Anbar, to organize their communities, and to lead tribal resistant efforts against al-Qaeda in Iraq. The Albu Issa tribe southwest of the city was well organized and already pacifying their home area. We persuaded the Paramount Sheik for the Jumayli tribe (northeast of the city) to return from Jordan to organize his tribe. The Zobai tribe south/southeast of the city was still supportive of the insurgency and their Paramount Sheik Harith al-Dari was still opposed to Coalition Efforts. The Mohemmdi tribe (northwest of the city) was ready to fight as well but their Paramount Sheik had not yet returned to Iraq when I was there.
3. Your other major job was getting the Fallujah city council up and running and support the mayor. What did that encompass?
Getting security established for his office (sandbags, t-walls), providing bridge funds to pay the salaries of his men, civil affairs support (office supplies, foodstuffs, a vehicle, etc) to enable him to do his job, and constant contact and support. We also enabled him to get around the city, attended all his meetings, connected him to tribal, political, and civic leaders, and regularly reported on Fallujah’s city council meetings. He played a direct role in the success of Fallujah’s pacification in 2007.
4. When did you think things started turning around in Fallujah, and what were the signs of that progress?
I think things started to turn around in late June/early July as Operation Alljah was implemented. One sign was a new minaret going up next to one that had been blasted in half in fighting in 2004. Other indications included houses being rebuilt, greater attendance at city council meetings, and local police not wearing balaclavas.