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March 4, 2008
Michael Totten back from Fallujah
Once again, Michael Totten ventured into Iraq in order to give us a grunt's eye view of the war as well as some outstanding analysis of what is going on in that still war torn country.
His reports are filled with the kind of viginettes and human interest stories about our troops and ordinary Iraqis that you just can't get anywhere else.
FALLUJAH, IRAQ – Captain Steve Eastin threw open the door to the Iraqi Police captain’s office and cancelled a joint American-Iraqi officer’s meeting before it could even begin. Nobody does it better.
“Someone just shot at my Marines,” he said. “We can’t do this right now.”
I following him into the hall.
“What happened?” I said.
“Someone just shot at my guys at the flour mill,” he said. “A bullet struck a wall four feet over a Marine's head. We have to go in there and extract them.”
“They don't extract themselves?” I said.
“They're on foot,” he said, “and we're going in vehicles. They don't extract themselves on foot.”
And I was getting comfortable and even bored in post-insurgent Fallujah.
Complacency kills, and Fallujah isn't completely free of insurgents just yet. “Can I go with the extraction team?” I said.
“They’ve already left in Humvees,” he said. But he did send a patrol to the flour mill less an hour later, and I went with them.
Captain Eastin is the commanding officer of Lima Company, and they operate in the slums of southern Fallujah. The houses down there are smaller than they are in the rest of the city, and much more decrepit. Southern Fallujah isn't nearly as rough as a Latin American, Indian, or Egyptian shantytown, but its residents live a hardscrabble life and largely depend on charity for survival. There isn't much of an economy. Unemployment is well over 50 percent. Many residents worked in the industrial district, but only a few factories have re-opened so far. Business owners are waiting for government compensation which was supposed to have been delivered from Baghdad months ago.
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