Memorializing Our Fallen in Ramadi

By 6 Comments 1,611 views

Why Ramadi matters:

The fall of Ramadi is highly symbolic and of substantial strategic significance, despite the protestations to the contrary of Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey. In a joint press conference with Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on April 16, Dempsey stated: “The city itself is not symbolic is any way. It’s not been declared part of the (Islamic State) caliphate or central to the future of Iraq, but we want to get it back. The issue here is not brick and mortar, it’s about defeating ISIL.”

In fact, Ramadi is considered by ISIS to be part of its caliphate that now stretches from northern Syria to central Iraq. It is a key communications center along the Euphrates River corridor and the capital of al-Anbar province, a Sunni area in western Iraq that U.S. troops struggled to pacify for several years after the U.S. invasion in 2003.

AQI back in 2005 and the days of Zarqawi considered Ramadi the capital of their Islami State of Iraq. In early 2005, this is where the heart of the Iraqi insurgency boiled.

This Memorial Day, I am thinking of those soldiers who sacrificed their lives fighting in Ramadi.

A revisit of Michael Totten’s excellent blogposts:

Anbar Awakens Part 1: The Battle of Ramadi

Anbar Awakens Part II: Hell is Over

In the Villages of Al Anbar

I’m in the middle of Dick Couch’s “The Sheriff of Ramadi” which follows the story of the Navy SEAL Task Unit who helped achieve victory in Ramadi through a successful implementation of counterinsurgency strategy. It’s sat on my bookshelf for the last few years and I had hoped to finish it before today.

Why does Ramadi matter? Why is its loss to ISIS so painful not only for Gold Star Moms like Debbie Lee? Why shouldn’t their pain be our pain?

Debbie Lee in Iraq

Ramadi is where Marc Lee became the first Navy SEAL to be KIA in Iraq.

Ramadi is where Michael Monsoor sacrificed his life.

It’s where Iraqis lost Sheik Sattar– an important figure in the Awakening; a leader who came to realize who the true foreign invaders were.

During 2006, Ramadi and the Al-Anbar province accounted for half of the casualties endured by U.S. forces. By the end of 2006, there was a definite turnaround. And it was thanks in no small measure on account of the sacrifices made by those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

It’s where “the Legend” Chris Kyle undoubtedly saved American and Iraqi lives.

It is important for Americans to know and to remember:

Any remembrance of war that doesn’t include the telling of individual stories lessens the purpose of the day–and why it is important that we remember.

Sometimes the enormity of war overwhelms the truth that all great struggles are just the sum of individual stories. Each is more than just the story of one soldier’s service and sacrifice. Their service ripples across their families, friends and their communities. Memorial Day reminds us it is the noble sacrifice of many that makes us who we are.”

Strategically and symbolically, Ramadi matters.

This was a comment left by Dewey Barker on an FB page dedicated to honoring George W. Bush.

On Ramadi: The interpersonal dynamics between the people of Afghanistan and Iraq have been shaped by many years of a life that is different than our own, in the West. When we are with our Afghan and Iraqi partners, it helps. Maybe not in his exact words, but in what I felt that he was basically communicating, an Iraqi Officer sums it up very well. He said, “When the Americans were here with us we were assimilating their Spirit of Selflessness and their heart of Love and Respect for their fellow Soldiers. When they left, those values began to evaporate and the old model, that does not contain those values, began to re-emerge.”

It cost us dearly to win it. It should not have cost us dearly only to lose it again.

By Michael Totten





Happy Memorial Day.

6 Responses to “Memorializing Our Fallen in Ramadi”

  1. 2

    Nanny G

    Obama is only doing pinprick drone strikes against ISIS.
    Really he is doing the least he can to stave off his critics who actually want ISIS defeated and people’s lives saved and ancient treasures preserved.
    While Obama dithers ISIS now controls 1/2 of Syria and 1/3rd of Iraq.
    ISIS has gained fealty oaths from Indonesian Muslim groups, Pakistani groups, African Muslim groups, Bangladeshi groups, one of India’s Muslim groups, a Philippine Muslim group, and so on.
    What does Obama have?
    A ”coalition of 50 countries,” that seems to be imaginary.
    The only fight being fought against an Islamic army is being fought over Obama’s objections.
    Egypt, Jordan and the Saudis are destroying the Houthi fighters in Yemen with or without arms and support from Obama. This week a 2nd Saudi jet was shot down.

  2. 3



    Letter sent home by Marc Lee in mid-2006:

    Glory is something that some men chase and others find themselves stumbling upon, not expecting it to find them. Either way, it is a noble gesture that one finds bestowed upon them. My question is, when does glory fade away and become a wrongful crusade, or an unjustified means which consumes one completely?

    I have seen war.

    I have seen death, the sorrow that encompasses your entire being as a man breathes his last. I can only pray and hope that none of you will ever have to experience some of these things I have seen and felt here.

    I have felt fear and have felt adrenaline pump through my veins making me seem invincible. I will be honest and say that some of the things I have seen here are unjustified and uncalled for. However for the most part we are helping this country. It will take more years than most expect, but we will get Iraq to stand on its own feet.

    Most of what I have seen here I will never really mention or speak of, only due to the nature of those involved. I have seen a man give his food to a hungry child and family. Today I saw a hospital that most of us would refuse to receive treatment from. The filth and smell would allow most of us to not be able to stand to enter, let alone get medicine from.

    However, you will be relieved to know that coalition forces have started to provide security for and supply medicine and equipment to help aid in the cause. I have seen amazing things happen here; however I have seen the sad part of war, too. I have seen the morals of a man who cares nothing of human life. . . .

    I have seen hate towards a nation’s people who has never committed a wrong, except being born of a third world, ill-educated and ignorant to western civilization. It is not everybody who feels this way, only a select few, but it brings questions to mind.

    Is it ok for one to consider themselves superior to another race?

    Surprisingly, we are not a stranger to this sort of attitude. Meaning that in our own country, we discriminate against someone for what nationality they are, their education level, their social status. We distinguish our role models as multi-million-dollar sports heroes or talented actors and actresses who complain about not getting millions of dollars more than they are currently getting paid.

    Our country is a great country, don’t get me wrong on this, otherwise none of us would be living there. My point of this is how can we come over here and help a less than fortunate country without holding contempt or hate towards them, if we can’t do it in our country. I try to do my part over here, but the truth is over there, in the United States, I do nothing but take.

    Ask yourself, when was the last time you donated clothes that you hadn’t worn out. When was the last time you paid for a random stranger’s cup of coffee, meal or maybe even a tank of gas? When was the last time you helped a person with the groceries into or out of their car?

    Think to yourself and wonder what it would feel like if when the bill for the meal came and you were told it was already paid for. More random acts of kindness like this would change our country and our reputation as a country. It is not unknown to most of us that the rest of the world looks at us with doubt towards our humanity and morals.

    I am not here to preach or to say “look at me,” because I am just as much at fault as the next person. I find that being here makes me realize the great country we have and the obligation we have to keep it that way.

    The 4th has just come and gone and I received many e-mails thanking me for helping keep America great and free. I take no credit for the career path I have chosen; I can only give it to those of you who are reading this, because each one of you has contributed to me and who I am.

    However, what I do over here is only a small percent of what keeps our country great. I think the truth to our greatness is each other. Purity, morals and kindness, passed down to each generation through example.

    So to all my family and friends, do me a favor and pass on the kindness, the love, the precious gift of human life to each other so that when your children come into contact with a great conflict like that we are now faced with here in Iraq, that they are people of humanity, of pure motives, of compassion.

    This is our real part to keep America free!

    HAPPY 4th! Love Ya,


    P.S. Half-way through the deployment — can’t wait to see all of your faces.

  3. 4



    Iran blames US for Ramadi’s fall to Isil:

    Iran has accused the US of having “no will” to stop the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), underscoring tensions in the alliance of international powers that has mobilised against the group in Iraq.

    General Qassem Soleimani, the head of an elite unit in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, said the US did not do “a damn thing” to stop Isil seizing the Iraqi city of Ramadi earlier this month.

    Published in an Iranian newspaper on Monday, his comments came just a day after US Defence Secretary Ash Carter accused Iraqi forces of lacking the “will to fight”, saying they had withdrawn from Ramadi even though they “vastly outnumbered” Isil.

    Iraqi PM: Pentagon chief ‘fed with the wrong information’ (at first I thought it said “effed” with….):

    Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is downplaying the recent capture of Ramadi by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), saying in an interview that he is “surprised” by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s comments that Iraqi forces had “no will to fight” the militants.

    “He [Carter] was very supportive of Iraq. I am sure he was fed with the wrong information,” al-Abadi said in an interview with the BBC.

    “What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight,” Carter said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

    “They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they failed to fight, they withdrew from the site, and that says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves,” he said, using an alternate acronym for the terror group.

    Carter’s remarks caused a stir, with the head of the Iraqi parliamentary defense and security committee calling them “unrealistic and baseless” and that Carter was attempting to “throw the blame on somebody else.”

    That Iraqi official, Hakim al-Zamili, told The Associated Press that the U.S. has failed to provide “good equipment, weapons and aerial support” for U.S.-backed local forces battling ISIS, which also captured Palmyra, an historic city in central Syria, last week.

    “It makes my heart bleed because we lost Ramadi. But I can assure you we can bring it back soon,” al-Abadi said, suggesting Iraqi forces could retake the city within a matter of “days.”

    The White House said that Vice President Joe Biden spoke with al-Abadi on Monday to “reaffirm U.S. support for the Iraqi government’s fight against ISIL.”

    “The Vice President recognized the enormous sacrifice and bravery of Iraqi forces over the past eighteen months in Ramadi and elsewhere,” according to a readout of the call. “The Vice President welcomed the Council of Minister’s unanimous decision on May 19th to mobilize additional troops, honor those who have fallen, and prepare for counter-attack operations. The Vice President pledged full U.S. support in these and other Iraqi efforts to liberate territory from ISIL, including the expedited provision of U.S. training and equipment to address the threat posed by ISIL’s use of truck bombs.”

    Biden honors Iraqi troops after Carter comments:

    Vice President Joe Biden honored Iraqi forces during a call with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Monday amid a public spat between U.S. and Iraqi leaders.

    Biden reaffirmed U.S. support for the Iraqi government’s fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), according to a readout of the call provided by the White House.

    “The Vice President recognized the enormous sacrifice and bravery of Iraqi forces over the past eighteen months in Ramadi and elsewhere,” the White House said in describing the call.

    The phone call comes after Defense Secretary Ashton Carter criticized the U.S.-backed Iraqi forces following their recent rout by ISIS in the key city of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar province.

  4. 5



    Iranian-backed militias lead Iraqi counteroffensive to retake Ramadi

    Iranian-backed Shiite militias, including Hezbollah Brigades, a US-listed Foreign Terrorist Organization, are leading the Iraqi government’s counteroffensive to regain control of Ramadi, which was lost to the Islamic State last week. The militias are now eclipsing Iraq’s security forces in the fight against the Islamic State.

    Thousands of fighters from Shiite militias operating under the aegis of the Popular Mobilization Committee, backed by units from the Iraqi Army’s Golden Division and more than a thousand policemen, launched the counteroffensive from the city of Habbaniyah, one of the last government-controlled areas in eastern Anbar yesterday.

    The militias and Iraqi forces blunted an Islamic State offensive, which was designed to take Habbaniyah and deprive the government of a launch pad to execute its counterattack on Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar which fell to the Islamic State on May 17. Islamic State forces broke through hastily erected defensive lines west of Habbaniyah and advanced into Husaybah and as far east as Al Madeeq on May 22.

    Hezbollah Brigades confirmed on its website that it was involved in the fighting in Ramadi. The group blamed the fall of Ramadi on Iraqi politicians who held the militias back from the fight in Anbar.

    “The security breach that took place in Ramadi was the result of some politicians trusting the Americans,” Hezbollah Brigades quoted one of its commanders deployed near Ramadi. The statement is a swipe at Prime Minister Haider al Abadi, who has been advised by the US not to deploy Shiite militias to Anbar.

  5. 6



    Dem: ‘Absolutely right’ to say Iraqi forces lack ‘will to fight’

    Defense Secretary Ashton Carter was “absolutely right” to say Iraqi forces lack the “will to fight” the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) said Monday.

    Baghdad shouldn’t expect the U.S. to send more troops back into the country to “do the fighting that their young people should be doing,” Lynch told The Boston Herald.

    “We cannot do that. We cannot,” Lynch said.

    “Look, people can’t outsource their wars to the United States and have our sons and daughters go in and do the fighting that their young people should be doing. There’s no lack of motivation here. ISIL is butchering the civilian population there,” he added, using another common acronym for the terror group.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *