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Retired Marine Lieutenant Gen. John F. Sattler presents a behind the scenes look into development and operations during the second Battle of Fallujah during a Professional Military Education class aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., June 18, 2014. Sattler gave the Marines an idea of how plans were developed and executed during the battle.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Jenna Loofe

Retired Lt. Gen. speaks about the second battle of Fallujah

24 Jun 2014 | Courtesy Story

Marines with 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, learned about the second battle of Fallujah, Iraq during a Professional Military Education class aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., June 18, 2014.
 
The class was given by retired Marine Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, commanding general of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq from 2004 to 2005.

Sattler gave the Marines a look behind the battle’s development and operations.  

Sattler said his Marines had been working with the U.S. Army preparing to train six Iraqi Army battalions in basic weapons handling and tactics so the local soldiers would be more effective in their counterinsurgency roles. 

Part of the training also focused on the integration of U.S. and Iraqi forces and looked to familiarize the Iraqis with their Marine and Army partners before fighting alongside one another during the battle.

“Personal relationships are important in life; I’ll tell you right now,” said Sattler. “They’re very important in war and we made all of that come together by young warriors and enlisted officers working with Iraqi counterparts to pull it together.”

Colonel Jeffrey Fultz, the 1st Mar. Div. chief of staff, was on the 1st Marine Division staff during the second Battle of Fallujah.
Many of the Marines who fought in that battle have fulfilled their contracts and transitioned out of the Marine Corps, said Fultz.  Fultz also said the Battle of Fallujah was one of the largest military operations that the 1st Marine Division participated in since the conflict in Vietnam.

 “We lost a lot of Marines in this fight,” said Fultz.  “It was hard, house-to-house everyday fighting; what we had been doing in Iraq up to that point was a lot of patrols and a lot of the engagements were small direct fire engagements or indirect fire into camps.”  

Local insurgents and foreign fighters had freedom to move in and out of the city of Fallujah and Marines were there to clear them out to stabilize that part of the country, said Fultz.

“It was offensive operations; door-to-door, house-to-house, street-to-street for weeks,” said Fultz.

Sattler explained the importance of decision making in combat situations and shared difficult decisions his Marines made on a daily basis during the battle.

Sattler said while kicking doors in, the Marines had only one-tenth of a second to either take the shot or hold fire.  Sattler also said the Marines knew clearing houses was imperative for mission accomplishment and any distraction would hinder the mission, so they asked women and children to vacate their homes prior to clearing the area.

“We made it clear we were coming and it was going to be hell, so they took their families and they left,” said Sattler.  
Sattler shared his experiences to help Marines remember the second Battle of Fallujah and appreciate what the Marines before them accomplished.