Worst day for US military since May 2

8 U.S. Marines killed west of Baghdad

“West of Baghdad” means Fallujah and Ramadi. As noted previously, the Marines are not “paused” at all. They are preparing for a major push into the heart of the Sunni insurgency.

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Fierce clashes erupted Saturday in Fallujah as an American military convoy entered the southeastern industrial Shuhada neighborhood and nearby Nueimiya village — an apparent probing foray on the city’s edges. Explosions and gunfire rocked the area and smoke was seen billowing in the air, witnesses said.

Marines responded with heavy artillery fire after insurgents shot mortar shells from positions in the southeast of the city. About 4 p.m. a Marine Harrier jet bombed a mortar position inside Fallujah and strafed it with machine-gun fire, “neutralizing the target and any threat,” said Marine spokesman 1st Lt. Lyle Gilbert.

The Marines generally don’t give out details about their casualties like the Army usually does.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve ramped up for major ops in the area. Our earlier effort was cautious and sniper-based for the most part.

This is going to be different.

Our military has been spoiling or a chance to put these clowns out of business. It’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to be pretty. But it will be decisive.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve enlisted the aid of Iraqi military forces in the area. Our earlier effort was marred by a lack of will and training. Some Iraqis even crossed sides and aided the insurgents.

This is going to be different.

The Iraqi military has been spoiling for a chance to put these clowns out of business. It’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to be pretty. But it will be decisive.

The political situation is far different today than it was in April. The Iraqi government now has sovereignty. They are preparing for elections. The death toll over the past six months from insurgents and terrorists has primarily consisted of Iraqi civilians and security forces. Most of the residents of Fallujah have fled the city. Many insurgents probably left with them, but many of the hard-core Sunni fighters seem to be still holed up inside.

We tried playing the “kinder and gentler” game with the fighters in Fallujah. We tried using Iraqis that would see eye-to-eye with the city as a compromise security force. It was a total failure.

Allawi would like to see Fallujans voting as a sign of Iraq’s new direction. The military would like to see an end to Fallujans defying the law and order that has begun to turn Iraq into a new nation. The Iraqi military forces would like to see a major victory as a chance to establish themselves in the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

I think it’s going to happen. Soon.