A Dingbat at CENTCOM

General James Mattis

“Success is a poor teacher,” says General James N. Mattis, who has been nominated to replace David Petraeus as Commander of CENTCOM, in a strange loop-de-loop of Pentagon pecking order.

Petraeus moves down from overall command in Southwest Asia to run our miserable show in Afghanistan, and Mattis, who was previously passed over for Marine Corps Commandant, moves up.

Why?

Could it be his talent for winning hearts and minds?

“You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people.”

But even if Mattis isn’t exactly a hearts-and-minds kind of guy, maybe he inspires his troops to treat captive populations with sensitivity and respect!

“No better friend, no worse enemy.”  The words echoed through 2nd Lieut. Ilario Pantano’s head on the afternoon of April 15, 2004. That was the motto of Lieut. General James Mattis, at the time the commander of the 1st Marine Division in Iraq.

On Feb. 1, the Marine Corps charged Pantano with at least seven violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, including two counts of premeditated murder.

Apart from a few bad apples, what kind of operation made Mattis what he is today?

Mattis played a key role in the April 2004 battle of Fallujah, Operation Vigilant Resolve, by negotiating with the insurgent command inside of the city, as well as playing an important part in planning the subsequent Operation Phantom Fury in November.

Vigilant Resolve!

Phantom Fury!

Power! Fear! Stupidity!

On May 1, 2004, the United States withdrew from Fallujah, as Lieutenant General James Conway announced that he had unilaterally decided to turn over any remaining operations to the newly-formed Fallujah Brigade, which would be armed with US weapons and equipment under the command of former Ba’athist Army General Jasim Mohammed Saleh. Several days later, when it became clear that Saleh had been involved in military actions against Shi’ites under Saddam Hussein, US forces announced that Muhammed Latif would instead lead the brigade. Nevertheless, the group dissolved and had turned over all the US weapons to the insurgency by September, prompting the necessity of the Second Battle of Fallujah in November, which successfully occupied the city.

“Success is a poor teacher!”

So now we were totally ready for the Second Battle of Fallujah, precisely because of the total screaming failure of the First Battle of Fallujah!

And how did that work out for our friends in Iraq?

Before…

Downtown_fallujah
Fallujah in December, 2003

And after…

Fallujah2

Before…

fallujah_04

And after…

fallujah

“It’s fun to shoot some people. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot.”

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  1. http://www.esquire.com/feature

    It’s not that Mattis doesn’t value downtime, because he does, noting that T. E. Lawrence did his best thinking when he was incapacitated with illness. “We’re all very vigorous,” he says. “Oh, we’re vigorous as hell. But our next original thought, in many cases, will be our first.”

  2. …a new Smedley Butler?

    • banger on July 16, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    I wouldn’t say they were stupid though–more just garden-variety cruel, in other words, soldiers. That’s what they do, they kill and enjoy doing it–why else would they choose to be soldiers? If they believe they are “defending this country” then they are stupid–cause that’s not what they fight–that’s just rationalization. Anyway this shouldn’t be a surprise. A country that loves violence has violent soldiers–makes sense to me.

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