Zembiac – The Lion of Fallujah and Today’s Progress in Iraq

Marine Capt. [later promoted to Major] Douglas Zembiec, the commanding officer of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, gives orders to his men over a radio prior to leaving their secured compound for a short patrol in Fallujah, Iraq, April 8, 2004. The company entered Fallujah on April 6 to begin the effort of destroying enemy held up in the city. Zembiec was killed in action May 10, 2007. He was 34 years old. Photo by Sgt. Jose E. Guillen

The DoD reports that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates paid tribute to the fallen Lion of Fallujah, Major Douglas Zembiec, at this week’s Marine Corps Association’s annual dinner in Arlington, Va.

Major Zembiec was a Marine Captain when he first led the men of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, into the hell of Fallujah, Iraq.

Zembiec’s battalion operations officer described him as someone who ‘goes out every day and creates menacing dilemmas for the enemy.’ A newspaper profile at the time described him as a ‘balding, gregarious man who, in glasses, looks like a high school science teacher.

Captain Zembiec rotated back to the States, was promoted to Major and was increasingly agitated to get back to the battle of his time. He did go back and on May 10, 2007, he was killed in action at the age of 34.

Marine Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva posted an intensely personal account of Major Zembiec. There are many heroic stories of our fallen heroes, but Major Zembiec journaled…he journaled often…and so he left behind more than just a few words for his family and friends.

“Teach. Mentor. Give something back to society” Zembiec’s message in his journal continued. “Lead from the front. Conquer your fears. Be a good friend. Be humble and self-confident. Appreciate your friends and family. Be a leader and not a follower. Be valorous on the field of battle and tale responsibility for your actions.”

Read Gunnery Sgt. Oliva’s full account the Lion of Fallujah here.

As the valorous deeds of Major Zembiec, and others like him, are remembered minute-by-minute by family, friends and peers, others like them fight-on in the Iraq surge.

Kimberly Kagan, Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, D.C. says that the “surge” is working. Writing for the Wall Street Journal, July 11th, 2007, Kagan refers to Congress’ perception that the “new strategy” has already failed:

This isn’t an accurate reflection of what is happening on the ground, as I saw during my visit to Iraq in May. Reports from the field show that remarkable progress is being made. Violence in Baghdad and Anbar Province is down dramatically, grassroots political movements have begun in the Sunni Arab community, and American and Iraqi forces are clearing al Qaeda fighters and Shiite militias out of long-established bases around the country.

This is remarkable because the military operation that is making these changes possible only began in full strength on June 15. To say that the surge is failing is absurd….

Kagan recounts the al-Qaeda successes in Iraq between 2004 and 2006 and then says this:

Today, Iraq is a different place from what it was six months ago. U.S. and Iraqi forces began their counterinsurgency campaign in Baghdad in February. They moved into the neighborhoods and worked side-by-side with Baghdadis. As a result, sectarian violence is down. The counterinsurgency strategy has dramatically decreased Shiite death squad activity in the capital. Furthermore, U.S. and Iraqi special forces have removed many rogue militia leaders and Iranian advisers from Sadr City and other locations, reducing the power of militias.

The MSM continues to fuel the single-minded, simple-viewed philosopies of the Code-Pinker-types of the Left, with images that JUST are a part of war.

What the MSM doesn’t get is that most of us are not Code-Pinker-types, or Jane-Fonda-types and by media focusing on Abu Graib, civilian deaths and sectarian violence, we staid, strong, judicious and yes, I’ll say it, visionary thinkers are well able to put the events of Iraq into perspective, sad and frightening though that perspective is at times.

Like it or not, Ms. Kagan is only one of many reports detailing positive change:

The larger aim of the new strategy is creating an opportunity for Iraq’s leaders to negotiate a political settlement. These negotiations are underway. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is attempting to form a political coalition with Amar al-Hakim and Kurdish political leaders, but excluding Moqtada al-Sadr, and has invited Sunnis to participate. He has confronted Moqtada al-Sadr for promoting illegal militia activity, and has apparently prompted this so-called Iraqi nationalist to leave for Iran for the second time since January.

Provincial and local government is growing stronger. Local and tribal leaders in Anbar, Diyala, Salah ad-Din, North Babil and even Baghdad have agreed to fight insurgents and terrorists as U.S. forces have moved in to secure the population alongside their Iraqi partners. As a result, the number of Iraqis recruited for the police forces, in particular, has risen exponentially since 2006.

Meanwhile, back home on the Hill today, Senator Joe Biden, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke by video transmission with America’s Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker:

We’re not staying,[said Biden]…You don’t have much time.

Tracked back by Back to those baked Iraqi children from Right Truth. Excerpt: I’m revisiting the story of al-Qaeda in Iraq killing, roasting, and serving children to their parents. Michael Yon has done some excellent reporting and he confirms the validity of this report. He is not alone. Officials with the Barnabas Fund,

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