The Warriors of Anbar

The Marines Who Crushed Al Qaeda--the Greatest Untold Story of the Iraq War


By Ed Darack

Foreword by Colonel James E. Donnellan, USMC (Ret.)

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A riveting, edge-of-your seat account of how a battalion of Marines faced off against the most brutal of Al Qaeda at its most desperate and vicious moment–and how the Marines decisively crushed the terrorists
When the 2nd Battalion of the 3rd Marine Regiment (“2/3”) arrived in the little-known “Haditha Triad” region of western Iraq’s Al Anbar Province in September of 2006, the region exploded in a storm of terrorist violence. The most battle-hardened of Al Qaeda had fled to the Triad, and, taking their last, desperate gasps for survival after years of bloody war, lashed out at the battalion with everything they could muster. The Marines sent into this firestorm of violence immediately lunged into a complex, double-edged mission: crush Al Qaeda and help the locals rebuild their terrorist-smashed lives and homes. After months of grueling, fearsome battle–and the loss of twenty-three of their ranks–the warriors of 2/3 stood tall in victory. This is their incredible story.
Warriors of Anbar is one of the greatest untold stories of modern war, one of grit, incredible courage, and utmost sacrifice. It is a story that illustrates the U.S. Marine Corps at its very finest.


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Central Command (CENTCOM) here

Iraq Regional here

Euphrates River Corridor here

Haditha Triad here

Battalion Structure and Command Hierarchy here



IN THE LATE SUMMER OF 2006, MEMBERS OF THE 2ND BATTALION of the 3rd Marine Regiment (abbreviated “2/3” and pronounced “two-three”)—the Island Warriors—said goodbye to their families, friends, and home base at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, and embarked on a journey to the other side of the world. Days later, they arrived at their destination: the Haditha Triad region of western Iraq. The Triad, a geographic term coined by the Marine Corps, consisted of the city of Haditha and a number of surrounding towns and villages, notably Barwana, Haqlaniyah, and Albu Hyatt. Located at a strategically critical point on the Euphrates River corridor between the Syrian border and the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, the Triad ranked as one of the most vital locations for the group known as Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and its affiliates throughout Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Far from the country’s large cities and surrounded by vast sweeps of desolate, uninhabited desert, Haditha and its satellite towns lay in the heart of the country’s Al Anbar Province, AQI’s base of operations and lifeline throughout the war.

The battalion arrived in the Triad well into the war’s fourth year. Since the March 20, 2003, official kickoff of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the nature of the conflict had progressed from a blunt “shock and awe” fight to a complex, highly nuanced counterinsurgency campaign piqued by hard “kinetic” regional thrusts and smaller surgical counterterror strikes. 2/3’s overarching goal for its seven-month tour: improve security for the local inhabitants of the war-ravaged Triad by decimating outside AQI influence while simultaneously supporting a resurgent local government and economy. It would continue the work of previous Marine Corps battalions that had rotated through the Triad, notably its sister battalion, the 3rd Battalion of the 3rd Marine Regiment, which 2/3 “relieved-in-place” upon its arrival in late summer 2006.

Despite steadfast progress by 3/3 and previous units, 2/3 arrived exactly at a critical moment in the war, when unforeseen circumstances created nearly insurmountable consequences. As components of the 1,100-strong battalion task force settled into their respective areas of operation throughout the region, key events, conditions, and factors coalesced to foment an enduring hurricane of adversity, violence, and calamity.

Al Qaeda in Iraq, eviscerated from blow after blow in key strongholds like Fallujah and Ramadi, fell back to the Triad, assuming the posture of a cornered, mortally wounded animal. Overlooked by global media, the region had served as a relative sanctuary where AQI could thrive and grow over the course of Operation Iraqi Freedom. But, with nowhere else to flee to and ravage, AQI transformed the Triad into a theater for its last, desperate gasps for survival just as 2/3 arrived.

Yet the terrorists of Al Qaeda in Iraq didn’t lash out against the battalion in large, concerted efforts. The enemy hid among the locals they terrorized and had threatened into submission and silence. They melted into the beaten populace and under and among the shadows of the labyrinthine alleyways and back streets of the city. Then they struck—knowing that members of the battalion could rarely hit back with their traditionally overwhelming force because the Marines of 2/3 held the safety of the locals as their highest priority.

AQI attacked with sniper fire, with volleys of mortars and rockets, with tossed hand grenades, with complex ambushes from well-concealed positions, and, perhaps most insidiously, with improvised explosive devices, or IEDs—hidden bombs detonated remotely or by triggers hidden in roads, trails, even open desert ground. In its drastic attempts to derail the nascent post-invasion Iraqi government, AQI indiscriminately killed and maimed innocent local men, women, children, Iraqi national forces, and, of course, members of 2/3, who had come to fight for the Iraqi people and their country’s security and growth.

Forged in the fire of recent combat, having acquired a half year of intensive, specialized training before the deployment, and led by mission-focused, dedicated officers, 2/3 immediately charged ahead with its assignment. But the circumstances proved more complex than any before experienced in the war in Iraq. The phantom enemy threw everything it had at the battalion and simultaneously sought to drive wedges between the locals and 2/3, directly, through threats and intimidation, and indirectly, through carefully coordinated information operations. The enemy proved relentless and brutal. Within the first weeks of the battalion’s arrival, AQI had killed many and wounded dozens of members in horrific, bloody attacks. Further complicating the fight, 2/3’s higher command, located miles distant from the Triad, hammered the battalion with burdensome restrictions that—were it not for the unrelenting drive of 2/3’s senior leadership—would have crippled it to the point of defeat at the hands of the enemy.

For all members of the 2nd Battalion of the 3rd Marine Regiment, their Iraq tour would prove the toughest, most brutal fight of their lives—arguably the toughest, most brutal fight experienced in modern war. Despite the circumstances, despite the viciousness of an enemy desperately striking them and the local populace, despite the losses, despite the absolute necessity of restraint, and despite the crushing demands of their higher command, the members of the battalion would ultimately see their toil and sacrifice yield success—absolute, unmitigated victory. They accomplished this through discipline, dedication, resiliency, creativity, and classic, time-honed Marine Corps warfighting prowess: in their counterinsurgency campaign, they held protecting the locals and rebuilding the government, security forces, and economy as their highest duty.

Far beyond simply stating these intentions, their actions proved their resolve to the people of the Triad, winning their steadfast allegiance over any obedience coerced by AQI. When moments demanded caution in the face of potential harm or loss of innocent Iraqi life, they kept their trigger fingers straight. When moments demanded action, they struck swiftly and decisively. From the second they set foot in the Triad till the moment they had the area to their backs on their way home, they acted with utmost determination and fidelity to mission, to the Iraqi people, and to each other, even in the darkest of hours—and each and every member of the battalion experienced some of the bleakest, most horrifying of these moments during this tour. Their fight—unlike any other—represents one of the greatest untold stories of surmounting overwhelming adversity to achieve victory in modern war, one completely overlooked by history.

This book chronicles this incredible chapter of modern military history by weaving together the most salient and emblematic components of 2/3’s deployment to the Triad through the progression of their time there—stories of bravery, sacrifice, incredible hardship, horror, and ultimate victory.



EVEN BEFORE THEY RETURNED FROM THEIR 2005–2006 AFGHANISTAN deployment, the members of 2/3 slated to remain with the battalion (Marines typically move from one unit to the next every two to four years) learned that they would head to Iraq a little more than a half year after arriving back home. As they had done in their Afghan deployment, the Island Warriors (the 2nd Battalion’s home base is in Hawaii) would deploy to Iraq’s Haditha Triad to relieve-in-place 3/3. Part of a long-term plan devised by senior Marine Corps leadership, this schedule prescribed that the three battalions of the regiment would each first participate in Operation Enduring Freedom by rotating through eastern Afghanistan for a seven-month tour. That would be followed by seven months back at their home base preparing to deploy to Iraq.

The plan sent 3/3 to Afghanistan first, in 2004, followed by 2/3, and then 1/3. The deployment cycle would repeat in the Haditha Triad, again beginning with 3/3. This rotation worked well for all three battalions in the regiment because the commands of each unit were familiar with those of the other two. Each in-country battalion shared general information and specific intelligence with its replacement battalion, helping refine organizational structure, equipping, training, and operational planning for the next-in-line battalion.

While in Afghanistan, 3/3, led by Lieutenant Colonel Norman “Norm” Cooling, paved the way for 2/3’s fluid integration into the battlespace. “The structure set us up for success,” stated Major Rob Scott, 2/3’s executive officer, or XO, during 2/3’s Afghan deployment. 2/3 similarly worked to help 1/3 as it rotated into support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

During the seven-month period between 3/3’s return from Afghanistan and its departure to western Iraq, Cooling and his battalion staff sought to best align their training and operational outlook for the Triad. Although both Iraq and Afghanistan are part of US Central Command, the Triad differed starkly from eastern Afghanistan in physical geography, human geography, environmental conditions, history, enemy composition and posture, and US Department of Defense outlook. Transitioning from operating in the lofty mountains and steep terrain of the Hindu Kush near the frontier with Pakistan to the streets, alleyways, palm groves, and flat desert sweeps of the Triad would require significant operational shifts, at all battalion levels.


HADITHA, AT THE center of the Triad, lies 130 air miles west-northwest of Iraq’s capital of Baghdad, in the northeastern quadrant of Al Anbar Province. Al Anbar, or just Anbar, which borders Syria on its northwest, Jordan on its western extremity, and Saudi Arabia on its southwest, ranks as the largest province in Iraq, dominating the western portion of the country, most of its extent defined by barren sweeps of flat, sun-scorched desert just a few hundred feet above sea level. The Euphrates River strikes through the province and stands as its most important geographic feature.

Haditha, population twenty-five thousand, and its satellite towns and villages would never have become settlements, much less modern population centers, but for the nourishing Euphrates. The waterway, which stretches nearly two thousand miles in length and passes through both Turkey and Syria before entering Iraq, is flanked along its length by a lush riparian zone. This “ribbon of life,” fed by the Euphrates, supports agriculture and is the basis for urban development along its path. The corridor interconnects the Haditha Triad with the cities of Al Qaim and Rawa to the north, and Hit, Ramadi (the provincial capital of Al Anbar Province), and Fallujah to the south.

The Euphrates River corridor also served as a main artery for terrorist operations throughout Operation Iraqi Freedom. At its core, AQI was a foreign invading force, and its fighters, weapons, supplies, and money flowed into Iraq along this corridor. Cities on this route—like Haditha, Fallujah, and Ramadi—acted as natural layovers and “forward operating bases” for the organization. Both the population centers as well as the open desert adjacent to them provided training areas and places to cache weapons and supplies. Of course, the populations of the cities were themselves targets for AQI to control as the organization marched toward its goal—Baghdad.

Because the natural geography of the Euphrates River directly supported the movement of the enemy, it thus became the operational focus of US forces in Al Anbar—all eyes turned to the river. AQI, using its loose Sunni ideological affiliation, tried to make inroads with the predominantly Sunni population of the Al Anbar region in the cities and towns along the river. It also used murder, rape, threats, and other means of forcible coercion.

With the Iraqi government’s focus almost wholly on the security of Baghdad, initially little thought was given to areas in the “hinterlands” of Al Anbar. But as AQI increased its activity in the cities along the Euphrates, gradually making its way toward Baghdad, the attention intensified—as did Marine Corps operations. Not only did the Marines smash AQI in Ramadi and Fallujah, but they also hit the enemy in the more northerly reaches of the Euphrates corridor, in Al Qaim and in Rawa.

While the Marine Corps racked up success after success in cities and towns along the Euphrates River, it also took hits, notably blows in the Haditha Triad, which had become an “economy of force” effort during the focus on Fallujah. In early March 2005, the 3rd Battalion of the 25th Marine Regiment, a Marine Corps Reserve battalion based out of Brook Park, Ohio, arrived in western Iraq and conducted operations in the Haditha Triad and in the Al Qaim region near the border with Syria.

By the time 3/25 departed Iraq, the battalion had lost forty-eight members, including two attached Navy Hospital Corpsmen (medics), the highest number of deaths suffered by a Marine Corps battalion since the October 23, 1983, Beirut bombing attack that killed over two hundred Marines and sailors of the 1st Battalion of the 8th Marine Regiment. The vast majority of 3/25’s deaths occurred in the Triad, including six scouts/snipers killed on the outskirts of the city of Haditha. AQI stole their weapons and other gear and produced a number of propaganda videos.

This number also included eleven killed when a massive improvised explosive device completely obliterated an AAV-7 (an assault amphibious vehicle) on a road outside of Barwana. The blast killed a total of fifteen (including three Marines of the 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion and one Iraqi interpreter) and left only one gravely wounded survivor.

“In the years and months prior to the arrival of 3/3 and then 2/3, establishing security in the Haditha Triad area was problematic due to force cap restrictions,” explained Lieutenant Colonel Ron Gridley, the executive officer of Regimental Combat Team 7, or RCT-7. Deploying for twelve-month cycles, regimental combat teams were stood up as higher commands to Marine battalions and their attachments. RCT-7 would be the higher headquarters of 3/3 for its entire seven-month tour, and would be 2/3’s higher HQ for the first months of its time in the Haditha Triad.

“Once the government of Iraq saw that they needed to pay more attention to Al Anbar to fight insurgents and terrorists, they only really focused on those parts of the province closest to Baghdad—Fallujah and Ramadi,” Gridley said. “While we at the RCT level saw that we needed additional resources up in the Haditha and Al Qaim areas, by law, we just couldn’t get any more because of force cap restrictions—there was a predetermined, limited amount to go around and this was pre-surge, so we had to pull Marine battalions and other Marine assets away from Haditha to support efforts down in Fallujah and Ramadi. Once operations there drew to a close, then the battalions would return, but the absence always allowed the enemy enough time to regroup and get really dug in,” Gridley explained.

“Once you start a counterinsurgency, you can’t take a break from it. You’re not just fighting against the enemy, you’re fighting equally as hard, actually harder—much harder—for the trust, respect, and allegiance of the local population. If the locals see you just come and go, they’re never going to align with you because when you go, the enemy comes out and tortures and executes any of the locals who helped you when you were there. We saw this a lot throughout Iraq.”

Gridley noted the “clear, hold, build” maxim central to Marine Corps counterinsurgency doctrine. The initial goal, clear, rids an area of operations (AO) of insurgents and terrorists. Then comes hold, when a campaign maintains stability in a region so that forces can work with locals to build a government and a sustainable economy, the ultimate goal of such campaigns. “How are you going to build or rebuild anything if you can’t hold it first? You can’t. You have to maintain continuous presence till everything is stood up, including indigenous security forces that can keep the outsiders like AQI from returning,” Gridley stated.

Lieutenant Colonel Cooling and his staff studied the geography, culture, and recent history of the Haditha Triad carefully during the months prior to their March 2006 deployment to the region. They would be replacing the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Marine Regiment, which, as Gridley described, had conducted counterinsurgency operations in the Triad, was then pulled to support efforts in Fallujah, and then returned. As 3/3 planned its forthcoming Iraq deployment and as 2/3 looked to the Triad on its horizon while still conducting operations in Afghanistan, two key events unfurled that would create far-reaching consequences for 3/3—and foment, directly and indirectly, two component gales of the hurricane of violence and adversity that would crash upon 2/3 when it arrived.

Although its roots and specific evolution remain uncertain—many involved claimed responsibility—a movement known as the “Anbar Awakening” surged through the Euphrates River corridor from Al Qaim, near the Syrian border, to Fallujah, just west of Baghdad. This “awakening” would play a critical role in combating the increasing enemy activity in the Haditha Triad—and would become an important factor in 2/3’s mission.

Beginning in the fall of 2005, leaders of Sunni tribes along the river corridor formed alliances with Marine Corps infantry battalions and the local Iraqi security forces that the battalions trained and supported. AQI, already bloodied by hard poundings elsewhere—primarily by the Marine Corps—saw its support begin to wither and fray.

So AQI began to move its base of operations. “What remained of AQI, up and down the Euphrates, began to converge on what was their most reliable sanctuary area: Haditha,” explained Captain Matt Tracy, who commanded 2/3’s Echo Company, the unit to which Mike Scholl, James Steuter, Mario Anes, and William Burke belonged. Far from the Iraqi government’s focus in Baghdad, and later Fallujah and Ramadi—and as such, subject to inconsistent American presence—a mortally wounded AQI began to coalesce in the Triad. “But that was just one of a number of the aspects that would make the fight so difficult for us in Haditha,” Tracy noted. “There were others, one in particular.”

The other component to which Tracy referred occurred in two phases, the first during the nascent stage of the Awakening, on November 19, 2005. “What it’s called depends on perspective,” stated a source with direct familiarity with the matter. “Some call it an ‘incident,’ and some call it a ‘massacre,’” the source explained. As 3/3 toiled in the throes of its pre-deployment workup at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center outside of Twentynine Palms, California, and as 2/3 continued its efforts in eastern Afghanistan, members of 3/1, the battalion 3/3 would be replacing, allegedly executed twenty-four unarmed Iraqi residents of Haditha.

What some called the “Haditha Massacre” and others named the more innocuous “Haditha Incident” had little immediate effect on the region—because few learned of it. With worldwide focus on Baghdad and other large cities like Fallujah and Ramadi, American and international media paid virtually no attention to Haditha and the surrounding towns and villages, despite the area’s critical importance to AQI. The Marine Corps launched a thorough investigation (which, years later, culminated in just one conviction of dereliction of duty), but for months, the event cast no ripples throughout the region’s population. Then, just as 3/3 arrived in the Triad in March 2006, Time magazine published a feature article about the event. Titled “Collateral Damage or Civilian Massacre in Haditha?” the article reverberated around the globe.

“All of the sudden everyone around the world knew about it,” stated Matt Tracy. “And the enemy used it to try to convince Iraqis—namely, those in the Triad—to not trust any American. They wanted them to see all of us as the enemy, to hate us,” he said. “It’s important to keep in mind that there are cases after cases of AQI torturing and murdering locals to get the population to bend to their will. Countless cases. Instances that we never learned about until the locals told us,” he said. “They used the media focus on it as an information tool, a long-running information operation against Marines in the region to show that the Americans were the enemy, not AQI, and this was the proof—and then all the while, they continued to behead, torture, and murder.”

“It had wide-reaching ramifications for the fight for Haditha,” stated a Marine Corps source familiar with the situation. “It wasn’t just used against Marines in Haditha on the tactical and operational level,” he said. “Anti-war politicians and others opposed to the war back home and throughout the world latched onto it to try to use it as a tool to erode support for the war effort. It became a strategic-level anti-war weapon,” he said, then added: “And then AQI, in turn, used that as a tactical and operational propaganda tool to try to drive a spike between the locals of Haditha and the Americans as well as a tool directly against American troops, to demoralize them directly as well as to demoralize them by trying to show how we weren’t supported back home—that people back home thought we were all cold-blooded murderers based on what was being said about us by certain politicians and media outlets.”

In March 2006, as the Anbar Awakening continued to flush AQI out of Ramadi, Fallujah, and other population centers along the Euphrates River and into the Triad, 3/3 arrived in an environment increasingly hostile not from only one side, but three. “There were more members of Al Qaeda moving in. Then the article came out, stoking distrust and animosity in the locals, and then there was higher command,” said a Marine Corps source intimately familiar with the situation on the ground in the Triad at that time. “There was an overreaction at the RCT level,” stated a source familiar with the RCT-7 command. “There was micromanaging to begin with, but the fear of any more civilian casualties as the investigations dragged on took it levels higher. Every time a shot was fired, they opened a new investigation.”

The pressure was placed most burdensomely on the squads and squad leaders, the “tip of the spear” and center of gravity of Marine Corps infantry battalions. “It was so bad that the small unit leaders felt that anything they did would result in a court martial.” AQI, of course, took note of this. Although a wounded enemy, it was still fighting.

“AQI who flowed into the Triad in late 2005 through 2006 had survived Fallujah, Ramadi, and other battles. These guys survived for a reason—they were great fighters, the best, smart, and battle hardened,” Ron Gridley explained. “Guys who make it that far are masters of insurgency and terror operations. They notice even the slightest changes in posture, in TTPs [tactics, techniques, and procedures], and they adjust their tactics accordingly,” he said. “And they don’t need to do endless PowerPoints first to make their adjustments, they just make them.” Further burdening 3/3, RCT-7 had the battalion divert resources to support ongoing investigations into the November 19 events. This included tracking down relatives of deceased persons, securing helicopter landing zones, and coordinating passage of outside investigators.

“Our AO was also expanded,” stated Norm Cooling. As soon as the battalion arrived, the commander of RCT-7, Colonel William “Blake” Crowe, ordered 3/3 to enlarge its AO to include the city of Baghdadi, south of the Triad, a 45 percent addition in area. Encumbered by the unforeseen hurdles, 3/3 relentlessly drove ahead with its campaign. It reorganized certain components of the battalion to accommodate the multiple demands placed upon it. Despite commanding a battalion stretched thin and faced with many unanticipated obstacles over and above those directly involved with undertaking a counterinsurgency campaign, Cooling and his staff were able to quickly determine the posture of the enemy.

More importantly, they outlined a plan to defeat that enemy and give the locals the prospect of an enduring security. “With Haditha, and Al Anbar at large, there was a need to field police forces,” said Cooling. “The problem with the security forces in the region at the time is that they were primarily Iraqi Army, who were mostly Shia, and outsiders. Al Anbar is Sunni, and we needed police who were Sunni, ideally from the area they’d patrol and work who knew who was an insurgent, who was cooperating with insurgents, and who would help identify insurgents and their enablers.”

Previous Marine Corps battalions had built a sizable police force in Haditha, but when 3/3 arrived, none remained. When Marine forces were pulled away from the area to support combat operations in other parts of Al Anbar, AQI had moved in, captured a number of the police force, dragged them into the city’s soccer field, and publicly executed them to make an example for the locals. “Others they just murdered upon finding them,” Cooling explained. “The rest fled.”

Haditha was a burning cauldron, and getting hotter.



THE NEED FOR AN INDIGENOUS POLICE FORCE IN THE HADITHA region grew more urgent with each day. With the Awakening in full swing upon 3/3’s arrival, AQI flowed into Haditha. Attacks of all types increased, as did the oppressive oversight from higher up the chain of command, the restrictive rules of engagement forced on the battalion by RCT-7, and an explosion of media attention on the area following the November 2005 civilian deaths. AQI, seizing on these reports, worked to sow the seeds of distrust among the locals for the newly arrived Marines. In addition to its increasing use of violence and its propaganda campaign, AQI also began standing up a shadow government—a situation far worse than even anarchy.


  • "Darack succeeds in putting together a coherent military history of a crucial conflict with al-Qaeda, passing along important lessons learned....Students of military history and military servicemembers looking for lessons in asymmetrical warfare will find this account illuminating and informative."—Publishers Weekly
  • "The Warriors of Anbar is a classic story of perseverance, deceit, frustration, ambition, loss and the search for meaning. By laying bare the tough truths, Ed Darack details how it really was in Iraq. Every time the battalion was hit, someone found a way to strike back. These thousand Marines refused to quit or to strike out in blind anger. Even when some at the top failed, the battalion improvised, absorbed punishment, adapted from beatings and hammered forward by unexpected means. This is a classic story of grit, loss and redemption."—Bing West, former assistant secretary of defense, and an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author
  • "Ed Darack earned the right to tell this riveting tale the hard way, by embedding with the Marines. The Warriors of Anbar puts you right in the middle of one of the toughest, bloodiest and most vicious fights of the Iraq war."—Sean Naylor, New York Times bestselling author of Relentless Strike and award-winning reporter for Foreign Policy
  • "The Warriors of Anbar is one of those intimate stories that is often lost when the sacrifices of the military are overshadowed by bad decisions and politics. Ed Darack skillfully reports the story of everyday Marines trying to complete an impossible mission."—Kevin Maurer, award-winning journalist and the bestselling co-author of No Easy Day
  • "From his two previous books, Victory Point to The Final Mission of Extortion 17, Ed Darack has emerged as one the best, and most meticulous, reporters about the military in the country. Anything he writes is a must read."—R.M. Schneiderman, former deputy editor of Newsweek
  • "One of the U.S. Marine Corps' finest-yet largely untold-stories.... A very human story of 'bravery, sacrifice, incredible hardship, horror, and ultimate victory.'"—Kirkus Reviews
  • "The 2nd Battalion of the 3rd Marine Regiment deployed to an area of Al Anbar province called the Haditha Triad in September 2006 amid a surge in violence by the terrorist group Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Their mission was to defeat the terrorists and rebuild civil government with a functioning native police force capable of defending the population so normal life and commerce could resume. Darack... is a longtime embedded journalist with firsthand knowledge of the counterinsurgency campaign (COIN) in Haditha at this time, who also interviewed dozens of the battalion's officers and enlisted members. He has nothing but the highest praise for these Marines and their professionalism, humanity, empathy, efficiency, and willingness to sacrifice for the civilians of Haditha to achieve what he describes as a decisive victory over AQI. His account is a well-written, keenly detailed success story and a significant tribute to the Marines who risked their lives, including the 23 fallen and the hundreds who were wounded in action, to bring peace and stability to the Haditha Triad."—Booklist
  • "The Warriors of Anbar is a story of unmatched bravery and sacrifices and horrors which led to America's victory against AQI...This informed account of America's recent military history is meticulously researched and beautifully written. Ed Darack is veritably a superb military historian...The Warriors of Anbar is as engrossing as a war novel can be, although it is a true and scholarly story. Both students and experts of war on terror will find it full of new insights and perspectives."

    TheWashington Book Review

On Sale
Nov 5, 2019
Page Count
256 pages
Da Capo Press

Ed Darack Author Photo

Ed Darack

About the Author

Ed Darack is the author of six previous books, including the critically acclaimed Victory Point about Operations Red Wings and Whalers, and The Final Mission of Extortion 17, the story behind the single deadliest day for US troops in the War in Afghanistan. He has embedded with US forces four times in Afghanistan and twice in Iraq, where he did the field work for Warriors of Anbar. Darack is the author of hundreds of feature articles on a broad spectrum of topics for publications including the New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, Smithsonian’s Air & Space (where he’s a contributing editor), Leatherneck, Marine Corps Gazette, Proceedings of the United States Naval Institute, Foreign Policy, Weatherwise (where he’s a contributing editor), and many others.

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