But now we were hit by a far more perplexing challenge. Having thoroughly defeated the “evil empire” of Saddam, we had effectively stripped away all vestiges of his Orwellian dictator-ship, leaving only . . . us. What to do for an encore? We were now the single center of authority. In a blinding flash, we had become the local government, the utilities, the banks, the information bureau, the health care provider, the police, the court system, even the dogcatchers. We were it. Just over 1,000 Marines, soldiers,and sailors comprising our battalion task force became responsible for an area and population the size of Manhattan Island.
This article was first published in the Marine Corps Gazette September 2004. Since then, it was published in the “Small Wars Journal” (pdf) and “Iraq 2003 Anthology and Annotated Bibliography United States Marine Corps history of Marines in Iraq” (compiled by Major Christopher M. Kennedy, Wanda J. Renfrow,Evelyn A. Englander, Nathan S. Lowrey, History Division, United States Marine Corps, Washington, D.C. 2006). I’ve heard it’s often quoted in reference to post conflict stability operations. U.S. Marines in Iraq 2003 Anthology and Annotated Bibliography