Operation Iraqi Freedom is a multifaceted war in which U.S. troops not only must root out insurgents—as was accomplished in this Fallujah enclave—but must be trained to grasp indigenous mores, mind-sets, and means of operating. Success in 21st-century conflicts increasingly will depend on understanding the larger cultural picture.
In Iraq's Al Anbar province, the 1st Marine Division (1MarDiv) faces challenges uniquely characteristic of Operation Iraqi Freedom II (OIF II). These challenges are at all levels, but younger officers and enlisted Marines confront them most frequently and unavoidably. Younger Marines have done the Corps most proud, shouldering multiple roles unselfconsciously regardless of inner feelings. These Marines' experiences, likely paralleled in other services, force us to reconceptualize both the functions of a war fighter and the array of conditions constituting war. Ultimately, lessons from OIF II require military educators and trainers to recraft training programs and reapportion emphases in military education.