During my first tour in Iraq, from August 2004 to March 2005, I was the public affairs officer for 1st Force Service Support Group (1st FSSG), which was providing logistical support for more than 25,000 Marines and Sailors in al Anbar province. In the early days of my deployment, the mission of the FSSG was "building the mountain," the forward-staged supply stockpile for the next push into the city of Fallujah. The Marines tried once before to clear the city of insurgents, in April 2004, but were ordered to withdraw midway into the mission; now we were getting ready to go back in and finish the job.
My job was to assist reporters who wanted to cover the battle and to facilitate the documentation of the undertaking. Given the insurgents' information operations campaign in the first push into Fallujah—they grossly inflated the number of civilian casualties—we knew it would be important to get an accurate story out to the Iraqis and the rest of the world.