Planning for Fallujah began in September, with Natonski given responsibility for the combat phase, said Lt. Col. Dan Wilson, a Marine planner with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.
Wilson said hundreds of other U.S. military and civilian planners designed the overall effort, which is intended to follow the ongoing post-siege rebuilding efforts under way in Najaf.
After troops uproot the insurgents, contractors are supposed to swarm into Fallujah to cart away rubble, repair buildings, and fix the city’s utilities, Wilson and Natonski said.
The Iraqi government has already picked leaders for Fallujah, and thousands of Iraqi police and paramilitary forces have been recruited to try to impose order.
Natonski described the six days of ground war as a “flawless execution of the plan we drew up. We are actually ahead of schedule.”
Several pre-assault tactics made the battle easier than expected, he said.
Insurgent defenses were weakened by bombing raids on command posts and safe houses. Air-dropped leaflets may have also demoralized some defenders and convinced some residents that the city would be better off under government control, he said.
In the days before the raid, ground troops feinted invasions, charging right up to Fallujah’s edge in tanks and armored vehicles. Natonski said these fake attacks forced the insurgents to build up forces in the south and east, perhaps diverting defenders from the north, where six battalions of Army and Marine troops finally punched into the city Monday.
The deceptive maneuvers also drew fire from defenders’ bunkers, which were exposed and relentlessly bombed before the ground assault.
“We desensitized the enemy to the formations they saw on the night we attacked,” Natonski said.
Another key tactic was choking off the city, the responsibility of the 2nd Brigade of the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division, Natonski said.
UPDATE: FoxNews has some more information on Fallujah. It seems the fighting isn’t over and the insurgents are causing trouble elsewhere.
U.S. forces have spread throughout the city although it could take several more days of fighting before the city is secured, American officials said. U.S. forces on Sunday attacked a bunker complex in southern Fallujah where they discovered a network of steel-reinforced tunnels filled with weapons, an anti-aircraft artillery gun, bunk beds, a truck and a suspected weapons cache, according to a statement from the U.S. military.
U.S. aircraft attacked insurgents hiding “in numerous buildings throughout the city,” the statement added.
Fighting in Fallujah was ebbing, but insurgent attacks appeared to escalate elsewhere in Sunni Muslim areas of central and northern Iraq.