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14 November 2004

Other Fallujah kill photos:

New York Times, November 14, 2004


Will Meets Resistance in Deadly Logic of War


FALLUJA, Iraq, Nov. 13 - The geese came in from the north, flying in a slightly broken V. When they flew above the booms and crashes of southern Falluja, it was as if they had hit a force field - the V dissolved into a tangle of confused circles, the migration stopped, the birds veered past each other in the sky, seemingly trapped above a sliver of apocalypse.

It was the battle for the last district of the city controlled by the rebels, a mechanized assault in which tank blasts brought down the sides of buildings as if they were waterfalls and howitzer shots shook the ground over and over, like the aftershocks of some great earthquake. Out beyond the southeastern edge of the city, a dog loped along a road next to an American officer who was watching the battle through his binoculars.

In the necessarily hardened world view of the officer, Col. Michael D. Formica, the battle was as compelling as some rare natural phenomenon.

"You don't often get to see this," he said.

At one point, an exchange broke out between a group of insurgents grouped in houses around a mosque and an M1 tank. The rebels were invisible, but their Kalashnikov rifles could be seen poking out all around the mosque's minarets.

The tank fired back at them, the flash of its cannon visible even in the bright sunlight, and a huge chunk of masonry on one of the buildings collapsed into dust.

The air erupted with heavy explosions and the chatter of various different machine guns: the heavier .50-caliber contrasting with the 7.62 millimeter guns and the sharp tok-tok of the insurgents' rifles. Then the battle got a little too close. A stray bullet whined nearby, kicking up a cloud of dust just 20 feet away, then another.

"That's enough, let's get out of here," Colonel Formica said.

But inside the city, the fury of the battle mounted, and it was as inescapable as any major cataclysm.

An American sniper on a rooftop, alerted by the baying of a pack of dogs, saw a group of men crawling on all fours across a field.

He fired and hit one of the men. Another took off his shirt and waved it in a sign of surrender.

"We've been trying to get out," one of the men said. "The mujahedeen will not let people out."

Not surprisingly, shock and disorientation stalked these men as surely as the danger had. "I am ready to provide more information to you," one of them said, "if you let me see my mother."

As the battle rose in pitch throughout the day, each blast became painful, a jarring of the bones. An airstrike hit what seemed to be a weapons cache, the earth shook and a fireball catapulted into the sky. A tank fired point-blank into a house and the concussion blew over a telephone pole 30 feet away.

The explosion of a mortar shell fired by the insurgents, who were trapped in the southern neighborhood called Shuhada by the locals and Queens by the Americans, sounded like a thunderbolt blasting a tree 50 feet away.

The insurgents could be seen running about on the grounds of a mosque that they had converted into a bunker, falling dead as bullets and shrapnel cut them down or disappearing into some alcove or alley and reappearing again.

The captured men said that the insurgents were terrified of the monstrous Abrams tanks that the Americans had brought to this battle, the tanks that shrug off rocket-propelled grenades as if they were plastic toys and whose muzzle blasts sound like the end of the world.

Around 5 p.m., after the cornered insurgents had been battered for almost 12 hours by merciless air and artillery strikes, 14 of those tanks and 14 Bradley fighting vehicles pulled out of a sandy staging area north of Shuhada and roared toward the neighborhood.

The tanks were so enormous that there was only one access street wide enough to accommodate them, so the vehicles lined up as if they were going to be in a Veterans Day parade.

They went in with guns blasting, blowing holes in buildings, rolling over walls, snapping off light poles, kicking up giant billowing clouds of dust and creating a deafening sound like an explosion that would never end.

It took a full five minutes for the geese to reform their V pattern and continue on their way. They turned and headed southwest.

Colonel Michael D. Formica


Commander, 2nd Brigade

Colonel Michael D. Formica graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1982 as a Distinguished Military Graduate and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Regular Army.

Following the Military Intelligence Basic Course Colonel Formica was assigned to the 3d Infantry Division, where he served as Battalion S2 for the 2d Battalion, 15th Infantry and Battalion S2 and Scout Platoon Leader for the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor.

Upon return to the United States and after completion of the Armor Officer Advance Course, Colonel Formica was assigned to the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment were he served from 1986 to 1989 as the 1st Squadron S3 Air, D Company Commander, and Assistant Regimental S3 for Plans and Exercises.

In 1989, Colonel Formica was assigned to the Military District of Washington where he served as a Joint Staff Intern within the Office of the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff. In 1990 he was assigned to the Army Staff and served as an action officer in the Army Initiatives Group.

In 1994 Colonel Formica was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division where he served as S3 and XO of the 2d Battalion, 12th Cavalry and S4, S3, and XO of the 2d “BlackJack” Brigade.

From December 1997 to December 1999, Colonel Formica commanded the 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry, “Garryowen”, 2d Infantry Division in the Republic of Korea. Following squadron command Colonel Formica served as a member of the CINC’s Initiatives Group, Combined Forces Command. Most recently Colonel Formica has served as the III Corps Deputy G3 for Operations.

Colonel Formica is a graduate from the United States Army War College Advanced Strategic Arts Program and the United States Army Command and General Staff College. He holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of Missouri and Masters Degree in National Security Affairs from the United States Army War College.

Colonel Formica and his wife have been married for 20 years and have four children.

MILITARY SCIENCES: Military Forces and Organizations

Gaining Irreversible Momentum for Army Transformation


Abstract: The Army's Final Draft Transformation Campaign Plan, dated 15 November 2000 defines the conditions of irreversible momentum as 'a rate and scope of change that can survive individual decision makers and singular, discrete decisions'. The Army's plan continues that such transformation must rest on perceptions and therefore must depend upon strategic communications efforts. Using this definition, transformation can achieve irreversible momentum only when the Total Army (active, reserve, and civilian), the other services, the administration, the Congress, and the American public become convinced of its need, suitability, and feasibility. It is the purpose of this paper to determine the critical elements of irreversible momentum, to propose some recommendations for the Army to achieve it, and to become an intrinsic way of thinking about and solving problems arising from transformation. The paper consists of three sections. The first introduces the reader to current thoughts on managing and succeeding in transformation and offers a template for gaining irreversible momentum. This section concludes by comparing this template to historical examples of military transformation. The second section reviews the current status of the Army's transformation plan to the proposed template. The last section offers recommendations to assist in achieving irreversible momentum.

Michael D. Formica, 6604 and 6605 Todd Street, Fort Hood, TX 76544-1330

Michael D. Formica, 6784 24th Street, Fort Hood, TX 76544-1330

Michael D. Formica, 708 Fawn Trail, Harker Heights, TX 76548-2117

Michael D. Formica, Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, 541 Craig Road, Carlisle, PA 17013-5104