WASHINGTON — General John F. Kelly needed to deal with Al Qaeda, urgently. It was 2008, and insurgents were operating with near impunity in the territory between two US commands.
So Kelly, then the Marine general in charge of Anbar province, and a like-minded commander hatched a plan to cut through military bureaucracy: they simply moved their military boundaries and took the refuge away from the enemy. What they didn’t do was seek permission from military higher-ups in Baghdad.
“Our senior commander was busy with his own issues in the capital,’’ explained retired General Mark Hertling, who controlled the territory next to Kelly’s. “You overcome your bosses’ approach by combining forces and doing the kinds of things you want to do.’’