January 9

The loss of Fallujah to an al-Qaeda affiliate in recent days represents a significant blow to America’s commitment to Iraq and our foreign policy objectives in the Middle East [“Iraq turmoil stirs fears of civil war,” front page, Jan. 7]. The Obama administration’s reaction to this will determine how the United States defines the 2004 battles for Fallujah.

U.S. armed forces fought, and intelligence professionals supported, an almost year-long effort to root out Islamic extremist insurgents from Fallujah. The climax was Operation Phantom Fury at the end of 2004, when U.S. forces conducted an all-out assault against the city. These forces had not seen house-to-house combat since Manila and Hue in 1945 and 1968, respectively. As in those battles, we were victorious in Fallujah. In many ways, that victory was the beginning of the end for Islamic extremist insurgents in Iraq, and Fallujah became a symbol of American resolve to support the new Iraqi government and to prevent that country from becoming a haven for Islamic extremists.

Will Fallujah continue to symbolize our resolve, sacrifice and commitment to Iraq and the region? Or will it become like Hue: a battle won, a war lost and the sacrifice of so many of our brave fighting troops for naught?

Daniel C. Deyo, Great Falls

The writer was a CIA officer from 1986 to 2013.