Skip to comments.Echo 2/8 confirms versatility of infantry in Anbar
Posted on 01/09/2008 3:37:44 PM PST by SandRat
RAMADI, Iraq (Jan. 9, 2008) -- Its not their normal everyday mission. Its not even what the Marine Corps infantry has historically trained to do. But the job Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, is doing in the Anbar province is important nonetheless.
Their job is to prepare the Iraqi Police to become the sole protectors of what was once Iraqs most vicious city, all while making sure the absence of insurgency remains.
Instead of conducting normal combat missions, the Marines of Echo Company spend their days training and patrolling with the Iraqi police, looking forward to the day they can return home and the Iraqis can take control.
The majority of the work the Marines are doing deals with the IPs and making sure theyre ready to stand up on their own when the time comes, said Gunnery Sgt. William C. Broadbent III, operations chief.
Up to this point, both the Marines and IPs are pleased with the progress, but certain issues that may have not been identified during initial training are still being corrected. This happens normally during one of the many daily joint patrols conducted by Marines and IPs.
Most of the time the Marines teach or reinforce the basics, such as how to properly detain people, aspects of marksmanship and local policing of their neighborhood, said Broadbent. Every once in a while, well come across issues for example many of the IPs we work with are young, between the ages of 18 to 25, and we found it necessary to enforce how important it is to treat the civilians properly, with respect.
Some of the Marines who work with the IPs think they will be fully capable of handling the job when the time comes.
The IPs that Ive been working with for the past two months are not only extremely smart and willing to learn, but also have some advantages that coalition forces dont have, said Pfc. Darryl Griffith, assaultman. This is their neighborhood and they know it well. Not to mention, local Iraqis are more likely to come up to them with information about insurgents or weapons caches than to coalition forces.
When asked about what is the hardest part working with the IPs, most Marines answers are the same, the language barrier.
Besides it being hard to communicate from time to time, the IPs pick up on things extremely fast, said Griffith. They see us doing something and they want to be just like us, so they work at it until they get it down.
With all the time spent working together a bond, unimaginable a year ago, has also been created between the Marines and Iraqi people.
The interaction between the Marines and locals that Ive noticed in the past two months has really surprised me, said Broadbent. Both the Iraqis and Marines are acting a lot more friendly than I anticipated before coming over here. We get waved at every day on patrol. the locals, especially the kids, come up to us and shake our hands. Its a refreshing thing to see.
No matter what it is, the gifts from Marines to the Iraqi people are always appreciated, says Cpl. John Kratz, patrol leader.
Most of the time, its the kids coming up to ask us for things, said Kratz. Theyre always asking for chocolate or pencils, but theyre more than happy with whatever we have on us to give to them.
The patrols operating out of Joint Security Station Falcon have yet to result in firefights or fierce confrontations, but the battle proven Marines of Company E still have all the capabilities to bring the hurt if need be.
We have the capability to support most infantry operations whether its mounted or dismounted and to include raid-type missions, said Broadbent. In addition to our capabilities here at Falcon, we also have the ability to monitor patrols operating in or around the area of our four other substations.
These Marines may not be engaging insurgents on a day-to-day basis and danger may not present itself in the form of bullets and bombings, but that still doesnt make for an easy days work.
The job were doing out here is still tough, probably mostly because its not kinetic, said Broadbent. Youre not going out every day and seeing the bad guy. The bad guy could be the man right next to you, he could be the man talking to you or he could be the man allowing his kid to shake your hand. So its hard to identify just who you are fighting. Having to fight a battle under these conditions is tough and I think the Marines themselves are doing an admirable job thus far.
The environment the Marines work in allows danger to conceal its self around each corner and every window.
The layout of this part of Ramadi is best described as half rural and half farmland, said Kratz. For the most part, the houses are vey close together and theres a lot of them.
With surroundings such as these, the main threats for the Marines come by the means of sniper fire and suicide borne improvised explosive devices.
Although we let vehicles drive through our patrols we still remain alert and look for any indicators for a vehicle that may be suspicious, said Kratz. As for snipers, were always on the lookout for signs that may lead to a sniper position or the sniper.
Company E, so far, has managed to not get into any firefights and any day that happens is a good day, said Broadbent. To some, this may sound like the end of a war, but to others, its the beginning of a new challenge.
Ultimately by the time we leave here, I would like to see the Iraqis fully capable of running this area on their own, said Broadbent. We still have a long way to go and theres a lot left to accomplish before this deployment is over, but I can see it happening.
Compare this to a year ago, and I don’t see how folks can claim we’re wasting our time in Iraq.
I am very proud of our men over there, and Bush deserves a lot of credit for sticking to his plans.