Ar RAMADI, Iraq (August 1, 2006) -- Iraqi Soldiers and Marines operating in Ar Ramadi have the challenging task of securing the city from insurgents, and sometimes the best way to do that is to build relationships within the community.
Through the month of July, Iraqi soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division along with Marines with the 3rd Civil Affairs Group (CAG), Detachment 2, Team 2 delivered water, generators, and other necessities to Iraqi citizens living one block away from the Ramadi Hospital.
Marines from Company I, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment also provided support. The battalion has been conducting counterinsurgency operations in the Anbar provincial capital since March.
“These types of patrols are a necessity,” said Sgt. Jorge G. Ayon, civil affairs noncommissioned officer-in-charge. “It’s a way to let the people know we are here to help.”
Operating out of Combat Outpost Hawk, the group traveled near the hospital to deliver supplies and to talk to the local residents.
“We are dedicated to the job,” said Ayon, 25, from Van Nuys, Calif. “We are trying to get on as many patrols as possible while we are here.”
The sound of kicking down doors could not be heard on this patrol, only the sound of Marines knocking politely before entering each property.
Capt. Brian M. Harvey, the 34-year-old commanding officer of Company I, 3rd Bn., 8th Marines, met and spoke to the residents asking them what concerns or needs they had while Coalition Forces were in the area.
“We are here for you,” Harvey told one of the residents. “Whatever you need, we are here to help.”
One Iraqi woman who took her trash to the Ramadi Hospital’s dumpster wanted to know if there was a better place to throw her garbage. Her neighbor had a question about filling his prescription.
“They are glad we are here,” Ayon said. “They mainly want our security.”
“We need to show the people firsthand that the insurgent propaganda they see about us is not true,” he said. “We are not here to occupy, just make a difference.”
SSgt. Christopher G. Rios, the CAG team leader who helped deliver a handful of “Friendship” Frisbees to young children playing on the streets, says one of their main purposes here is to help the Marines and Iraqi Army (IA) develop a feel for the community.
“We are working ourselves out of a job,” said Rios, the 34-year-old from Phoenix. “We are getting the IAs and IPs (Iraqi Police) here well trained so when we leave Iraq it will be in good hands.”
During the patrol, the Iraqi soldiers not only provided security, but also transported a large amount of drinking water to each homeowner.
In total, the Marines and Iraqi soldiers delivered more than six pallets of drinking water, a total of 300 cases. The children received toys, including Frisbees, watches and soccer balls. The Marines also delivered and installed 25 new generators for local families living around the area of Combat Outpost Hawk.
“The city had a power problem for awhile,” said Rios. “This is a good gesture of faith. The people can now have power and at the same time get used to us being around.”
Rios, on his second tour in Iraq, plans to train the Iraqi soldiers to conduct their own civil affairs missions.
“Basically, we want to train the IA soldiers on everything we do, from creating contacts to coordinating these types of operations,” he said.
Since March, CAG Marines have been directly responsible for rebuilding numerous schools in Ramadi. They have passed out hundreds of types of goods to the community and accomplished the arduous task of clearing rubble off main supply routes in order to prevent attacks from improvised explosive devices.