Passing the torch in Ramadi

16 Sep 2006 | Cpl. Paul Robbins Jr.

In the complex and dangerous city of Ar Ramadi, local knowledge and first-hand experience are valuable tools, and the Marines of 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment are looking to gain those tools early.

As part of the “Relief in Place” of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, the Marines of 1st Bn., 6th Marines are taking every opportunity available to learn the ins-and-outs of the city from their departing brothers.

“We are acting like a sponge,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Luis H. Hernandez, 48-year-old operations chief for the battalion. “We’re gleaning as much knowledge from our counterpart as we can.”

As soon as the Marines’ boots hit the sand at Camp Ramadi, they begin classes concerning intelligence and operations in their new area of responsibility.

The Marines are informed of the more dangerous areas in the city, the range of enemy tactics, historical trends in enemy activity, the latest advances in enemy armaments and various other necessary tactical advantages.

Each brief is given by an officer from 3rd Bn., 8th Marines’s operational and intelligence sections.

“We could not have asked for a more thorough and professional turnover from 3/8,” said Lt. Col. William M. Jurney, 42-year-old commanding officer of the battalion.

As the Marines of 1st Bn., 6th Marines complete their classes, the companies are placed alongside their counterparts in the city where they begin the next step of the turnover.

Line companies, watch officers, guard forces and every other element of the battalion begin working alongside the Marines of 3rd Bn., 8th Marines in Ramadi.

For the initial portion of the training, 3rd Bn., 8th Marines lead the way as Marines of 1st Bn., 6th Marines observe the tactics and procedures refined through seven months of combat operations.

Though 1st Bn., 6th Marines is a veteran battalion on its third deployment in support of the war on terror, the experiences of 3rd Bn., 8th Marines offer a different look at situations in the city, according to Hernandez, a resident of Coral Gables, Fla.

“A set of eyes that has been here for seven months will see things a little differently,” Hernandez said.

As the Marines adapt to the city and become more comfortable with their posts, the veterans of 3rd Bn., 8th Marines will step aside and observe as Marines of 1st Bn., 6th Marines take the lead.

The “left seat, right seat” training provides the oncoming Marines with tools that cannot be taught in a training environment, according to Hernandez.

“Day in and day out we’re seeing the Marines of 3/8 passing along vital information and experience to the Marines of 1/6,” said Jurney, a resident of Statesville, N.C. “It’s truly reflective of ‘Marines taking care of Marines.’”

During their tour the Marines of 3rd Bn., 8th Marines killed and captured hundreds of anti-Iraqi forces, created an Iraqi police station in Western Ramadi, turned over one of their forward operating bases to the Iraqi Army, and financially disrupted the insurgency, according to Lt. Col. Stephen M. Neary, commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.

Despite their many successes, Neary is confident that 1st Bn., 6th Marines can take the city even further.
“(1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment) is an experienced and disciplined unit,” said Neary, a resident of Boston, Mass. “They will make this city better and take the fight to the insurgency.” 

The primary mission of 1st Bn., 6th Marines during its stay in Ramadi will be to support and assist the development of the Iraqi government in any way possible, according to Jurney.

However, the Marines of 1st Bn., 6th Marines “Hard” are poised and ready to carry out the true purpose of a Marine battalion, alongside their Iraqi brethren.

“Our Marines and sailors will continue to work side by side with the Iraqi Security Forces as we hunt down those terrorist and criminal elements that choose to try and harm us, the ISF, and the good people of Ramadi,” said Jurney.