1/6 Marines let Iraqi Security Forces take the lead in central Ramadi

21 Mar 2007 | Cpl. Paul Robbins Jr.

Since arriving to the city of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, in September of 2006, the Marines of 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, have had a three part mission for their task in supporting the ongoing Operation Iraqi Freedom.

That mission is to neutralize the insurgency, support and train Iraqi Security Forces, and conduct civil military operations to improve the quality of life for residents in the city.

In the more than six months since their arrival the mission has not been altered, but the lead effort in neutralizing insurgency and civil military work has changed.

Local police of the Western Ramadi District and Iraqi Army soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 7th Division, have stepped forward to shoulder a majority of security and civil military responsibility in the city.

Conducting food drops to local mosques, re-supplying medical facilities in the area and leading security operations throughout the city, Iraqi Security Forces have assumed their responsibilities with renewed zeal.

“We are one country and this is our job,” said 2nd Lt. Adnan Fasel Taher, executive officer of 2nd Company, 2-1-7. “Not just to fight terrorists, but to help our people.”

Civil Military Operations

In recent weeks, Iraqi Security Forces have conducted two combined re-supply operations to central Ramadi’s main medical facilities.

The combined forces delivered more than $90,000 worth of medicines and surgical support equipment to the Ramadi General Hospital and the Women’s and Children’s Hospital to relieve shortages. 

The delivery of supplies, provided by Iraq’s Ministry of Health, was part of the security forces’ continued cooperation to aid and relieve the citizens of Ramadi.

Individually, Army and Police forces continue to conduct food relief operations in various neighborhoods.

Units stationed in certain areas provide deliveries of flour, rice, beans and cooking oil to local mosques for distribution to the neediest citizens of the city.

The two forces generally conduct at least one food relief operation per week, on average.

To date, the citizens of Ramadi have received 50 tons of rice, 15 tons of beans, 50 tons of flour, and four thousand liters of cooking oil from food relief operations.

Security Operations

Down nearly every street in Ramadi there are boots on the ground to patrol the area, but nowadays those boots rarely belong to the Marines.

While the Marines of 1/6 still provide security from posts in their numerous security stations and conduct combined patrols with ISF, it is the Iraqi soldiers and police who have become a common sight to Ramadi citizens.

Whether it is Iraqi soldiers in high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicles rolling down the larger streets, policemen in pick-up trucks cutting through the alleyways, or a combination of policemen and soldiers on foot in local neighborhoods, Iraqi Security Forces have kept up a strong presence in the city. 

“Due to the cooperation of the local police and the Iraqi Army, the increased presence has greatly increased the security situation in the city,” said 1st Lt. Brett V. Taylor, 27-year-old operations advisor to the Iraqi Army’s 2-1-7.

That cooperation was highlighted in a recent security conference held at Camp Hurricane Point, March 16.

Commanders of eight local police stations met with officers of the 2-1-7 and local Coalition Forces to discuss the current security situation in Ramadi.

Led by Brig. Gen. Khalil, the Ramadi District Police Chief, and hosted by Lt. Col. William M. Jurney, 1/6’s battalion commander, the conference began with a buffet style lunch of local cuisine to encourage camaraderie amongst the commanders.

As the officers dined on kabob (ground lamb meat and vegetables with bread) and dolma (vegetables and fruit, stuffed with rice and meat), they were given an opportunity to discuss their individual situation, face to face, with their counterparts.

Brought together by a common goal, the mixed group of Iraqi Army and local police commanders found it easy to be sociable during the occasion.

“They were all united by their desire for freedom….and the single purpose of their mission,” said Maj. Daniel R. Zappa, 34-year-old executive officer for 1/6.
Following the lunch, the commanders gathered around a conference table to discuss the overall security situation in Ramadi.

The improvements in the city were lauded in the beginning, with commanders citing the amount of operations conducted, the number of insurgents detained and the amount of weapons caches found in the last six months.

“The mothers and sisters of Ramadi have hope because of our operations,” said Khalil.
Operations were continued during the meeting, as the commanders geared their discussion towards future plans and problematic areas.

Citing certain districts that require immediate attention, Khalil and his fellow commanders put into planning an operation to sweep and clear a populated area in central Ramadi known to be frequented by insurgents.

As each commander stepped forward to volunteer forces for the sweep, the number of policemen involved grew to more than 500 by the end of the meeting.

The movement for the operation was also handled easily, with many of the commanders sharing similar ideas on the execution and goals of the mission.

“I am very proud,” said Khalil. “These commanders are models for all other officers in Ramadi.”

With the plans being finalized and the pledged support of so many police, the commanders look forward to their upcoming operations.

“I am confident in our upcoming operations and I hope we get our desired results,” said Khalil. 

Marines get it started

Although most of the recent success in Ramadi can be attributed to the recent rise in Iraqi police forces, assistance of the local populace and cooperation of the Iraqi Army, the starting point of successful security operations in the city traces back to the Marines of 1/6.

From the very beginning of the deployment, the Marines in Ramadi have focused on integrating their Iraqi counterparts while continuing to put pressure on insurgents in an urban environment.

To accomplish this, the battalion spear-headed a tactic that has become widely used in Ramadi and abroad.

“We were the first to move in force, establish an observation post in a key area of the city and turn it into a joint security station,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Luis H. Hernandez, 48-year-old operations chief for 1/6.

The tactic serves two purposes in the city and addresses both of the battalion’s focuses.

The installation of observation posts throughout key areas of the city isolates and protects the population of the city from insurgents, and the integration of Iraqi Security Forces at each station brings Iraqi forces into the neighborhoods.

Since their arrival, the Marines have emplaced numerous new security stations throughout their area of responsibility.

In recent weeks, several new stations were built to respond to changes in insurgent activity and to assist combined operations with Iraqi Security Forces.

“The main reason for these new (stations) was to secure a permanent security position in the neighborhoods and further decrease the enemy’s freedom of movement,” said Hernandez, a native of Coral Gables, Fla.

With the construction of the newest stations and the continued operations from the many others, the Marines and their Iraqi counterparts have made their area of operations a dangerous place for insurgents.

Maintaining a significant presence in every part of their battle space, the combined force has severely limited insurgent operations in the city.

“(Insurgents) no longer have the ability to move at will,” said Hernandez. “And when they do, we have made them modify the frequency and methods of their movements.”