AR RAMADI, Iraq – -- With smiling children and cooperative residents, life in the western area of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, is a good example of progress in the city.
Marines with Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, inherited a beacon of success from their predecessors in the neighborhoods under their watch.
Patrols and operations in their community are largely successful due to the cooperation of local residents.
“(The Marines of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment) did a great job building a rapport with the people,” said 1st Lt. Jared L. Towles, 25-year-old executive officer for Company A.
The rapport was built through the improvements to essential services and the basic security provided by the Marines, said 1st Sgt. Scott D. Hamm, 32-year-old first sergeant for Company A.
A thorough change-over between Company L and Company A has allowed the Marines to pickup where their predecessors left off.
“We’ve maintained the support from the locals,” said Towles, a native of Casey, Ill. “That’s an accomplishment in itself.”
The strong relationship between Marines and Iraqi citizens in the area has been a strong contributor in the success of security operations.
Many families in the area have grown tired of the presence of anti-Iraqi forces in their city, said Towles.
To assist in the removal of anti-Iraqi elements, residents provide Marines with valuable information on the enemy.
“They tell us about the neighborhoods, when the bad guys are coming, and they even give us descriptions of them,” said Sgt. Gregory W. Edwards, a 24-year-old squad leader for Company A.
The warning from local residents allows Marines to stay one step ahead of the enemy operating in the area.
To maintain this relationship and edge on the enemy, the company intends to continue efforts in improving security and stability by revitalizing the city, said Hamm, a native of Reading, Penn.
Electricity, running water and school supplies will be some of the main problems tackled by the battalion, but the individual Marines will focus on maintaining their firm but professional nature during operations.
Marines on patrol knock on doors and await an invitation before entering homes, make record of requests and concerns of the residents, and treat all residents with respect, said Edwards.
“We respect them, so they respect us,” said Edwards. “It’s a neighborly relationship.”
The Marine Corps has always benefited from its reputation for ferocity on the battlefield, but in these neighborhoods the Marines’ professionalism and genuine concern has been the catalyst for change, said Hamm.
“Here we benefit from doing the right thing by the people and showing them we’re here to help,” said Hamm.
Empowered by the help of local residents, the Marines of Company A will look to put more pressure on the anti-Iraqi element in the sector.
Neighborhoods the residents have labeled as “problems” will be the focus of the pressure.
“The more secure we make them feel, the more apt they are to fix the problems in the city,” said Hamm.