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Photo by Lance Cpl. Paul Robbins Jr.

3/4, Iraqi forces operate side-by-side in Fallujah

14 May 2005 | Lance Cpl. Paul Robbins Jr. 2nd Marine Division

The execution of Operation Block Party II was similar to past operations conducted here, but the planning and deployment of troops was a little different. Marines of 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment and two battalions of the Iraqi Army worked side-by-side in the planning, deployment and execution of the operation taking place from May 9 to 14. “This is the first time the (Iraqi Army) staff has participated in the planning process our operations,” said Capt. Sean K. Butler, the 36-year-old future plans officer for the battalion. Since the battalion’s arrival in January, Iraqi forces have participated in every operation conducted around the city, but most of the planning was done by Marines, according to Butler, a native of Mt. Shasta, Calif. “During Block Party II, they deployed their units without direct Marine oversight,” Butler said, “We were equal partners in this operation.” Two companies of Marines and four companies of Iraqi soldiers conducted a cordon and knock operation in the southern half of Fallujah. Teams of Iraqi soldiers, with Marines in tow, moved from house to house asking permission to search for weapons, ordnance and terrorist activity “We were there to assert our presence in the city and ensure there was no contraband,” said 1st Sgt. David M. Reaves, the 41-year-old company first sergeant for Company I. Only a small amount of ordnance was found during the operation, most of it pointed out by the local residents. The Marines see the meager findings as a testament to the effectiveness of daily operations in the city. “It shows that our entry control points and patrols are working,” said Reaves, a native of San Mateo, Calif. “The terrorists are aware that they can’t operate freely in Fallujah.” Another strong point of the operation was the cooperation and friendliness of the local residents. Fallujah homeowners and families greeted the joint forces with smiles, and offered refreshments as the Marines and Iraqi soldiers conducted the search. “People back in the states would be offended by an operation like this,” said Cpl. Robert E. Davies, a 26-year-old squad leader with Company I. “But these people welcome you.” During the operation, many citizens approached Marines and Iraqi soldiers with to express their gratitude and appreciation. Most of the residents understand the effect of the joint operations in the city. Some even ask that the Marines stay in Fallujah, according to Davies, a native of San Bruno, Calif. “It’s mostly the older males, but they’ll approach us and ask us not to leave the city,” Davies said, “They know that what we’re doing makes them safe.” With the cooperation of local citizens, increased participation of Iraqi forces and proven effectiveness of local missions, the battalion maintains a positive outlook on future operations.