AR RAMADI, Iraq -- Marines from Company I, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, recently worked with a platoon of Iraqi Army soldiers during a security patrol through the streets here Nov. 18.
Private First Class Chase Nelson, an infantryman with Company I, was one of the Marines on the patrol and was impressed with the improvements that the Iraqi Army has made during the last three months since the battalion came here.
“We took the IA out and let them conduct their own patrol while we watched over them and helped critique them,” said the 20-year-old San Jose, Calif., native. “Overall, it went very well. These were new Iraqi soldiers we were training with and they performed very well.”
The patrol allowed the Marines to watch the IA in action so they could help them fine-tune many of their tactics in order to be an effective protective force for the Iraqi citizens. With hard work by both the Iraqi soldiers and the Marines, the battalion is hoping to hand off responsibility of part of the city to the IA.
“They are pretty friendly people and can be a lot of fun to work with,” said Nelson. “It is very cool to be teaching them. We’ve been working with them to keep them always on the alert. I think we are doing a good job with them. They have been improving their communications abilities, which is important. They are continuing to improve every time out, and I don’t think it will be too long before they can handle the zone by themselves.”
Like many of his fellow Marines, Nelson came here with expectations of firefights and continuous bombing. Although not quite the violent hotspot that he envisioned, Ramadi has proven to be a dangerous area.
“This is definitely a hostile zone,” he said. “It’s close to what I expected. We were trained for this job and we are going to finish it. When I found out I was coming here I was excited – it was why I joined the Marine Corps. I wanted to come to Iraq and do my part. By helping the Iraqis, we are really working to make this a stable city.”
With the improving IA working more and more with the Marine infantry companies, the city seems to have calmed down in the weeks since the October referendum. The people of the city seem to be more responsive to the Iraqi soldiers patrolling the streets and the Marines are working hard to ensure that when the time comes to leave the country, the Iraqi soldiers will have the skills and experience to do the job.
“Since we’ve been here, the city seems to be more stable,” said Nelson. “I am proud of what we’ve done here and I am proud to be serving here now. I’ve seen successful attacks against the enemy and I know we are ultimately going to be successful here.”