ALBU ISSA, Iraq -- The Marines of Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, have been working closely with the Iraqi Police to provide a security presence in this area. Together they shape a formidable team that is able to overcome many of the hurdles that Marines normally have to deal with on their own.
Because the IPs are local citizens, they know the language, the people and the area: things the Marines have to learn as they go. Their professionalism and dedication to defending their homes make them perfect partners for the Marines tasked with making this area safe.
“They’re absolute professionals,” said 1st Lt. Will T. Kerrigan, 24, from San Diego. “They know who’s bad and who’s not. They only target who’s bad, everyone else they are there to help.”
One of the biggest misconceptions is that Marines only patrol with the police to keep them safe from attack. The reality is actually the opposite. When the two units are on patrol together the IPs usually feel responsible for the Marines they are with and often are the first into any house they search.
“They’re out there to protect us, we’re not out there to protect them,” added Kerrigan. “That’s the big piece that I don’t think a lot of people get. Everyone thinks when we go out with the IPs we’re the security for them. Yeah, that may be part of it, but they’re the ones out front, they’re the ones trying to find the improvised explosive devices, they’re the ones taking us to weapons caches. So, they’re out there to protect us.”
Searching houses is a task the Marines normally leave up to the Iraqis, because they are intimately familiar with the architecture. That makes them more effective at picking out things that don’t belong.
“We don’t have to go in and search houses when we have them with us,” said Lance Cpl. Charles C. Arrendale, 22, from Dallas. “They just go in there and search.”
Having the police along for the ride makes the Marines jobs easier. They let the police handle the leg work and typically use the opportunity to gather census data.
“It’s nice to have them around because you have an Iraqi face there, it’s not just all Americans,” said Sgt. Joao G. Miranda, 30, from Brocktom, Mass. “The people get to actually see the IPs doing something.”
The IPs are more than capable of operating on their own and are continuously patrolling their district. Despite this, they still enjoy working with the Marines.
“They do enjoy working with us,” said Kerrigan. “I think a lot of them feel that they’re ready to operate on their own, and a lot of them are. Right now we want to make sure that they have the right facilities to work out of and that they are properly trained.”