Ramadi, Iraq -- As the evening sun was starting to set, the Iraqi Army geared up. After looking over each other’s equipment thoroughly, they prepared to step off.
On Saturday, the 1st Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division led Marines on a foot patrol through the ghetto of Ramadi to identify local populace needs and how their basic utilities were working.
“This area of Ramadi used to be one of the most dangerous,” said one local citizen. “Everyday there were bombs and insurgents fighting the coalition. Now, this area is so quiet that it may even be considered the best in the city.”
One of the local residents claimed, “I believe that most of this is due to the Iraqi Army patrolling this area constantly. Bad guys would walk these streets as if they owned them. Then the Iraqi Army started patrolling here, and they haven’t been back since.” With a smile, the patrol and the citizens parted ways.
The soldiers of the IA sniper platoon walk through each street carefully, moving from corner to corner, but taking the time to talk to the locals. Everywhere they walked the people came running up expressing their gratitude saying hello and thank you.
When asked what the Iraqi Army philosophy was when dealing with the people, Iraqi Army Sgt. Maj. Abbas Abud Kadin, the senior enlisted man of the Iraqi Scout Sniper Platoon said, “I talked to them with my heart open. I will do anything for these people whether I share a joke, give them candy or just listen to their problems, I do it all with an open heart. I do it because if I help them, they will help me.”
Walking up to a group of men sitting in the front lawn, Kadin extends his right hand to them and greets them. The rest of the soldiers take a knee and provide security as the group talks.
The men also said the security in the area has improved drastically in the last two months. Whereas they used to be afraid to sit on their front lawn drinking tea, now they know that no one will bother them. The man said that he can enjoy his time out there with his friends and know that the only interruption they might have will be from friendly Iraqi Army soldiers and policemen, stopping by to say hello.
“I try to teach my men to respect the people here, because they could save our lives,” Kadin said. “If we show them respect they will show us respect and help us fight the insurgency.”
Kadin found a 7.62 mm shell casing on the way back to the base. A little curious about why it was in the street he asked some nearby residents.
They told him the casing had come from a local who had a celebration the day prior.
“My goal here is to help the good people of Ramadi rid themselves of the insurgency that plagues them. I want all of this country to be safe,” Kadin said. “If it starts here in Ramadi, then so be it. I know that my men and I are doing a very good job. I will terminate as many insurgents as I can, until there are no more to fight, then I will know we are done here. But we will move to the next city to do the same for them.”