HADITHAH, Iraq --
Maj. Gen. Peter Devlin, Deputy Commanding General (Canada), Multi National Corps-Iraq, visited Hadithah Dam recently to survey the infrastructure and discuss operations with soldiers of the 1st Azerbaijani Peacekeeping Company.
Currently, Azerbaijani soldiers operate alongside Marines and sailors of Task Force 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, at Hadithah Dam. The soldiers provide security for the dam, protecting this critical infrastructure against threats from the land or the water. They screen and escort the Iraqi workers employed at the dam, ensuring no unauthorized personnel or vehicles enter. The Azerbaijanis also assist with numerous working parties, from unloading logistic trains to providing messmen for the dining facility.
The highly disciplined Azerbaijani soldiers enhance force protection of Hadithah Dam by conducting patrols, standing guard and maintaining a Quick Reaction Force. By protecting this critical asset, additional coalition forces are available to operate throughout the Hadithah Triad. The dam is also a base for coalition forces operating in the area; it is a major logistical node and is the second largest provider of hydroelectric energy in Iraq.
Devlin was given a tour of the dam, met with Azerbaijani soldiers and discussed their contribution to the security of Iraq. He also spoke with soldiers about current operations and what it’s like working with their fourth Marine battalion. Many of the soldiers have returned to Iraq on their second yearlong tour, as the Azerbaijani Company has been guarding the dam since 2004.
“We’re to the point where we not only work together, but we consider the Marines and sailors our friends,” said the Azerbaijani unit’s commanding officer, Capt. Cavadov. “They help us out in any way we need, whether it be providing equipment or supplies.”
The Azerbaijani commanding officer further mentioned how Task Force 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, has built good relationships with civilians in the area, to the point the enemy no longer feels safe there.
Devlin commented how well operations seemed to be running at the dam, attributing that success to the relationship built between the Azerbaijanis and Task Force 1st Bn., 3rd Marines.
“The Marines do a terrific job working with anyone, so it doesn’t surprise me how well things are running here,” said Devlin.
Maj. Jeffery C. Holt, executive officer for Task Force 1st Bn., 3rd Marines, said it wasn’t hard to build that relationship, as the Azerbaijani soldiers’ discipline makes them easy to operate with.
As the visit came to an end, Devlin commended the Azerbaijani soldiers on a job well done, and thanked them for their time and service at Hadithah Dam.