1st Battalion, 9th Marines gets a lesson in culture

4 Oct 2007 | Pfc. Casey Jones, 2nd Marine Division

The Marines of 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, took initial steps toward becoming familiar with Iraqi culture at the Military Operations in Urban Terrain facility here Sept. 18-28.

The Leathernecks attended a class on language and common courtesies. They also sampled Iraqi food, listened to emotional stories about life in Iraq and experienced live music and dance common in Iraq.

“We learned about (Iraqi) culture, what their likes and dislikes are and how to effectively communicate with them,” said Cpl. Jesse L. Zumbro, squad leader with 3rd Platoon, Company A.

The warriors’ knowledge of Iraqi traditions and customs can help to further enhance mission effectiveness by allowing the Marines to connect with the Iraqi natives.

“It’ll keep us safer because it will help us to respect their culture,” Zumbro said. “We’ll know the different things that might offend them, like showing the bottom of your feet. There are things we don’t think twice about doing.”

The Marines quickly realized why the battalion’s leaders heavily emphasized having a basic idea of the Iraqi way of life.

“If we don’t learn their customs, it would make problems worse by increasing the friction levels between us,” Zumbro said. “The three-hour class today on interacting with (the Iraqis) and their culture made everything 100 percent better.”

The Marines can now build on their newly-acquired skills and get a head start on adapting to Iraqi customs.

“We’re going to be immersed into their culture, it’s kind of like acclimatizing us to their culture,” said Lance Cpl. Cody Williams, rifleman with Weapons Platoon, Company A, in reference to the Marines becoming familiar with the Iraqi way.