Lejeune Marines, Iraqis work together for census

6 Nov 2007 | Lance Cpl. David A. Weikle

 It can be hard to define who the enemy is in asymmetrical warfare, so Marines in Al Anbar are reaching out to Iraqis to find potential allies. As part of this effort, Marines are working with Iraqi Police to conduct census patrols.

 Marines from 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, attached to the U.S. Army’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Multi National Force-West, recently began a door-to-door census campaign in Ramadi.

 “We were trying to get familiar with the people who live in the neighborhoods we patrol through,” said Lance Cpl. Douglas Redding, a Marine with Company C. “It also lets the people see who we are.”

 Marines conducted a dismounted patrol to an Iraqi Police station before the census patrol began. As the Marines moved through the streets, children occasionally walked up and asked them for candy.

 At the IP station, the men prepared before the long patrol began. When the time came, the Marines left the relative safety of the police station in teams made up of Marines and IPs.

 “The IPs took the census as we provided security,” said Redding, a Pittsburg native. “The people saw us, but they worked with the IPs. Language wasn’t an issue.”

 Redding said the benefits of having IPs conducting the census go beyond breaking through a language barrier. He said the benefits are intangible as it instills familiarity, credibility and mutual trust.

 “Having the IPs leading the census lets them know who is in their neighborhoods,” said Redding, squad automatic weapon gunner with 4th Platoon. “It also gives them the chance to show the people they’re working with us.”

 Capt. Brian Cillessen, company commander for Company C said the purpose of the patrol is multi-faceted and goes beyond a simple need to know where people live.

 “The Marines supported the Iraqi Police and other Iraqi Security Forces in order to show a united front with the Iraqi forces willing and able to help the people,” said Cillessen, an Aztec, N.M., native. “The intent behind this type of operation will be continuous throughout the deployment. We will utilize small amounts of humanitarian assistance to reach out to the community and bridge any cultural or communication gaps that may exist.”