AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq --
Third Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment relieved 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment during a certificate of relief ceremony Aug. 16, 2009.
“Second Battalion, 1st Marines, met my expectations as they continued RCT-8’s efforts in empowering the people and leadership of western Al Anbar to develop and sustain the transparent economic, governance, legal, and society capability and capacity in facilitating long-term regional stability and development, so that further economic development will be possible here in Iraq,” said Col. John K. Love, the commanding officer of Regimental Combat Team 8.
Second Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, which hails from Camp Pendleton, Calif., worked by, with and through the Iraqi civilian and Security Force leadership to enable western Al Anbar to be a productive partner in a peaceful and sovereign Iraq, during their six-month tour here.
“I’m proud to have served side-by-side with the ISF, and I wish them all the best in their future successes,” said Lt. Col. Paul J. Nugent, commanding officer of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 8.
When Lt. Col. Nugent arrived in February of 2009 with 2nd Bn., 1st Marines, he found an Iraq that was safer and more secure than it was the last time he was deployed here.
“Our operating environment was near kinetic-less, as compared to the last time I was here just two years ago,” said Nugent.
Since Nugent’s last deployment to Iraq, the ISF have been planning and conducting operations within the province with little to no assistance from U.S. forces, and Iraqi army units from Al Anbar have proven their professionalism and capabilities to the degree that they have been deployed to other provinces throughout Iraq to conduct security operations.
Third Battalion, 9th Marines, based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., will replace 2/1 and continue the successes of their predecessors in western Al Anbar province.
“We will partner with the Iraqi district leadership in order to continue the professionalization of the Iraqi Security Forces,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Q. Greenwood, the commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 8. “Our goal is to facilitate the ISF's ability to operate independently and provide a secure and stable environment for the Iraqi people. By continuing to build the operational capacity of the ISF and promote the joint interoperability of the Iraqi army, Iraqi Police and other elements of their security forces, we will ensure they remain self-reliant as U.S. forces drawdown.”
Third Battalion, 9th Marines, will also work in partnership with the embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team, providing support to the region’s Iraqi Security Forces and the local government in order to create a stable, peaceful and prosperous Iraq.
Additionally, 3/9 will continue to support the Iraqi Security Forces upon request, as the ISF continues to develop into highly professional, competent and capable organizations that are doing exactly what it takes to maintain security for their population and set the conditions for the Iraqi leadership to encourage economic development within the province.
“Third Battalion, 9th Marines was deactivated in 1994, and this is the battalion's first combat deployment since its activation May 20, 2008,” said Greenwood. “The Marines and families of the battalion have built an exceptional team over the past 16 months and carry on a legacy established by those members of the command who fought on Iwo Jima, in Vietnam, Desert Storm and other historic operations. Most importantly, the Marine Corps has conducted combat and counterinsurgency operations in Anbar province for nearly seven years. Third Battalion, 9th Marine's current operations are critical to the successful completion of the Marine Corps' mission in Anbar province and [we] recognize the sacrifice and hard work of those who served before us here.”