FALLUJAH, Iraq -- More than two years after coalition boots hit the ground in Iraq, the country’s citizens still see Marines and soldiers patrolling their cities’ streets.
Day by day, however, the nation’s own army and police forces are taking charge of their country’s security. No longer do four Iraqi soldiers accompany a patrol of 12 U.S. Marines; rather, four Marines trail behind a squad of Iraqi troops.
This is due in part to the efforts of men like 2nd Lt. Jason Patrick, a platoon commander with Company C, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Since the 28-year-old Houston native’s unit arrived here in mid-March, they have helped to train the Iraqi soldiers. As the Marines patrolled the city streets and conducted civil-military operations alongside the soldiers, their fellow troops in operational bases throughout Fallujah were instructing the Iraqi privates and small unit leaders in topics such as first aid in combat and urban war fighting tactics.
This training recently expanded to instructing Iraqi lieutenants here in May.
For these officers, their three to four-day-long training is a little less down and dirty, but equally vital.
“This is an ongoing process, during which we work on specific tasks they (Iraqi officers) will be conducting here, such as raids, room clearing and patrolling,” explained Patrick, a 2003 University of Houston graduate. “We mostly work on developing leadership skills and teaching them about the orders process.”
Patrick, a prior enlisted Marine, spoke through an interpreter as he briefed the Iraqi officers, teaching them how to operate similar to Marine troop leaders.
“We’re focusing on developing and educating these guys in the tactical orders process,” Patrick stated. “From the time their company commander says, ‘Hey, we’re going to do this mission in a couple of days,’ all the way until the unit actually leaves friendly lines.”
In the Corps, platoon commanders like Patrick receive an order from their commander, and then proceed to develop a plan of attack. This includes devising operational orders detailing the enemy and friendly situation, the objective’s location, and weapons and supplies available.
Additionally, the officers construct a terrain model of the targeted area. This provides their troops with a visual understanding of the objective.
The Iraqi platoon commanders are able to accomplish these tasks upon completing his course.
“At the end of the course, they’re evaluated by building a terrain model and issuing an order based on a (simulated) mission we give them,” Patrick stated.
As they wait for their graduation day, the Iraqi officers said they’re glad to be attending this course.
“I’m very happy to be here,” stated 2nd Lt. Muhammad Wahed Abdul-Alah, a platoon commander for the Iraqi Security Forces’ 1st Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Brigade. “After we are done with this course, I will go to my sergeants and teach them what I have learned here. It will help them perform their mission better as well.”
This is another one of the program’s goals, Patrick added.
“We want to teach these officers the Marine concept that officers need to be teachers and scholars. They need to be able to impart the knowledge, education and wisdom they have to their soldiers in order to accomplish the mission.”
The Iraqi commanders will leave the course with knowledge that will keep their troops alive as they safeguard Fallujah’s streets.
“Sooner or later, my soldiers will take care of all the security in Iraq,” stated Abdul-Alah. “The Marines have been helping us out a lot with this (security), but we owe it to our people more than they. We appreciate all the help they have given us to help prepare for these missions.”