AR RAMADI, Iraq -- Two platoons from 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, along with two Army units and a company from the Iraqi Security Force, took part in Operation Bowie, Oct.2 through the 4 in order to disrupt insurgent positions in southern Ar Ramadi.
The operation, which was the first major operation conducted by the battalion since arriving in Iraq a few weeks ago, was the first to be held in the known insurgent stronghold of the Humara District since the Marines of 1st Battalion, 5th Marines patrolled the area in July.
“We conducted a cordon and search of the area south of Ramadi that has traditionally been a safe haven for insurgents,” said Capt. Twayne Hickman, Company I’s commanding officer. “It went very well. The Marines did a great job, worked for a long period of time and stayed focused on the mission.”
In the day leading up to the sweep, Marines from Company L, as well as Army units in nearby areas, conducted patrols throughout the city. When they were finished conducting their patrols, the main effort of the mission, Company I and the ISF moved across the train tracks that separate the Humara district from the city.
“The ISF did exceptionally well,” said Hickman. “This was probably one of the better companies we’ve worked with. My Marines were happy with their capabilities, and the experience they gained during the operation is invaluable.”
While sweeping through the mostly rural area, the ISF assisted the Marines in identifying people who were not from here and helped in searching homes and buildings for weapons caches and insurgent propaganda.
“Although we had no major finds of insurgents or caches, we had a great opportunity to interact positively with the residents of the city,” said Hickman. “Our experiences with a large number of the local population have been largely positive. Anytime we can interact with them, it demonstrates our commitment and willingness to help.”
These positive interactions are at odds with what many of the Marines expected before coming here. Many expected a more violent city that is resentful of American influence. It’s a welcome surprise that the local population seems to want a peaceful solution to the insurgency that hinders their efforts to ratify a constitution and establish a stable government, he said.
“In our zone, the locals are much more receptive than I expected,” said Hickman. “Their overriding desire is to stop the fighting and explosions in their neighborhoods.
“I would say to everybody that doubts our necessity being here, our participation in this mission, ‘If they could see the Iraqi children, the conditions they grew up in, they would have no doubts about us being here.’”