AR RAMADI, Iraq -- Marines from Company L, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines recently assisted members of the local Iraqi Security Force and 6th Civil Affairs Group in delivering more than $500,000 of medical supplies to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital here Oct. 25.
Operation Doctor is an example of the new philosophy the battalion is using to win the support of the local people. The idea is that the Marines need to stay in the background while the ISF shows the townspeople that they are a viable and potent force that can protect and serve them, said 2nd Lt. Luke Larson, 3rd Platoon Commander with Company L.
“It went very well,” he said. “We had the ISF take the main effort; they handled the liaisons, much of the security and the unloading of the medical supplies. They did a very good, professional job.”
This approach of putting the ISF in high-visibility positions while Marines mentor and wait in the background for worst-case scenarios was used during the elections Oct. 15, and was very effective in boosting the confidence of the ISF and helping to prove to the local citizens that their own Iraqi Army is not too far away.
“They handled the mission very well,” said Larson. “I think all the training we’ve helped them go through is starting to pay off.”
During Operation Doctor the Marines sent an advance party ahead to search for improvised explosive devices and to secure the neighborhood before the main effort of the operation delivered the supplies to the hospital and representatives from the Ministry of Health. When the advance party finished scouting the area for threats, a platoon of Marines arrived and immediately took up security positions while the company of ISF soldiers began setting up immediate-area security around and in the hospital.
“I think overall, the actual mission went very well,” said Capt. Quinn, company commander for Company L. “Everything went to the schedule we had, we had no casualties and the supplies were delivered to people who need them.”
After the ISF on site gave the all clear, the supplies were delivered, along with another company of ISF soldiers who unloaded the truck. When this was completed, the Marines and ISF left the site, escorted by Weapons Company’s Combined Anti-Armor Team Blue and Company L’s Weapons Platoon.
“A large portion of what we did today was help a vital Iraqi government agency do well in the eyes of the Iraqi people,” said Maj. Dan Wagner, team chief for 6th CAG, Team 4. “We are here to help the Iraqi people take charge of their own country. That’s the advantage we hold over the insurgency and why we are going to be ultimately successful here.”
With the success of humanitarian missions such as Operation Doctor, and political events such as the recent Constitutional Referendum, the people here can feel more confident in the abilities of their ISF, said Quinn. While the battalion continues to fight the insurgency through military means, the ISF are an integral part in winning the support of the populace.