SAQLAWIYAH, Iraq -- “War Dogs” are building Iraqi support to stifle the insurgents.
Marines from G Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, conducted a mounted patrol through a small village in the Saqlawiyah area to gather information on insurgents and scout for future places out of which the Marines can operate in the future.
“It’s important for us to get out and talk with the Iraqi people,” explained Lance Cpl. Michael W. Carter, a 20-year-old team leader from Santa Ana, Calif. “Once we build up conversations and get to know these people, they will be more inclined to give us information about the insurgents, where they are operating out of, and let us operate out of their homes.”
Food and water are precious commodities here. Supporting the citizens by supplying them with with these essentials of life translates to building a solid foundation of trust.
“Not only does giving the people water and food make you feel good,” Carter said, “giving them the things that we often take for granted gets them to warm up to us and work with us (more willingly) in the future.”
Marines know the benefits to having good rapport with the local populace are not always immediate.
“We know that we might not benefit from our actions now,” Carter explained. “By helping the Iraqi people continuously, someone who lost a brother or other family member to the insurgents might see that we are the good guys and call the tip line and give us useful information.”
Marines will often stop at a house along their patrol route to talk to the residents and get to know them.
“(A) family we visited (today) had lost a family member to the insurgency, and when we first started talking to them they seemed hesitant,” said Lance Cpl. Kevin J. Force, a 27-year-old team leader from St. Louis. “We showed them we were the good guys by talking to them and showing interest in their needs. (Hopefully) that family will help us later on and tell everyone how the Marines are the good guys.”
Marines feel that by helping the Iraqi people it will, in the end, help the Marines succeed.
“The mission was very successful. I think we accomplished a lot by meeting with the Iraqi people the way we did,” Force explained. “After showing the people that we are friendly and we can be trusted they will tell other people about us. The people were very receptive and I think that when we come back in the future that they will either give us information or let us possibly use their house for a listening and observation post.”