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Photo Information

Haditha Dam, Al Anbar, Iraq (May 7, 2005)-- When people come in to make a claim, the must fill out this form which are then translated into english on another form by a translator.

Photo by Cpl. Ken Melton

Tucson, Ariz., native, serves as 3/25's liaison to community

15 May 2005 | Cpl. Ken Melton

Marines serving here in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom have found themselves serving in billets outside their military occupational specialties. One such billet is the liaison coordinator who facilitates communications between coalition forces and the Iraqi people. “We are the middle-men that setup all the meetings between our guys and the citizens,” said Sgt Mario A. Garcia a liaison coordinator, with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment and native of Tucson, Ariz. “We are like hub on a wheel. Everything kind of goes through us.” The liaisons are responsible for ensuring that organized interactions with the local citizens go smoothly. “We try to build reliable relationships with people who come in and make damage claims,” said the 28-year-old. “When people come in with claim receipts given by our civil affairs team, we help them start the financial compensation paper work and make sure they transaction goes smoothly.” “We are showing them that we aren’t like the insurgents who destroy things with no remorse.” The liaisons also ensure that the units receive interpreters to assist in communicating with the Iraqis. “We make sure that our translators get to the unit that needs them and make sure they integrate into the unit,” said the 1994 Mountain Point High School graduate. “We also monitor how the Marines and translators interact with each other.” While at the dam they also work with the Azerbaijan army on security issues and interaction with the locals who work here at the dam. “The AZs do a great job providing security here but they do not speak the Iraqi language,” said the 2002 graduate of the University of Phoenix. “That’s where we come in. We use our translator to speak to any Iraqi trying to enter our base as the AZs may see them as a threat.” The liaison coordinators know their job as being the middle-men of communication is essential to help win the war on terrorism. “This job is invaluable in the war we are fighting now,” said Garcia. “Each day I feel we are building a bridge on the road to success by helping the Iraq people rebuild parts of their lives. We are using the power of communication to weaken the link between the insurgents and the people they manipulate.”