AR RAMADI, Iraq -- One of the many tasks assigned the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, is to work with the Iraqi Army and help them become a self-sufficient force able to serve the needs of the fledgling democracy of Iraq.
One Marine, Lance Cpl. Cameron Tillman, a rifleman with Company I, recently conducted a patrol alongside the IA and was impressed by how far they’ve come in the few months the battalion has been in Iraq.
“We conducted a basic security patrol to help train the IA,” said the 18-year-old Munce, Mont., native. “This patrol was a little different than most because we let the IA plan the whole thing. It went pretty well though, this batch of Iraqi soldiers really seems to grasp the basics pretty well.”
The patrol moved through an area of the city that both the Marines and Iraqis were familiar with in case something went wrong, they would feel more comfortable with the area. This was an obvious help to the Iraqis as they patrolled expertly through the streets, said Tillman.
“We worked on how to provide security during patrols,” said the Munce Central High School graduate. “We sometimes have to remind them of the basics, but they are improving every time we go out. The people of the city seem to like having their own people provide their security, so it’s important we teach them what they need to know to be successful.”
With the improving IA taking more and more responsibility for the safety and stability of the city and its residents, Tillman enjoys working with the IA more and more, especially during operations like this where he was able to be more of a teacher.
“Working with them is alright,” he said. “They seem to be taking the business of being Iraqi soldiers pretty seriously, which they haven’t always done. Plus it’s exciting to work with different cultures. Coming to Iraq was something I expected to do and I’m glad I’m here.”
Aside from teaching the IA basic patrolling, Tillman and the Marines of Company I are also responsible for helping to stabilize the city so Coalition Forces will eventually leave Iraq in its own government’s hands.
“Iraq isn’t too bad,” he said. “It’s a lot easier than I thought it would be. I thought there would be a lot more shooting and firefights. I mean, the city isn’t stable yet, but it is fairly well on its way to being stable. Its well on its way to being an ordered city and our work with the IA and their improvements will really make a difference.”