CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Staff Sgt. Jason P. Bennett and his fellow Marines with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment frequently conduct patrols of the villages in their area of operations.
During these patrols, the Marines and the 30-year-old provisional platoon commander for 4th Platoon, Company G, locate the local leaders at each village and discuss the concerns and needs of their community. Bennett and his Marines completed a number of these operations from Sept. 6 through the 8.
“We come to the small areas a lot to see what we can provide for the locals,” said the Cataula, Ga., native. “We coordinate any assistance we can provide through the leaders of each village.”
Before entering a village, the Marines first set up a patrol base. They then sweep the immediate area for threats, locate a secure, defensible location and set up security.
“If the kids come to us, then it is a good indicator that the area we are in is a friendly one,” Bennett stated.
The platoon members are then given one of three tasks: security, quick reaction force, and patrolling. Each of the squads rotates through each task before the day is over.
When the patrols go out, they ask the locals along their route about the situation in their community and where they can find the village leader. With any luck they will find the leader’s home relatively easily, but that doesn’t mean he will be there. Once the leader is located, the Marines will set up a meeting with him to discuss the needs of the village.
Sometimes the local families will ask the Marines to sit down and stay for a little while to talk and have some food. It is rude for the Marines to say no, so most of the time they will join in a circle with the older males of the family and have a conversation over a meal.
While there is not always an Iraqi translator available, some of the Marines in the unit use basic Arabic language skills they picked up during a class they took at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., before the deployment started.
“It can be tough to communicate with the locals at times, but the longer we are here the easier it gets,” said Bennett.
After speaking with the local leaders and identifying the community’s needs, the Marines will coordinate with the leaders before they come back with supplies. This gives the leaders an opportunity to provide the people of the village with provisions they may not otherwise have at their disposal.
“It is good for the community to know that their leader is able to get supplies they need and distribute them to the populace,” Bennett stated.
With numerous successful missions such as these behind them and many more to come, Bennett and his fellow Marines of Company G are well on their way to helping Iraq become a free and independent nation.