COMBAT OUTPOST RAWAH, Iraq - -- Members of 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 2, recently went to the city of Rawah to set up a civil military operations center.
The CMOC is a place where Iraqi civilians come to report damaged property and receive compensation from the military. It is also the command center for civil works projects throughout the city, and the place where Iraqi contractors can come to discuss and plan the projects with their military counterparts.
“The CMOC helps give the Iraqi people a place where they can get help to rebuild the damaged and deteriorated civil infrastructure of the local area,” said Staff Sgt. Jason E. Sneed, the civil affairs team chief with the battalion, “stuff like city beautification, painting curbs, picking trash off the streets, and so on.”
Sneed, a native of Whitney, Texas, said projects like these are two-fold.
“If a curb is freshly painted, it’s obvious if it has been tampered with, and if the streets are clean, then it’s harder to hide an IED (improvised explosive device),” he explained.
The team chief also explained that by allowing Iraqi contractors to work with the city’s leaders on civil projects, it helps the leaders build rapport and stabilizes their area of influence.
“Projects help legitimize these leaders and get them working toward the end result of provincial Iraqi control, Iraqis leading Iraqis,” he said.
City projects aren’t the only mission of the CMOC, it also contains a damage-control section, led by the battalion’s judge advocate, and the disburser.
“I sit with the judge, and we listen to small claims to decide whether they are legitimate,” said Cpl. Steve E. Schuldt, the disbursing agent for the battalion. “The judge will decide on an appropriate amount to reimburse the claim, and I do the transaction in Iraqi dinar.”
The exchange rate as of April 18 was 1,272 dinar to the American dollar.
“If we (Marines) make a mistake, we break something, or we injure an innocent person, we know there is no way of replacing that loss,” said Schuldt, a native of New Berlin, Wis., “but this is our way of showing them the American public is sorry for their loss, and wants to help.”
The Marines who are a part of the CMOC hope the Iraqi people will see they are trying to help, and make a difference. They say so far they have noticed the area get a little calmer and believe it is due in part to the battalion’s weekly trips to the city.
“We are making sure the populace is happier when we leave, then they were when we got here,” Sneed said. That way the Delta Company Marines on the ground in the local area get to deal with a kinder, gentler people.”