AL QA'IM, Iraq --
A time of prospect and prosperity has gained way in Al Qa’im, Iraq. Structures are being rebuilt, leadership is stepping up and the people of the region are looking to the future.
At the core of this auspicious progress, the Civil Affairs Team from 5th Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, of Task Force 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, continues to fight the non-kinetic battle of restoring hope to the region.
The Civil Affairs Team strives to assist local governments in developing leadership and planning humanitarian projects to help rebuild an area. This AQ team has steadily helped restore this once war-torn region in the wake of violence and hardship.
“Our mission is absolutely critical,” said Staff Sgt. Jay Tansy, the Civil Affairs Team chief for Al Qa’im. “This is the last step in the fight in order to eventually turn over all control to the Iraqi government and start the phase of pulling troops out.”
These Marines have been operating in the region for eight months and have pursued a multitude of projects to help restore stability.
“You name it, we have done it,” Tansy said. “We have been pursuing projects that ensure long-term sustainment and will be around a lot longer than six to 12 months.”
Working hand in hand with local government officials, the Marines oversee projects such as water treatment facilities, radio and television stations, trash removal and road and bridge repair.
“One project that we’ve done, that is not only significant but also long standing, is establishing the Micro Finance Institute,” Tansy said.
The institute allows average citizens to apply for small business loans to fund the upstart of their business. These types of projects put the future of the region in the hands of the Iraqi people.
“In Ramana, opening the municipal building was a great influence on the local populace,” said Sgt. Craig L. O’Dell, the Civil Affairs Ramana team leader. “It provided a central government location that shows strength, leadership and unity to the people. It was a big step ahead for an agricultural community such as Ramana.”
The Civil Affairs Team has an abundance of potential projects spanning an area surrounding four main cities. Spreading their limited funding and resources evenly challenges them to choose their battles wisely.
The rigorous job at hand for the Civil Affairs Team is proving to be a pivotal step as violence has subsided and the rebuilding phase has commenced in the region. Though, their efforts are intended to merely set the path for local governments to follow.
“Our main goal is to step back in regards to projects and let the government of Iraq take over,” O’Dell said.
This small group of Marines is making a huge impact that progressively becomes more apparent with each passing day.
“We gave out backpacks several months ago, and recently I saw a little girl walking down the street wearing the same one I gave her,” Tansy said. “Little things like that show me that we’ll have a lasting impression here that’s positive. It shows we came here, we did help, it was effective and the people will remember that.”