AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq -- Team 2 of the 6th Civil Affairs Group has played a vital role in helping complete four schools in 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment’s area of operation.
With local children ready with backpacks and school supplies provided by coalition forces, Capt. Matthew S. Neely and the Marines of 6th CAG are pushing hard to finish construction.
“We took over from 5th CAG right in the middle of the projects and had our hands full right at the get go,” said the 27-year-old team leader for team two of 6th CAG.
Construction started on the four projects two and a half months ago with Iraqi civilian labor from the Karma area providing the workers. In the middle of construction, 5th CAG’s seven months came to an end and 6th CAG hit the ground running.
The Statesville, N.C., native and the Marines of team two checked on the projects weekly to make sure they were on track for their assigned completion date. Talking with the project managers about how the sites looked and getting progress reports were the main focus of the visits. Neely would also ask if there were any supplies the contractors needed to finish the project or make the school more functional.
Every visit to the schools was accompanied by a variety of donated materials. Many international and nonprofit organizations from around the world donated various materials and supplies to help rebuild Iraq.
Soccer balls are the most coveted thing that the CAG Marines hand out during their visits. It is a very popular sport among the children in the country.
“The children are always crowded around the Marines or the vehicles asking ‘Mister give me football,’” said the 2000 graduate of the Virginia Military Institute. “We always hand out everything we have by the end of our visits to the schools because of how many children are there.”
Neely and the Marines of CAG are responsible for coordinating the projects in the battalion’s AO that deal with improving the living conditions of the Iraqi people. They go to villages and ask the leaders what the needs of the village are and provide what they can to get those needs addressed.
“Our mission is to assist the battalion commanding officer in all civil military operations,” Neely commented. “We try to improve the Iraqi’s environment and make it so they can live without the support of coalition forces.”