AR RAMADI, Iraq -- Marines from 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment recently worked with Iraqi Army soldiers during Operation Shank in an effort to decrease the insurgent threat before the upcoming elections.The two-day battalion-size operation, allowed the Marines and IA to get “eyes on” some different areas of the city that haven’t been patrolled before and, more importantly, allowed the Marines to find out where the insurgents aren’t,” said 2nd Lt. Walter Larisey, 1st Platoon commander for Company L. Beginning the morning of Dec. 2, Shank quickly proved effective when the combined efforts of the battalion’s Weapons Company and Company K resulted in four possible Al Qaeda in Iraq members being detained. Company L began their operation the next night during a cordon and knock mission in central Ar Ramadi.“It went really well,” said Larisey. “We went out, conducted a coordinated operation that took more than three hours and came back with everyone. Although, we didn’t find any weapons caches, we did develop some very good (information) for future operations. Right now, we are doing a great job of disrupting the enemy and making them uncomfortable here.” As the elections draw near, insurgent groups in the city seem to be more and more concerned with the people getting a taste of democracy and freedom. They know they are losing the battle here and that, if they don’t do something soon, they will lose the war, said Larisey.“The insurgents are worried about the people voting, so they are spreading propaganda here,” he said. “But, the people here are really excited about voting. They are in the city talking about the elections, which is great because the insurgents are very worried about a large turnout this time.”In addition to the normal raids and operations the battalion conducts on a regular basis, Shank utilized a larger number of Iraqi soldiers than normal and proved that the work and time put into training the IA is paying off.“These actions prove the Iraqi Army is truly making very rapid advances,” said Lt. Col. Abdul Majeed, commander of the 3-2-1 Iraqi Army. “With time, we will be able to secure all of Ramadi and remove all of the hidden enemy cache points.”The increase in the IA’s operational effectiveness and citizen-provided intelligence is a huge blow to the insurgency, especially during recent operations such as Machete and Tigers.“Information leading to the discovery of caches sites came from Ramadi citizens,” said Lt. Col. Robert R. Roggeman, commander of Task Force 2-69. “During Operation Tigers, our elements continued to erode the insurgents’ ability to make war against both Coalition and Iraqi Forces, as well as the innocent people of Ramadi.”With the elections coming up and the success of Operations Shank and Machete, the Marines are heading into December looking forward to the next step in the transition of Iraq - handing over the responsibility of safety and security from the Coalition Forces to the Iraqi Army and Police forces and bringing stability to the country of Iraq. “We remain dedicated in our mission to bring peace and prosperity to the citizens of Ramadi and the Al Anbar province,” said Roggeman.