AR RAMADI, Iraq -- As Operation Iraqi Freedom continues its evolution toward stabilization missions, humanitarian operations are becoming more and more important to the security and prosperity of the Iraqi people and Coalition Forces. Nowhere is that more evident than the former insurgent stronghold of Ar Ramadi.
While the battle against the insurgency is continuing here, the war now in its third year, the battle to rebuild and provide a stable life for the local citizens is taking precedence. Recently, a platoon of local Iraqi Army soldiers alongside Marines from the Team 4, 6th Civil Affairs Group escorted more than $150,000 worth of medical equipment to a local clinic, Jan. 2.
The equipment, which was donated from various American medical supply companies, is everything a health clinic needs to function, according to Cpl. Robert Shuman, a CAG Marine from Madison, Ga.
“We dropped off a truckload of equipment today,” said Shuman. “It was everything they need to operate, basic medical supplies along with an examination chair, operating table, biohazard disposal bins and other items that the clinics around here are in need of.”
Although this is not the first medical drop mission that CAG has completed here, they carefully chose where this shipment would be delivered.
“We made the same delivery to the main Ar Ramadi hospital during Operation Machete a month ago,” he said. “But this time we wanted to make sure all the equipment would be used to help the people of the town. We gave it to a clinic that is near the Government Center so it would be next to both the Ministry of Health and an established observation post.”
In addition to providing much needed medical equipment to the war-weary people of the city, the Marines of CAG wanted to give the people something they could touch and use as proof of the progress both the Coalition Forces and the Iraqi Government are making in stabilizing the city.
“This is tangible stuff you can hold in your hands and will directly help the people here,” said Shuman. “We do a lot of projects here, but missions like this one are good because, unlike when we help the schools, the people can actually see and use the items that we are donating.”
By helping medical facilities, schools and other government agencies, CAG is hoping that the people will begin to take more responsibility for their own city and begin working hard on the rebuilding of their home. Confidence in their new government and services is the key, said Shuman.
“When the people see us working with the Iraqi Army dropping off medical supplies to clinics or school supplies to schools, it gives them confidence that their city is improving,” he said. “Now, someone can feel confident in that clinic, where as before they might not have known where to go. Soon, it will just be the Iraqi Army doing these missions and we will be able to go home.”
While training the IA is not CAG’s mission, including them on humanitarian operations such as the medical drop will only help both the Iraqi soldiers and the Coalition Forces.
“It’s our number one priority to let the people of the city see what their soldiers are doing,” he said. Everyone knows the Marines can do anything, it’s time for the Iraqi Army to show what they can do.”