FALLUJAH, Iraq -- The war in Iraq is changing gears and taking a new direction; the battles are now fought by Iraqi forces with coalition assistance. Coalition Forces are working on a daily basis with Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) on patrols, as well as conducting operations in support of ISF.
The Iraqi Army’s 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division, patrolled its area of operation recently to gather intelligence for future operations. The IA was supported by a fire team of Marines from a Military Transition Team during the patrol.
“We did a dismounted patrol and headed south to one of the major roads in Fallujah so the IA could gather intelligence,” said Cpl. Daniel P. Kennedy, a 23-year-old rifleman from Harrison, Mich. “We patrolled down an extremely dangerous street, but I was surprised by how well the (Iraqi) soldiers patrolled. It is definitely different than patrolling with Marines, but they do a really good job. They are really squared away when they are on patrol.”
The teams charged with assisting the Iraqi Army are Military Transition Teams. A typical patrol for a MTT team consists of only a fire team of Marines with the rest of the squad comes from the Iraqi Army. The Iraqis lead the patrols and run the show; Marines are only on the patrol to provide additional security and make suggestions for changes during debriefs once the patrol is complete.
“They are much better than I expected. Of course they have things to work on, but they are very good,” said Sgt. James D. Polich, a 37-year-old rifleman from St. Louis. “I think it is very good to get them out there and show their presence.”
The Iraqis are very organized, Kennedy said. One thing that struck Kennedy was the manner in which the soldiers utilized intelligence from the field to plan and conduct their operations. Such organization is an essential element to decreasing the role Coalition Forces play in the security of the region.
“The more they can get out there the better they will get, so when we eventually leave they can do the best of their abilities,” he added.
Iraqi Soldiers have an advantage over the Marines who assist them on patrols; they know the local customs and speak the language. They have the ability to set the people at ease whose home is being used as an over watch position, or during snap vehicle check points they can communicate exactly what they want the driver and passengers to do.
Many of the soldiers made a point to speak and shake hands with any citizens who ended up getting caught inside of their patrol to let the people know they are in the city to provide security for the citizens of Fallujah.
They continuously show good intentions for the city of Fallujah and its citizens. The Iraqi Army has at times run into trouble in Fallujah, mostly because Fallujah is a Sunni city and most of the 2nd Brigade soldiers are Shia and have been viewed as a foreign force.
“The people need to see that the IA are good guys and they aren’t here to do bad things. They are here for the betterment of Iraq, not only Fallujah,” Kennedy said.
The IA continues to patrol the streets diligently to improve their skills and rid the city of terrorists. They have also begun to work with the Iraqi Police on various operations, either supporting the police or vice versa.
As the Iraqi Security Forces begin taking more control over their own operations to rid the streets of anti-Iraqi forces, they enable Fallujah citizens, as well as those all over Al Anbar Province, to take greater control of their lives.