AR RAMADI, Iraq -- As Operation Iraqi Freedom moves closer to 2006, the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment are working more and more with local platoons of Iraqi Army soldiers in order to prepare them for the day when coalition forces leave Iraq.
While most Iraqi soldiers go through rudimentary training, nothing replaces the experience and knowledge gained by patrolling through hostile neighborhoods. To help them gain that knowledge, Marines from Company I, including Lance Cpl. Ryan Burg, routinely patrol alongside the IA to guide them through the lessons the Marines have learned during their time here.
Burg, an infantryman from Springfield, Ill., realizes that the sooner the Iraqi Army can take charge of the security of not just Ar Ramadi, but the entire country, the sooner the coalition forces can return home.
“We are out there to help the IA learn what to do on a patrol,” said the 19-year-old Sacred Heart-Griffen High School graduate. “They will eventually take over part of our [area of operations] and they need to know how to do certain things to be successful. We are just there to make sure they are grasping the basics.”
Recently, the Marines let the IA plan and execute a patrol through a predetermined neighborhood. This patrol was the first mission to be planned and executed entirely by the IA with only minimal Marine over watch.
“It went pretty well,” said Burg. “They are coming along quickly and are understanding what we are teaching them. We are working hard with them to help them get ready for when they have to take over.”
Doing things like working with the IA and being more involved in the formation of a viable Iraqi police force is something that Burg wasn’t expecting to do when he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. However, he is finding that he is enjoying the chance to interact with a different culture.
“The Iraqi soldiers are pretty nice and I like working with them,” said Burg. “The chance to work with them is a great experience and I am proud of what we are accomplishing here.”
When he first found out he was coming to Iraq, Burg envisioned a more violent scene with many firefights and explosions.
“I’ve enjoyed my time for sure,” said Burg. “I thought we would see a lot more action here. When I heard that we were coming to Ar Ramadi, I thought it was going to be a real hot spot and that we would be shot at everyday. But it hasn’t been like that at all. I am just glad to be here doing my part.”