HADITHA, Iraq -- Continuing the effort to support the development of local governments and re-establish essential services throughout Al Anbar province, the 6th Civil Affairs Group is assembling a fourth Civil Military Operations Center.
The new CMOC will serve Haditha and the surrounding areas of Haqlaniyah and Barwanah. The area was chosen because of it’s proximity to local high traffic areas and permissive environment.
“The people are ready here,” said Lt. Col. Eloy Campos, CMOC director. “Counter-terrorist operations have done very well here and the local leaders have been very receptive to the Marines.”
The focus of the CMOC will be on governance and less emphasis on municipal services, said Maj. Terry Race, operations officer. Although projects such as rebuilding schools and water treatment plants are important and will continue, getting the local governments to function properly is key to long-term stability and independence.
Though limited, projects will be initiated in the area. A housing program will be created to erect new homes not just in the area but province-wide.
Even though only a little more than a week has passed since they began setting up, the CMOC is nearly fully operational.
“None of this was here eight days ago,” said Master Sgt. Edward Cruz, operations chief, about the hundreds of yards of razor wire, protective barriers and observation posts. “We’ve been really surprised at how fast it has gone. When we started, there weren’t even doors on the building.”
The Marines have spent every day at the new building painting, sweeping, burning hundreds of pounds of paper left by its former occupants and filling sandbags for protective barriers.
“Prepping the building has taken the longest,” said Cruz. “Most of the defensive measures were put up in the first couple of days. The rest has all been cleaning and painting.”
The building at which the Marines will be conducting business was chosen because of its location and size. Meetings of up to 100 people can be held in the building and nearly every Iraqi citizen in the area will pass the building due to its location next to the only bank in the area.
Most of the staff at this CMOC came from established centers in Fallujah and Ramadi. The seasoned crew knows what to expect and how to deal with the many challenges that can arise in an area with little civil military operations exposure.
Word has already spread about the CMOC through the tribal sheiks in the area.
“Our outlook here is very optimistic and promising,” said Campos. “We think there will be a very good turnout of people. A meeting has been scheduled with the local leaders to get the word out, but they are already talking about it. The people here are excited and seem willing to get their city on the way to recovery.”