HADITHA, Iraq -- Tasked with defeating insurgents, gaining the trust of the local populace, coordinating reconstruction and other humanitarian projects, Marines assigned to 1st Battalion, 3d Marine Regiment of Regimental Combat Team-2 and members of the Iraqi Police are immersed in counterinsurgency (coin) operations.
Conducting operations in the Haditha Triad region of Iraq’s Al Anbar Province, Cpl. Cody Hromada, assistant patrol leader, Bravo Company, 1/3 and Iraqi Police Lieutenant “Jack”, understand the war they fight.
Jack (whose name remains anonymous for security reasons) is satisfied with the Marines being here. Working side by side with the Marines, Jack knows they are vital to the success of the Iraqi Police.
“They help us with everything and before they got here the town wasn’t as safe as it is now,” Jack elaborated. “People in town used to never speak to us because they were scared for their lives, but now they come out and invite us into their homes for dinner.”
On a recent patrol, Hromada noticed a piece of copper wire on the ground and followed it over a wall.
“I kept following it and noticed that it led into the road underneath the cement, so we called EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) and it turned out to be an IED,” Hromada said.
Understanding his role as a noncommissioned-officer, Hromada is getting to know the local people and children by going on patrols and handing out candy and school supplies.
“The people notice we’re a new unit and have been very friendly, welcoming us with food and being very helpful,” Hromada said. “We just want to do anything and everything we can to show the locals that we’re here for them. The more understanding they are that we’re here to help, the less likely they’ll be to take the side of the insurgents.”
Conducting security patrols, IED sweeps, raids and other operations can be taxing on anyone. But Jack, once an officer in the Iraqi Army, explained how the Marines’ actions and operations have worked to better this area,.
“Before, everyday we had many mortar and sniper attacks,” Jack said. “When we went out we would be shot at. The civilians have changed and will actually talk to us without being scared.”
Both Hromada and Jack said they feel their efforts will bring stability and security to the region.
“At any given time we have a section outside the wire,” Hromada said, “and that’s what it’s all about, getting out there and getting the bad guys out of the city, so the people can go on with their lives. I mean, this is what we’re here for, to help the locals and keep them safe.”