ANAH, Iraq -- The air smelled clean, the roads were paved and spotless, and the laughter of children echoed through the streets. A young girl, in a lilac colored dress, sprayed her driveway down with a garden hose proving the plumbing worked in her town. Men, women and children gave friendly waves to the Marines and Iraqi policemen as they patrolled through the secure streets here.
“Patrols like these let the people know we are fighting for them, and they see that,” said Lance Cpl. Charles Tobin, a SAW gunner with Bravo Company Proper, Task Force 1st Battalion, 4th Marines proper, attached to 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 2.
The mixed patrol of Iraqi police and Marines passed through alleyways and side streets where instead of littered ground and walls covered in graffiti, the curbs had neatly swept piles of dirt and the houses freshly painted.
“The average Anah person seems more affluent than the average Iraqi,” said Cpl. Steven Kreyenhagen, a team leader with Bravo Company.
The Iraqi police explain that the townspeople here are mostly college educated, and all of their children attend school.
“There are schools established in town, and the teachers speak great English,” Kreyenhagen said.
The Marines and IPs stopped into the local markets, full of vegetables, dry goods, electronics and clothing, to buy snacks for local children and bread to share with their brother Marines not on patrol.
"I like interacting with the people,” Tobin said. “You can be having a horrible day and the kids will crack you up, making your day all better.”
Children waved at the patrol and saluted the IPs with the open-handed salute traditionally given to Iraqi officers as a sign of respect.
“The area has some five and six-year-olds speaking better English than me,” Tobin said.
A grasp of the English language doesn’t make the people of Anah superior to other towns but understanding the language of its protector’s means they have a worldly view on the coalition’s mission in Iraq.
“My squad’s been invited to dinner twice already by friendly homes,” said Sgt. Tacoma Parris, a squadleader and native of New York City. “They’ve gained our trust.”
Trust aside, the town still hides some insurgents rather willingly, or by force.
“Most of the time the locals won’t tell us who planted the IEDs,” Parris said. “They’ll tell the IPs because the IPs are from the neighborhood.”
The townspeople know their neighborhood, and they tell their IPs because they want safety.
“They’d rather tell a buddy, or brother they grew up with,” Parris said. “They trust us, but not wholeheartedly.”
Anah is filled with hardworking, educated citizens, but those who travel outside of the safe town are affected by the less positive situations occurring in other parts of Iraq.
“I used to take the bus five days a week to work before the war,” said Ghassan Thabet, an electrical engineer living in Anah. “The road is now dangerous to Al Qa’im.”
Food rations are given to the unemployed people of Iraq by its newly established government. With help from coalition forces and the strength of local police, the roads will become safer and buses will carry hard working people like Thabet.
Constant, friendly patrols, mixed with IPs and Marines, keep the citizens of Anah safe and help the locals here see there is a transition happening, and that terrorism will eventually subside.