FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Iraqi soldiers and police participated in a civil assistance operation to distribute goods to families in need in Fallujah with the support of Regimental Combat Team 6 Marines July 20-21.
Iraqi soldiers with 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army, and local Iraqi police carried out the operation to aid the people living in the poverty-stricken Fallujah district of Shuhada. Among the supplies delivered were nearly 50,000 lbs. of food, including flour, sugar and salt.
“The food distribution is an ongoing campaign in support of Operation Alljah to support the humanitarian aid to people in need,” explained Navy Ensign Jerry L. McNew, an information operations officer with RCT-6. “(There is) very little in business or economic development in this part of the city.”
Increased operations within the district recently by Iraqi Security Forces have improved the security picture in the area. Discoveries of huge numbers of weapons caches have impeded the ability of the terrorists to carry out attacks against Coalition Forces and civilian targets, said McNew.
The first day of the operation started out as a door-to-door goodwill gesture, delivering the supplies straight to peoples’ homes. On the second day, however, men, women and children met the Iraqi soldiers and police at their trucks to take possession of the goods and to show their gratitude for the generosity.
Food packages, school supplies, Iraq flags, soccer balls, candy and other goods were handed out to the families and children to aid them in a time of need. Approximately 900 bags of food were handed out over the course of the operation. Adults warmly received the food packages as the children ran about, wild with excitement to catch soccer balls as they thrown from the back of a truck.
“We couldn’t have done that 90 days ago,” said McNew, an Ocean Springs, Miss., native. “The people weren’t that nice. One of us would have been shot or hit by an (improvised explosive device).”
Community leaders here and the populace share an interest in working with Iraqi Security Forces in order to bring stability to the area. In addition to handing out food supplies, the operation was also an opportunity for the community’s representative in charge of the district to meet with Marines with 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, and civil affairs Marines in council meetings. At the police sub-precinct, the council discussed security, economics, government, reconstruction and infrastructure within the community.
“The people are fed up with the insurgency,” said Sgt. Luis A. Matos, a 27 year-old Bloomburg, Pa. native, and information operations chief with RCT-6. “They’re getting hurt more than we are.”
The operation ended as a success, allowing the Iraqi and U.S. forces the chance to build stronger and healthier relationships with the community.
“You have to get that face to face interaction to build the people’s trust,” McNew said.