ANAH, Iraq --
Two Iraqi men drove through the city streets of Anah, Iraq, when their suspicions were aroused. They’d made a commitment, and their brothers were counting on them to follow through with their duties.
Unfortunately for four men on the side of the road emplacing an improvised explosive device, the two men were off-duty Iraqi police who work hand-in-hand with Marines from Company K, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Task Force Wolfpack, Regimental Combat Team 2.
“This isn’t meant for you,” said one of the insurgents. “This is for the Marines.”
With one man videotaping while the others concealed the IED, they thought this was a situation they could talk their way out of.
“The Marines are our brothers,” said the off-duty Iraqi policeman. “We work with them, and you’re going to jail.”
The Iraqi police have trained with Marines and coalition forces for some time and were anxious to prove they are ready and willing to maintain security and uphold the law in Anah.
After arresting the men, further investigation by the Iraqi police identified them as members of the area’s most notorious terrorist cell.
“This was a pretty effective cell that had been operating in Anah for six to eight months,” said Capt. Edward M. Biel, the commanding officer of Company K. “This one cell was responsible for some major actions going on here; to include sniper fire and placing command wire IEDs.”
From the initial arrest to the investigation and then on to the Anah district judge, the Iraqis handled the entire case, which shows the overwhelming progress made since the arrival of coalition forces.
“That one wrap-up drove the nail home to not just us, but to all the people of the Anah district, that the (Iraqi police) are the real deal,” Biel said. “These guys, no kidding, are here to maintain security and law and order in the area.”
The bond formed between the Marines and Iraqi police has grown to a point where each has discovered a newfound respect for each other while striving together for the same cause. As one cohesive team, they learn invaluable information from each other that only strengthens their capabilities.
“We look at it as we’re brothers together,” Biel said. “We help them with some of the tactical expertise, and they help us understand their culture, people and community.”
With every positive step forward the Iraqi police take, the Marines from Company K are prepared to take a step back and watch the Iraqis take control of Anah.
“The (Iraqi police) have already demonstrated that they’re at a very advanced stage,” said Biel. “We’re getting to a point where we can slowly retrograde our forces, so the people can see the return to normalcy in everyday life. They’ll see their police in their own city and we’ll act more as a backstop, still going out on patrols with the police, so the people know we still care.”
The two Iraqi policemen accomplished more than just arresting a handful of insurgents that day. They set a precedent for the future and gave hope for all those who have a part in it.