SHOHABI, Iraq -- Marines and Iraqi soldiers combined forces to deliver Operation ‘Cool Carpet’ to the people of Shohabi June 27.
Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division along with Marines from C Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment delivered two new air conditioning units and prayer rugs to a local mosque.
“We are getting ready to take this area over completely,” said Iraqi Army 1st Lt. Ammar Abdul Hassan, the 25-year-old platoon commander. “We are going to be patrolling this area and providing security for it by ourselves soon.”
Marines from C Company stayed in the background providing security for the Iraqi soldiers during the operation. The operation consisted of a visit to the mosque to drop off the donations and a combined patrol through the streets of Shohabi.
“We were there observing them and allowing them to call all the shots,” said Cpl. Jonas B. Lady, a 23-year-old assaultman from Poplar Bluff, Mo. “We provided security for them, but they ran the show.”
The Iraqi Army is preparing to take complete responsibility for security of the Shohabi area in the coming weeks. Operations like this provide an opportunity for the Iraqi people to see their army taking the lead in operations.
“Days like today are what the people of Iraq need to see,” Hassan said. “They need to know we are ready and capable of protecting them and moving forward.”
Locals from the community came out to greet the soldiers and to see the mosque receive the new items. The forces set out on a combined patrol once the air conditioning units and rugs were off loaded.
“The patrol went as well as could have possibly gone,” said 2nd Lt. Andrew M. Jarosz, a 24-year-old platoon commander with C Company from Libertyville, Ill. “The Iraqi soldiers have some really good officers working for them and they seemed to perform well.”
During the patrol the Iraqi soldiers met with the locals and passed out flyers with information on an upcoming cooperative medical engagement in the area.
“We gave the people information on events they can take part in, things that will give them aid,” Hassan said.
The Shohabi area is a poor region comprised of farmers and small shops that line the city streets. Operations like ‘Cool Carpet’ allow the Iraqi soldiers to give items to the people that they need – items to improve their quality of life.
“We want the people of Shohabi to know we are here for them,” Hassan said. “We want them to put trust in their Army and to know we are here to help them in whatever way we can.”