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Marines, Iraqi soldiers and police join forces for Operation Industrial Revolution

21 Aug 2006 | Cpl. Brian Reimers

Marines, working in tandem with Iraqi Army soldiers and Iraqi Police, recently swept through Fallujah’s industrial section, or “Sina’s District,” of the city in order to confirm or deny anti-Iraqi Forces operating there.

Marines from 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 worked with the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police to search the industrial area.  They also conducted a census of the local workers and populous.  They turned up several small caches of weapons and put on display the resolve the three units share for Fallujah’s security.

“It was a good day for us because we successfully cleared the industrial zone,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher R. Porylo, a 31-year-old platoon sergeant with C Company from Middletown, Conn.

Coalition Forces recently received reports of the industrial area being a historical place for insurgents to hold meetings.  They were believed to use the area to build improvised explosive devices and fire shots at both Iraqis and Marines from this portion of the city.

Hundreds of shops owned by local Iraqis are located inside the several-block area that also houses bread, yogurt, and masonry factories. Individual shops range from welding and custom metal design garages to automotive parts stores.

Marines and Iraqi Army soldiers each took half of the area and swept through every building looking for weapons or signs of insurgents operating within the compound.

Marines did not locate any weapons, but their Iraqi Army counterparts did find some in their area while searching through the buildings.

Several assault rifles, two artillery rounds commonly used in IED making, ammunition, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and parts used to detonate IEDs were found by the Iraqis.

“They did extremely well, said Lt. Col. Christopher A. Landro, a 46-year-old battalion commander from Kennesaw, Ga. “The Iraqi Army demonstrated its best capabilities that I have seen since I have been here, from the command level down to the individual soldier.”

For Marines, not finding anything wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“We didn’t find anything, but we sure did try,” Porylo explained. “Not finding anything is not a lost cause because the insurgents know that we are looking and that no matter where it is in our area of operation, we are going to look at where they are hiding things.”

“We proved the absence of large caches that locals had fueled the rumor mill about,” Landro said.

Throughout the operation Marines spoke with shop owners to gauge their concerns about problems with their personal shops and the area itself. They filled out census forms with the owners’ names and business information of each shop to make way for future plans to help with jobs and economics. 

“We did a lot of interacting with the people to see where they stand … what kinds of things that they need and to see what we can to do try and help out,” said Sgt. Julio C. Feliciano, a 27 year-old squad leader, from Springfield, Mass.

The operation also demonstrated to Fallujans the resolve of not just Marines, but Iraqi soldiers as well.  Fallujans witnessed Iraqis operating in their sector independently with Marines supporting their efforts.  They were able to demonstrate their ability to sweep any sized area and do it with the help and direct involvement of the Iraqi Army and police, according to Landro.

Shop owners, children and employees met search teams with smiles, and most showed Marines the easiest way to get in and look around their shops.

“Overall, the civilians were extremely cooperative and there was no static between us whatsoever,” Porylo said.

Iraqi Police set a security cordon around the industrial area to ensure that no one could escape or try and attack the forces conducting the operation.

Marines loaded a truck with pallets of cold water and food and circled the area, distributing the supplies to Iraqis who were inside the cordon and could not leave until the operation was complete.

Only one weapons cache was found in the industrial area throughout the operation.  Still, commanders labeled the operation a success because it showed the joint efforts by Marines, Iraqi Army and the Iraqi Police all working side-by-side.

“We showed the people of Fallujah our ability to sweep any size area and the great cooperation and help we had from the Iraqi Army and Police,” Landro said.