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Marines reassure Iraqis of June 30 authority transfer

10 Jun 2004 | Cpl. Macario P. Mora Jr.

Local leaders in Al Anbar Province's western region gathered June 10 to discuss the June 30 turnover of Iraq's sovereignty with the commanding officers of the battalions under Regimental Combat Team 7.

The day-long meeting primarily focused on security concerns once the Iraqis take control of their own government.

"After July 1, security will be the responsibility of Iraq's government," said Col. Craig A. Tucker, commanding officer of RCT-7.  "Our purpose will be in assisting security forces."

The meeting began with the local leaders expressing their concerns over what would take place.  Questions ranged from what factor will the Iraqi and Marine security forces play to improving quality of life for Iraqis with better facilities and other basic needs.

"The next few weeks will have many changes," Tucker said.  "The meeting today is to insure we all leave here with a common goal."

Once the turnover of power is complete, the Marines of RCT-7 will play a much smaller role in local affairs, assisting only when necessary.  Primary responsibility for security will soon fall to Iraqi police and Iraqi Civil Defense Corps soldiers.

"I promise you, you will begin to see a reduced presence," Tucker told the Iraqi leaders.  "We will only patrol with the Iraqi Police or ICDC.  Our goal is for our troops to be less and less visible to the Iraqi people."

Many of the battalions held high hopes the meeting would produce positive results, helping with the transition of authority.

"We hope to gain their expectations here today," said Maj. Ezra Carbins Jr., civil affairs group officer-in-charge for 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.  "We want to coordinate our efforts to make the transition smoother."

"It's important we work together here as equals," said 1st Lt. Daniel M. Casey, information officer for 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.  "We want a wider view of what they think.  Today should help our cause."
The necessary tools to take full control of the country's security aren't fully in place yet, according to Tucker.  A large amount of equipment though, is either already here or on its way.

"We need a full commitment from them as to what their plans are," said Maj. Quinn D. Auten, officer-in-charge of the military police detachment here.  "It's important we know this.  Our job is to train and equip them with what they need.  They do want peace."

Tucker reassured the Iraqi leaders that his Marines had every intention of allowing the local security leaders control and take care of their own.  Still, he said Marines wouldn't stand idle against terrorist forces.

"We want the Iraqi security forces to kill, capture and defeat the enemies," Tucker said.  "The Marines will, if they have to, though."