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Marine leaders meet with Iraqis for stepped-up measures in western Al Anbar Province

13 Jul 2004 | Cpl. Macario P. Mora Jr.

Senior Marine leaders met with leaders from Iraqi security forces to discuss measures for stepping up actions against Anti-Iraqi forces in western Al Anbar Province.

Col. Craig Tucker, commanding officer of Regimental Combat Team 7 along with battalion commanders met with local Al Anbar security force leaders in the first of many monthly meetings to discuss ways for a more secure Iraq.

Tucker met with Iraqi National Guard, Iraqi Police and Border Police leaders to discuss problems and solutions.  It was an effort to unite local communities as one voice in Iraq.

"These meetings will help us identify trends in crime and terrorism," said 44-year-old Tucker from Yucca Valley, Calif.  "It will also give us the means to combat these problems."

The meeting set the groundwork for the different security forces and Marines to share information on crime and ideas on how help solve them, according to Tucker.  A centralized building will be established containing all the forces to pass along information more quickly.

"We need to identify short falls in our equipment and training," Tucker said.  "We need to prioritize and become one voice to better fight for resources."

A particular concern to Marines is preventing attacks on Iraqi security forces, which have increased since April, according to Gunnery Sgt. Scott H. Stalker, a 29-year-old regimental intelligence chief from Bay Point, Calif.

"As the turnover came closer, attacks on Iraqi forces began to increase," Stalker said.  "We believe they were trying to deter them from working with the Coalition Forces."

"They're not fighting the occupation with these attacks," Tucker said.  "They want to defeat local forces and assume control of your communities.  What they weren't expecting were Iraqi forces to step up."

Once the attacks on Iraqi forces decrease, the regiment and local forces will focus on local crimes, Tucker explained.

Tucker expressed the need for better communication, pointing out that criminals and terrorist weren't local problems, instead they moved from city to city, making it a regional concern.

The biggest concern for many was the protection of the border.  Tucker said it would take all the forces to combat this problem as well as those problems inside the city.

Steps are already underway to fix that.  The regiment and local Iraqis began the process of protecting the country's borders with Al Asad's first Border Police Academy.

"They're going to be able to take care of their own country," said 1st Sgt. Octaviano Gallegos Jr., a 37-year-old first sergeant for Company B, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, from Las Cruces, N.M.  "Our goal is to work ourselves out of a job."