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Iraqi National Guard, Marines work together

31 Aug 2004 | Cpl. Matthew R. Jones

As the sun sets over the Euphrates, a combat patrol of Marines and Iraqis set off through small towns along the riverbank. This particular patrol marks a turning point in Iraqi security.

Marines from Headquarters Platoon, Company B, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 1st Marine Division joined with members of the Iraqi National Guard to conduct a patrol near Baghdadi, Iraq.

"The patrol was an important operation, enabling Marines and ING to work side by side," said 1st Lt. Michael A. Hunzeker, Executive Officer of Company B. "These are the hardest working ING members have worked with."

The patrol also enabled the ING to get first hand experience with Marines on conducting patrols.

"We were able to show the ING how we do things, to better their proficiency level," said Sgt. Philip Walker, 25, from Muskogee, Okla., noncommissioned officer in charge of joint patrols. 

There were many opportunities to show the ING how the Marines operate as the patrol progressed through numerous small towns and villages.  During that time, Marines instructed the ING on how to properly conduct a patrol and what the importance of patrols had on security, according to Hunziker.

In addition to joint patrols, the Marines assisted members of the ING on how to conduct a vehicle control checkpoint.

The vehicle control checkpoint was set up on a route through the desert commonly used by weapons traffickers.  

Both the Marines and the ING benefited from the time working together, said 1st Sgt. Octaviano Gallegos, company first sergeant.  "It was a public relations opportunity with not only the ING but with the Iraqi people as well."

"It is a good experience to work with the ING and be able to get face time with the Iraqi people, to show them that we are here to help them," said Lance Cpl. Stephen N. Matthew, a 20-year-old machine gunner from Irvona, Pa.    

It was good experience for both units involved, according to Gallegos, a 37-year-old from Las Cruzes, N.M. As long as we can influence one person on the importance of working together to help the people of Iraq it was all worth it.