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Marines give door to door service during Operation Matador

13 Sep 2006 | Cpl. Brian Reimers

Marines, Iraqi Army soldiers and Iraqi Police worked together recently to disrupt insurgent operations in the area during Operation Matador.

Marines from 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, including 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion and soldiers with the Iraqi Security Forces swept through hundreds of buildings and homes in the Andaloos District. An area which has historically been a staging point for insurgents to attack coalition forces passing on patrols.

“It has been an area of high activity,” said Sgt. Maj. Bradley E. Trudell, battalion sergeant major, from Mexico, N.Y. “We were prepared to handle anything that came our way, but the mission was to clear the area and make sure that their were no bad guys there.”

The district’s southern border is outlined by the city’s main road. The border continues north along the Euphrates River on the western edge of town and turns west on yet another prominent street, forming a triangle that surrounds an estimated two square miles.

Tanks, humvees, police trucks and dismounted forces covered the streets and spread out to conduct searches early in the morning while most Iraqis were still sleeping.

Marines and Iraqi soldiers could be seen at every angle, knocking on doors and swiftly moving in on possible targets.

“It demonstrated our ability to surge forces in any area of Fallujah and the ability of Coalition Forces to control the city,” said Lt. Col. Christopher A. Landro, battalion commander, from Kennesaw, Ga.

After many were awakened, they came out of their homes to watch and engage in conversation. The atmosphere turned from a high-tempo search operation to a more calm and friendly one after coalition forces had been in the area for a few hours.

“It went from an early morning raid to a casual interaction with the locals in the same area,” said 1st Lt. Christopher L. Doggett, a combat engineer platoon commander, from Arlington, Va. “It sent a message. We have the ability to clear insurgent activity, and in same breath show our concerns of the needs of the citizens of Fallujah,”

Some of the Marines were surprised by the increasingly friendly atmosphere.

“It is just not something you see very often in this area,” said 21 year-old Lance Cpl. Youngjun Choi, from North Babylon, N.Y., and assigned to the Personnel Security Detachment. “We are used to patrolling through this area ready to fight, and today we got a chance to play soccer with the kids and just chat with everybody in their own environment.”

“The mere fact that there was such open and honest dialogue with so many citizens demonstrated the comfort of which this region has with Coalition presence,” 46 year-old Landro said. 

Food and drinks were offered to one another by both the forces and the citizens. Children flocked to the scene of Marines passing out candy and talking to families. Alleys served as soccer fields as Marines tried their skills against the Iraqis’ favored sport.

“It became a friendly exchange with the citizens of Fallujah who expressed their pleasure at such a strong Coalition presence,” Landro said.

Several blocks away from where the Marines were, Iraqi Army soldiers made their way through the districts’ cemetery without help from their camouflaged counterparts.

“They deserved to have their own area to operate in,” said 23 year-old Cpl. Craig A. Washington, an infantryman with C Company, from Springfield, Mass.  “Everyday the Iraqi Army are getting better and growing more and more competent.”

“The Iraqi Army continued to demonstrate its’ improving capabilities from the command and control level at the brigade, down to the individual jundi,” Landro said. “It was the best performance of all those actions that I have witnessed since the six months that I have been in country.”

One AK-47 assault rifle, three grenades, a box of ammunition, and information about anti-Iraqi forces operating in the city were gathered during the operation. Although not a lot of hard evidence was found, the Marines were happy with the outcome.

“Despite the fact that no large caches were found or any known insurgents, it was still a success due to the actions and efficiency demonstrated by the Iraqi Security Forces,” Landro said.