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IA and IP conduct humanitarian mission

17 Jan 2008 | Lance Cpl. Paul Torres

Protection and comfort is what the Marine Corps is trying to bring to the Iraqi people. To accomplish this, Coalition Forces are giving more responsibilities to the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police.

 On Jan. 16, Marines from 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, with the IA and IP, took part in the first of three planned humanitarian operations.

 The operation also consisted of members of the Marine Civil Affairs Group, Army Psychological Operations and the Military Transition Team. These elements supported the joint operation with the IA and the IP to distribute soccer balls, sandals, water bottles and other supplies to the children of Rawah.

 “These operations have two purposes,” said 2nd Lt. Joseph J. Pagan, 24, from Carteret, N.J., who is the fires and effects officer for the Military In Transition Team 7, 3rd Iraqi Brigade, 2nd Iraqi Battalion.

 “The first purpose is to give away humanitarian supplies to the people, and the other is to bring all of these elements together to work with the IA and IP for a combined operation.”

 The idea for the humanitarian operation originated from the IP, and there was a large turnout of men and children to receive the supplies. The IP and IA handed out most of the supplies while the supporting elements posted security around the soccer field and the vehicles.

 “As they step up, we step back,” said Pagan.

 The IA is planning additional operations like this one that will boost their public image among the people. It will also strengthen avenues of communication among the IP.

 “We have a weekly security meeting and we have really been surprised to see the friendships that have sparked,” said Maj. Hunter R. Rawlings, the operations officer, 3rd LAR, from Boulder, Colo.

 Because the IP work in the city, they are able to gather a lot of intelligence from among the civilians, said Pagan.

 One of the many challenges Marines have faced is convincing the IA and IP to cooperate with each other. However, once both sides realized the benefits of working together, it became easier.

 “When they are physically together, they work really well together,” said Rawlings.

 An example of this is when the IP received a tip on a weapons cache near Gur Yeminiyah off Lake Qadisiyah. The end result was the removal of approximately 1,800 lbs of home made explosives.

 “That was enough HME to make three or four large (Suicide Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices),” said Rawlings.

 Working together has given the Iraqi people an advantage over the insurgents. Now the IA is going on patrols and they are on the hunt. The IP now has the ability to protect its civil infrastructure as well. With no towns to set up a base of operations, the insurgents are required to function on the move.

 “We have the insurgents on the run,” said a triumphant Rawlings, “so they are in for a cold winter.”