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Building bonds for the future

19 Jan 2008 | Lance Cpl. Shawn Coolman

It’s an everyday occurrence here.

 Marines with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, patrol the streets not only to find weapon caches, but to interact with the local community and find out what the concerns of the people are.

 “What we are doing here is going around the neighborhood building relations and finding out what their concerns are,” said Sgt. Steven N. Penley, squad leader, Company L.

 While patrolling to a home of two brothers, the neighborhood residents gathered along the streets welcoming the Marines.

 “The citizens can see first hand that their lives have improved,” said Pfc. Joshua M. Bryant, 20, a saw gunner with Company L, from Harley, Ala. “At the beginning of the war they were scared, now their shops are staying open later and their quality of life has improved.”

 “The citizens are coming in and telling us what’s going on in the city,” added Bryant. “We’re pretty popular here.”

 Once the Marines arrived to the house of the two brothers, “Hector,” an Iraqi interpreter with Company L, formally introduced everyone.

 The brothers, Muhammed Hamed Muhammed, and Hamid Hamid Muhammed expressed a few concerns of their family and of the neighborhood.

 “We’re not receiving food shipments on time and we don’t have enough kerosene to keep the house warm so my family can stay healthy,” said Muhammed Hamed Muhammed through an interpreter.

 The retired brothers were also concerned about the lack of job opportunities in the area for everyone else.

 The Marines reassured the brothers that there are plans for companies to come in and help local entrepreneurs start their own businesses, to stimulate the economy.

 “I do know one of the big projects for Haditha is the hospital; their going to re-build the hospital soon,” said Penley, 26, who is from Clanton, Ala.

 The Marines and the brothers also discussed insurgent activity in the area, and how the Iraqi Police are doing.

 “I don’t think there are any more insurgents within the city; they are all out, but they can still do damages on the roadways,” said Hamid Muhammed through an interpreter.

 “The Iraqi Police are working well with the Marines, keeping everything safe,” Penley added.

 Before the Marines parted ways, they spoke more on the continuous role the IP is taking in the security of the city.

 “We’re working beside the IP until they can fully serve the people, and we are instilling in them good working habits,” said Penley. “It is basically the Iraqi Police’s city now; we are trying to let them have as much control as possible.”

 Once the Marines returned to the Haditha City Forward Operating Base, the information gathered on the patrol was turned into the chain of command so the concerns of the people can be addressed.