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‘Fighting Fifth’ assumes control of western Anbar

22 Jan 2008 | Gunnery Sgt. Jason J. Bortz

Regimental Combat Team 5, the Marine Corps’ most decorated regiment, assumed control of a large portion of the western Al Anbar province during a transfer of authority ceremony here Jan. 22.

 RCT-5, which is from Camp Pendleton, Calif., replaced RCT-2, which will return to Camp Lejeune, N.C., after serving 13 months here.

 During the ceremony, Col. Patrick Malay, commanding officer, RCT-5, assumed control from Col. Stacy Clardy, commanding officer, RCT-2. Malay is returning to Anbar after commanding 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, during the Battle of Fallujah in 2004.

 RCT-5 will oversee operations for the next year in the western Euphrates River valley and a large portion of area in southwestern Anbar. The area they will control is approximately 30,000 square miles, or roughly the size of South Carolina.

 While here, RCT-5 will continue the training and mentoring of the Iraqi Security Forces and provide assistance to the local governments and the people of Al Anbar. The regiment will also oversee the military, police and border transition teams in western Al Anbar.

 “Store fronts which were once closed and blood ridden, now bear the welcome site of life as daily activity has returned to the markets,” said Brig. Gen. Charles Gurganus, ground combat element commander, Multi National Force-West. “Children attend schools and play on soccer fields that were once occupied by insurgents. And citizens now gather on street corners that were once battlegrounds. But with all of these improvements, the most tangible, the most evident and the most satisfying is the presence of hope.”

 After months of preparing for this deployment, RCT-5 is ready to continue to build upon the foundation that was laid by RCT-2 and all of the Marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen that have served here in the past.

 “We’ve seen enough violence here. Now is the time to build,” said Malay. “Now is the time for rule of law. Now is the time to put those pieces in place which will insure peace and prosperity for Iraq.”

 The 5th Marine Regiment has a long and proud history of service for its country. Activated in 1917, the 5th Marine Regiment first saw action on the battlefields of France during World War I. It was there that the regiment earned the nickname the “Fighting Fifth.” The regiment continued to make a name for itself in following wars and campaigns. In 2003, 5th Marines deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and later Operation Iraqi Freedom. It returned to Iraq again in 2006 as RCT-5 and conducted operations in the Fallujah area.

 As the ceremony concluded, a sign was unveiled on Camp Ripper that states the importance of RCT-5’s mission here.

 The sign simply states, “Peaceful Anbar, Peaceful Iraq.”