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1/2 conducts assessment in Rawah, Iraq

29 Dec 2008 | Lance Cpl. Scott Schmidt

When Task Force 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 arrived in Rawah, Iraq, an assessment of security and governance capabilities began.

        Marines with Company C, 1st Bn., 2nd Marines attended a weekly Iraqi security council meeting Dec. 23 to evaluate capabilities and limitations of existing social, civil and Iraqi Security Force institutions.

        “Based on the assessments we’ve made, governance in the area has a strong foundation, as does security,” explained Sgt. Austin Lefort, 21, platoon sergeant with Personal Security Detachment, Company C. “The police work well, independently from (Coalition forces), and there is a successful working relationship between police and the Iraqi Army.”

        As they’ve done each week long before the battalion’s arrival, added Lefort, the heads of security forces in the area discussed current and future security priorities.

        “This has continued to be a substantial forum for discussion,” said Lt. Col. Tariq Subhi Hussayn, chief of police for the Rawah area. “The city is secure and ready for upcoming elections.”

        Much discussion was directed towards the upcoming Iraqi elections. Both Hussayn and Lt. Col. Kahalid Uwayid Khalaf, the chief of police for Anah, stressed the importance of proper preparation for the high-profile event.

        “I want to make sure my police are prepared for any possible problems,” said Khalaf. “It is important that we work with the Army as well as with the police in Rawah.”

        Representatives from the Iraqi Army were present at the meeting and discussed the ongoing success of partnered security in the area.

        “We work cooperatively with the citizens and with the Iraqi Army to create a secure community,” said Hussayn. “It is important to have this partnership and it works well. When the Iraqi Army receives information, they pass it on to us, and it works the same way with our intelligence.”

        The lasting lull in violence and increased governance abilities in the area are evidence of a stable security apparatus in an area led by Iraqis.

        “We want the Iraqis to take the lead when and wherever they can,” said Lefort. “The (Iraqi Police) want to take over all the security responsibilities, which is good.”

        Iraqi police barracks buildings were recently completed at the Rawah Bridge traffic control point, which the chief of police was enthusiastic about.

        “As the Marines pull back, (Iraqi Police) are moving forward in every aspect of security,” explained Hussayn. “With the completion of the barracks, police can now conduct 24-hour operations, further increasing security in the area.”

        With the assessment operations nearing an end, the battalion will soon begin reduction operations in accordance with the Jan. 1 U.S.-Iraq Status of Force Agreement in order to allow Iraqis to step forward as the dominant security presence in the area.