AMERIYAH-FERRIS, Iraq -- Ferris Town, about a one-square-kilometer village, almost symmetrical in shape, is a unique and isolated town that falls within 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1’s area of operations.
Hyundai Asan, the South Korean automotive company, built Ferris in 1982 as a joint venture under former President Saddam Hussein. Most locals worked in the factories until they were shut down after the coalition invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The town is home to roughly 30,000 Iraqis who are now primarily employed as doctors, engineers, teachers and skilled laborers. The center of the city boasts a marketplace that flourishes with local business daily and social activity nightly.
Weapons Company, 3rd Bn., 6th Marines, took over the area from 3rd Bn., 5th Marines, in February and has continued the effort to maintain security, revitalize the economy and assist the community in a number of areas.
“3/5’s focus was similar to what we took over trying to increase and maintain stability in Ferris Town,” said 1st Lt. Luke R. Barnes, mobile-assault platoon commander, Weapons Company. “As a platoon, we mainly focus on the people. The village itself is pretty calm and permissive. We spend a lot of time patrolling in the city going door to door dismounted from vehicles, catching the atmospherics from the markets and the schools.”
Barnes said that his company deals with multiple issues in regards to stability, such as civil affairs projects and transitioning the security role to the Iraqi police.
Like a medieval fortress, a canal surrounds the town. It tightens security, allowing only one way in and out. Each day, the company sends several patrols into town to talk to police and locals.
“Our relationship is pretty good with (the locals),” Barnes said. “The people seem to respond to our presence. They seem to like us. We have a good relationship with the (Iraqi police) as well. A lot of times they’ll lend us four or five IPs to go on patrol with us.”
The company has most recently implemented "pulse patrols," which figuratively keep a finger on the pulse of the people.
“When we stay in our vehicles, we lose sight of that pulse of what’s going on in Ferris,” he said. “If the people are feeling safe, if they have enough food … whatever complaints or concerns that they have. Whether we’re able to do something about it or not, I think it still means a lot to them for us to be there and let them express their needs.”
Barnes said the platoon has been receiving positive feedback from Ferris locals concerning progress in recent months. The people are gaining confidence in the Ferris police and beginning to respond positively to the joint Marine/Iraqi patrolling efforts.
“We are going to continue to focus on the town of Ferris and continue to do what we know is right,” he said. “We are confident that our interaction with people is why we have seen such success in the recent months. They know we genuinely care and are there to help them out in any way we can.”