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2nd Lt. Nathan P. Phan, the platoon commander for 3rd Platoon, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, speaks with Col. Khamis, the Sabbatine Battalion commanding officer, during a meeting July 14.

Photo by Pfc. Jerry Murphy

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24 Jul 2008 | Pfc. Jerry Murphy 1st Marine Division

The Iraqi Army has several functioning battalions, but its Sabbatine Battalion has worked with other Iraqi Security Forces and with Marines to go above and beyond since its inauguration March 15, 2007.

The Sabbatine Battalion operates in al Anbar province, Iraq, and works closely with the Iraqi Police and 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1 to rid the area of insurgent threats.

“The Sabbatines are the most confident, successful, professional and capable battalions in the Iraqi forces,” said 2nd Lt. Nathan P. Phan, the platoon commander for 3rd Platoon, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines. “We have (worked) with them on all different levels and they are just squared away.”

The Sabbatines have trained on a weekly basis with Marines of the battalion’s Company F, honing their tactical skills and learning the basics conducting counter insurgency tactics.

 “Training the (ISF) is our mission,” Phan said. “We are accomplishing our mission through (the Sabbatines). We train them on patrolling skills, competency, weapons marksmanship and conducting security.”

The Sabbatines had never worked with Coalition forces until 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines, began their deployment in Iraq.

“We train them to improve their capabilities and make them a better counterinsurgency force,” said Phan. “We’re not here to tell them what to do; we’re here to give them advice, guidance and support.

The Sabbatines and the IP had a difficult time working together in the beginning, but with the support of Company F, the two ISF elements are now able to conduct missions together and coincide as one.

  “They had their differences but we sat down with them and worked it out,” said Cpl. Matt A. Johnson, a team leader with 3rd Platoon, Company F. “We didn’t make them do it, they decided it within themselves.”

 Since the two units of the ISF have been working together, hostile incidents in the area have been almost non-existent and the Marines have seen the change.

 “The reason insurgency has left the area is because of the work of the IPs and Sabbatines,” said Johnson. “When we go out on foot patrols with them, they take the lead. We pretty much just provide an over watch for them.”

 When 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines transfer the authority of their area of operations to their relieving unit soon, the Sabbatines will continue to carry out the mission of thwarting insurgency and providing the Iraqi people with a safe place to live and work.

1st Marine Division