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FALLUJAH, Iraq (Aug. 21, 2008) – Iraqi Police guard entry control points, while Marines remain in an overwatch position to support them. ECPs throughout the city are being rebuilt to allow more traffic to enter the city. More commercial traffic ultimately means economic growth for the city. (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Chris Lyttle) (RELEASED)

Photo by Cpl. Chris Lyttle

Twice the security, half the wait

18 Aug 2008 | Cpl. Chris Lyttle

FALLUJAH, Iraq (Aug. 18, 2008) – Transportation in the city of Fallujah has taken the high road, far beyond the days of Bedouin caravan runners who used camels to travel and transport goods across the desert.

Besides the occasional farmer’s donkey carting vegetables, Iraqis use four wheels, vice four legs, as a preferred method of travel. Dump trucks, tankers, commuter traffic and other vehicles steadily flow into Fallujah’s entry control points, which have been put in place to safeguard people inside the city.

Increasingly long car lines at the ECPs are a visual indication that commerce is on the rise, but so is the inconvenience of traffic congestion. To accommodate for this growth, Iraqi contractors and 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines are rebuilding the ECPs to cut the wait time for commuters, which in turn could boost the city’s incoming revenue.

“Historically, the city of Fallujah has a transportation and logistics-based economy,” said 1st Lt. Philipp Rigaut, assistant operations officer, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines. “Based on demographics, the largest employment sector in Anbar and Fallujah involves transportation, particularly with truckers and cab drivers. The new ECPs throughout Fallujah are designed to support the increasing traffic flow while serving its primary purpose as the first line of security upon entering the city.”

Rigaut said size was the most important issue when considering the redesign of ECPs, where more Iraqi Police are needed to conduct vehicle and personnel searches.

“The ECPs are Iraqi-ran with Coalition forces performing in an overwatch position,” Rigaut said. “Due to the increased amount of lanes and traffic, more IPs will need to be employed at the ECPs.”

Another addition to the design is an area for “Sisters of Fallujah” to perform their duties, searching women and children entering the city.

The Sisters of Fallujah program started last year after the original ECPs were constructed. Rigaut said the new ECPs will include a dedicated area that will offer more space for the female search teams.

1st Lt. Matthew Smith, engineer officer, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, is supervising the construction project and said his responsibility is to ensure the ECPs are built accurate to the given design.

“So far, it’s coming along well,” Smith said. “My engineers have put in more than 100 man hours placing barriers and building huts. Civilian Iraqi contractors are grading, leveling and pouring asphalt down. These are new ECPs built from the ground up that require a lot of man hours.”

The end result of everyone’s hard work, Rigaut said, is larger security checkpoints with wait times virtually cut in half to bring in more business.

“Fallujah’s traffic flow will only increase as the economy and security situations continue to improve,” Rigaut said. “It’s good to see that Iraq is ready to transition from a state of heightened security to a state of economic prosperity.”