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(KARMA, Iraq) General Sadun Talib ali Jumali, commander of the 5th Provincial Security Forces in Karmah, assures some of the most prominent leaders and sheiks of the Sahara tribe they will not be threatened by insurgents. The meeting Oct. 4, was the first since the June 26 suicide bombing that claimed a number of lives and injured many others, including Marines from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Achilles Tsantarliotis)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Achilles Tsantarlioti

Karmah sheiks committed to progression

4 Oct 2008 | Lance Cpl. Achilles Tsantarliotis

KARMAH, Iraq (October 4, 2008) –  Less than four months ago, a suicide bomber attacked and killed key leaders of the greater Karmah region, as well as Marines of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.

The June 26 attack was a harsh reminder to Coalition forces the enemy is still present and active. It was also the last time sheiks and local leaders met openly in a public forum.

Despite the threat and danger such open engagements present, approximately 50 of the most prominent Karmah sheiks who participated in the “Awakening” movement, and Provincial Security Force leaders gathered Oct. 4, to discuss improving security in the greater Karmah region.

The meeting consisted of speeches by some of the significant leaders attending, including Gen. Sadun Talib ali Jumali, commander of the 5th PSF.

Marines from Task Force 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1 also attended, but remained behind the scenes.

The Marines’ role was minimal, but essential in providing additional security for key Iraqi leaders in their pursuit for democracy.

“Regarding Marine presence, one of the most significant aspects of the engagement was actually the lack of Marine involvement,” said Maj. Jason Borovies, a 31-year-old operations officer from Springfield, Va., with 1st Bn., 3rd Marines.

The meeting demonstrated the dedication Karmah leaders have to ridding the region of terrorist threats and establishing the region as an autonomous province, said Borovies.

“It showed they were confident enough to progress with little to no U.S. involvement,” he said. “It shows that we can continue transitioning to an over watch position as they become less and less dependent.”

During the meeting, the sheiks discussed how they must come together as one and overcome the insurgency.

“It really showed local leaders, despite potential attacks, are willing and capable to risk exposure to enemy threats to continue progress in Karmah,” said 1st Lt. Gary Keefer, a battalion intelligence officer with 1st Bn., 3rd Marines. “It also reflects positively on the Iraqi Security Forces ability to conduct efficient security operations.”

The meeting was broadcasted on local TV to show the people of Karmah its leaders are continuing forward, defiant of threats and terror.

“This meeting really helped establish new relationships of leaders that have stepped up in their place,” Keefer explained.