RAMADI, Iraq --
RAMADI, Iraq (Oct. 21, 2008) – Ensuring community wellness is an essential component to 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1’s success during their current deployment to Ramadi, Iraq.
Maj. James B. “J.B.” Runyon, the battalion’s executive officer, along with other members of the battalion and its subordinate Marine and Army units, attended a weekly meeting between Ramadi Mayor Latif Obaid Ayadah and local civic leaders at the Ramadi Government Center, Oct. 20.
“The secure environment that we hope to provide the people of Ramadi will allow the community to participate more fully in what direction the community is going,” said Runyon, a native of Albemarle, N.C. “These weekly meetings are a way for the Directors General (DGs) of Ramadi to convene with the mayor to discuss problems and what they will do in the next few weeks to fix them.”
In this week’s meeting, which is just one of many to have convened over the past six months, attendees discussed several problems with traffic, sewage and electricity in the city.
“They’ve had some problems with traffic and are trying to move a couple of checkpoints to help the traffic flow,” Runyon said. “They’re also having problems with sewage and electricity. Basically, the mayor gives the DGs his (ideas to fix the problems) and they put them into action.”
Marines with the battalion and members of Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team- Ramadi assist the civic leaders in planning and providing security for projects to improve the city’s infrastructure.
The ePRT is a joint state department unit tasked with working with the military to manage projects within a given community.
“We’re here to assist in providing a secure environment for the community. We’re trying to make it to where the people can live their day to day lives and are more willing to come out and participate in events going on in the community,” Runyon said. “We work with ePRT to do this, and we coordinate events so that the Iraqis have (the basic necessities) they need.
Runyon said senior leaders with the battalion meet with the mayor regularly to inform him about things Marines are seeing and hearing while engaging the community.
“Our Marines are engaging themselves in the community on a daily basis, and talk with tribal and community leaders,” said Runyon. “They find out what the DGs may not know. The people tell the Marines about troubled spots in the city and we bring it to the attention of the mayor.”
Although the battalion arrived to the area only a month ago, the Marines have hit the ground running and show no signs of slowing down any time soon.
We will continue to assist the city of Ramadi in securing a safe environment for its people and providing a safe place for them to live and work for years to come, Runyon said.