CAMP RAMADI, Iraq --
(November 25, 2008) – Recently, Marines with Regimental Combat Team 1’s headquarters element packed their bags and for the first time since the war in Iraq began, moved an entire Marine regiment out of Fallujah.
Regimental Combat Team 1 moved out and stuck their guidon in the sands at Camp Ramadi.
Camp Fallujah was ideal; a former military compound, much of its infrastructure was already in place and fortified walls surrounded its inhabitants.
The Marines found their Camp Ramadi facilities in a much different state. Most of their new offices needed renovations, and others had to be built entirely. New lots for the motor transport and supply sections had to be graveled and fenced. And some Marines lived in large tents until living quarters were renovated.
But the Marines adapted and quickly began making Camp Ramadi a home away from home, and they plan to leave it better than they found it.
“It is important to get the facilities as safe and comfortable as possible,” said Maj. Todd Sanders, a 36-year-old logistics officer from Brant, Texas, with RCT-1. “We also want to ensure that the unit that is replacing us has the best facilities that they can, so that they can focus on their mission rather than their facilities.”
Some of the camp’s improvements required a large amount of heavy construction and renovation. Marines would have spent a great deal of time and man power to make these renovations on their own, so instead they reached out to the local community.
“The Iraqi contractors help us do a lot of the specific construction work, which allows Marines to focus on their mission,” said Sgt. Joshua J. Gatewood, a 25-year-old construction and logistics noncommissioned officer from Everett, Wash., with RCT-1.
The use of Iraqi contractors not only makes Marines more readily available to complete missions, it also provides jobs and revenue to help boost the Iraqi economy.
“Hiring local contractors will have a positive effect on the relationship between the Iraqi people and Coalition forces through the influx of funds into the local economy,” said Sanders. “As Coalition forces utilize local national contractors, it provides another outlet for jobs and funding to permeate into the local economy.”
With only a couple of months left on their deployment, Marines are trying to put the finishing touches on the improvements to leave their facilities in good shape for incoming units.
“When Marines are able to rest and relax in a non-austere environment, it has a positive effect on their moral and allows them to be better focused when they are conducting their mission,” said Sanders.