KARMAH, Iraq (December 14, 2008) --
Marines in Karmah took part in an Anbar-wide initiative to organize and register members of Sons of Iraq in preparation for the organization’s upcoming transition and legitimization into Iraq’s Ministry of Interior.
Sons of Iraq have been credited with turning the tide in the fight against insurgents in Iraq’s al Anbar Province and were paid by Coalition forces.
As part of the security transition process from Coalition forces to the Government of Iraq, the SOI was recently recognized by the government as the country continues its pursuit of self-sustaining independence.
The primarily Sunni organization originated as an additional force to combat the insurgency. Iraqis throughout the province eventually united as small security teams to form a collective effort.
The movement showed its effectiveness as security significantly improved throughout al Anbar. SOI assisted Coalition forces operations and employed a considerable amount of Iraqis.
The predominantly Shiite government recently agreed to acknowledge the SOI as part of the Iraqi Forces and retain the additional security. But, as many SOI members were left unemployed during a deliberation process, Marines with 1st Bn., 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, continued to pay a considerable amount of money each month to members in the Greater Karmah Region of Iraq.
Although a significant financial expense, the Marines felt it better to keep them on Coalition forces’ payroll than unemployed and idle.
“I’d rather have them being paid by [Coalition forces,] than paid by insurgents, or waiting for something to happen for them,” said Lance Cpl. Kevin Perez, a 19-year-old squad automatic weapon gunner from Miami, with second platoon, Company B, 1st Bn., 3rd Marines.
Another benefit to paying SOI members thus far was additional accountability and stability, said 2nd Lt. Clint Eubanks, 2nd platoon commander with Company B, 1st Bn., 3rd Marines.
“We had to wait until the Iraqi government was stable enough to not depend on our money,” he said. “It’s part of our ticket out of here.”
SOI grew drastically in numbers since its inception in 2006, and its members continually support operations in al Anbar at security checkpoints and on patrols through cities.
“They help secure the area, and they took it upon themselves to stand up against violence in their communities,” Perez said.
A part of Iraqi sovereignty is financial independence, a freedom Iraq has been nearing progressively. The decrease of financial assistance needed to support Iraq reiterates the growing independence to which they’ve matured.