HADITHA, Iraq --
Most people try to avoid working themselves out of a job. The Marines with the Civil Affairs Team 1 consider it a goal.
It was a sign of progress when the Barwana Civil Affairs Group, Civil Affairs Team 1, Detachment 1, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, packed up and moved their office here May 2.
The Barwana CAG was responsible for assisting the local Barwana government with projects and some of the day-to-day operations.
“We were basically there to provide eyes and ears for the rest of Team 1 on projects and to provide guidance to the mayor and the city council,” said Sgt. David A. Strouth, 27, from Roanoke Va., who was the sub-team leader, Barwana CAG. “Lately we have been less focused on starting new projects and more focused on showing the government how to operate on their own.”
The previous Barwana CAG had operated as a separate entity from Haditha. After the government had switched to Iraqi provincial control, the Marines presence there was meant to cultivate independent leadership.
“We wanted the people to be responsible for themselves,” said Cpl. Richard F. Lane, 24, from Lynn Mass., who was the contract liaison and claims noncommissioned officer, Barwana CAG. “The government there now handles their own ministries, and they have started doing their own city projects.”
Although, the Barwana government will be given a chance to operate with less Coalition forces supervision, they are not going to be left completely on their own.
“We will still check on the key leaders and projects, but we are not going to be here forever, so it is important for us to prepare the government to function on it’s own,” said Strouth.
One of the big factors that made the move possible was the opening of the Verizano bridge, which will give the residents from Barwana quicker access to Haditha and its economic resources.
“As opposed to a two hour drive, it will now only take twenty minutes to reach Haditha from Barwana,” said Strouth.
By gradually moving their bases away from the cities, Coalition forces have been able to slowly give control back to the local government without completely abandoning them.
“It is important for the people to know that we are still here to finish the job, but rather than coming to us for their daily problems, they will learn to rely on their city government,” said Lane.