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Lance Cpl. Bobby J. Jordan, 20, rifleman with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, from Tyler, Texas, shakes hands with an Iraqi child during a census patrol May 21. Marines with Company K patrolled through the city of Bani Dahir, Iraq, to questions the local populace. Marines said the communityâ??s sentiment towards Marines and the Iraqi Police was positive.

Photo by Cpl. Erik Villagran

Marines Embrace New Image

21 May 2008 | Cpl. Erik Villagran 1st Marine Division

Marines have always had a reputation as a force to be feared. In Bani Dahir, Iraq, Marines with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 have changed that sentiment towards them.

Marines with 1st Squad, 3rd Platoon, Company  K, 3rd Bn., 4th Marines conducted a census patrol through the city to gauge the feelings the Iraqi locals have concerning Marines and the Iraqi Police.

“The objective of the patrol was to gather intelligence about the local populace,” said Cpl. Roland L. Ramirez, 22, a team leader with Company K from Mission, Texas. “We want to make sure the people in town are safe.”

The squad, which is a part of the only platoon in the city, traveled to multiple locations during their patrol.

“They let us know what the attitude in town is toward Marines and the IP,” Ramirez said. “They let us know if we are doing things right.”

They were greeted warmly at the first house they visited. Two Marines in the patrol asked the Iraqi an array of questions to properly weigh the mood of the city.

“Life is much better here now,” said Muthana Ahmed, a resident here through an interpreter.

Marines providing security passed the time outside the home by interacting with the local children.

“The people are friendly when we come around,” Ramirez said. “They are always saying hello and the little kids constantly come up to us to shake our hands.”

Sgt. Dennis M. Gildea has recognized the change in the Iraqi populace. The locals know that they can look to Marines for assistance.

“They’ve realized that we’re here to help,” said Gildea, 23, a squad leader from St. Louis. “It they have a sick child, they know our doc has no problem treating them if he can.”

The next stop the Marines made was to speak with three Iraqi men who were performing yard work. The men were receptive to the Marines as well and had no problem answering the questions Marines asked through an interpreter.

“(The Iraqis) always have something to talk about,” Gildea said. “We listen to what they have to say because we’re focused on rebuilding their resources.”

Marines understand the importance of census patrols. They know they need help from the people to complete their objectives.

“The information they give us is real helpful,” Gildea said. “We’re going to accomplish more by going out there and talking to the populace compared to conducting patrols that just show force.”

Marines questioned more people throughout the patrol and were pleased to find out that the community supports the Marines’ efforts. They were also elated to discover that the citizens’ confidence in the Iraqi policemen operating in the city was growing.

“The (Iraqi policemen) are starting to embrace their role as police officers and it’s showing,” Gildea said. “We found out some good information, and we all got back safe so it was a good patrol.”

1st Marine Division