AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq --
Reserve Marines from 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment arrived here during the second week of September to conduct missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Upon arrival, the battalion became part of Regimental Combat Team 5, and they will be responsible for security and stability operations in the al-Anbar province.
“Our Marines are extremely prepared with three months of solid pre-deployment training, previous experience here and extensive military and civilian education,” said Sgt. Maj. Anthony Allen, the battalion sergeant major, from Fredericksburg, Va.
“Whether we go into a COIN [counter-insurgency] fight or help develop local Iraqi Police and government institutions, these guys are ready…. we’re warriors,” said Allen. “This is what is expected of us.”
About half of the battalion is slated to assume a security-force role for the base here, while the remainder of the Marines are scheduled to head out into the sparsely populated western region of al-Anbar to conduct an array of counterinsurgency operations and provide operational overwatch for the Iraqi Army and IP.
On Sept. 1, Maj. Gen. John Kelly, commanding general, Multi-National Forces-West, signed an agreement with Ma’amoun Sami Rashid al-Awani, governor of al-Anbar, to hand over control of the province to the Iraqi government. Al-Anbar is the largest of Iraq’s 18 provinces and borders Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
“It doesn’t feel like the same place,” said Sgt. Jeffrey W. Schuller, a vehicle commander with the battalion’s Weapons Company from Monroeville, Ohio. “The kinetic fight is all but gone here.”
Schuller left Iraq in 2005, earning the Silver Star for gallantry while serving with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment.
“The more peaceful this place is and the less firefights we get in, that shows we have been successful in doing the job we originally set out to do,” continued Schuller. “In al-Anbar in 2005, it was unarguably one of the most violent places on earth. I’m very pleased that all the hard work we did is paying off. Things are definitely moving in a positive direction.”
This is the battalion’s third mobilization since 2002 and their second deployment to Iraq. Their expected tour is seven months.