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Sobhy Humady Khatlan, a Rawah, Iraq, resident and businessman, speaks with 2nd Lt. Randy Blowers, platoon commander, Provisional Rifle Platoon 3, during a brief visit Oct. 10 at his home in Rawah. Blowers and his Marines were meeting neighbors in the area around Traffic Control Point 3, the new home of PRP 3, to build relationships with the citizens.::r::::n::

Photo by Sgt. M. Trent Lowry

Marines liaise with neighbors

13 Oct 2008 | Sgt. M. Trent Lowry

Marines from Provisional Rifle Platoon 3, Regimental Combat Team 5, patrolled the immediate vicinity of the checkpoint that has been their new home for only a couple of days, greeting the neighbors of the traffic control point near the Euphrates River.

The Marines made a short walk, one that was beneficial in maintaining good relations with important members of the Rawah community immediately surrounding Traffic Control Point 3, on the northern bank of one of the Middle East's major rivers.

“We're living here now, and we need to maintain the positive atmospherics” said 2nd Lt. Randy Blowers, 25, platoon commander, PRP 3, from Vernon, Conn. “Though (the Marines) are in overwatch now, it's still important to get our neighbors to buy into the progress we're enjoying here.”

The platoon, which is primarily comprised on non-infantry Marines from Headquarters Company, RCT-5, took over the TCP from Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, RCT-5.  The platoon is providing security overwatch for the bridge and patrolling the southern sectors of Rawah, enhancing the safety of the town.

While on the patrol, the Marines met with businessmen Yaser Humady Khatlan and his older brother Sobhy Humady Khatlan, a member of the Rawah city council. Both welcomed the Marines into their home with open hospitality.
“Starting from the end of 2006 and continuing through now, the situation has been good,” Yaser said through a translator.  “Everyone has been good, the Iraqi Police and the Marines.”

The IP in Rawah stand watch in TCPs and patrol the streets in their vehicles, maintaining the bulk of the security in the area. The main responsibility of the Marines is to ensure the security of the bridge, which crosses the Euphrates River.

While Rawah was one of the cities besieged by foreign fighters and anti-Coalition insurgents in past years, the citizens now cooperate with Iraqi Security Forces and Marines to rebuild services and infrastructure, making it an example of the steadily growing power of local governance.

“There's no kind of problem here that can't be fixed with us working together,” Sobhy said. “Everything is good here, now.  People can go to the market because the security is good.”

While the U.S. presence has helped the stability, the Marines are looking forward to the Iraqis taking ownership of their town.

“The goal is to not need this outpost anymore,” Blowers said. “We want the citizens to work together and for them to go to their authorities when they need something.”

Blowers added that the Marines want to help, but are now focused on watching the IP control the area.

“We want to work ourselves out of a job,” Blowers said. “We want the (Iraqi policemen) to step up their level of responsibility.”