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thedrifter
12-14-05, 08:27 AM
Eastland, Texas, native helps Iraqi Army train
2nd Marine Division
Story by Cpl. Shane Suzuki

AR RAMADI, Iraq (Dec. 14, 2005) -- Marines with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, and soldiers from the local Iraqi Army recently conducted a patrol through the streets here Nov. 18.

The patrol, which was the first to be planned and executed by the IA, is an example of the growing cooperation between Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces, said Lance Cpl. Kevin Wollam, an infantryman with Company I.

“We took two squads of IA out and helped them perform the basics of a patrol,” said the 20-year-old Eastland, Texas, native. “It went really well, especially compared to previous patrols. The Iraqis have worked really hard and have improved in leaps and bounds since we got here. I think they are getting close to being able to take care of the area without our help.”

By letting the Iraqis plan this mission, the Marines took the back seat and were mainly around to help provide security for the Iraqis and to help critique and analyze their abilities during and after the patrol.

“They are learning and applying what they are learning to their missions,” said the Eastlake High School graduate. “They aren’t silhouetting themselves during movements anymore and are taking a more active approach to their own security. These were all things they never used to do.”

During the patrol, the two squads stopped and spoke with a number of home and business owners and seemed to be having more success communicating with them than the Marines do when they go out on missions, said Wollam.

“The local population seems to be more responsive to Iraqis coming into their homes and providing local security than to the Marines,” he said. “It’s a really good thing we are doing here with the IA. We have to teach them how to do these patrols on their own so we can eventually leave the country in their hands.”

Being a part of a battalion that is taking such a hands-on approach with the Iraqis is something that is very satisfying and important, not to mention vital to the Coalition’s efforts to create a free and democratic Iraq, said Wollam.

“I like being here in Iraq with my fellow Marines,” he said. “I would hate to be in the Marine Corps and not be deployed and not be doing my job. This is what I wanted to do, to be a part of something big.”

Ellie