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thedrifter
08-03-07, 07:32 PM
Canons to C.A.G.: 2/11 tackles new mission

By Cpl. Dean Davis, MCB Camp Pendleton


MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (Aug. 3, 2007) -- A slightly different mission will confront the Marines of 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, the next time they deploy to Iraq.

A week-long seminar delivered by the Naval Post Graduate School allowed the battalion's leaders to focus their attention on civil affairs operations with comprehensive classes covering everything from cultural awareness to infrastructure guidance.

The classes covering various topics were custom tailored to the unit's specific needs, said Maj. William H. Chronister, operations officer for 2nd Bn., 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

This new information can allow the Marines' mission to progress into handing over responsibilities to the Iraqi people while working with U.S. and Iraqi civilian officials, Chronister said.

The Marines who have received all five days of training will now have to examine that information and figure out what is applicable to their troops, said Chronister. "I think that exposing our leadership to the idea that there is a non-military mechanism in place that can and will take this mission over will help them start passing just a little bit of responsibility, incrementally, over to the Iraqis and that will be great."

Security remains an essential aspect of the Marines' day-to-day mission, but they plan to assist the advisors within reconstruction teams to accomplish a more diplomatic objective.

"There are government agencies (in Iraq), not just armed services, that have the capability to help them," said Chronister. "Today if there were absolutely zero violence in Iraq, I'm sure that provisional reconstruction teams could take care of business all on their own."

Robert S. Tomasovic is a retired Army colonel with more than 32 years of experience in civil affairs, and is the director for the Leader Development Education for Sustained Peace program with the Naval Post Graduate School.

"2nd Battalion, 11th Marines, contacted us and asked if we could help them to gain a basic knowledge of civil affairs operations. We took a look at the Iraqi government and history. We talked about culture; we talked about Islam and theology and then discussed the other players in the (Middle East) such as Syria, Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia," said Tomasovic.

The seminar included instruction from various subject matter experts, such as doctors, officials from the department of state and former U.S. ambassador to Oman, David J. Dunford, who addressed issues that could affect the mission for all members of this battalion.

"A local Iraqi may see our uniform, not necessarily our rank and he might pull a lance corporal aside and give him information or ask him something," said Chronister. "One of the distillations of this training, down to all troop levels regardless of rank, will be that your primary weapon in this (mission) may also be your mind."

Ellie