AL ASAD, Iraq --
Five years into Operation Iraqi Freedom and Coalition Forces continue to concentrate their efforts on professionalizing the Iraqi Police, Army and Border Patrol.
Marines are making progress to transfer security missions here to Iraqis by providing military, police and border transition teams.
“We embed with the transition teams and live with them for four to five days at a time,” said 1st Lt. Daniel Rodriguez, logistics officer, Border Transition Team 5th Battalion, 6th Brigade, 2nd Region.
Marines and Sailors with Transportation Support Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 2, 1st Marine Logistics Group, play a vital role in providing logistical support for the MTT, PTT and BTT teams in western al Anbar province.
“It’s imperative that we get the transition teams the supplies they need for them to be mission capable,” said 1st Lt. Aaron L. Serrano, 28, Carlisle, Iowa, convoy commander, TS Co., CLB-2, 1st MLG.
Without the constant resupplies, Marines wouldn’t be able to train the transition teams to the best of their ability.
Transportation Support Co. consistently performs combat logistics patrols to Camp Gannon to deliver food, water, repair parts and other equipment required for the transition teams to operate.
With all the supplies TS Co. delivers, the transition teams are able to accomplish their mission successfully.
“Our mission is to train, mentor and advise the director of border enforcement,” said Rodriguez, 25, Houston. “We trained them to interdict foreign fighters, facilitators and smugglers, and secure the Iraq-Syrian border.”
The transition teams are teaching the Iraqis how to handle weapons, conduct dismounted and mounted patrols, and develop leadership skills.
“We’re focusing on building stability with the Iraqi Police, Army and department of border enforcement,” said 1st Lt. John A. Meyer, Co. K executive officer, 3rd Bn., 7th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5.
Marines with the transition teams are also working every day developing the local economy and government in the area.
“We conduct leadership engagements with Iraqi Police chiefs, school headmasters, and city council members,” said Meyer, 26, Keller, Texas. “We give them guidance and advice to function as a community.”
Camp Gannon works directly with the Iraqi cities in the area to better serve the population’s way of life. The base communicates, passes information and works directly with the mayors of the respective areas.
“The joint coordination center holds biweekly meetings with the mayors of the region to discuss security in the area, and how they plan to act on each situation,” said Rodriguez.
In the last year, Coalition forces’ role has been more to assist the Iraqi people instead of being the lead. They provide guidance and advice when required.
“The transition teams are able to stand alone,” said Rodriguez. “(The Iraqis) are always in the front, while we’re in the back taking notes.”
“The biggest success that the transition teams have had in the region is they’ve been able to get the different Iraqi units to meet on a regular basis and coordinate their operations in order to bring security to the region,” said Rodriguez.
Marines here said the Iraqi Army, Police and Directorate of Border Enforcement have progressed in leaps and bounds since the start of transition teams in 2004.
“At one point, the IA, IP and DBE didn’t like each other and the meetings were out of the question,” said Rodriguez. “But now all of these units meet on a regular basis, conduct joint operations and coordinate operations.”
With the constant work the transition teams have been doing, Iraqi Policemen, soldiers and border enforcement agents are now able to work without much Marine supervision.
“You can tell they’ve been trained by Marines,” said Rodriguez. “They organize their gear and even handle weapons like us.”
The Marines working here are proud of the many successes the Iraqis have made.
“The Iraqis have progressed so much over the years, there’s less of a need for us to be out here,” said Meyer. “The Iraqi people are able to stand and function on their own.”