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Patrolling Haqlaniyah

HAQLANIYAH, IRAQ: The drive from Haditha Dam to Haglaniyah was fast and furious. The night starts with a ride in the back of an open 7 ton transport with a crew from Sky News and a team of Marines. The convoy roared down the roads at high speed during the night in blackout conditions, making turns a truck that large had no right making. The trip from the dam to Raider Nation, the foward position of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion,1st Marines, was low key save some interesting driving.

Raider Nation is one of four outposts in Haqlaniyah. The bulk of the company is stationed at Raider Nation, along with a platoon of Iraq soldiers. The other three outposts are Black Hole to the north of Haqlaniyah, TCP to the west, and K3 to the south. Lima Company sits to the east of the river in Barwana. Kilo Company’s three outposts contain a platoon of Iraqi infantry and one squad of Marines who acts as advisors in addition to their duties.

Checkpoints have been established into and out of the city, which allows Kilo to monitor traffic. The Raiders have cleared each house in the city since Operation Rivergate, and over 35 significant weapons caches have been discovered in the process. One find contained over 100 large caliber artillery shells. The Raiders also agressively patrol the desert regions to the west and south of the city to interdict insurgent mortar teams.

Haqlaniyah is a markedly different town than Husaybah. The residents are more educated, and there are many professionals who work at the dam or in other industry in the area. The streets are cleaner, the people’s dress is more western and there are more expensive cars on the road.

Residents of Haqlaniyah Speaking with Interpreter.

Residents of Haqlaniyah Speaking with Interpreter.

The Marines based out of Raider Nation aggressively patrol the city jointly with Iraqi Army troops. Today I walked the city with 1st Squad from the Raider’s 2nd Platoon. The squad is led by Corporal Joe Sanchez, a tough Marine who is on his third tour of duty in Iraq.

Today’s mission was to escort a psychological operations team from Detatchment 930, Company A, 9th POV out of Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. Contrary to the common negative perceptions about their mission; psyops responsibility is to provide information on local elections and information on the Coalition’s reconstruction efforts. A campaign of deliberate misinformation would render the unit inneffective.

The the psyops team is lead by Sergeant Rivers, and today’s assignment was to distribute leaflets and place posters on the walls with information on the election to the residents of Haqlaniya. Sgt.Rivers was adament that this was a job for the accompanying Iraqi troops; “This is their election, and they need to do the work.”

The Iraqi units based out of Haqlaniyah are raw troops, fresh out of training. The Marines here do not speak as highly of them as the tough Iraqis of the 1st Divison they fought with in Fallujah. But there is an understanding that the Iraqi troops they work with are in their infancy, and there is much room for improvement.

Iraqi Troops Hanging Election Posters

Iraqi Troops Hanging Election Posters in Haqlaniyah.

On today’s patrol, the Iraqi troops were not quite as disciplined as those I walked with in Husaybah, but they were capable. They enthusiastically hung the posters and handed out the election flyers to the numerous residents they encountered. Afterwards at the squad’s debrief, Cpl. Sanchez stated “the Iraqi troops performed their mission out there today.”

The walk was relatively uneventful. Two shots from what is belived to be an AK-47 were heard, but their origin was not determined. A car that was on a watchlist for acting as a getaway vehicle in a past shooting was identified, and weaved out of the traffic to elude the patrol. Lance Corporal Randy Lake gave chase on foot, and the psyops Humvee attempted to pursue, but the car escaped.

Just a week ago mortar and small arms fire was common at Raider Nation. The past few days have been quiet in Haqlaniyah and the surrounding areas.

1st Squad, 2nd Platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines

1st Squad, 2nd Platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines.

Reference

Listed below are links that reference Patrolling Haqlaniyah:

» On the ground in Anbar from Fish Fear Me
Five or six weeks ago I mentioned that Bill Roggio from The Fourth Rail would be going to Anbar Province in Iraq to be embedded with the troops there for a few weeks. He's there now and posting regularly at [Read More]

» Soldiers in Pinstripe Suits? from The Business of America is Business
Wretchard of the Belmont Club has recently made the following remarks about the long-term impact of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF): Whether OIF has wrenched events in the Middle East from their old tracks and put them on a better route remains to... [Read More]

Feedback

Very interesting report Bill.

Can you guage the sentiment of the residents as to their level of participation and expectiations from the elections? Are they more inclined to support the Sunni Islamist groups, or the nationalist or Baathist groups? What are the chances that they would enter into coalition with Allawi and against the Shiites?

Would the residents allow the Iraqi army to take control if the US troops pulled out of their area?

Bill, are you still at the dam in Haditha? My nephew is there and whenhe's not he's at the schoolhouse,{where ever that is?} his name again is LCpl Eliot J. Doray, we call him junior. he's with 3/1 H&SCo. If you catch up with him say hello for me and tell him to keep his [tail] down.

thank you,
bob hemmerle


Excellent post again - your writing gives an on the ground perspective sadly lacking elsewhere. It also gives a sense that pprogress is being made too. PLEASE KEEP UP THE INCREDIBLE WORK.

Bill,

These are good reports. Keep it up. You are making a huge difference back home, buddy. We count on your reports.

Subsunk

And what Men among Men, eh? Our guys do so much to make so many of us so proud. Press on, Gents. The Marine Corps is in good hands.

Subsunk

Bill, I just got word from Bill that you are there, I know you are doing what you think is right but I hope you are taking care of yourself.
John

Thanks for the facts, our media is dangerous, I expect Al-Qaeda to be running adds soon in the USA. I believe our media would print and broadcast on their behalf.