Monday, June 30, 2008

Iraqi Police lead the way in Fallujah

by Cpl. Chris Lyttle
RCT-1 PAO

FALLUJAH, Iraq (June 24, 2008) – The joint security station in the Khadairy District of Fallujah is now home solely to Iraqi police, as Company K, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, detached from the station in a step toward transitioning security to IPs, June 18. IPs will continue their daily tasks here on their own as part of the transition of security from coalition forces.

U.S. Marines move out of Joint Security Station Khadairy in the northern District of Fallujah June 18. The movement means the building is now solely an Iraqi police station.“We really didn’t ‘de-militarize’ it, we more or less unpartnered,” said 1st Lt. Cory Colistra, platoon commander, 3rd Platoon. “We left the station intact. It’s an IP station now instead of a joint security station. We continue to work with them every day. The mission is to transition provincial Iraqi control and this is a physical example of being one step closer to mission accomplishment. The idea is that the Iraqis are taking over and we’re there as a backstop to support their operations. Doing that allows the IPs to directly provide security and stability while the Marines indirectly influence that end state.”

The purpose of JSS Khadairy, which was in operation for more than a year, was for coalition forces to transition security to Iraqi police led counterinsurgency operations while maintaining the security of the precinct. As the IPs have stepped up to conduct missions on their own, Colistra said the only change to daily tasks are the Marines’ responsibilities. “The mission and operations don’t change, but our method has transitioned to more of a support role,”

Colistra said. “The Marines will advise the IPs on certain tactical issues, but it is the IPs who are running their own show. We will be in that overwatch position and step up when needed. This builds confidence for both the (Iraqi security forces) and the local nationals and that’s all they need. We’re slowly taking a step back, allowing the ISF to step up and they’re gaining control of their city one day at a time.”

Accomplishments at the JSS came through partnered operations that built the IPs’ skill capacity. The IPs learned to properly guard their compound, patrol the streets and perform operations in their district, resulting in decreased insurgent activity. In turn, IPs positively influenced their local population. Colistra described how this transition is similar to how a Marine unit relinquishes command to another unit.

“I would compare it to turning my battle position over to another Marine platoon, but (in this case) we’re turning it over to the IPs,” Colistra said. “They are in control of their precinct – it is their area of operations. Now if we want to go into their AO, we will conduct cross boundary coordination with them. It is as if we were to go into an adjacent platoon’s AO. We would coordinate with them, let them know where we’re going and see if they can support us in any way. So I would do basically the same thing with the IPs, except our role is to support them.”

The IPs must work in their district without the constant presence of their Marine counterparts, and be ready to operate on their own. Colistra said there is no better time than now. With the local government’s support, IPs are building on their successes and Marines’ assistance is less needed with time. “The IPs at Khadairy are very capable,” Colistra said. “With their government’s support and the Marines as a backstop, they will have all the tools needed to be successful in taking control of their city. Once they become confident that they can do the job successfully and maintain security on their own, it’ll be the kick start for complete control.”

U.S. Marines move out of Joint Security Station Khadairy in the northern District of Fallujah June 18. The movement means the building is now solely an Iraqi police station.

Source: CENTCOM.

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