RUTBAH, Iraq -- The Marines and Sailors of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) took a decisive step to set the foundations of stability in the city of Rutbah, Iraq, a move to give control of the city to the citizens within. Rutbah is located in western Al Anbar Province and sits alongside a major highway that connects Baghdad with the borders of Jordan and Syria.
The 15th MEU (SOC) moved into Rutbah Jan. 20 with Okinawa, Japan-based Company B, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, and Co. E, Battalion Landing Team 2/4, 15th MEU (SOC), and established firm bases within the city limits. Establishing bases within Rutbah gives Marines here better access to a population center in Al Anbar Province, said Capt. Stanton C. Hawk, commanding fficer, Co. B.
The bases are being established to provide better security for the citizens of Rutbah and to free the city of elements detrimental to its development.
“Being here disrupts the insurgent activity because they can’t do it in plain sight,” said Hawk.
Marines in Rutbah are also striving to build a good rapport with the citizens and to give them an opportunity to start providing security for themselves until an Iraqi Police force is established, said Sgt. Corey A. Schwendeman, senior intelligence analyst, 15th MEU (SOC).
Marines here are resolved to provide the people of Rutbah the resources vital to build a stable society in the city and is being communicated on several levels, including meetings with local leadership and citizens, said Hawk.
“We talk to the people face to face and tell them what’s going on and what we’re here to do, and that’s how we communicate,” Hawk said.
The lines of communication between the Marines and the citizens of Rutbah are designed to give the people a sense of security and openness, said Schwendeman.
Interactions with local Iraqis are necessary to show the populace the goal is to establish the secure future of Rutbah.
“(Our presence) is going to establish confidence in them that the coalition is working with them and the coalition is trying to make Rutbah a safer, better place,” Schwendeman said.
Marines in Rutbah have made a positive impact on the stability within the city, as reflected in the reactions of the locals since Marines moved in.
“The people we’ve spoken to have welcomed us and are happy we’re here because the Anti-Iraqi Forces leave when we’re here,” Hawk said.
A Marine presence in Rutbah will give the citizens of the city a sense of ownership and control of their town, said Staff Sgt. Paul W. Hughes, Team Leader, Co. B.
With the groundwork of stability being laid in Rutbah by the Marines and sailors of the 15th MEU (SOC), the citizens of Rutbah will have a stepping stone toward an insurgent-free city and the ability to govern themselves, said Hughes.
“It won’t be a town run by criminals, it will be a town run by the people,” Hughes said.