RUTBAH, Iraq -- A recent Iraqi Police recruiting effort in the city of Rutbah, Iraq produced over a hundred volunteers to join the police force. Now, the Marines of Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) are busy constructing a police station to house the force when they return from the Iraqi Police Academy, at least, for a while.
The new interim Iraqi Police station is being constructed in a section of an abandoned school once used as a library. The interim facility will be used until a larger, more fortified structure can be established, said Gunnery Sgt. Ryan L. Hendrix, engineer chief, CLB-15.
According to Hendrix, the former occupants cleared the structure, leaving only the gutted shell of a building stripped of all the amenities and the surrounding area was full of trash and dirt when 15th MEU (SOC) arrived.
“There were no window frames, there were no lights, and there was no electricity in the building,” said Hendrix.
There were some minimal requirements needed in order to make the Iraqi Police Station functional, said Hendrix, but the engineers of CLB-15 had much bigger plans.
“[15th MEU(SOC)] Police Transition Team (PTT) started off with a few ideas, and we just kind of built from there” said Hendrix.
“We came up with the idea to install some huts for [the Iraqi Police] to live in as well as offices and a cell for detainees,” Hendrix added. CLB-15 is working with the PTT to find more ways to improve the interim Iraqi Police station, Hendrix said.
The open windows which surrounded the building were closed with cinderblock, leaving small openings covered with ballistics glass to allow the Iraqi Police to see out while remaining safe, according to Sgt. Matthew L. Miller, combat engineer.
An Iraqi Police station within the city will allow a constant police presence, which will better secure the city, Miller said.
“They can put out patrols and have a presence and be around daily, so the people can see them and know there is a police force to keep the insurgents out of here,” Miller said.
CLB-15 is laboring to complete the interim police station in time to house the new Iraqi Policemen, said Hendrix.
The permanent Iraqi police station, an old British fort located in Rutbah, will be constructed by local workers hired by a contractor and will take approximately six months to complete.
Hiring local workers to take part in the security of Rutbah by building the permanent Iraqi Police Station is part of the larger mission of handing control of the city to the people, Hendrix said.
“It’s all part of what we’re here to do,” Hendrix said. “Having the local [workers] build does so many things. It pays some one to work, it gives them a sense of accomplishment, and it gives [the Iraqi workers] a sense of ownership.”
A sense of accomplishment is something the Marines of CLB-15 know a lot about, according to Hendrix. The huts and the cinderblock of the interim Iraqi Police station will last longer than the time the Iraqi Police will utilize the facility, but the CLB-15 contribution towards jump-starting the Iraqi Police presence in Rutbah will last well into the future, according to Hendrix.
“The things we do stay forever. It feels pretty good to be able to leave your mark on a place,” Hendrix said.