When the Division arrived in Iraq in March, and area due west of Baghdad was a hotbed of Shia extremists. Nahrawan was so overrun by Shia criminals and militias that we could not attack it without the proper combat power.
Recently, the 1-10 Field Artillery Battalion in our Third Brigade Combat Team finished its original mission and has now attacked into Nahrawan in an operation called MARNE ANVIL. Through deliberate targeting, the unit took out five of the brigade’s high value individuals and worked its way into Nahrawan.
Less than a week into MARNE ANVIL, I went to Nahrawan and walked the streets. I visited a local market, where vendors were selling anything from clothing to chickens. I drove into the downtown area, talked with local sheikhs, and visited the site for a new health clinic.
Most importantly, I met with the local Iraqi Police and presented my "Commanding General’s Coin for Excellence" to two police officers that helped to turn in munitions that would have otherwise killed our Soldiers. Earlier that day, Shia concerned local citizens found a cache of rockets aimed at our Soldiers. They called the Iraqi Police who worked with our Soldiers to find the rockets before they killed us.
That kind of story is amazing - Iraqis taking responsibility for their neighborhoods, and Iraqi Police working with us to deny Nahrawan as an enemy sanctuary. Soon, Soldiers from the 1-10 Field Artillery regiment will occupy Patrol Base Salie, named after Sergeant First Class Salie who paid the ultimate sacrifice under the 3rd Infantry Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom III.
The power of kinetic operations coupled with the occupation of a patrol base has a potent effect. Iraqis are realizing that we not only eliminate the terrorists, but that we care enough to stay behind and establish a presence in the community.
Currently, Task Force Marne has over 39 patrol bases, joint security sites, company outposts, forward operating bases, and battle positions. And we will continue to grow in the future. As we help secure the Iraqi population, they rise up to secure themselves.
As we look toward the new year, we are looking to develop capacity and help the Iraqis connect their local governments with their provincial governments, and assist them in building their economy. By precisely targeting insurgent leaders and helping communities once again stand on their feet, we are helping the Iraqis regain control from the terrorists ruining their way of life.
Rock of the Marne!
Major General Rick Lynch is the commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division from Fort Stewart, now deployed in Iraq. Captain Allie Weiskopf Chase contributed to this column.