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Walking Husaybah

The nighttime mounted patrol in Husaybah was followed by a pair of foot patrols. I linked up with the 1st Platoon of Lima Company of the 3rd Marines, 6th Battalion, call sign Jackal 1. 1st Lieutenant William Oren took me on a patrol through the southern neighborhoods outside of Battle Position Beirut.

We snaked through the streets, and my impression of Husaybah changed little from the night’s view. Interspersed with the trash, rubble, pieced-together walled homes and the ever present dogs was a mix of interesting architecture and a multitude of smiling Iraqi children and their parents.

Corporal Austin Hall directed the movement of the mixed squad of Marines and Iraqi troops, and warned me that if children are present, then all is well and the “muj” will not attack. We ran into children every where we went, and some crafty ones managed to meet us several times, always looking for candy or other handouts.

The platoon’s interpreter, or “terp” is a young Brit of Iraqi lineage named Icy, much wiser than his twenty years. He just turned twenty during this deployment and is on his third year as a Coalition interpreter, having served in Afghanistan and elsewhere in Iraq. Icy moved along the city street with the ease of a city mayor, and often stopped at haji shops to purchase sweets for us to distribute to the children.

Both Lieutenant Oren and Corporal Hall explained the successful patrol in Husaybah this afternoon would have been unheard of just three weeks ago prior to Operation Steel Curtain. “Over three weeks ago, we wouldn’t have gotten 200 feet into this city without taking fire”, said Cpl Hall.

The Iraqi troops that patrolled with the squad were quite impressive. Having served as an infantryman, I was curious to see how they handled themselves while patrolling through an urban environment, one of the most dangerous tasks for the infantry. An Iraqi soldier ran point, the entire way. They understood and responded to hand signals, maintained their intervals and guarded intersections during crossings. All the while talking to the residents of Husaybah. Other than their uniforms, they were virtually indistinguishable from their Marine counterparts - no small feat.

The evening proved even more interesting. A quick patrol was put together, but for a different purpose. The objective was a meeting with local sheikhs of a tribe in Husaybah. Another mixed patrol of Iraqi solders and Marines took us to the home of a local sheikh and several senior leaders of his tribe. Lieutenant Oren and Icy were to attend, and invited me to join.

We removed our boots and gear, and entered the home, to receive warm greetings from the tribal leaders. We sat on the blanketed floor, sipped sweet chai, and smoked cigarettes while Lieutenant Oren and the sheikhs discussed, via Icy, various issues of import to both the tribe and the Marines. The Marines and Iraqi soldiers stood by for almost an hour and a half until the meeting ended, with smiles, warm handshakes and a group photo.

The walk back to Battle Position Beirut through the darkness of Husaybah ended as uneventful as the morning patrol. What a difference one month makes in this corner of Iraq.

Reference

Listed below are links that reference Walking Husaybah:

» Want some unvarnished good news from Iraq? from Silent Running
Read Bill Roggio’s reportage. Good stuff. Oh, and for those starved for ‘metrics’ of progress - watch the proliferation of little blue squares, in a rather logical and orderly manner, even…who’da thunk it? Certainly not... [Read More]

Feedback

Bill,glad to see you and our guys are warmly welcomed by the locals. Keep up the good work. Debbie R

Way to go, Bill. Sounds like a movie scene, but we know it's all too real. Glad to know you're getting out there to see what's what. Stay safe.
Deb

Bill, more great stuff. Thanks. Your mom is not going to like that you smoked over there! Based on all of the stuff that I've read, Waste Management could make a mint in Iraq. Stay safe.

Bill,
Keep your head on a swivel and stay low. You are with the best, but nobody is bullet proof. Thank you for your sacrifice to bring the real happenings back to those who care. Having this in writing gives our arguments more weight than the easily dismissed "Funny, that's not what my friends have said..."
William sends

This sounds like you are having WAY too good a time. The reporting is really amazing. In fact, this whole new site, ThreatsWatch is simply the best.

Come back to us with lots of great stories and come back safely.

Keep your head down (that's what I always say to my friend Mike - did ya get to see him?).

SW

Bill, I can't believe you are with Lima Co. My son is in 3rd platoon. I would prefer not to identify him online, but he is a Lance Corporal from Richmond Hill, Georgia. He'll recognize my email address. If you have time, tell him his Dad says hi and is proud of him. Thanks for the reporting you do!

Bill,

Please keep your postings short. More frequent, but short, as I have discovered that I am involuntarily holding my breath while reading each one. WALKING HUSAYBAH is first class! We are asking God to walk with you each step of the way.

Hey Bill,

We all appreciate your writing to us about the many personalities of those you meet while explaining the history of challenges faced by the soldier. Iraqi soldiers of 1/1/1 taking point?, this speaks volumes and a significant success barometer of progress along with the children free to roam.

Hi Bill,
I am so proud of you and the news that you are bring back to us first hand. Please be careful and we await with open eyes your next updates. I love reading your articles. They are fantastic, perfect and to the point with nothing missing. What a great journalist you have become. We miss you here at work.
Take care and be safe, HOOAH.
Helen

Bill,

It was a pleasure meeting you in Baghdad and I'm glad you made it to your final destination here in Iraq. Stay safe, keep reporting, and say goodbye on your way out of country if you have a chance.

Sgt. Trevor Snyder

Nice work Bill. Thanks for doing the work and reporting the news the media won't.

Hi, everyone. There is a picture of Bill at Trevor's blog. Take a look. He was happy and healthy on Thursday. Thanks, Trevor, for the kind words and for taking care of him in Baghdad.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4480908.stm
Looks like the US is reaching out to Iran and Sunni insurgents. This might be a good thing. I don't know though.

Bill, you da man! Keep us posted of what our warriors are doing over there and send them our proud thanks!