Coalition and Iraqi security forces are diligently working together to aid Iraq in its pursuit of becoming an independent state. Progress is being made daily with keeping al Qaida in Iraq at bay and transferring security responsibilities to the Iraqi people, allowing coalition forces to transition to tactical overwatch.
An example of such progress is the demilitarization of Fallujahâ€™s new bridge by the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, on April 24. Formerly used exclusively for military traffic only, the bridge has now opened its roadways to the rest of cityâ€™s populace.
â€œWeâ€™re opening the bridge and the roads up to give the people of Fallujah a sense of normalcy back,â€ said Staff Sgt. Thomas A. Pieratti, platoon commander, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marineâ€™s Jump Platoon.
Opening the bridge has also freed up one of two roads that led from concrete barriers and frequently congested traffic. The barrier removals became a major improvement for local commuters traveling in and out of the city.
Col. Faisal Ismail al-Zobaie, Fallujahâ€™s chief of police, joined the Marines at the bridge opening at 10:30 a.m. and civilian traffic began flowing shortly afterward.
â€œWeâ€™re getting these people back on track to return to their normal lives,â€ said Sgt. Maj. Rodney A. Robinson, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marinesâ€™ Sergeant Major.
With Fallujah police manning a guard-shack on the bridge, Col. Faisal showed Lt. Col. James B. Zientek, 3rd Bn. 6th Marinesâ€™ commanding officer, where other policemen would stand post and how they will take the lead in security.
The transition of operations from coalition forces into the hands of the Iraqi security forces is an important step in restoring security to the country. Simple feats such as opening up bridges and roads to the local citizens are a positive sign of a country progressing towards normacly.
â€œWhen we give more of the country back to the people, it gives them a sense of pride in that country,â€ Pieratti said. â€œThat pride will make them more likely to fight for their country.â€
That pride is evident through the people of the once war-torn city of Fallujah. With its flowing Iraqi flags at every turn and Iraqi soldiers and policemen in uniform congregating in the city streets amongst the people, the city is showing its hopes for a brighter future.
By Cpl. Sean P. McGinty, Combat Correspondent