Albu Hawa, a small sub-tribe south of Fallujah resides in a farmland district that lines the Euphrates River. Only a year ago, it was a rural battlespace with daily violence that harbored al-Qaida terrorists.
Known as one of the last strongholds for al-Qaida, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines performed operations during last yearâ€™s deployment to rid Albu Hawa of terrorist activity. This year, the battalion has returned to the area and witnessed the progress of this farmland community from when it was plagued with everyday violence. Now with terrorism on the brink of defeat, Iraqi Police have developed a strong presence in Albu Hawa and the area is dramatically safer for the citizens.
Now that there is security in the area, Coalition forces are working with the local leaders of the administrative council to improve living conditions and attend to the needs of the local people.
Civil Affairs Team 3 in direct support of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, supervised the construction of a new medical clinic, which opened, July 3.
1st Lt. Michael Robison, team leader of CAG 3, said his team provided overwatch for the project completion and more importantly, helped build a relationship between Albu Hawa and the local Iraqi government.
â€œThe people of Albu Hawa have noticed that things are improving,â€ Robison said. â€œWeâ€™re giving this community something to be excited about. This clinic gets them excited about their future and the government of Iraq.â€
The medical clinic serves the people of Albu Hawa five days a week and it is staffed by nurses from the local community. With the help of CAG 3, the Albu Hawa administrative council has the support of the local Iraqi government and Iraqâ€™s Ministry of Health.
â€œ(Albu Hawa administrative council) is currently working with the Ministry of Health to increase the staff,â€ after the clinic opened with three nurses, Robison said. â€œThe ministry currently supports the clinic with salaries for the staff and medical supplies. The clinic has what it needs to provide people with basic medical care.â€
The Albu Hawa administrative council celebrated the clinic opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and has been open to the public since then.
â€œRather than having the Marines coordinate (projects), weâ€™re helping the Iraqis work with their own government,â€ Robison said. â€œAt some point (the Marines) are going to be gone and the local sheiks are going to have to fix their own problems. They have to learn the system and learn how to go to the right people to make things happen.â€
Robison said that the Albu Hawa administrative council is progressively getting the recognition they need to during the reconstruction phase. While security is stabilizing, the tribal leaders can shift their focus on the development of the community.
â€œWeâ€™re moving in the right direction,â€ Robison said. â€œWe have a community that was afflicted with violence and now theyâ€™re seeing security and things are starting to pick up. Theyâ€™re able to focus on other basic things such as medical facilities, schools and water – and lately, the administrative council has been able to accomplish many things.â€
By Cpl. Chris Lyttle
Regimental Combat Team 1