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    Marine Wing Support Squadron 373 passes on gained ground to 1st Battalion, 8th Marines

    Marine Wing Support Squadron 373 passes on gained ground to 1st Battalion, 8th Marines

    Photo By Chief Warrant Officer Bobbie Curtis | Maj. Christian M. Rankin (right), the executive officer of 1st Battalion, 8th Marine...... read more read more

    AL TAQADDUM, IRAQ

    04.05.2009

    Story by Cpl. Bobbie Curtis 

    II Marine Expeditionary Force   

    CAMP AL TAQADDUM, Iraq - Lt. Col. Todd Jenkins, the commanding officer of Marine Wing Support Squadron 373, transferred authority of security forces at Camp Al Taqaddum, Iraq, to Maj. Christian M. Rankin, the executive officer of 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, during a ceremony aboard the base, March 30.

    The transfer of authority marked an end to MWSS-373's tour in Al Anbar Province, where they conducted security operations for Camp Al Taqaddum and its surrounding areas. Brig. Gen. Juan G. Ayala, the commanding general of 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward), said the squadron's role in Iraq was very untraditional but also very successful.

    "Maintaining the force protection posture of Camp Al Taqaddum and the safety of surrounding Iraqi communities in our area of operations is not an easy task," Ayala said, addressing the Marines and sailors of MWSS-373. "You expertly integrated our [Ugandan guards], base Provost Marshal and your own unit into a first rate force who understood that the mission was much more than guarding the base from the inside out."

    Ayala added that the unit adapted well from its usual duties of providing logistical and administrative support to Marine Corps aviation units to the security forces mission it carried out in Iraq, a job normally handled by infantry battalions.

    Several Iraqi community leaders from the surrounding area that MWSS-373 forged strong relationships with attended the ceremony. Guests included Sheik Sa'adoon Khaled Eafan Al-Boeasa, a local religious leader, and Hamid Alfahdawi, the director of Habbaniyah Tourist Village, a nearby Iraqi community MWSS-373 frequently patrolled.

    "I think it is safe to say that the Marines and Sailors of MWSS-373 set the standard on how to successfully conduct civilian engagement in a counter-insurgency environment," Ayala said.

    The unit conducted nearly 1,000 patrols, remodeled numerous schools and clinics, provided supply drops to outlying communities, and developed strong bonds with Iraqi Security Forces.

    MWSS-373's work in the community surrounding Camp Al Taqaddum has had a very positive outcome for Iraqi-Coalition relations, and can been seen at Habbaniyah Tourist Village, a once-flourishing tourist destination that is slowly recovering from the post-Saddam Hussein era. The village recently welcomed 3,000- 5,000 tourists to it's luxurious destination.

    In addition to running operations off base, the unit undertook missions that increased Camp Al Taqaddum's overall security, including maintaining roads along the base's perimeter and manning and providing upgrades to the base's entry control points.

    Sgt. Maj. Wallington Sims, the sergeant major of MWSS-373, said he has high hopes for 1st Battalion, 8th Marines.

    "Our relationship [with the area] has been one of the strongest they have had with the coalition forces," Sims said. "I hope they keep that going."

    Rankin explained that he and his Marines plan to pick up where MWSS-373 left off.

    "We in 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, are looking forward [to the future] with all of you," Rankin said to the Iraqi guests during the ceremony. "The most important thing is that nothing, absolutely nothing, will interfere with our plans for the future."

    "I wish to ensure everyone here that 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment is committed to continuing the work of Lt. Col. Jenkins and the Marines of 373," he added promisingly.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 04.05.2009
    Date Posted: 04.05.2009 18:20
    Story ID: 32042
    Location: AL TAQADDUM, IQ 

    Web Views: 436
    Downloads: 229

    PUBLIC DOMAIN