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2/5, 1/5 Civil Affairs Groups work together

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200538112230
Story by Cpl. Tom Sloan

AR RAMADI, Iraq (March 7, 2005) -- The five-humvee-convoy snaked through the narrow streets here as the Marines headed to their destination. Men, women and children on both sides of the roads waved and smiled as the up-armored vehicles passed. Not even the choking dust stirred up by the many wheels could discourage them from rendering a happy greeting.

Second Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment's 4th Civil Affairs Group conducted an operation here with a representative of 1st Battalion, 5th Marines' 5th CAG that marked the beginning of 2d Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment's Relief in Place (RIP).

The infantry battalion is gearing up to return stateside with the arrival of 1st Battalion, which is assuming control and beginning their seven-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Second Battalion's 4th CAG's mission was to conduct a visual verification of repairs done to two separate schools here and deliver some English-language speaking equipment. The team leader for 1st Battalion's 5th CAG, Maj. Benjamin B. Busch, accompanied them in an effort to gain knowledge on how to conduct future missions of their own once 2nd Battalion relinquishes control.

"We visited both schools and met with the principal of one," said Major Charles S. Royer, team leader for 4th CAG. "We wanted to make sure the contractor made the repairs he was supposed to and installed the necessary equipment before we paid him. We also spoke with the principal to see if he was happy with everything that was done."

The 38-year old Bellevue, Wash. native said they do this because contractors in Ramadi and other Iraq cities don't always complete the work they agree to do.

Busch said it's hard to retain a capable individual to finish a project because of the threats from insurgents.

"Due to the environment, successful contractors are rare," said 36-year-old Busch of Sherburne, N.Y. "This time quality work had been done, and the contractor made good on requirements of the contract for school. I'm glad I got to come along. I will be running new efforts for our battalion, and I wanted to see how they conducted operations. More than anything, I wanted to see how the local population received us at the schools site. I plan on utilizing the tactics I saw today."

The first school visited was Kahled Bin Waleed, where a slab of concrete on the playground was repaired. Metal and wooden doors, a new heater, and windows were also installed. The English-language speaking equipment was delivered here earlier and some of the classrooms were repainted.

"The principal was happy with the work done here," said 28-year-old Sgt. John J. Ramirez of New Jersey, and civil affairs noncommissioned officer for 4th CAG. "It's good to have face-time with the people you are helping out."

New heaters, a computer and metal and wooden doors were also on the list at the second school, Abu Hanifa, all of which were installed. New florescent lights were installed in the ceilings of many of the classrooms as well.

The entire mission, which included visiting and inspecting both schools, took less than 45 minutes.

"It was a good quick inspection with no confrontation, which is what we always hope for," said Royer. "Lingering around to long in any particular area draws unnecessary attention on us and the Iraqis."

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