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Tarawa Division enters Sunni Triangle

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200532143412
Story by Sgt. Stephen D'Alessio

CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, Ar Ramadi, Iraq (March 17, 2005) -- Maj. Gen. Richard F. Natonski, commanding general for 1st Marine Division, will transfer responsibility of the Al Anbar province this month to Maj. Gen. Richard A. Huck, commanding general for 2nd Marine Division.

The shift of control is a continuation of the stability and security operations already being conducted by Marine Corps units since March 2004. Although the 2nd Marine 'Tarawa' Division, from Camp Lejeune, N.C., is officially taking over operational responsibility for the infamously treacherous region, units from the division have already been in place for some time.

"Understand that this (relief in place) began months ago; we're not new here," said Col. Bob Chase, 2nd Marine Division operations officer. "Many current 'ops' were planned in conjunction between the 1st Marine Division and ourselves over the course of a few months. One of the most recent operations, River Blitz, was a joint 1st and 2nd Marine Division operation. But certainly the final decisions rested with the commander on the ground."

The Tarawa Division will continue most of the techniques, tactics and procedures the 1st Marine Division established according to Chase. The 2nd Marine Division will continue to refine and adopt new methods of thwarting insurgent activity.

"A few things we bring to the fight are a fresh set of eyes and a shift of focus as we partner more with the (Iraqi Security Forces)," said Chase. "There's a pride that certainly comes with the changeover as the Marines of our division move into this area of operations, and continue to build on the successes of 1st Division."

With the recent Iraqi elections, the local military has stepped into a larger role according to Chase. The Tarawa Division is taking action to help strengthen the bond between the Marines and the Iraqi Security Forces. In turn, it is the division's goal to share more of the responsibility for security and stabilization in the region with the ISF.

"One of our main focuses here is training with the ISF," said Chase. "We'll see some fights out here, but the good news is we won't do it alone."

As the 2nd Marine Division fully integrates as a task-organized unit, the Marines are bringing their hard-earned experience to the fight in the Global War on Terrorism.

Chase concluded by saying, "We have some new ideas, and we're well rested. That will help us finish what the 1st Marine Division did well. We owe that to the Marines to not let their work go to the wayside."

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