HABBANIYAH, Iraq --
Open since late July, the Joint Security Station in Habbaniyah, Iraq, houses Iraqi Police and Marines of 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6. It serves as a combined operations center for the Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police and Coalition Forces in the area.
It is also responsible for bringing a face to something that has been present for some time here: cooperation, coordination and peace through a mutual understanding of cultures and goals for the future.
But when glancing into the communications room or the cells of the JSS, the most important realization that occurs is that two peoples, Iraqis and Americans, who only a couple of years ago were fighting against each other, are now living in the same building, sharing the same facilities and working together for a better Iraq.
“We all work together very good,” said Amir S. Musa, a 38-year-old Iraqi policeman working in the JSS. “We learn from each other. We go on patrol together, we search together and we handle suspects and criminals together.”
Lance Cpl. Joshua C. Pack has the same conclusion as Musa, saying, “We interact with Iraqis here all the time. We have to live with them and that’s a good thing for many reasons.”
Pack, a 20-year-old infantryman with Weapons Company, said the JSS is beneficial because it helps coordinate movement of peace while keeping forces through the area of operation. This is accomplished by means of radio communication and serving as a base for operations.
“With the IP, IA and a few of ourselves working the station together, we alleviate problems between all of these moving parts, it’s organization that allows us to streamline our operations,” added the Hurley, Va., native. “Plus, I love doing what I do, because this doesn’t just help them, it helps us also. We have a closer tie to the people.”
This connection to the local populous is the key to counterinsurgency operations, said the 2006 Hurley High School graduate. It informs the locals, lets them know the coalition forces and Iraqi security forces are working for the people and with the people, not just around them. Without this connection, progress could have never been as successful as it is now, and a few years ago it wasn’t, said Sgt. Jeff A. Wirges, a 27- year-old section leader with the company.
“When I first came here, this area was owned by terrorists,” said the Russellville, Ark., native. “Iraqi people didn’t feel safe going to the market. They were afraid to take out their trash. Now, you go down the streets…and there are people everywhere. There is business. They feel more safe and they have more pride in their area. Before they wouldn’t say anything when a bad thing was about to happen, they would just get out of the way. Now, they will let us or one of the Iraqi policemen know.”
The reason this line of communication is open is because of the trust the locals have in the local peace keeping forces, grown at places like the JSS and others, said the 1998 Russellville High School graduate.
“There is a trust and a working relationship, which makes the JSS a possibility, said Wirges, who is on his sixth deployment and third to Iraq. “We tried doing this stuff before, but it didn’t have the same effect. Yeah…it’s because of things like the JSS and the Military Transition Teams, but what really makes this stuff happen, even at the JSS, is the corporals and below. The young enlisted men, out there patrolling, meeting with their Iraqi counterparts, getting to know the people. They are who really make all this happen.”
Pack stated that he is one of the Marines who is a living example of Wirges’ statement. The patrols and the time spent at the JSS have all brought him farther into the fold of the Iraqi culture, which is a good thing, he continued.
“Its always fun with these guys around,” said Pack. “It’s hard to call it work when your constantly learning something new about their lives and their country. These guys are cool.”
Rafea A. Hussien, an Iraqi soldier working at the JSS also has a mutual respect for the Marines and Iraqi Police.
“They are good guys and we all like to work together,” said Hussein, while he worked the radios in the JSS. ”It is very good and we all do this for our countries and to help our families. My area is very good now, but before we had no police station and it was very bad. All of us work here to stop this and make it better. America and Iraq together is good. The Marines and JSS have brought peace back into my area.”