Lance Cpl. Ronald Wood Jr. and an Iraqi Soldier stand watch at Combat Outpost Timberwolf, May 27, 2008.
COP TIMBERWOLF (May 31, 2008) — It’s a trend seen more and more frequently around al-Anbar province; Marines packing up their gear and returning their positions to the Iraqi Security Forces so they can continue providing protection and security to the Iraqi citizens.
Combat Outpost Timberwolf, near Baghdadi, is one of the latest to continue that trend of transitioning from Coalition control to Iraqi Army control. COP Timberwolf began the transition process earlier this year when Marines assigned to Headquarters Company, Regimental Combat Team 5 relieved Marines from 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, RCT-5 earlier this year so the battalion could focus on other missions. In preparation for leaving the outpost and the IA taking over, the Marines have been demilitarizing the area, and the IA has been putting their own safety measures into practice.
“Since the (Iraqi Army) got here, they have been doing a lot of construction,” said Sgt. Cullen M. Fair, 22, a tactical data network operator assigned to the Provisional Rifle Platoon, RCT-5 that is leaving COP Timberwolf. “They’re making this place their home.
“As soon as the bridge (near Baghdadi) was built, the Iraqi Army started using it to drop off supplies here,” said Fair, who is from Olathe, Kan. The newly built bridge creates a shorter route for the IA to travel to reach destinations across the Euphrates River.
“The bridge has helped us a lot to get supplies here,” said IA Maj. Munir Abdul Aziz Al-Salehy, commanding officer, 7th Iraqi Army Division, 22nd Iraqi Army Brigade, Group Three, Squad Two.
The area surrounding COP Timberwolf has seen improved security thanks to previous units stationed there.
“When we first got to (the area near Baghdadi) before the Marines, it was not safe, and we didn’t have enough Soldiers or equipment to get the area safe,” said Al-Salehy. “Now that the Marines have gotten everything under control, it is now our turn to keep this place safe. Thanks to the Marines and God, I can say the area is very safe now.”
The Marines here have been training the IA on patrolling procedures, guard duty and security measures so that the Marines could successfully turn the outpost over to the capable IA Soldiers.
“We started with mini-steps and have gradually taken on more responsibilities here,” said Al-Salehy. “We can take over now, and every one of my Soldiers will know his duty and job now.”