HADITHA CITY, Iraq (Mar. 18, 2008) – Arizona Senator John McCain and a delegation arrived March 16 in Haditha City, Iraq, to view the progress that has been made in the area.
Marines from 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 showcased the vast changes that have occurred here in recent times to the delegation.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and top Coalition force leadership also accompanied McCain on the visit.
"We wanted to show the (delegation) the progress of the economy, structure improvements and the increased confidence of the people," said Master Sgt. Cortez L. Pree, 37, operation chief, 3rd Bn, 23rd Marine Regiment, who is from Texarkana, Ark.
Once the delegation arrived, they were escorted to a meeting with Ma’Moun Sami Rashid, the provincial governor and other local governmental leaders. The group discussed the improvements that have been made in the area. They spoke on topics concerning how well the Coalition force leadership and Iraqi people are working together, and on the continual improvement of the Iraqi government.
"Without our (Coalition and Iraqi) commanders, we wouldn’t have been able to have such a civilized place in Haditha now," said Rashid.
The delegation then boarded a military convoy and headed to the cities market place. A few years ago, Haditha was the site of intense battles between Coalition forces and insurgents.
"What we’re about to see when we walk through the city streets is going to be simply amazing," said Maj. Gen. John F. Kelly, the commanding general of Multi-National Forces – West, to a member of the delegation.
"A year ago, you couldn’t come out here," said Graham who visited Haditha last year. "What a turn around."
As the delegation walked through the city streets, they spoke with the local people about how well their leaders were doing and sampled local products.
"We are big supporters of Governor Ma’Moun," said a local businessman to McCain through an interpreter. "He’s the reason why we have security now."
During the delegation’s visit, words of acknowledgement were given to the Marines.To each Marine he met, McCain said, "Thank you for your service."
As the delegation prepared to depart, the members all commented on the vast improvements to Haditha.
"Everything was very impressive," said McCain.
FOR MORE INFORMATION OR FOR HIGH-RES PHOTOS, CONTACT THE MULTI-NATIONALFORCE - WEST PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER BY E-MAIL AT:CE_PAO_WATCH_OFFICER@MNF-WIRAQ.USMC.MIL