Security responsibility for the once-volatile city of Ramadi has been handed over to a Marine unit for the first time in several years.
Late last week, the Army’s 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division handed over command of the region in Anbar province to the Marine Corps’ Regimental Combat Team 1.
“Ramadi has gone from being the most dangerous city in Iraq to the safest,” said Col. John Charlton, commander of the 1st Brigade.
The transformation began more than a year ago, when soldiers of the 1st Armored Division began pushing into smaller outposts within the city. Wide swaths of the city had been virtual no-go zones for U.S. troops in previous years; during the 2005 elections in Iraq, the city had one of the worst voter turnout rates in the country. The handover to the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division took place in February 2007.
And, as U.S. forces recruited more police and Sunni tribes began aligning with the U.S. military against al-Qaida in Iraq groups, the city began to turn. Slightly more than a year ago, the area saw 30 to 35 attacks a day. March 31, 2007, was the first day in years without an attack recorded in the city, U.S. military officials said.
After that day, there were 300 more without an attack during the brigade’s deployment.
The streets had become so calm that — almost unthinkably, given the state of the city just a year before — in September, a 5K run through the city was held.
The units that made up the forces in and around Ramadi included the 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade Troops Battalion; 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery Regiment; 3rd Brigade Support Battalion; 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment; 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment; and 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, the military said.