Marines moving headquarters out of Fallujah
July 1, 2008
ARLINGTON, Va. — Marines in Fallujah will transfer their headquarters to Ramadi in the next six months, said Marine Col. Lewis Craparotta, commander of Regimental Combat Team 1.
The 412 Marines and sailors in the regimental combat team’s headquarters will make the move as part of an effort to reduce the U.S. presence in Fallujah, Craparotta told reporters Monday.
Both Fallujah and Ramadi were once hotbeds for the insurgency, but since 2007, local Sunnis have allied with U.S. troops to drive out al-Qaida.
On Monday, Craparotta said the enemy in his area has been "neutralized;" however, he noted a series of recent suicide bomb attacks.
Most recently, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a meeting last week with U.S. troops and local sheiks in Karmah, killing three Marines including the battalion commander for 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines.
Craparotta confirmed that the suicide bomber was dressed in a uniform similar to what Iraqi security forces wear, but investigators have yet to determine how the bomber was able to penetrate the meeting.
"We’ve got army, police, and of course coalition forces doing a joint investigation," he said. "We have detained several people in regards to this incident. And we’re doing some further investigating to see if we can identify the cells and the networks that this bomber was associated with."
The incident came after many Iraqi troops had been moved out of Anbar province, leaving the Iraqi police in charge of security for most urban areas, he said.
Craparotta expressed confidence in the Iraqi police, noting that they conducted an operation after the Karmah bombing that resulted in several detentions, he said.
Despite the incident at Karmah, commanders in Anbar province will continue to meet with Iraqi sheiks, Craparotta said.
U.S. troops will continue to take the precautions used prior to the Karmah incident, but there is no guarantee that they will be successful, he said.
"We cannot avoid the danger completely if we want to have this continued success," Craparotta said.