WE DO WINDOWS I hope everyone had a safe and happy Christmas and you should drink lots of water to prepare for your New Year celebrations coming up and stay hydrated! Im glad you all are back safely. Things have been constant here in Iraq. Christmas came and went as the other holidays while deployed here, no biggie. The phones did work pretty well and after about an hour I got through back to the states. We havenâ€™t let up on momentum in the region and I just returned from being out and about in our Area of Operations. Your Marines out west near places like Al Asad, continue to keep the enemy off balance and conduct operations to disrupt insurgency forces. By maintaining permanent presence in outlying villages enemy forces are now forced to leave their safe havens and flee. Before we would attack insurgents in villages, eliminate them and then return to our base. Now we do the same but include Iraqi forces and leave both Iraqi and American forces behind in the village to maintain security and safety. Unlike before this has totally disrupted the insurgency plan of action and now they cannot hide and torture Iraqis and force their way of life onto innocent people. In Fallujah, Marines are continuing to keep the enemy off balance within the city and surrounding areas. By training Iraqi Special Forces, Iraqi Police and additional forces, Iraqâ€™s military force is gaining strength. Beginning with the basics and having them go through Marine style tactics and procedures they build their foundation a respectable force and will be able to defend their region when American forces depart. They will never be up to the standards of Marines and Soldiers but thatâ€™s ok. We are training them to be competent fighters and maintain the capabilities to defend what is theirs. From talking to Marines that have fought with the Iraqiâ€™s they say they are a proud and courageous Army that doesnâ€™t run because they have learned new things and have gained confidence in their abilities. They are tired of the insurgency and although are ready for the Americans to leave they know they need our training so they can do what they desire and fight off the insurgency. All of the Coalition forces in Iraq are constantly training the Iraqi forces. Many Americans back in the states watch the news and would correspondingly think that anytime we do anything it is an airplane bombing, 50 cal shooting door kicking in operation. Although we are more than willing to do this type of a â€œKineticâ€� operation we also do many additional building operations that help the country of Iraq. Combat Engineerâ€™s continue to build schools and patch buildings that fall apart or otherwise donâ€™t get repaired because of constant enemy sniper fire. So with security the engineers move in to reconstruct neighborhoods with electricity and plumbing. US Forces that move into villages take up residence during the operations. They then leave the area better than they found it. Clean the place up, leave the family money, make some repairs and apply some manual labor from the Marine unit. This has developed a relationship of Iraqi people telling our unit commanders â€œcome back to my house when you visit here againâ€� because they know they will get something in return instead of back a few years ago where Marines were taking residency and then leaving because of other operational commitments and additional fighting. This type of relations has been one of many building blocks that have assisted in strengthening the country and allowing the country to conduct successful elections. The elections were successful in Oct and Dec because of all ofg the unseen work done by your service members. The Coalition forces have retaken over 14 cities throughout Iraq. Freeing captive tribes held by insurgents, established peace in areas of danger and murder. We are now in full motion training the Iraqi Army to new levels and help them to protect their country. Before you even ask, let me answer, Yes, I think the Iraqi Army, Police and Special Forces will be able to protect their country. Why? Because they have the desire to. This doesnâ€™t mean there wonâ€™t be all out civil war here but lets look at our own history before we judge. The country does have democracy, businesses are thriving and people are much safer and freer than they were 3 yrs ago. They are getting to a level of self sufficiency and before we know it will be time for us to depart and let them have it. Corpsmen and doctors are establishing a medical foundation to help fight some of the many diseases and injuries in the area. Civil Affairs groups are building the bond between different tribes to help them help one another instead of continuous fighting one another. We have no problem eliminating an evil dictator, fighting in the streets of Iraq, building schools and houses, repairing and bringing electricity to places that never had it before, helping a village who is dying live and yes, â€¦â€¦â€¦we do windows. Time for a stoagâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦Semper Fi COMBAT UPDATE Iraqi Army soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 7th Division working alongside of 2nd Brigade Combat Team (28th Infantry Division) are clearing the streets of known insurgents in western Ramadi. In the past two days, 1-1-7 IA forces have detained five targeted insurgents, to include Jassim Mohammed Fayadh, a high value insurgent leader, allegedly responsible for financing terrorism in the Tammim neighborhood and known to have supplied arms and munitions to Al Qaeda in Iraq. The four additional detainees are under investigation for coordinating insurgent attacks and activities, including the storage and transportation of weapon systems and munitions. â€œOur battalion has been working in western Ramadi with the Coalition Forces for the last eight months. During that time, we have fought and captured many insurgents. Yesterday was a big step to bringing safety and security to this area for our local citizens and their families. We will continue to work with our coalition partners to bring security to western Ramadi,â€� said Lt. Col. Mustafa, Commanding Officer, 1-1-7 IA. The insurgents have been placed under custody of Coalition Forces and will be tried in the Iraqi Criminal Court system. There were no injuries to local Iraqi citizens, Iraqi Army soldiers or Coalition Forces. Additionally, there were no damages to equipment during the capture of these high level insurgent leaders. Dec 26th An insurgent was killed today by U.S. Marines at an entry control point in central Fallujah today at approximately 11:30 a.m. The insurgent, armed with an explosive vest filled with ball bearings, detonated the bomb as he approached the checkpoint; however, the vest only partially exploded. As the bomber attempted to detonate the rest of the explosives, he was killed by Marine gunfire. No Iraqi or U.S. military personnel were injured but one civilian was reported wounded in this suicide attack.