At the hands of the Regimental Combat Team 1 commanding officer, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, RCT 1, relieved 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, RCT 1, of their duties in Habbaniyah’s area of operations during an informal ceremony Feb. 6.
The ceremony was only a formality as Marines and sailors of 2nd Bn., 24th Marines have already assumed most of the responsibilities from 1st Bn., 1st Marines. The Regimental Commander was on deck to over-see the relief in place/transfer of authority.
“As you know, the battlefield has changed profoundly,” said Col. Lewis A. Craparotta, commanding officer of RCT 1. “We need to keep Marines and sailors focused and ready.”
In September, 2nd Bn., 24th Marines began training at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twenty-nine Palms, Calif., preparing for their January deployment. The Marines were itching to get to Iraq and start their jobs in-theatre.
“We’re excited to be here and we’re ready to get things rolling,” said Maj. Jeff D. Strey, executive officer of 2nd Bn., 24th Marines.
“We’ve been ready for some time now,” said the 43-year-old from Madison, Wis. “The Marines are well trained on what they need to do and are ready to go out there and get the job done.”
During the turn-over process, Marines from the out-going battalion trained the in-coming Marines on what they learned during their deployment.
“They are all very experienced in there jobs and are giving us good insight and information from what they learned,” said Lance Cpl. Sean E. Varriale, a 27-year-old radio operator with Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Bn., 24th Marines. “Things are going to be different for us, but they’re doing everything they can to make sure we complete our mission.”
Strey agreed. “1/1 did a very professional turnover,” he said.
“They had a successful deployment and they have a very good reputation in this region.”
While deployed to the Habbaniyah region of the Al Anbar Province, 2nd Bn., 24th Marines, is focusing on achieving two main objectives.
“We’re trying to provide security and work with the Iraqi security forces to better the region,” Strey said. “We’re also trying to set the conditions for the turning over the responsibilities of security for potential Iraqi control.”
Ever since 2nd Bn., 24th Marines took over responsibilities from 1st Bn., 1st Marines, they have noticed considerable changes in the attitude of the Iraqis.
“We have quickly realized that the Iraqis are taking responsibilities of securities,” Strey mentioned. “The initial assessments are very promising.”
As their first day as the official defenders of Habbaniyah comes to an end, Marines of 2nd Bn., 24th Marines see a bright future and a successful deployment ahead.