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'All-access Pass’: Fallujah bridge demilitarized

FALLUJAH, Iraq (April 24, 2008) – Coalition and Iraqi Security forces are diligently working together to aid Iraq in its pursuit of becoming an independent state. Progress is being made daily with keeping al Qaeda in Iraq at bay and transferring security responsibilities to the Iraqi people, allowing Coalition forces to focus more on demilitarizing positions and transitioning out of Iraq.

http://www.mnfwest.usmc.mil/MNF/mnfw_IM.nsf/(ArticlesRead)/A39C86D41D6543AD4325743A00505AFB

Story by Cpl. Sean McGinty

An example of such progress is the demilitarization of Fallujah’s New Bridge by the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment April 24. Formerly used for military traffic only, the bridge has now opened it’s roadways to the rest of city’s populace.

“We’re opening the bridge and the roads up to give the people of Fallujah a sense of normalcy back,” said Staff Sgt. Thomas A. Pieratti, platoon commander, 3rd Bn., 6th Marine’s Jump platoon.

Opening the bridge has also freed up one of two roads that lead up to it from concrete barriers that frequently congest traffic. The removal of these barriers have become a major improvement for local commuters traveling in and out of the city.

“Within the next month or so we are going to open both roads to allow people to enter and exit the city through the COP,” said Pieratti. At this point, they could only exit the city.

Col. Faisal Ismail al-Zobaie, Fallujah’s chief of police, joined the Marines at the bridge opening, which occurred at 10:30 a.m. with civilian traffic flowing shortly afterwards.

“We’re getting these people back on track to return to their normal lives,” said Sgt. Maj. Rodney A. Robinson, 3rd Bn. 6th Marines’ sergeant major.

With Fallujah police manning a guard-shack on the bridge, Col. Faisal showed Lt. Col. James A. Zientek, 3rd Bn. 6th Marines’ commanding officer, where other policemen would stand post and how they will take the lead in security.

The transition of operations from Coalition forces into the hands of the Iraqi Security Forces is an important step in restoring security to the country. Simple feats such as opening up bridges and roads to the local citizens is a positive sign of a country progressing towards normacly.

“When we give more of the country back to the people, it gives them a sense of pride in that country,” Pieratti said. “That pride will make them more likely to fight for their country.”

That pride is evident through the people of the once war-torn city of Fallujah. With its flowing Iraqi flags at every turn, and Iraqi soldiers and policemen in uniform congregating in the city streets amongst the people, the city is showing its hopes for a brighter future.