Sgt. Jeremiah Randall is the TOW section leader in 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines. It was one of his gunners who shot the 2.5-pound warheads that destroyed the IED. Though the TOW's range is about 3,750 meters, the shots taken against this IED were from only about 350 meters. Randall explained that the close range actually made the shot more difficult because the gunner doesn't have time to adjust the shot.
That IED was eliminated before it had the chance to do any harm. The Marines are also decreasing the insurgents' effectiveness by manning observation posts at strategic locations throughout the city of Ramadi. There are Marines on these outposts 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The purpose of these outposts, which are very hot during the day and very lonely at night, is to ensure that the Iraqi authorities know if something is going wrong.
Sgt. Shell of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines has been here since February. He told me that these observation posts help the Marines provide better defensive security for themselves and for the Iraqis.
The Iraqi government supports the effort, knowing these observation posts help provide security for the country. In fact, even after the transfer of sovereignty, the new Iraqi government wants these Marines out there in this province. The Iraqi police are doing a better job of securing the areas and improving every day, but they still need the help of the Marines. Shell told me that the Iraqi police force is getting better because, "ultimately, the Iraqi police realize it is up to them to provide the safety and security -- not just for the country, but for their fellow citizens."
To do that they will have to continue to combat not only the local insurgents, but the foreign fighters from neighboring states like Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, who continue to cause trouble.
But the belief among those I talk to is that democracy, if given time, can take root here. Since I was last here in April, things are getting better. Since sovereignty was turned over, it has been the Iraqis who have been enforcing curfews and increasing their patrols. There will be more efforts to undermine the new government here, but if the coalition continues to follow the lead of the United States -- not the Spain and the Philippines -- democracy will ultimately succeed.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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