Monday, December 04, 2006

I was recently in a place called Waleed to spend a few days with the Marines who are there to train and advise Iraq’s Border Police and Port of Entry Authorities. They are at the absolute western edge of Iraq, along the Syrian border, surrounded by miles of open, empty desert in every direction. The Marines here like to joke that Waleed isn’t the end of the earth, but you can see it from there. As has been the case everywhere I have traveled to date, the Marines there were impressively professional and utterly committed to doing their very best at the mission they have been assigned. Seeing this entirely new dimension to the transition process (in addition to the military and police training teams I visited last week - more on them soon) reinforced the complexity of what we are trying to do here in Iraq. There are so many dimensions in our effort to create a stable, secure country here.

One of the greatest privileges of the trip was the opportunity to share a meal with the Marine trainers hosted by the Commanding General of the Iraqi Border Forces in that region along with some of his officers. My experience reinforced all that I had heard previously about the Iraqi people being extremely gracious and welcoming. It was a great experience and I left feeling fortunate to have had an opportunity which many of our service members never get; the chance to break bread and interact meaningfully with the people we are here to help.


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