REBIRTH OF A CITY... My time in Barwanah this week was another clear indicator how effective strength and mercy are in a counterinsurgeny war. Like many of the the other growing success stories in Al Anbar Province (Al Qaim, Fallujah, Ramadi), the first and most important step in Barwanah was the presence of overwhelming combat power. A major portion of BLT 2/4 from the 15th MEU was brought in late last fall to assist in an area previously managed by just one company. In the face of this superior force, many of the senior insurgents fled the area. As in several other cities in Al Anbar, the Marines put a berm around the town, set up entry control points to monitor access to the city and began to conduct foot patrols and census operations throughout the area. They combined this strength with an active campaign to reach out to local leaders and citizens and have initiated projects such as school renovations. As security improved, so did intelligence from local nationals, making it harder and harder for insurgents to hide within the city or implant IEDs. As I patrolled the streets with 2d Bn, 4th Marines this week, students were walking home from school, children played along the streets, shops were open and residents smiled and waved at the Marines. A dramatic transformation which mirrors the similar progress made by 2d Bn, 3rd Marines across the river in Haditha and Haqliniyah. Just a few months ago, the "Triad" was one of the most violent places in Iraq. The Marines aren't resting on their laurels and are still working each day to make the area safer and more prosperous, but what they have achieved to date is nothing short of miraculous.