What are these guys thinking? Building a wall won't stop anyone that wants on the other side........
I know, I know.......our southern border is a lot longer, but our southern neighbors are NOT
protesting the wall being built because they don't want us wasting our time and money
U.S. Marines wall in Iraqi city with sand
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
March 5, 2006
RUTBAH, Iraq -- U.S. Marines used to patrol the streets of this city near the volatile Syrian border. Now they've penned it in with a wall of sand, leaving only three ways in or out.
While causing discomfort to the townspeople, the military says it is an effective barrier to insurgents and frees up troops for use in other parts of restive Anbar province in western Iraq.
The Marines ringed Rutbah with a 10.5-mile-long berm, seven feet high and 20 feet wide, in mid-January and reduced their presence to checkpoints at the three entrances that also are manned by a few dozen Iraqi soldiers.
The move was forced by a major U.S. effort to make the former insurgent stronghold of Fallujah a showplace of American-Iraqi cooperation. That leaves fewer Marines to patrol a region with close tribal and economic ties to neighboring Syria, which Washington has accused of letting militants slip over the border.
The sand wall is only "an intermediate solution," said Marine Lt. Col. Robert Kosid, whose 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion is responsible for Rutbah and several thousand square miles of desert around it.
"I think the long-term success of Rutbah involves a permanent presence in the city," said Kosid, who was also based here on his previous tour in Iraq.
But there aren't any Iraqi forces available now. Rutbah's corrupt police force was disbanded last year, and hundreds of Iraqi soldiers that had been in the area were moved north in November for a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation around Qaim.
Sitting 230 miles west of Baghdad, Rutbah joins Tal Afar, Mosul and Samarra as cities where the U.S. military has tried to block outsiders and impede insurgent mobility by erecting large sand walls with bulldozers.
So far, the berm has been a tactical success, helped by rainstorms that have turned the surrounding territory into impassable mud. Roadside bombings sharply dropped from 29 a month to just five since the wall was built, Marines say. Military supply trucks using a nearby highway have been relatively unmolested lately.
Rutbah's streets are lined with impressive villas even though the town is devoid of natural resources and arable farmland. Its 20,000 people have thrived by taking a cut from smugglers moving goods along ancient routes that snake through Iraq from Jordan and Syria.
Though attacks in the city have been relatively low by comparison to other parts of western Iraq, the Marines suspect some of its smuggling income is being used to finance insurgent operations throughout Anbar.
Some Marines say the checkpoints are effective at weeding out insurgents without resorting to force.
"It's a more methodical way to use (checkpoints) to clear towns instead of going right in to sweep it," Sgt. Spencer Biegel of Albany, Ore., said as he helped inspect cars at a checkpoint.
More than a dozen wanted suspects have been caught at Rutbah's checkpoints, he said.
"In the long term it cuts down on Marine and civilian casualties," Biegel said.
But residents face big headaches getting in and out of town, routinely having to wait one to three hours because of bottlenecks at the checkpoints.
About 500 vehicles pass through the busiest checkpoint each day, and Marines cut traffic from two lanes to one whenever there is a roadside bombing.
"As insurgent activity rises, we have to put on stringent controls," said Capt. Phil Laing of Seligman, Ariz., who commands the Marines manning the checkpoints. "The intent is not to punish Rutbah."
In response to civilian complaints, the Marines moved the berm to put a local gas station within the wall. They also regularly usher water trucks and medical vehicles to the front of inspection lines. A U.S.-funded hospital for the city is just weeks from completion.
Marines survey people entering town to find out about their needs, and to ask for tips on local insurgents.
As for the town's suspected role in financing insurgent operations, Kosid said there is little the Marines can do until Iraq's government establishes a security presence.
"If Rutbah is the financial center that we think it is, it's going to be hard to peel the onion on that one," he said. "To be really effective with the smuggling aspect, you need more of an investigatory capacity where you can peel the layers back."
If it's stupid and it works, it isn't stupid.
shoulda put the sand on TOP of the city