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Tonight on war story.
OK you got behind the scenes building -- -- Iraq and know that she's not there has been struggled news.
Providing security for the power struggles you didn't see.
Baghdad not giving -- I'm more proud.
-- That dangerous missions just before an historic vote.
That's -- there's no more for error here we're inside Iraq.
-- an -- witness to history.
That's next on war stories.
-- What you didn't eat during Iraq's elections.
They can provide us through your -- -- -- you're an eyewitness to history in ramadi.
The most dangerous cities in Iraq.
I'm Oliver North this is war story.
All of the violence visited upon this providing -- best typified the transition to a new Iraq.
Being the heart of the Sunni Triangle the city was a stronghold of Saddam was bloody dictatorship.
Then it became a center for terrorists who oppose democracy -- IDs and bush is and car bombs.
Today ramadi is changing for the better.
But it's required an extraordinary sacrifice of American blood and treasure.
Over -- thousand have been killed or wounded here.
Join us tonight and he'll meet some of the brave Americans fighting terrorism and street.
-- behind the scenes of an historic national election.
And see how would -- Iraqi Army is stepping -- So that Americans.
Can come home.
The December 2000 -- Iraq is gripped by election fever.
On the fifteenth the country heads to the polls to elect -- first constitutional parliament.
The only one in the Arab world.
More than 7700 candidates -- for 275.
For women and and the campaign enters its final days border security and turn out are of crucial concern and -- -- -- Iraq's largest product.
And its capital city ramadi.
This is a violent area and I believe the election is going to be successful but we do have some challenges.
Colonel John -- he commands the second brigade combat team with a 28 infantry division one of the challenges.
Is the the fact that the insurgents in this area simply do not want the electoral process to proceed here.
And they'd go out and they intimidate the Anderson.
Citizens of -- if there are.
Other challenge us.
Along bars overwhelmingly Sunni and under Saddam enjoyed power and privilege -- they comprise only 20% of the Iraqi population.
Because of their minority status many Sunnis -- democratic elections and they boycotted earlier votes for a temporary government.
And -- ratify the constitution.
They more -- Excluded themselves from the democratic process and and right now they are behind.
On this war stories seventh trip to Iraq our fifth to ramadi who travel with federal grants due to the provincial government center.
Here US officials knew it was gone by our -- -- and Rasheed and members of the IE CI.
Independent election commission of Iraq to work out security details for the election.
An agent and I'm glad this meeting is taking place because it's helping the province.
The commission is made up of many people some tribal leaders technocrats military leaders -- and common these.
Are people that can turn out the vote I believe that they want this democratic process.
To proceed -- and flourish.
-- general Williams from the second marine division was one of the key players in forming this -- engagement initiative.
Pleasure to see everybody.
Brigadier general James Williams has -- tough task of leading the negotiations with the governor Rasheed about election security.
We need to look at all the additional -- Make sure that we have forces that can protect him and how quality.
Just end this province has two parts and one part tribal leaders to provide security for the election.
But they can't do that and others that we suggest that the military security and those parents.
I have a proposal that the the troubleshooting or you -- that they would like to.
Provides local security.
It may be happier and leaves that are available around the site.
And then coalition forces could provide quick reaction force the case they have I know that she acknowledged -- -- some of these strong.
The providing local security now.
If the other troubleshooting -- I would be.
Urge you to -- Tension fills the room for sticking point.
The local Sunni leadership demands they be allowed to recruit train -- -- -- provincial police and military forces.
They insist this is the best way to defeat the terrorists.
But you cannot do that before the election pretty -- -- we need this decision before the election.
And recruiting can begin after regular at the very least you've got the -- of ramadi the coalition force unit saw directly.
Sitting down together -- room sharing ideas on how to make the security situation better hear about it but the clock is ticking.
And when the meeting ends the issue was still unresolved.
Me and thing.
Meanwhile like -- -- out of the wild west the third battalion seventh Marines stand -- -- of the government center.
While negotiations continue below current constant lookout for suspicious activity IED's and suicide bombers.
And editors and Copeland has weapons to -- her problem which don't.
Few of elevate their -- -- then tell me -- We've been an average just over three months what do you see.
I've seen a lot of different -- a different tactics from as far as fire president.
-- -- What's the listening to -- -- -- the government's bishops doing right now successor Brigham and senators are going to continue via.
In the yeah.
Just two weeks before the election okay in Iraq -- this video stuff.
Claiming this handful of masked gunman had taken control of ramadi it was far from true.
Iraqi Army and the soldiers and Marines of BCD -- like slaves corporal Justin did your new.
I was thinking maybe somebody himself after they're sharp rise focus on the -- of this truck which had been struck by an ice and indeed.
Would take Coakley considers tactics to draw the enemy out there fingers and -- -- -- outsmarted him.
When the terrorists try to ignite the vehicle using Molotov cocktails and it's helpful tips -- readies his mark nineteen automatic grenade launch.
What million people that your producer of ago.
Coming up it's Election -- that is.
Still no decision about security.
And time is running out more.
There were stories coming up built -- Five days before the election ramadi is a Washington campaign posters.
But voter turnout at this late date is not a sure.
Nevertheless the third battalion seventh Marines are working hard to keep from bodies 500000.
Mostly law abiding citizens safe.
Like the wild west.
-- you're literally on the edge of your seat.
Once you leave the wire.
Virginia native lieutenant Chad -- league's third platoon kilo company 37.
Let's say you're vigilant I think is an understatement about good inspections -- secretary inside outside -- decidedly good.
Watch it there that is -- current quarter he drove the court talked into it that walk away -- -- -- unpredictable call music pop up and stuff.
-- -- -- Darren -- -- very -- them here.
There's there's no margin for error here.
Staff sergeant John Reid never lets his guard down and looked at the -- city which of course on the net and maybe -- and a little out of the ordinary garden -- -- So we'll go ahead pull it over block -- end.
And get people out there searched vehicles -- some people.
Notice things I mean little little things you know it just betting on the streets Tennessee.
Back to track with -- little -- little wires that.
Don't states described by unnoticed but here this magazine that -- -- -- and -- and that's.
-- -- America I stay low.
Get your -- -- us when we look at everything.
The Marines live their motto.
No better friend no worse enemy every day.
When he won by captain -- -- -- Fenwick island Delaware the commander of company -- believes it's the key to success and our needs.
Percent of the city.
-- business that was good people.
They're terrorized -- start to see through some of these lives stories at the enemy just -- it tries it out about their willingness to provide information.
Or nothing else -- interact with the Marines are troll has increased one thing about my position that's really means is.
I'm able to go around and actually talked to people -- Memories no holds hearing.
That's soccer -- -- -- Well they're doing all that.
My job is really to talk to the people and actually getting good fuel for you know if they likeness of the kind of vote.
If there insurgents in that area -- seen anything mutual problem.
So to get and I got a great feel for what the people -- alike in that neighborhood.
And those real positive for positive -- This really muddy street scene is tranquil but behind the scenes there's a power struggle going on between the Sunni leadership and -- -- -- And the predominantly -- -- central government in Baghdad over how the election will be secured clearly they don't think Baghdad is giving them the support thing.
That's their perception.
Seems to be the governor's perception.
Here nearly leaders -- to have that same perception that.
Baghdad it is not giving Al Anbar Province -- support -- -- -- The important of all Anbar Province isn't lost on Baghdad.
Just five days before the election ramadi got a very clear signal.
Baghdad what's the Sunni population to vote one of the signs of transition here in Iraq is this armored unit.
These are the first Iraqi tanks to be deployed to ramadi since Operation Iraqi Freedom began.
That's -- 55 company that was sent in from Baghdad.
Colonel -- our commander of the Iraqis first brigade seventh infantry division.
Arrives to watch the category of Iraqi tanks -- lieutenant colonel Walt Cheshire is senior advisor at his side and I believe that that was just sent here as a presence to reassure the people that.
Victories in Iraqi military behind them and the force by correction officers that -- It's three days before the election and a decision about security is now critical.
Today the Iraqi defense minister to do and Al Gilani -- some of ramadi -- company's general George Casey.
Senior American military commander in Iraq for talks with the governor and -- run -- our leadership.
The tense negotiations revolve around the repeated demand -- -- locally led all on our security force.
After the meeting general Casey spoke the war stories -- you give me your sense from.
What your expectations.
For election just.
Across Iraq you know that you're gonna have large turnout I didn't think you can have probably some of the moderate levels of violence but I think the people of Iraq are gonna demonstrate their commitment to the democratic process that's going to be a great day for Iraq.
Meanwhile the election campaign continues unabated across the country.
Candidates go door to door and use television to draw voters.
But the campaign is not without bloodshed.
In Baghdad Shiite candidate Abdul -- the bullets killed and a Sunni candidate and ramadi.
These are I'll -- -- is also murder.
December 12 or 72 hours before the polls open and there's still no deal and Election Day security.
Yes early voting still begins for hospital workers patients in the Iraqi Army.
Including these soldiers of the first brigade seventh infantry division under the command of colonel had a.
I am so happy because my soldiers are going to vote on this very important day in Iraqi history and I think it is very bad days and it.
For many in Iraq.
This will be their first opportunity to vote in the national election that's certainly the case for most of these soldiers for the first brigade of the seven division.
We started lining up to cast their ballots at 7 AM this morning.
Into the Iraqi soldiers it's just another step towards their freedom oil -- Collections is not something that they've had a a lot of familiarity with in the past so.
This is a step I think it's a big step and the commitment to a democratic process is best shown by the determination of this soldier.
Wounded by enemy fire.
A couple of dozen I run need to rest and recover.
This coming up.
I'm very happy today and this great day for all right.
Coming up it's one day before the election and the soldiers and Marines go on high alert.
More war stories from Iraq just ahead don't go away.
Only 48 hours before the polls opened a decision is announced that it -- Al Anbar Province.
No coalition forces will provide direct security at polling sites.
Lieutenant colonel Roger turn commanding officer of third battalion seventh Marines acknowledges this is a major change -- the last -- Last time knocked over a week we transport all materials to sites.
We party sites.
-- we transported the ICI workers to sites.
And and that model didn't it work.
The agreement between governor Rasheed general Williams the Al Anbar leadership specifies all voting sites will be guarded by tribal militias.
Backed up by the Iraqi Army.
Will be providing security for the other people to vote on the fifteenth.
You expect a lot of trouble from the -- and we -- face the -- before and are ready if -- initiates violence.
-- -- -- troops conduct last minute training with the Marines in preparation for the fifteenth.
So you'll just communicate through.
-- -- -- that you have with adults that need help the most important thing is going to be having an understanding of where everybody you know I don't.
The next step.
A joint combat patrols through the streets of ramadi.
When they moved through the streets how to just went through their -- or not.
1213 individuals as a -- people covering each other people paying attention to the fifth or.
We plan to make everything safe.
Have a great victory for Iraq.
-- came recent changes that came from -- homes that are that are better for the system.
Major bread -- that is the operations officer for third battalion seventh Marines.
His finger has to be on the pulse of the city every day.
As the Marines play with the children in the streets Iraqi officials deliver ballots to the polling station how many of the -- -- have picked up the materials.
As of now -- had 2023.
Nights in -- picked up their -- so looks like the idea Iraqis and they'll pull this off with.
Very limited -- With the US and Iraqi Security Forces know the insurgents are still out there planting bombs.
Today a civilian tip leads the Marines that this -- 2152.
Millimeter artillery rounds at a remote detonator device.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Just talk about Google.
Right -- -- magnified.
-- -- right for the.
-- -- -- -- It will -- -- you see one ID normally -- to an area.
They're very maneuver around the -- off the area to secure the locals many dangers recover.
-- help solve them.
How -- they call -- in two to -- to battalion.
-- gramley a -- to that area.
Explosive ordnance disposal yield -- teams -- -- risky job of disarming IED's like distant -- -- gets there.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Why it's great.
That's going that's.
A -- places a charge on the deadly device.
You'll need picks up and out designed artillery rounds in the Marines took back the base.
That evening with only hours to go before the polls open -- -- -- speaks to his Marines about the importance of the election.
-- -- -- Our -- and where.
There's are now.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- But a secure about it.
-- All you can do.
One -- your life.
And your group -- your part of it was a yeah.
It on purpose.
From a dangerous outpost in the center of ramadi Election Day looks like a bus.
Until something unexpected from the mosques changes everything.
More on the historic transformation of Iraq when war -- return.
-- 15 December Election Day in Iraq.
All borders are closed and traffic is bad.
Across the country polls open at 7 AM just five minutes later in ramadi that dawn is shattered.
At a joint Iraqi marine outpost in central ramadi and -- detonates in the street.
The target a convoy of Iraqi tanks.
They're on damage but the explosion has put the Iraqi soldiers and Marines on -- Typically this outpost has seen most action and ramadi anomalies.
Lack of better term on the edge there's no -- Eric.
Day off the street -- tribal militias and Iraqi Army units protect the actual polling places were just sit back and -- at this point.
Will continue to fight for answers -- day to day basis.
There's some things that we should have it.
Lieutenant has seen commands the Iraqi troops at this outpost.
-- -- -- and all the people want to vote today I hope this election will help stop terrorists in Iraq.
Across Iraq citizens -- up at 6291.
Stained fingers are everywhere.
Indelible link -- -- for ballots but to show was -- Prevent anyone from voting more than once.
The ballots divided into voting -- with the -- -- candidates represented by logos.
Governor Rasheed votes early is an example was -- Sunni population.
In Baghdad voters from rival Shiite parties including -- -- Iraq's current prime minister -- ran out of -- also vote.
And abroad Iraqi expatriates vote in fifteen countries.
Two hours after the polls open in ramadi the streets remain and he's disappointed that's a large crowd of folks outside so close.
I've got right now on this early on and see people -- just print it out the other days ago when it.
There have been a few rounds exchange -- there's been a couple of shots fired -- this has been remarkably quiet 48 hours.
Ben and characters mark and some of the smaller fires -- exchange.
-- or -- it's just around book.
In the distance out here.
But suddenly at 11 o'clock.
Something astonishing happens.
From the monster's ball not to prayer but to go out and vote.
Apparently when that happens to people won't let them.
And they do.
Throughout the city the streets -- with people heading to the polls public instrument -- listen to the mosque and they -- they come out and vote.
And I see the people ramadi voting now this is an important day for -- -- -- Far greater than anyone predicted reflects the sacrifice of thousands of American troops it's difficult negotiations leading up to the vote.
And a new sense of reality on the part of the -- civil and religious leadership and a lot of our problems.
-- this election.
Make life better for the people of Iraq.
Seven in -- and how about -- and -- at seven.
-- -- convinced him I think this is a good election -- Iraq because the government will stay for years and people chosen that it will be strong government.
It means a great deal to the Iraqi People because they're voting.
And I think they're coming to the realization that -- their government.
And lieutenant climbers right in the January 2005 elections less than 5% of the people and -- on -- vote.
Today the province is a whopping turnout of over 75%.
Polling stations run out of balance and election officials -- to the polls remain open an extra hour.
Citizens celebrate in the streets.
Back in Washington President Bush praises the -- There's a lot of a lot of joy.
As far as I'm concerned and.
Seeing the Iraqi People.
-- major milestone.
A -- after the election the process of counting the vote begins.
This -- art and not strong class veterans being operated.
We just recently.
It's here at this factory were all local ballot boxes are counted.
Tag and then set out to the tally center in Baghdad.
They're they're inspected for ballot stuffing voter fraud and other potential irregularities.
The international mission for -- elections determines that fewer than 1%.
Of the ballot boxes are questionable.
In general terms -- quite happy to say that the election conform with the international standards and that's not to say it was perfect.
You know elections are really perfect in any country.
It was a big step with the elections in that we have -- hands -- They're doing everything that they can on their own if there's anything good in the case not only do.
Quote you know money but there's potential there's not a there's not -- it.
-- -- -- Will the election helped stop the terrorists -- I believe it will help stop terrorists.
Because all the people want a new government together with the Iraqi Army and police we can make better -- The success of Iraq's first constitutional elections hasn't ended the war for US troops.
Up next we go on patrol with the soldiers of the 28 infantry division and -- hunt for enemy arm.
Two days after the December 15 vote.
Iraqi officials say it will be weeks before the final results -- Despite the high voter turnout the streets of ramadi can still be dangerous.
We've -- -- Christopher Wilson Bravo company first -- the hundred ninth infantry prepares his troops and Bradley's -- patrol.
The past we've found different munitions and machine guns sort out orchards our sector lieutenant Wilson briefs his men -- -- a little bit.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- But -- prevent.
From -- pretty much talking -- up.
Level the result of operations -- a rural area north of ramadi an ideal place for terrorists hide weapons and ammunition funneled in from Syria.
Our plan was -- updated day to see if you have any luck to get it.
Fox -- weapons artillery rounds.
To get death certificate -- I don't know if half.
-- stay alert and look after each -- we can -- We leave here with a gate -- that -- have -- card is no point we'll begin this.
And that it was built recessionary.
Not all the -- -- Russians here in Iraq take place on city streets some of it.
And lush vegetation along the banks of the Euphrates terrain is different and it's -- -- Canadiens during.
And -- more thanks to hide something in history -- city Yorkshire littered with leaflets -- -- by coalition forces.
This one's only wanted poster for the notorious terrorist Abu Musab -- how -- been in contact call for.
One thing that the elections have not changed his need for constant vigilance.
These soldiers of the first time hundred ninth infantry.
Have to be constantly on guard against the possibility.
Of improvised explosive devices.
I -- -- -- have become the deadliest weapon terrorists use -- Iraq.
Among coalition forces over 700 deaths have been caused by these devices -- You're looking at just one recent catch of ID component found by US troops.
It includes hundreds of wireless phones external batteries and based stations to trigger explosions.
This is what -- companies looking for in the orchard.
Any type of weapons.
Insurgents might use against us.
Explosives are making materials.
I think that we can find out who killed a metal detectors used to stand beneath the ground it soon starts -- -- to.
Aggressive and I did.
The metal middle of this -- being sent.
-- -- -- -- Determines how big is by the spent the sound.
And that this is a -- -- Yes I'm sure.
It's around -- They quickly determine this can't is filled with fuses but there's something very next to it and it could be an ICD a soldier's nightmare.
Don't know if pressure plated -- I'm just gonna.
Hold that -- out of the strength.
While hiding behind his back.
-- and he got there.
Found -- 108 -- room.
Period in a plastic container at second fifth right there -- Yeah that was turned out to be handling it well -- -- we're also going to bring the property owner down.
Always had people at first because it's just demands.
I don't regret it.
Believe me I don't I think this is -- situation he was scared -- -- he -- a little more than what he's trying to tell us.
I think he's trying to protect his family so that there's my -- today actress at his house at the -- this individual is awesome I don't know.
He gets kicked out of his house for the -- becoming a real fast to take over his house -- him out.
And then they do whatever they want that stuff might not -- -- there's going to be careful.
About what he says I believe they have -- -- -- places.
They really don't ever -- but chances are left behind there could be an exercise -- a guy who carried it could be dead.
It's -- good possibility.
I think it has improved as we -- out here.
We got here people -- -- fields or hey Baghdad use a river.
Once he gets dark -- for weapons across a result bag guys on -- field they have water Q so back got swept down there.
Time is all we're getting more that we first got here people like -- -- don't see anything else.
It's not -- -- the trust that people seem to be that way.
After four hours the mission is complete.
Soldiers of Bravo company pack up and returned to base.
Today were fighting an enemy we can't see.
And -- yeah they're all over the place he -- More war stories from Iraq with the soldiers and Marines defending freedom just ahead.
Don't go away.
The Iraqi elections were remarkably peaceful especially for ramadi.
That was no small accomplishment for the Sunni tribal leaders the US troops and Iraqi soldiers like lieutenant has seen.
Shall live together we can make a better Iraq.
And according to international monitors fewer than 1% of the ballots cast were called into question.
The extraordinary efforts to get to -- to participate in the democratic process paid off.
Preliminary results of the unified Shiite bloc -- -- 128 seats the most overall.
In the Kurdish alliance in north -- 53.
But the Sunnis did much better than expected when he 55 seats.
1% of the assembly roughly proportional to their numbers in the population.
But it's just the first step.
The insurgency is still out there.
Still there's got -- -- decision -- part of the local news here stuff about before her money -- -- angles here.
Governor -- hard won agreement to recruit and train -- local military police force from all on bar hasn't stopped the.
On 5 January barely three weeks after the elections a suicide bomber drove a truck full of explosives into a line of recruits at the very glass factory.
-- the election ballots from ramadi were collected.
More than 65 people were killed.
-- an -- -- like across the country.
Terror has stopped the Iraqis.
Later that afternoon new lines of volunteers were at the glass factory to sign up for these critical jobs it's a willingness to work.
A -- -- you go out.
Fight their fight major -- Tippett on his third tour and new Marines like Lance corporal Jared cards since the change.
-- -- Iraqi soldiers more determined to kill the enemy and take responsibility.
For their future.
They don't like him.
They all they're all against them they always like at a time around -- on the go around the world they're always looking for him again.
It shows the Iraqi population it there and people can handle was going around.
Yeah it's clear the Iraqis understand that they must take the lead in stopping those who wish to destroy their fledgling democracy.
Terrorism whether we like it or not.
His presence here back to ignore it.
They -- here.
We -- here there's been a huge effort now the last two -- half three years to.
Do to fix fix situation here -- -- -- It would be a -- -- that back.
I think what we would we would end up with news potentially terrorist state had the ability to export.
Violence around the world isn't.
Warned the security of the region and because it's important security reasons it's important security to people the United States of America that he foreseeing.
Things change pushing projects actually get completed that I want to thank you very much -- -- securing project showing instantly and instantly enemy.
-- conducted some attacks against the civilians.
So I -- yesterday someone's.
It's like you can get immunized but if you give it to -- by -- in my face like and it -- one of these people after a lot doesn't taste good.
Start pushing through some of these lies and stories at the enemy just.
-- -- to get out of freedom tonight there's a voice.
To the people of this country.
That they would never have let us.
With the December 15 elections behind them the American troops now focused on another important day just ahead.
Christmas is what is it I don't my family back home mom and dad -- love you.
That's gonna beg for all packages were getting from back home and home town.
-- -- in New York.
Miss your calling him a make statements -- Let your play is horrible the giants have experience says it ought to look I don't know friends back in -- life.
And but -- they spoke badges getting that out here I'm so I'm very high note I'm -- Please everybody -- happy holidays in my area.
My -- -- Virginia's they're the size of Marines -- they married just to my family.
-- more war stories coming up.
Don't go away.
Don't lose focus.
-- -- -- -- One step at a time one day at a time one -- at a time we start something.
We should definitely finish it.
We owe it to these people we -- it to the rest of the world.
In the war on terror our greatest weapon -- the courage and perseverance of our troops.
Well those and -- debate the purpose of the mission and the dedication of our servicemen and women remained steadfast.
I've been here about six months in the country.
Before this I was positive about two years.
There's hope for three weeks and volunteers from it.
What you vulture.
But can let my guys -- -- -- without me.
Whatever we did it ever was they're going to do -- here we have our -- so it's.
Is doing a phenomenal job their ability to maintain.
The broader view how important -- isn't going to do it right.
Day in day out regular right -- maintained.
Maintain professionalism in the face of in the face sacrifice of their their bodies.
The best barometer of troop morale is the realistic -- Among the combat units committed to the war on terror re enlistment has never been higher -- Yeah.
You're really -- Your country or parents.
-- -- done congratulations.
It's my job I've around the world -- people playing Davis and I loved it comes gonna keep getting into some of those minutes.
They'll realize that the battle we fight.
The warning right now is every bit as important as any of the war -- they.
-- these young man.
Her beautiful beyond my words and their blessing that we may look a little.
But I don't even through.
I can't -- United States marine.
Do you miss the -- The transformation here everybody and all across Iraq.
From dictatorship to democracy.
Is an extraordinary challenge its full measure of success is still won't know.
But what is clear.
Is that the changes have been made possible by the daily sacrifice.
Of hundreds of thousands.
Of American soldiers sailors.
Airmen and Marines.
Then -- these -- Americans willingly face a very tough job here in Iraq.
Their mission stand beside the Iraqi People to build this country a better future.
Some were at greater risk than others put all worked tireless.
Far from home and determined to succeed.
Theirs is a war story that deserves to be told I'm Oliver North.
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