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Amtracs prove versatility in Iraq

14 Mar 2006 | 1st Lt. Nathan Braden

Keeping the highways clear of roadside bombs and insurgents is a vital job in Iraq, but the Marines of Company A, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion proved they are up for the challenge.

Marines from 2nd Platoon recently spent a day providing security on one of the main supply routes, or highways, near Fallujah.  The platoon used a variety of methods to complete their mission, including conducting vehicle check points, dismounted patrols and driving along the highway as a very visible deterrent against potential attackers. 

“We spend a lot of time on the road,” said Cpl. Jesse S. Cribb, from Burlington, N.J. and a crew chief with 2nd Platoon who was serving as a dismount for the operation.  “We keep the roads safe and protect the convoys and other units that have to go from Point A to Point B.”

Marines looked for vehicles matching the description of those suspected of association with insurgent activity, in addition to keeping eye open for potential improvised explosive emplacers.

“We checked out a couple of vehicles we were on the look out for,” said Staff Sgt. Jason J. Tameling, 28, a section leader with 2nd Platoon from Bardstown, Ky.   

The Marines had a little help in conducting their mission for the day.

“We had a working dog out with us today,” Tameling said.  “It’s good because it gives us more stand-off distance when checking out vehicles.”

The efficiency of the dog allowed the vehicle checks to be conducted quicker and Marines to stay on the move, Tameling added. 

Assault amphibian vehicles are hulking tracked monsters designed to carry a squad of assault troops from Navy ships to a beach head during an amphibious assault. 

They are not meant for constantly driving up and down highways, but that is exactly what the Marines of Company A have been doing for the past six months in an effort to keep the road ways open, and with great success.

This non-traditional use of AAV’s has proven a very successful way to employ the water-designed vehicles in the open Iraqi desert, according 2ndLt. John S. Kim, the 30-year-old Seattle serving as 2nd Platoon’s commander.

“We are like jacks of all trades, we can do a lot of different things,” Kim explained.  “The greatest strength of Amtracs is our flexibility.”

The Marines of the platoon have taken their non-traditional missions on with vigor.

“We do a lot of the same stuff as the infantry,” said Cribb, the 23-year-old noncommissioned officer. 

“I didn’t really know what I’d be doing before we deployed,” said Lance Cpl. Chris P. Lambert, 19, an AAV crewman from Peoria, Ill.  “I was hoping not to be sitting around and we have definitely stayed busy.” 

The platoon members have become very close during the long hours spent on the road throughout their deployment. 

“Second Platoon is fun because we are all tight, like a big family.  We joke around and have nicknames for each other,” Cribb said.  “Plus, the NCO’s can take charge and don’t get micromanaged.”  

After a day of providing security on the road, the platoon headed back to the company forward assembly area to provide security for the company command operations center, check their vehicles and prep for the next mission.

Kim reflected on his Marines during a refueling stop after arriving back at the company’s base camp.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better platoon,” he said.

Company A is scheduled to return to Camp Lejeune, N.C. within a month.