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Operations continue at new observation post

20 Jul 2006 | Cpl. William Skelton

Patrolling operations continued as the battlefield changed for Marines serving near Fallujah.

The new operating area is bringing new challenges for Marines serving in A Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.  They are on duty in Iraq with Regimental Combat Team 5.

“We have a lot less interaction with the people in this area,” said Navy Seaman Apprentice Adam D. Petree, a 21-year-old corpsman from Slidell, La. “This area is a lot more open with a lot less population.”

More than 60 percent of the battalion’s original battle space is now in the hands of the Iraqi Army. The battalion is now establishing new outposts like OP Viking to set up a foothold in the western region of their area of operation.

Petree is a member of a B Company platoon that has been augmented to serve with A Company for the duration of the deployment. B Company’s former area was more urban and populated in the heart of Gharmah, a small city north of Fallujah.

That battle space is now in the hands of the Iraqi Army.

“This place is quite different from Gharmah,” Petree said. “There we didn’t have a large area to patrol, but there was a lot more people to deal with.”

“We have platoons kicked out … conducting security patrols and providing a presence in the area,” said 1st Sgt. Lance V. Chwan, a 39-year-old first sergeant from Little Falls, N.J. “They are interacting with the people and basically getting to know the area for the turnover with our replacements.”

The battalion is nearing the end of their scheduled deployment. Every patrol and operation the battalion performs is to set their replacement battalion up for success.

Chwan said the Marines working at outposts like OP Viking are essentially working on their own.  They perform their own missions, with resupply missions and period checks from commanders.

Marines routinely head out into the surrounding villages to question the public on needs or concerns they might have. All of these efforts are to improve the relations between the Iraqis and the Marines.

“We have done a good job of interacting with the people in our last area of operations,” said Lance Cpl. Louis D. Chavarry, an 18-year-old rifleman from Pemberton, N.J. “We will try hard to get to know the people here in the few weeks that we have.”

Despite the new surroundings, the Marines are carrying out their same mission.

“Our battlespace has changed, but our mission hasn’t,” Petree said. “We are here to help the Iraqi people and to train the Iraqi Army.  We have done that, and will continue to do it.”