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‘America’s Battalion’ scopes out new area of operations

2 Aug 2006 | Lance Cpl. Erik Villagran

Regimental Combat Team 5’s newest battalion got a good look at the new neighborhood, thanks to the veteran battalion they’re replacing.

Marines from G Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, went on a mounted patrol through part of their new battle space with Marines from C Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment Aug. 2.

Grunts from both battalions worked together to get the new Marines associated with the area of operation they will be inheriting.

“The vehicle patrol went very well,” said Staff Sgt. Gerardo C. Ybarra, a 30-year-old platoon commander with G Company. “Whenever there’s no contact, it went well.”

The patrol not only went well, but all the objectives for the patrol were met.

“We accomplished everything we set out to do today,” said Gunnery Sgt. Joshua S. Smith a 31-year-old platoon commander with C Company.

The goals for the patrol were to familiarize Marines from “America’s Battalion” with the area of operations. Marines took a closer look at the battle space and conducted a rolling vehicle checkpoint.

Cpl. Stephen T. Reagan, a 24-year-old squad leader, was impressed with the battle space. He’s confident in his company’s ability to run the area after looking at the space for which they will soon be responsible.

“It will take a lot to work the battle space, but I think we’ve got enough people to control it,” Reagan said.

The confidence the Camp Lejeune-based Marines have shown and the advice the veteran 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment passed along has made the transition go smoothly.  The outgoing Marines did everything they could for the Marines arriving, sometimes repeating instruction three and four times, Ybarra said.

They’ve got big shoes to fill.  Marines of 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment worked the region vigorously.  They’ve operated in regions north of Fallujah for nearly seven months, training Iraqi police and soldiers and hunting down and killing insurgents.

Ybarra and his squad leaders have been impressed with the job done in the battle space. They have used the directions given to them by outgoing leaders to prepare for their actions in the AO.

Smith was equally impressed with how receptive 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment has been to the advice given to them.  Squad leaders have been asking many questions to prepare for any scenario they may face.

“It’s a lot of information they are trying to soak up in a short amount of time,” Smith explained. “It’s seven months of information being passed in six days.”

America’s Battalion is nearly ready to assume the lead in the region for themselves.  They will relieve 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment soon and shoulder responsibility for the next seven months.

“Morale is pretty high,” Reagan said. “My Marines are anxious to go out.”