Featured News

‘America’s Battalion’ keeps pressure on insurgents

7 Sep 2006 | Lance Cpl. Erik Villagran

Marines from 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment are letting insurgents know that they aren’t going to let up anytime soon.

Marines from the battalion’s Weapons Company and Iraqi soldiers performed a search through an Iraqi marketplace in Gharmah Sept.7. The goal was to interrupt insurgent activity in the area.

“It was a counterinsurgency operation with the Iraqi Army,” said Sgt. Tim C. Stellhorn, a 23-year-old section leader from Baltimore. “We were trying to find any weapons or bomb-making materials.”

The operation ran into a speed bump early. Marines in the convoy had to stop because of improvised explosive devices. Marines believe the IEDs were set on the road specifically to give insurgents time to flee the area, according to Stellhorn.

The area around the marketplace has been a hot spot for insurgent activity. Marines have been attacked on multiple occasions in the area.

“Due to the amount of activity in the market, it was time to go through,” said Cpl. Stephen P. McLaughlin, a 22-year-old infantryman from Brockton, Mass. “It’s a key area for insurgents. We’ve had shots fired in the area and multiple IEDs.”

The convoy rumbled into the market and road blocks were set up instantly. All roads leading in to the marketplace were blocked by humvees with gunners manning their weapons. Helicopters flew overhead to ensure insurgent snipers didn’t set up on top of a hill behind the marketplace.

The search of the marketplace began once the security was set.

“We were going through the marketplace to see if they were hiding anything,” said Lance Cpl. David J. Spicer, a 22-year-old assaultman from Grosse Pointe, Mich. “We were also trying to get any information on insurgents.”

Marines and Iraqi soldiers searched every building in the marketplace. They broke locks off doors and kicked in doors to ensure every building was searched. Pots and pans clattered as Iraqi soldiers searched restaurants, and clothes swung on their racks in every direction as Marines searched through clothing stores.

At every building the people were searched and questioned by Iraqi soldiers.

The search lasted hours. The searches did not find anything, but Marines were satisfied with the operation.

“The search went okay,” Spicer said. “We had an IED slow us up and that allowed a lot of people to leave the marketplace before we got there.”

Marines believe a message was sent to the insurgents despite the results of the searches.

“It shows the insurgents that when we have every asset like we did today, they have no chance of succeeding,” Spicer said.