OBSERVATION POST FALCONS, Iraq -- Marines here are blowing the whistle on insurgent traffic.
Marines assigned to Jump Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Battalion 2nd Marine Regiment conduct vehicle checks to stop movement of anti-Iraqi forces traveling with weapons.
“Our priority is to keep insurgents from transporting munitions in order to keep the streets safe,” said 2nd Lt. Jon M. Mueller, the 29-year-old Jump Platoon commander, from Denver.
Mueller’s Marines checked as many vehicles as many times in as many places as they could. They inspected cars for hours under beating Iraqi heat. Nothing was overlooked because lives of Iraqis and Marines are on the line.
The Marines will say it’s not an easy task either. They have to divide the insurgents from the regular traffic.
“The enemies aren’t the Iraqis – they just live among them,” said Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class George K. Grant, a 25-year-old hospital corpsman from Long Island, N.Y.
Iraqis are aware of the Marines’ situation.
“The locals seem receptive to the checks,” Mueller said. “They understand that we’re here to provide safety and security.”
Most Iraqis don’t mind when they have to be subject to inspection.
“They’re cooperative,” said Cpl. Craig M. Ledsome, driver for Lt. Col. Todd S. Desgrosseilliers, the battalion commander.
The 24-year-old radio operator from Austin, Texas, and his teammates are sometimes greeted by Iraqis with an occasional “Salaam,” which is Arabic for “peace.”
Mueller has even heard Iraqis say they appreciate Marines’ presence here.
They get out of their car without question, Ledsome said.
Iraqis know Marines have a mission to accomplish.
“They want their country back, and they see that we’re trying to hand it over,” Grant said. “So they’re coming around to the fact that we’re just trying to get rid of the insurgents, stand up their government and be on our way.”
Positive local reaction coupled with decreased insurgent activity, Mueller is sure his men are making a difference one car at a time.
“We know that the insurgents will think twice to transport weapons, munitions, improvised explosive device-making materials on our main roads,” he said.