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Iraqi police chief takes a bite out of IED attacks for Marines

25 Mar 2004 | Cpl. Paula M. Fitzgerald

Marines here received a welcome addition to their unexploded ordnance pit recently from the chief of Iraqi police in Ar Ramadi, Iraq.

The chief discovered a spent American-made 155 mm howitzer casing near his home and called his fellow police officers to help disarm the IED. After rendering the bomb safe, the chief turned the IED into Marines from 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment.

"The IED was packed with plastic explosives in the fuse well," Staff Sgt. Jamey D. Finch, combat engineer, said. "Then whoever made it took out the shipping plug and drilled it out for the electrical system. When they screwed it back on, it looked just like a basic, safe round."

The policemen separated the electric blasting cap from the body of the device to make the bomb secure.

Capt. Dominic J. Harris, information officer for 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, was there when the IED was turned into the Marines.

"The chief told us that he used his teeth to cut the wires so he could disarm the device," he said. "He then called us and said he found the IED and asked what he should do with it. We told him to bring it to the camp."

The IED, which will be destroyed by Marines from the battalion's Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit, was nearly 3 feet in length and weighed nearly 20 pounds.

"It's always a good thing when we can find one this large before it does any damage. These things can send out massive amounts of fragmentation and completely destroy vehicles," Finch explained.

Finch also said that the local police and the Marines have been working hand-in-hand to rid Ar Ramadi of these devices, which have killed many Iraqi citizens.

"We do sweeps for explosive devices together," he said, "When they find IEDs, they usually turn them over to us right away so our (Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit) can destroy the IEDs safely."

The Marines rely on the people of Ar Ramadi to locate IEDs.  Many, though, are at first reluctant to come forward with information.

"Some of the people are afraid if they come tell us where these things are," Finch explained, "they're going to be killed by the guys setting them up. But after they see us go out and take care of these things for them, they are more willing to help us."

According to Harris, it's not unusual for the police chief to turn in weapons of this sort. Iraqi police turned over mortar tubes, rocket launchers, rifles and other kinds of weapons systems in recent weeks.

"Anytime we get to interact with the local police is a positive thing," Harris explained.
"The people of the community then get to see the Marine and local police presence in the community trying to make their lives safer."