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3/5 Marines rehearse advanced urban tactics in Iraq

1 Nov 2004 | Sgt. Luis R. Agostini

Patrolling urban hotspots such as Ramadi, Najaf and Fallujah, Marines are often combating anti-Iraqi forces hiding in buildings, apartments and small rooms.To prepare for encountering enemy forces in these locations, Marines with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, recently rehearsed advanced urban combat tactics."Operating in an urban environment is one of the most dangerous things you can do, because you are going into someone else's house," said Cpl. Joshua D. Miles, 21, a team leader with 3rd Platoon, Co. L. "They (the enemy) know that if they're in this room, they can hide here, and you're not able to see them. Throw in the higher ground, moving through streets, going into dark rooms, it's extremely dangerous." AUC incorporates the lessons Marines are taught during military operation in urban terrain training with those of close quarter battle.Miles, a native of Silver City, N.M., recently transferred to 3/5 from 2nd Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team, Norfolk, Va., where he trained in urban tactics for three years."Fights are going to be in urban, built-up areas. Whenever we have to go, somewhere along the line we are going to have to go into a built-up area and take it over," said Miles.The rehearsals began outside of their living quarters, with white tape patterned along the sand, guiding the Marines to their proper location."If you start up with tape on the ground, it helps them slow down and go through the basics," said Miles. "You go from that (white tape) to an actual house and they say, 'Hey, I saw this on the tape training and here it is in the real fight.'"From tape training, the Marines move into hardened structures, where they apply techniques used to maneuver through buildings and rooms.After conducting patrols and civil-military operations in the Sunni Triangle for nearly two months, Miles has recognized patterns in the architectural designs that help plan and train for future urban ops. "Houses are pretty small, for the most part," said Miles. "Another thing I noticed is that the houses here are built the same. From the size of the room to the design of the stairway to the roof, everything is roughly the same."Teamwork is not only crucial for mission success, but for survival."If you send one guy into a room and there's a bad guy in there, you are not doing your job by watching his back," said Lance Cpl. Matthew G. Hilton, a team leader with Company L. "The biggest part of this training is watching your buddy's back so you can go back home together."Miles passed his knowledge and lessons learned in AUC training to his team to prevent innocent casualties and improve relations between coalition forces and the people of Iraq."The biggest thing is identifying hands," said Miles. "If you come into a room and there are five people in there, you look for their hands. If one of them has a weapon and he's pointing it at you, of course you are going to take him down. "If the other four don't have anything in their hands, they're not an immediate threat to you. You are going to handle them as unknowns, take care of them, separate them from the bad guys and treat them with dignity and respect, while you are getting the job done."