CAMP HANBBANIYAH, Iraq -- Marines from 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion wouldn’t consider themselves good neighbors unless they lent a hand combating snipers, small-arms fire and roadside bombs in 120 degree heat.
For two weeks, D Company, 3rd LAR, assisted 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment take over a new area of operations in the city, located between Ar Ramadi and Al Fallujah. They patrolled the region, conducting counterinsurgency operations and keeping the routes clear of improvised explosive devices, in addition they assisted in several humanitarian efforts.
“We kept the area secure while 3/5 ... got a more solid stance in the area,” said Pfc. Gary D. Cassen, 18, a scout with the company from Colfax, Calif.
For the two weeks the company operated in the area and both platoons had a continuous presence in their portions of the town. They didn’t sit back and wait for the action. They leaned forward and took the fight to the insurgents.
“We have been really busy,” said Lance Cpl. Albert D. Garcia Jr., 21, a scout from Corpus Christi, Texas. “It’s been pretty hot. There has been a lot of activity and there are a lot of insurgents out here.”
The Marine’s work paid off immediately. They disrupted the flow of the insurgents in the area.
“This is the busiest time we have had since we have been in Iraq,” said Sgt. Alexander C. Herbert, a 23-year-old squad leader, from Alexandria, La. “We did a lot of dismounted patrols and security sweeps through the city looking for insurgents. We put a lot more pressure on the insurgents by going through their back yard.”
He added the insurgents know they are up against a formidable force.
“They now know that if they try to blow us up, we are going to patrol in, find them and mess them up,” Herbert said.
The unit was busy in their area up until the time they were replaced. On their last day of operations, they found five IEDs.
“While one platoon would operate in the village, the other was waiting nearby as a quick reaction force, so if anything did go wrong, one platoon is ready to go if the other platoon needs back up,” Garcia said.
The backup force didn’t sit idly by, though. They were called into the mix when firefights broke out. The overwhelming force killed attacking insurgents and sent survivors on the run.
“We’re driving them out, making this a safer zone and eventually we will shove them out of the whole country,” Herbert said.
It wasn’t all trading shots with insurgents, though. Marines spent time off the light armored vehicles to help out local Iraqis. They passed out food and gift items, including soccer balls, to area residents, Ward explained.
“We’re cutting down the insurgency and bringing the power back to the Iraqi people,” Garcia said. “There is a lot of work that still needs to be done, but we are making steps forward.”