CAMP HABBANIYAH, Iraq -- It doesn’t matter if insurgents want to hide high or low. Marines assigned to L Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment are still searching everywhere
The company recently conducted an insurgent search east of Fallujah Sept. 5. 2nd Lt. Jonathan E. McConnell, a platoon commander for L Company, said his Marines went inside every home, every store and livestock pen looking for evidence of insurgent activity.
“I can’t say any house was left unturned,” said McConnell, a 24-year-old from Mobile, Ala.
The “Betio Bastards” of 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment are serving in Iraq with Regimental Combat Team 5.
McConnell led his men onto lush brush and tarred rooftops looking for insurgents, improvised explosive device-makers and illegal weapons.
Marines made sure Iraqis knew why they are in their village.
“We just want to let them know that we’re looking for the bad guys,” said Cpl. Zachary P. Schlarb, a team leader with L Company who is on his third deployment.
The 21-year-old rifleman from Reading, Pa., and his team are taking necessary precautions to prevent his Marines from getting hurt in the future.
The searches aren’t only for the Marines safety. They’re also helping Iraqi civilians.
“IEDs are killing most of them,” said Cpl. Joshua W. Simonson, a squad leader for L Company who is also serving his third tour in Iraq. “Once we get rid of these IEDs, we’ll be able to open up the main road so it will be easier for the Iraqis to get around.”
Although Iraqis go through daily struggles, they told Marines during the operation they understood Marines have a goal to accomplish. In fact, Iraqis welcomed the Marines in to their homes for hot tea and freshly baked flatbread.
Marines saw the invitations and welcoming attitudes as a good sign. Local Iraqis are seeing Marines keep the pressure on insurgents and that’s translating into safer communities for citizens in the area.
This was a big development for Marines. Many Iraqis were once afraid to talk to Americans because of insurgents who terrorized the area. Now Iraqis are letting Marines get closer to their community to help hunt down the insurgents.
“It’s good that they’re cooperating,” Schlarb said.
Marines wrapped up the operation with several detainees, IED-making materials and valuable knowledge of insurgent activity in the local area.
“It went well,” McConnell said. “My Marines got the job done quickly. There’s not as nearly as many IEDs as there used to be.”
The insurgent activity has calmed down some because McConnell’s Marines have kept up with constant patrols through the area.
McConnell couldn’t be more pleased with his Marines’ results.
“They did a thorough job of gathering intelligence sources and everybody got home safe,” McConnell said. “You can’t ask for more than that.”