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2/24 Patrols, Keeps Streets Safe

23 Feb 2008 | Cpl. Jerry Murphy

Thanks to the Marines of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, the streets of Saqlawiyah continue to be a safer place to live.

 “With us always patrolling and keeping an eye on the area, the Iraqis seem to feel more comfortable and are out of their homes more,” said Cpl. Kyle W. Peterson, a squad leader with Co. E. “They’ve said that they feel safer with us around.”

 The purpose of a security patrol is to get the presence of the Marines known and to deter insurgent activities, said Lance Cpl. Wade J. Strait, a fire team leader from Moline, Ill.

 The Marines conduct these routine patrols daily, gathering information from the Iraqis and showing their faces to the people.

 “From what we’ve heard from the people and from other units, there hasn’t been much foreign traffic coming in and out of here,” said Peterson, a resident of Council Bluffs, Iowa. “But the Iraqis have been nothing but cooperative with us and are very willing to help us in every way possible.”

 While day patrols are intended to be a continuous presence in the community, night patrols serve just as much of a purpose for the Marines.

 “When we’re out during the day, we mainly interact with the people, make them feel safe and for visibility purposes,” said 27-year-old Peterson. “On night patrols, we enforce curfew and observe to see if anyone is out after permitted hours. Normally if someone is out, they are just outside of their home and are very understanding and go right inside.”

 Patrols can sometimes last several hours and can become very hot and stressful, so the Marines take time to sit back, relax and crack jokes to one another.

 “From time to time, we sit around and catch our breath,” Peterson said. “It lets the guys have a quick smoke and chat for a few (minutes).”

 Before the patrols, the Marines are given specific tasks, or assignments for that patrol, by their platoon commanders, whether it be conducting censuses, stopping by a local Iraqi Police Station or just simply interacting with the community.

 “No matter what we are tasked to do, it’s our job to complete that mission and keep the area safe from the enemy,” said Lance Cpl. David J. Lacher, a 20-year-old squad radio operator from Lincoln, Neb. “The people are really warming up to us.”

 With Iraq in its current re-building state, the Marines are stepping back modestly, counting on the Iraqi Police and the Iraqi Army to step up and take on the required responsibilities as their own, but the people in the communities are a little pessimistic.

 “We’re trying to turn the country back over to the Iraqi government, but some of the people have said that, let’s say if (the United States) were to leave tomorrow, they fear that the tribes would have major differences again,” Peterson said. “We are working at it, but (the Iraqis) aren’t quite ready to take over the area just yet.”

 With many security patrols to come, the Marines of 2nd Bn., 24th Marines, vow to work with their Iraqi counterparts to eliminate any threats in an attempt to keep the streets of their area of operation insurgent-free.