HABBANIYAH, Iraq --
In the early morning hours of Feb. 23, Marines of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, heard gunshots in the distance, which quickly escalated into a spontaneous gunfight.
The Marines located the source of the fire, after a short assessment of the situation, and upon request from Provincial Security Forces (PSF), they patrolled to a warehouse where the gunfight was taking place.
With the PSF already battling the insurgents, the Marines quickly set up a cordon and provided security for the Iraqi police.
“The PSF immediately responded to the incident and requested our support,” said Sgt. Robert K. Breese, the Co. G watch officer during the attack. “The PSF battled and neutralized the insurgents, with the Marines providing security just in case (the firefight) turned bad.”
This incident shows how the Iraqis are no longer relying on the Marines to come in and eliminate threats; rather they are taking matters into their own hands, fending off enemies themselves, for the safety of their country.
“Golf (Company) showed tremendous discipline when they arrived, allowing the Iraqi police to finish what they started,” said Maj. Gary A. Bourland, the battalion watch officer at the time. “A year ago, the Marines would have shown up to a situation like this and immediately eliminated the enemy themselves. Now, it’s almost as if we look over their shoulders and, if necessary, take down the enemy.”
The insurgent forces detonated two Personnel Borne Improvised Explosive Devices during the battle, killing themselves. There was said to be a third PBIED, but the Iraqi Police neutralized the insurgent before it could be detonated. The Iraqi police also reported that the vehicle the insurgents were traveling in was a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device, which resulted in the Marines widening their cordon to accommodate for the possible VBIED.
“They’re learning to take initiative and eliminate threats on their own,” said Breese, a 30-year-old from White Water, Wis. “Although two PBIEDs detonated, the PSF did a good job and gave us good (intelligence), which caused us to widen our security.”
Bourland agreed and said, “The IPs and PSF are becoming more proactive and aware, not just complacent on their posts. There was a Sheikhs meeting going on later in the day about five or six miles from where this all happened. Their insight stopped a potential attack at the meeting or to another hard target.”
Though the threats were eliminated with minimal friendly casualties, three members of the PSF were killed-in-action and one was wounded-in-action.
“In the Iraqi security forces continuing efforts to achieve independence, these soldiers unselfishly put their lives on the line for the good of the Iraqi people,” Bourland said. “This is just another good example of how the civilian populace and Iraqi Army are standing up against the insurgents and making a difference.”