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Hawaii-based Infantrymen keep streets clean with cache sweeps

28 Feb 2008 | Cpl. Chadwick deBree

To keep coalition forces and Iraqi locals safe from insurgents, Marines seek out and take away any weapons that would be used against them.

 Marines with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, conducted a routine cache sweep here, Feb. 28.

 “We’re looking for (improvised explosive devices) and weapons in general when we conduct our sweeps,” said Cpl. Kristian Lopez, squad leader, third squad, first platoon, Co. F, 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines, RCT-1. “Last year we found a lot of caches and hope to find some this year to get them off the streets.”

 Since arriving to Iraq, Co. F has uncovered approximately five weapons caches in the area.

 When the Marines patrol through the streets, they keep an eye out for possible areas where insurgents might have buried weapons. When they come across an area that looks suspicious, the Marines go to work by posting security and having one man sweep the area with a metal detector.

 “When I check an area, I look for spots that may set (the metal detector) off,” said Lance Cpl. Richard J. Cook, rifleman, third squad, first platoon, Co. F, 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines, RCT-1. “When it does go off, it has to be a certain size in order for us to determine if we should dig it up to see if it’s a weapons cache.”

 Cook, a 21-year-old native of Cortland, N.Y., said that he was designated to sweep areas for caches because he was the first one in his squad to use the detector and didn’t mind carrying it while on patrol with him.

 “I actually liked it when they made each of us try using it so I volunteered to be the one to carry it on patrol,” he said. “My squad hasn’t actually found a cache yet, but different squads in the company are finding them, which is a good thing because they’re getting them off the streets so the insurgents can’t use them against us.”

 The sweep also gave the Marines a chance to interact with the local Iraqi population, to get to know them better as well as the area.

 “When we’re out there talking to the Iraqis, it shows them that we’re just not out there to be out there,” said the 23-year-old Lopez, a native of Austin, Texas. “When we’re walking through the streets, we’ll take the time to talk to them, to see how they’re doing, and to see if they need anything because it shows them that we’re here to help.”

 The Hawaii-based Marines are currently maintaining security in the region and working hand-in-hand with local Iraqi security forces to bring more stability to the local peoples’ lives.