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Road signs placed alongside Chicago let drivers know that there is a vehicle checkpoint where they will be searched, May 29, in Karma, Iraq. Marines of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, assisted Iraqi Police and the Iraqi Army conduct vehicle searches during Operation Gravel Dump. The operation was helmed by the Iraqi Security Forces, with Marines watching over them and answering any questions they may have had. (Photo by Cpl. Chadwick deBree)

Photo by Cpl. Chadwick deBree

2nd Bn., 3rd Marines participate in Operation Gravel Dump

29 May 2008 | Cpl. Chadwick deBree

Along the road nicknamed Chicago, vehicles lined up for miles, each vehicle getting ready to be searched. But they are not going to be searched by Marines, but by local Iraqi Security Forces.

Marines with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, supported Iraqis with the Karma Iraqi Police and Iraqi Soldiers of 1st Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, participated in Operation Gravel Dump.

“The Iraqi Army had (intelligence) that insurgents were smuggling weapons and explosives by hiding them in the gravel trucks,” said 2nd Lt. Adam Steele, platoon commander, 4th Platoon, Co. F, 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines. “So they came up to us and told us their plan to get us all together to search the trucks. The Iraqi Army then asked us if they could do it on this day and we told them yes, and that we would be there to help them with anything that they needed.”

With temperatures reaching more than one hundred degrees both days, the ISF searched every car and truck that came their way, searching for weapons caches, and requiring very little from the Marines.

When a car drove up to the check point, the Iraqi Security Force personnel asked the driver to present their identification cards and searched them while Marine Lionesses searched the women and children, and then proceeded to search the vehicle.

When a gravel truck arrived, they asked the driver to pull into a designated lot to have them dump their gravel to be searched by military working dogs.

“This is a perfect integration of Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police, Lionesses, military working dogs, and infantry Marines,” Steele said. “They did very well and worked hard and well with each other.”

Though no weapons were found during the search, the operation proved to be a success as the Iraqi Army and Police worked together with little help from the Marines.

"The Iraqis worked especially well with each other,” Steele said. “Whenever they had a question or a problem, they would ask each other first to try to solve it before asking the Marines. They were motivated to take control of this operation, to make it their own.”

With the ISF at the helm of the operation, the local population was glad to see that their own security forces were in control of the situation.

One local Iraqi citizen stated, as his vehicle was being searched, that it was good to see that his country men were taking charge of searching Iraqis.

“The people are feeling more and more safe seeing the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police conducting things like these, essentially, on their own,” Steele said. “We were just there for census data. This is what we aim for; to get the Iraqi Police to work on their own. This will set them up for us to eventually leave here. This operation was a great success due to the fact that we had the army and police working together. Their workmanship is due to the Marines living with them and it shows 2/3’s work ethic and dedication to training them for success. Their motivation and dedication let’s us know we are doing a good job out here.”