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An engineer with Task Force 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, scans for weapons caches in northern Karmah near the company’s rural outpost, Oct. 22. Marines there have been finding weapons caches almost daily.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Achilles Tsantarlioti

Marines finding new ways to find caches

24 Oct 2008 | Lance Cpl. Achilles Tsantarliotis

Marines in northern Karmah have been busy, finding hidden weapons caches daily for the last few weeks.

Since arriving to the area in August, the Marines, with 2nd Platoon, Company B, Task Force 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, have raked in more than 60 small arms, 50 mortars, hundreds of explosives fuses and various types of explosives, most of which they found over the last month.

But their finds did not come as easily initially during their deployment. The Marines have become more attuned to finding ordnance which each cache they find.

 “We learn more with each cache,” said Cpl. Timothy Golden, a 21-year-old squad leader from Williamsburg, Va., with 2nd Platoon. “The story of each cache is told by how it was buried. After finding so many caches, we start to know what to look for.”

 The Marines say they have adopted the mentality of desperate insurgents. They view the area as a grid, and while thinking like the enemy they scan for natural markers and areas where they would hide weapons.

 Each cache find potentially saves scores of lives, both Coalition and civilian, and significantly slows the insurgency.

 “It feels good finding so many caches,” said Sgt. Marc Mcgarry, a 26-year-old squad leader from Rockland, Mass., with 2nd Platoon. “The more caches we find the safer Karmah citizens and Marines are.”

 But the Marines say smaller, more easily defended attacks have been launched by desperate insurgents showing their frustrations.

Mcgarry said assaults on their post are regular after an active week of heavily denting insurgents’ weapons supplies.

 “(Before), the enemy felt comfortable hiding things here,” he said. “And now there’s definitely blowback with each cache we find, or guys we detain. They’re basically ‘thumping their chest.’”

 Karmah has been key terrain for the insurgents smuggling weapons into Anbar province, making the Marines’ role of influencing future security that much more important.

“We’re removing accelerants from the insurgency,” said Capt. Michael L. Mayne, the 35-year-old commanding officer of Company B, Task Force 1st Bn., 3rd Marines, from Napa Calif. “We’re taking the gasoline from their tank, and we’re going to keep taking it.”