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Iraqi Police speak with residents while conducting a weapons cache sweep in Lahib, with Marines from 2nd Platoon, Company W, Task Force 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, January 10. During the IP coordinated cache sweep, Marines provided security while a search through a mosque uncovered hundreds of pounds of explosives, blasting caps, pressure switches, and detonation devices. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Geoffrey T. Campbell/Released)

Photo by LCpl Geoffrey T. Campbell

Iraqi Police and Marines upset insurgent activity in Lahib

10 Jan 2009 | Lance Cpl. Achilles Tsantarliotis

In an effort to keep Karmah free of insurgent activity, Lahib Iraqi Police (IP) and Marines from 2nd Platoon, Company W, Task Force 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, spent more than 12 hours searching Lahib for insurgents and weapons caches during an Iraqi Police-coordinated operation, Jan. 10.

The effort resulted in the IP detaining 11 suspected insurgents and the discovery of a stockpile of materials normally used to make improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

After detaining the suspects, Iraqi police officers told Marines they wanted to search a local mosque while Marines provided security outside, and the cache was unearthed shortly thereafter on the grounds of the compound.

Until this recent discovery, weapons caches have been more commonly found in Lahib’s outlying areas, where the rural outskirts offered easy access for insurgents and ease of concealment. The rural areas also lacked a persistent security footprint normally seen in urban centers.

Marines turned over primary security responsibility in the Karmah area to Iraqi Police roughly a month ago, and this latest success proved the their capability to secure their own city without direct Marine support.

“The [Iraqi Police] explained what they were going to do, and they told us how we could help, we just offered a few suggestions and beyond that, it was all their work,” said 1st Lt. Mark Beaudette, a 25-year-old platoon commander from Fitchburg, Ma., with 2nd Platoon, Company W, 1st Bn., 3rd Marines.

Beaudette explained the primary support Marines provided the Iraqi Police was military working dogs and engineers to help with cache sweeping – both assets the growing force is without.

The operation was successful and would have been without any help from CF, Beaudette added.

“They didn’t even ask our engineers to sweep the area [where the ordnance was found,]” he said. “They just asked to borrow the metal detector and they went over the area themselves. Marines didn’t go into a single building during the operation.”

Iraqi Police now lead and coordinate operations, and the cache find further demonstrates the IP’s commitment to sustaining security as Coalition forces continue transitioning to an overwatch position.

“When we first got here they weren’t capable of conducting their own patrols,” said Staff Sgt. Dean Long, a 27-year-old section leader from Lodi, Wis., with 2nd Platoon, Company W, 1st Bn., 3rd Marines.

“Now they’re conducting their own operations and finding caches,” he said. “It shows how much effort they put in, and it says a lot about Karmah’s future.”