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Route Clearance Platoon, 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5, travels down one of the many roads that fall under RCT-5's area of operations western Al Anbar province, Iraq, June 12. Route Clearance Platoon travels throughout the province to find and clear improvised explosive devices in order to make the roadways safer for Coalition forces and the Iraqi people. The platoon also aids the infantry battalions with patrols and escort convoys as they travel the roads of Iraq.

Photo by Cpl. Shawn Coolman

All clear: Route Clearance Platoon on duty

14 Jun 2008 | Cpl. Shawn Coolman

Nomadic tribes once drifted aimlessly throughout the Iraqi desert to find food and water, now, the Marines of route clearance platoon wander the same desert not for food or water, but to find and clear improvised explosive devices. 

Marines with Route Clearance Platoon, 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5, travel the span of RCT-5’s area of operations to conduct route clearance missions to keep Coalition forces safe while they conduct their various operations.

“Typically, Route Clearances Platoon’s main mission is to ensure the mobility of any of the units in the area,” said 1st Lt. Mark D. Tucher, 24, platoon commander, Route Clearance Platoon. “We’re looking to clear the roads for any IEDs that are in place against Coalition forces and Iraqi civilians.”

Searching for IEDs is only one mission assigned to Route Clearance Platoon.  The Marines also provide security for convoys and aid the infantry battalions in patrolling throughout RCT-5’s area of operations, which is about the size of South Carolina. 

“We’re out their just showing the Iraqis that we are on the ground patrolling, and making sure everything is good,” said Tucher, who is from Belton, Texas.

In the near future, an Iraqi route clearance team may be utilized to assist the Marines on missions.

“The Iraqi Army route clearance team is still in the process of the initial training phase,” said Tucher. “We’re going to train the Iraqis to do what they need to do, it’s ultimately their country and they are going to have to take ownership and responsibility for their area of operations.”

Until then, the Marines here are continuing their mission to aid Coalition and Iraqi Forces traveling the roads of Iraq.

“Many people put in a hard days work for different reasons, but I know that my hard work makes everyone’s lives a little easier and safer,” said Lance Cpl. Enoch E. Chavarria, 21, a combat engineer with Route Clearance Platoon, who is from San Pedro, Calif.


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