Commanding Officer
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Cpl. Chris M. McQuitty, assistant platoon leader, 3rd Platoon, Company L, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, points out a road that insurgents could use to avoid vehicle checkpoints near Hit, Iraq, July 11. Marines with Company L performed a reconnaissance patrol through the outskirts of Hit in search of routes the enemy could use to smuggle contraband into Hit. The information gathered during the patrol will help the company make the area around Hit safer for Coalition forces and the Iraqis that live there.

Photo by Cpl. Erik Villagran

Marines scour desert

11 Jul 2008 | Cpl. Erik Villagran

Marines did a little off-roading recently in search of roads that will be valuable in future operations.

Marines with 3rd Platoon, Company L, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 conducted a patrol through the outskirts of Hit to get a feel for an area added to their area of operations.

“The mission was a big reconnaissance patrol,” said Cpl. Chris M. McQuitty, 21, an assistant platoon leader with 3rd Platoon from St. Louis. “We wanted take a look at roads and areas for future patrols.”

Marines set out in vehicles along the main route in the new area. As they drove to the end of their new AO, 1st Lt. John M. Billiris, platoon commander, 3rd Platoon, wrote down the location of vehicle checkpoints, Iraqi Police Stations and other areas of interest. 

"We were (conducting a reconnaissance of) the main route, looking for businesses along the route and looking for unimproved roads leading to the desert,” said Billiris, 26, from Tarpon Springs, Fla. “We were looking for roads anti-Iraqi forces could use to bypass checkpoints and smuggle things into the city.”

To find the paths that could be used by the enemy, Marines had to overcome rough terrain. They maneuvered through soft sand, small hills and rocky grounds in an effort to discover different trails.

“When you go through the desert, big obstacles provide a challenge,” McQuitty said. “You risk getting stuck somewhere or rolling a vehicle.”

Although Marines had to travel through unforgiving land to find the paths they were searching for, they said it will pay off in future operations.

“Now that I know the business areas, I can send out patrols to census the area,” Billiris said. “It also helps the mobile assault platoon because if they’re called out on the fly, they know what the area looks like.”

Marines were pleased with the information they gathered on the patrol because it showed them what to expect when they patrol though the new area.

“We didn’t do anything glamorous, but the patrol was very successful,” Billiris said. “All my intelligence requirements for going out there were met, and that helps build on to follow-up missions.”