AL-ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq --
The enemy can’t hide in the dark if the night sky is lit up like a light bulb.
Marines with Mike Battery, 3rd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5 support the service members conducting patrols through the city Rutbah, Iraq, by firing illumination rounds from M-777 Howitzers to discourage insurgent activity after the sun goes down.
“It provides (insurgents) with limited options to move around freely,” said Capt. Shane E. Murphy, 32, executive officer of Mike Battery, from Grande Prairie, Texas. “We’ve also been able to use the illumination rounds for seeking out caches by finding tire tracks in the desert.”
Mike Battery is a reserve artillery battery based out of Chattanooga, Tenn. The battery is attached to 2nd LAR Bn. as a provisional infantry element in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“We have to maintain artillery presence to show that we’re still here,” said Sgt. Mike D. Maurer, 23, a cannon section chief with Mike Battery, from Woodstock, Ga. “There has been suspected insurgent activity in the areas we’re illuminating, and it’s good to catch them in the act.”
When not firing the cannons, the Marines with Mike Battery provide security, assist the Iraqi Police and help with rebuilding the infrastructure in Rutbah. So far, the unit has been able to fire their Howitzers more than 20 times this deployment for the purpose of night operation illumination, and they look forward to it each time.
“It’s a good change of pace from our normal operations. It’s fast paced when you’re moving to get that round down range, and that is exciting,” said Lance Cpl. Justine R. Burch, 23, a cannoneer with Mike Battery from Virginia Beach, Va. “Insurgents love to hide in the desert to exchange weapons or oil, and when we light up (the sky), they will be found.”