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Marines with Task Force 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 and Iraqi Security Forces stand near an explosive-remnants-of-war (ERW) stockpile of over 10,000 pieces of ordnance near the city of Haditha, Iraq, Sept 25. The stockpile consisted of mortar rounds, artillery rounds and rockets. A joint patrol consisting of Marines from Co. E, 2nd Bn., 2nd Marines and Iraqi Police officers discovered the stockpile.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Joshua Murray

Iraqi Police discover stockpile; largest find to date

27 Sep 2008 | Lance Cpl. Joshua Murray

HADITHA, Iraq – Almost 9,000 pieces of ordnance lined the recently excavated trenches. Iraqi Police officers and Marines smiled and congratulated each other on preventing such a large explosive-remnants-of-war (ERW) stockpile from falling into the enemy’s hands.  

The IP officers discovered the large ordnance stockpile near Haditha on a combined patrol with the “Warlords” of 2nd Platoon, Company E, Task Force 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, Sept. 22.

“This is the biggest (stockpile) we’ve ever found,” said Muhammed Jassim Muhammed, a member of the National Iraqi Intelligence Agency. “When we arrived, there was a 70-meter wide hole dug, but (the insurgents) had not finished burying everything.

“We are extremely happy to find this (stockpile),” Muhammed said. “We scored a victory on the bad guys and prevented upwards of two-hundred possible vehicle-borne-improvised-explosive-device attacks. With every find we make, Iraq becomes a safer place.”

Through the help of local Iraqi citizens looking out for the safety and wellbeing of their community, the police received information on the location of the stockpile.

“The Iraqi Police are 100 percent responsible for finding this (stockpile),” said Staff Sgt. Robert Fertal, 26, platoon sergeant with 2nd. Plt., Co. E. “Their hard work and sacrifice has created an environment where Iraqi nationals freely offer information. This information has led to several smaller caches and ERW finds, as well as the large one.”

The ordnance Co. E normally finds is less in quantity than this one. Finds are commonly linked to preceding disposal attempts of enemy munitions by Coalition forces.

“We have never uncovered this amount of ordnance in the same location,” said Fertal, who is from Cleveland.  “Our typical finds are usually five to 10 rounds and almost always classified as ERW. On average, we find ERW about twice a month. We also find unexploded ordinance (UXO) from previous controlled detonations. UXO is found more frequently.”

With the quick response time of the IP and the help of citizens in the area, Iraqis are preventing insurgency operations in Iraq. Step by step they are becoming self-reliant and completely capable of protecting their people and their freedoms.

“This find demonstrates the post PIC (Provincial Iraqi Control) capabilities of an Iraqi Police force in the lead, using its own intelligence to take the fight to the enemy by depriving him of a significant supply of ammunition,” said Lt. Col. Steven J. Grass, the battalion commander of TF 2nd Bn., 2nd Marines. “It was a big win.”