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Two M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks patrol with Task Force Mech, Regimental Combat Team 5 in al-Anbar Province, Iraq, Nov. 29. Task Force Mech consists of Marines and sailors with Company A, 2nd Tank Battalion, in conjunction with elements of Company B, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Bn., and 1st Combat Engineer Bn. The Marines and sailors with Task Force Mech are conducting various missions in al-Anbar province to include presence patrols and humanitarian missions.

Photo by Cpl. Shawn Coolman

Task Force Mech makes tracks through al-Anbar

16 Dec 2008 | Cpl. Shawn Coolman

Marines and sailors assigned to Task Force Mech, Regimental Combat team 5 are conducting various operations here to improve the security and to assist the Iraqi people where needed.

Task Force Mech consists of Marines and sailors with Company A, 2nd Tank Battalion, in conjunction with elements of Company B, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Bn., and 1st Combat Engineer Bn.  

“(Task Force Mech’s) main concern is preventing the freedom of movement of insurgents. We’re looking for weapon caches and stopping insurgent movements (from the borders),” said 1st Lt. Chris M. Hansen, 28, platoon commander, 1st platoon, 2nd Tank Bn. “By us being out there, it makes the insurgents re-route or completely stop their operations.

“We’re also providing humanitarian aid when possible. We have helped numerous Bedouin villagers by giving them food, water and medical attention,” said Hansen, who is from Toms River, N.J. “We are showing the people that we are willing to give them aid and anything that can improve their lives.”   

Marines and sailors with Company B, 1st LAR Bn., offer a unique skill set that makes them a valuable asset while conducting the joint operations.

“With their infantry assets, (1st) LAR Battalion has been very important to tanks because they give us an asset that we can’t provide our self,” said Hansen. “(The infantry Marines) provide tanks with the ability to search buildings and different areas with those who have been trained to do it while we provide the security.”

“We patrol as dismount scouts for Company A and whatever types of things we come across; we search and clear to make everything in the surrounding areas safe,” said         Gunnery Sgt. Tony N. Housell, 31, platoon sergeant, 1st LAR Bn., from St. Joseph, Mo.

Also assisting Task Force Mech in operations are two engineers with 1st CEB.

“We’re doing engineering operations consisting of cache sweeps, ordnance removal and searching for and identifying improvised explosive devices,” said Cpl. Andrew R. Semp, 24, a combat engineer with 1st CEB from Altamont, N.Y. “Our presence here helps with the mobility of tanks and keeps their movement as fluid as possible so they can continue operations in the area.”

Although Task Force Mech is conducting operations in the area, the Iraqi Security Forces are still in control of the province.

“We’re still showing a presence to the Iraqi people, but also letting the Iraqis know that their country is under control and the road to the future is being paved,” said Cpl. Kyle A. Nelson, 20, team leader, 1st LAR Bn., who is from Phoenix.

“We’re trying to give these people the support they need so they can call this their country and be proud of it,” said Hansen.


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