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AL ASAD,Iraq-Lance Cpl. Michael Hahn, machine gunner, 3/2 keeps an eye on his fellow Lima Company Marines while they question an Iraqi civilian during their patrol, April 4.

Photo by Cpl. C. Alex Herron

Lima 3/2 aids 2nd MAW security with exterior patrols

6 Apr 2005 | Cpl. C. Alex Herron

Installation plays a vital security plays a vital role in repelling enemy attacks. Regardless of the threat level security Marines serve as a deterrent for the possible terrorist attacks, however the volatile environment of Iraq can place these Marines in harms way at any moment. Putting pressure on the enemy and maintaining the initiative is the way Marines fight.A platoon with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines attached to 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing daily patrol the area surrounding the air base here. The platoon rotates its four squads on shifts, 24-hours a day to provide security for the units and squadrons aboard Al Asad. “Our mission is to provide security for the base by patrolling the surrounding area, talking to locals and looking for weapons or anything that would compromise the safety of the base,” said Sgt. Greg Utalin a squad leader with Lima Co., 3/2. Every time the Marines patrol they receive a brief on locations of interest which need to be checked or surveyed.“Our intelligence personnel give us leads to check out, Utalin said. “While we are out we also stop vehicles and local Iraqis to ask them if they know anything about weapons and insurgents in nearby towns.”The Marines drive through the desert, checking buildings and other man-made objects that could house weapons or terrorists who might pose a threat to the aircraft wing. “We check a lot of the places multiple times, yielding no results,” said Utalin, a Buffalo, N.Y. native. “We always keep checking even if we never find anything. Even if there isn’t anything in a building 99 percent of the time, we don’t want to miss it the one time something or someone could be hiding there.”Some checkpoints are geographical features in the terrain, and some are coordinates on a map. When the Marines arrive at their predetermined point, they stage their vehicles into a formation giving them a full circle of vision and watch the terrain for anything out of the ordinary. “Most of the time we like our checkpoints to give us a broader view of an area,” said Lance Cpl. William Lowe, driver and Fayetteville, Ga., native.When the Marines notice a vehicle or person in the distance, they spring into action, in a trail of desert dust they race to stop the person or vehicle.“We try to talk to as many people as possible,” Utalin said. “You never know who has information on a terrorist cell or who could lead us to the next weapons find.”When the convoy stops at their next objective a team of five Marines leap from the vehicles and questions the person of interest. They write down their information and snap a photo of the person in question. When the patrol returns they deliver their findings to the intelligence section to analyze. The information is filed away and added to a data base about the surrounding population.“We pick up key words,” said Cpl. John Coxhead, team leader, 3/2 and Perkasie, Penn., native. “A lot of them know or at least understand English.” The Marines from Lima Co. are working hard everyday to ensure the security of Al Asad and everyone who work here. With every weapons find or bit of information gathered they are putting a strain on the insurgents.“We have the best mission on this base,” Utalin said. “We are establishing solid intelligence for the next platoon who takes over for us. We are helping keep insurgent activity around the base to a minimum.”Security patrols not only protect the Americans at Al Asad, they also protect the Iraqi people who live here. While the Marines search for terrorist activity and gain knowledge of the Iraqi populace here they are making a difference. Although many of the patrols return without detainees, information on insurgents or weapons caches, these Marines are sending an important message. The enemy is not welcome here. The security patrols not only protect the base, they also serve a purpose to keep insurgents from calling the surrounding communities home.
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