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Photo by Lance Cpl. Paul Robbins Jr.

3/4 joint operations stifle enemy forces

16 Apr 2005 | Lance Cpl. Paul Robbins Jr.

Day-to-day life in southern Fallujah is generally quiet and peaceful for both the citizens in the city and the Marines who patrol it, but throughout the city, enemy forces sit in-wait for the opportunity to strike. The Marines of 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, alongside the members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), maintain a strong presence within the city preventing terrorist cells from operating in their area.“It’s quiet, but they continue to try and operate,” said Capt. Randal M. Walsh, Company I’s 31-year-old commanding officer. “We’ve found the proof.”During the three months the battalion has operated in the city, patrols and offensive operations have uncovered numerous weapons caches, improvised explosive devices and an IED “factory.”Despite the enemy presence and the availability of weapons, anti-Iraqi forces (AIF) have been generally ineffective, detonating only a handful of IED’s with minimal injuries, according to Capt. Sean K. Butler, the future plans officer for the battalion. “Our strong presence is a major factor, but it has remained quiet because we’ve been successful in exploiting intelligence to strike active and developing terrorist cells in the city,” said 36-year-old Mt. Shasta, Calif. native. In addition to the dozens of patrols conducted per day, and the frequent raids of suspected enemy houses, the battalion has conducted three major offensive operations in the city. The battalion has detained more than 40 suspected members of anti-Iraqi forces as a result of these operations. “We’re interdicting everything they’re about to do before they do it,” Butler said. Intelligence gathering has been monumental to the success of the battalion’s operations, according to Butler. The battalion has numerous ways of gathering intelligence, but the strongest thus far have been the citizens of the city coming forward to help root out the terrorists in their neighborhoods.“The people have been a great source of intelligence,” said Lance Cpl. David P. Bailey, a 21-year-old intelligence analyst for the battalion. “They’ve been very willing to help us. They understand what we’re trying to do for them.”Another crucial element in preventing attacks by anti-Iraqi forces, is the presence of multiple battalions of the ISF in the city, according to Walsh. These forces will soon replace the Marines as they continue to become more proficient in the counter-insurgency operations.“Without the presence of the Iraqi soldiers, we would not be able to cover as many areas with patrols,” said the Phoenix native. “This would provide the enemy opportunities to strike.”To fill the gaps, Iraqi soldiers augment Marine patrols to allow for an “around-the-clock” presence in the city, according to Walsh.A single Marine company provides up to 20 patrols per day, most with an attachment of Iraqi soldiers, making the city a dangerous place to operate for insurgents.“With Marines and Iraqi soldiers working together, there is always a chance that when a terrorist turns a corner he’ll walk right into one of our patrols,” Walsh said. With the combined efforts of Marines, the ISF and the citizens of Fallujah to disrupt enemy activity in their area, the city will continue to improve and prosper.