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Photo by Lance Cpl. Paul Robbins Jr.

3/4 maintains presence south of Fallujah

30 May 2005 | Lance Cpl. Paul Robbins Jr.

Third Battalion, 4th Marines, Regimental Combat Team-8, continues to disrupt insurgent activities in rural areas of Iraq. More than 300 Marines, and 200 soldiers of the Iraqi Army’s 3rd Battalion, 4th Brigade, conducted a multi-purpose operation, Barter Town, in the Al Amariyah District, May 28-29. The battalion cordoned a large village in the area and searched the homes and buildings for weapons caches and improvised explosive devices. “It was just like a meet and greet,” said Capt. Jason M. West, 32-year-old assistant operations officer for the battalion, “We’re letting the people in the area know that we’re here and they should not be harboring terrorists, weapons and things of that nature.” In the first day of the operation, Marines and Iraqi soldiers searched hundreds of homes in the area for more than fifteen hours. Although an arduous process, the task was made easier as the combined force met with a friendly and cooperative community. “In general, they were nice to us and we were polite and courteous in return,” said Cpl. John W. Bayrd II, team leader for 3rd Platoon, Delta Company, 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, currently attached to the infantry battalion. “I got a good vibe from the community.” The searches provided the battalion with very few weapons and no suspected insurgents detained, but neither of these factors came as a surprise to the battalion, according to Cpl. Benjamin B. Earhart, 23-year-old intelligence analyst for the battalion. The battalion pins the success of the operation on a less tangible victory. “We will gauge the success of this operation, based on the intelligence gathered from it for follow on operations,” said West, a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala. The battalion suspects the area is a meeting place and base of activity for insurgent cells attempting to operate in Fallujah and Baghdad, according to Earhart, a native of Colorado Springs, Colo. With the established presence of coalition forces, the battalion hopes to garner intelligence from the local populace and disrupt enemy activity. “We went down there to deny the enemy any safe haven in the greater Fallujah area,” West said. With the expanding presence around Fallujah and its outlying communities, coalition forces continue to provide a secure environment for the people of Iraq.