Sleep tight, Marines: Camp Baharia's guard force watches over you

27 Mar 2005 | Cpl. Mike Escobar

It's Sunday, March. 27, but it's not Easter eggs Pfc. Adam Sanborn is looking for.Instead, the 20-year-old Somerdale, N.J. native and his fellow Marines are busy observing several vehicles rolling through the camp's main gate, ensuring they're cleared to come through and that the passengers carry no weapons."We basically search all vehicles coming aboard the camp and log in how many people they've got in them," stated Sanborn, a member of the Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment's guard force. "We're always observing for suspicious activity."The 2003 Triton High School graduate said the guard force's principal mission is to ensure all personnel inside Baharia remain safe. They accomplish this by constantly observing the perimeter, searching all vehicles and personnel coming aboard, and patrolling areas outside the camp.The guard force also mans numerous posts along Baharia's walls from which to maintain this constant vigil."Here in the towers we look for people doing suspicious stuff, like placing things in the fields outside," Sanborn explained. "I also log in every convoy coming through the gates. I take down stuff like how many people are in the vehicles and who's leading the convoy.""Basically, we make sure anybody that's not supposed to get in stays out, and that they don't do anything screwy," added fellow guard force member Lance Cpl. Stephen J. Blaylock. "Everyone has to have proper ID, and no one except the Marines comes into the camp armed." To further deter possible insurgent activity, guard force Marines frequently patrol the fields and paths outside the camp."These are mostly patrols where we go out to look for IEDs (improvised explosive devices)." Sanborn stated. The Marines comb the camp's perimeter mounted on HMMWVs and on foot as they search for these destructive devices, he continued. Additionally, the guard force maintains troops to act as a quick reaction force. Their mission: to immediately react to any emergency around Baharia.Thus far, Sanborn said he and his fellow Marines have performed their routine duties with no extraordinary incidents taking place."3/5 (3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, one unit responsible for retaking Fallujah from insurgents and whom 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment recently replaced) did some really good stuff to make it safe around here, so we haven't seen anything crazy happen yet," he stated. "It's just been the day-to-day routine so far, but just because it's quiet right now doesn't mean something won't happen later."Sanborn and his teammates perform their daily duties with this combat-ready mindset, remembering the Marine adage of 'complacency kills.'"Once in awhile we'll hear explosions coming from near Fallujah," he added. This serves as a reminder for guard force personnel to keep their guard up.Despite the potential dangers of acting as perimeter security, Sanborn said his unit works effectively as team to carry out their mission."I like all the people I work with ... everyone here is good to go," he continued. "We're all from different platoons, and everybody still misses their old platoon, but we all work well together."Camp Baharia's guard force is comprised of members from numerous sections in the battalion, from infantrymen to communicators to administration clerks. Nonetheless, the group works as a cohesive unit to keep everyone inside the base safe.According to Sanborn, the force also interacts daily with several Iraqi citizens, mostly civilian contractors coming aboard camp to perform maintenance work."The Iraqi people are pretty friendly to us," he said. "Their culture is a lot different than ours. They always want to shake your hand and stop to talk, not just get 'straight to business' like us."Sanborn added that he enjoys performing his security duties because of his good working relationship with the Marines, pleasant interactions with locals, and feeling like he's helping make a difference in the country of Iraq."I miss home, and I wish I could be there with my wife. But I know the people out here really need us because of the way they live. We are where we need to be for now."