FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Modern military commanders have often stated that today's urban warfare is not won by brute force and general grade officers, but by small, mobile units and junior leaders' spur-of-the-moment tactical decisions.
Corporal Adam Decrane and the three Marines he leads are trained to make these quick decisions.
"I enjoy heading my team and having people count on me," stated Decrane, a 25-year-old Abingdon, Ill. native. "You always want to set the right example and do what's best for your guys."
He wasn't always an adventuresome leader, however. As a former student of ancient history at Monmouth College approximately four years ago, Decrane said he felt ready for a change.
"I left college for the Marine Corps, even though I was doing fine in school," continued Decrane, who attended Marine Corps recruit training in Jan. 2002. "I just didn't feel like sitting behind a desk the whole time anymore, because I'd spent my whole life up until then doing that. I figured I'd try something different."
Three years later, Decrane is writing his own chapter in history overseas by helping mold Iraq's future.
He serves as an infantry team leader within Company C, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. This unit is conducting counter-insurgency operations alongside Iraqi Security Forces in and around the once-embattled "City of the Mosques" since mid-March.
Their latest effort to deter terrorism was Operation Hard Knock, one of several missions bearing the same name Marines and ISF have conducted since early June.
During the Aug. 13 evolution of Hard Knock, personnel from the battalion's Weapons Company and ISF soldiers blocked off a sector of Northwestern Fallujah, while mobile infantrymen like Decrane's team patrolled this neighborhood's streets and performed house-to-house searches. At every stop, the troops would gather census data on the populace.
"Operations like these provide us with a good chance to find out what the people need," Decrane explained. "We make sure they have essential services, like electricity. It puts a humanitarian focus on the operations we do."
During this Hard Knock, Decrane's squad confiscated several magazines of AK-47 ammunition and apprehended two suspected insurgent supporters.
Decrane said that Iraqi personnel were instrumental in this and other counter-insurgency missions' success.
"The ISF forces are getting better than when we first got here. Their tactics are improving, and they help us out simply with sheer numbers."
When his battalion arrived here, Iraqi soldiers merely observed and mimicked what their Marine counterparts did. Five months later, the U.S. troops shadow the local soldiers as they spearhead every operation.
Marines continue patrolling the city streets, but since mid-July, ISF personnel have borne the burden of larger-scale operations, such as Hard Knock. Decrane said the Iraqi troops searched the majority of the houses inside their own separate sectors on Aug. 13, while his Marines functioned as a supporting element elsewhere.
He added that this progress, along with the increased security he sees on the city's streets, allow him to continue operating in the hellish climate of Iraq.
"You're always sweating out here, but when you see improvement taking place, it gives you a motivation to go back out and do it again," Decrane stated. "I feel great about being with Charlie Company and getting out interacting with the people. We're doing good things for Iraq."