COMBAT OUTPOST RAWAH, Iraq - -- Company C, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 2, recently finished up their portion of the zone sweep through the western Euphrates River valley.
The company, who affectionately refer to themselves as Warpigs, were in charge of conducting a large portion of the battalion’s role in operation “Valiant Guardian.”
“We conducted zone reconnaissance to find potential rat lines (supply routes) the insurgents use to push their way into the interior of the country,” said Capt. Mike G. Blackford, the Warpigs’ commanding officer.
The company worked hand-in-hand with several attachments to accomplish their part of the regiment’s overall mission of impeding insurgent movement and disrupting activity throughout the 30,000 square mile area, which is roughly the size of South Carolina.
“After we conduct the sweeps, if we find something, be it an IED (improvised explosive device), or cache, or whatever, we call in explosive ordinance disposal to safely remove it,” said Pfc. Henry A. Burke, a vehicle commander with the battalion’s quick reaction force.
The EOD experts say they have been pretty successful so far in this operation, and have disposed of ordinance ranging from 100mm to 155mm artillery rounds, as well as 80mm mortar rounds, and numerous small arm weapons and ammunition.
“It is really important that we take this stuff off the streets, so the insurgents can’t use it against our brothers later,” said Burke, a native of San Antonio.
The Warpigs have also been working with the Iraqi Army to give the soldiers more hands-on experience and expand their operational training.
“We conducted combined operations with the IA to ensure our area was clear, and they really exceeded expectations,” said Blackford, a Nashville native. “We have worked with them, and watched them, and while they aren’t perfect yet and still need practice, they are doing pretty good.”
The Marines say they are glad to see the Iraqi Army beside them on operations, lending their hand to rebuild their country.
One Marine said it reminded him of the proverb “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day, but teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.”
“It has to be good for the civilians to see their own army taking care of things out here,” Burke said. “We are out here with them, but we aren’t doing the work for them. We are just here to make sure they are doing it right.”