HADITHAH, Iraq --
Marines assigned to Company B, Task Force 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, have conducted constant patrols throughout the city of Hadithah since their arrival to the area in March. Their presence is needed within the city to assist the Iraqi Security Forces in protecting the citizens.
Expeditionary patrol bases play a big role in counterinsurgency operations the battalion is currently engaged in, allowing coalition forces to get to the city faster in the event of insurgent activities and by giving a constant state of presence within the city.
“Having EPBs helps the Marines cover more area without having to focus just on the main forward operating base,” said 1st Lt. Charles R. Michalk, platoon commander, 1st Platoon, Company B, Task Force 1st Bn., 3rd Marines. “I think getting Marines out in the middle of the city provides a better overwatch since they’re spread out.”
To better utilize the EPBs, many different counterinsurgency missions are conducted from the base.
“Our mission at the patrol base is to provide forces in the surrounding area in case of an insurgent attack within the city and have a static position while running patrols from the base,” said Michalk.
Michalk added the squads at the EPB do many types of patrols throughout Hadithah.
“We mainly do security patrols, but also conduct meet and greet patrols,” said Michalk. “During the meet and greets, we go out to homes in our sector and spread (information). The patrols also allow the local people to express any concerns they may have.”
The locals like the security the Marines provide to the area, he said.
“Our surrounding neighbors are extremely happy that we’re here,” said 26-year-old Michalk. “They know insurgents will not threaten or bother them with us living so close.”
The platoon commander added that it was initially tough to build relationships with the people in the area due to the language barrier.
“With the use of our interpreters, we’ve established a lot of close relationships with the families,” he added.
Cpl. Jake L. Bachmann, squad leader, 3rd Squad, 1st Platoon, Co. B, TF 1st Bn., 3rd Marines, said the Marines have established such strong relationships with the people in the area that they are often invited over for dinner.
“I think the way the locals view us has a lot to do with our interaction with them, but also because of the way (2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines) handled business while they were here,” said Bachman, a Paradise, Utah, native. “They really did some great things while they were here. We’ve just maintained what they turned over to us.”
Bachmann explained keeping the city at the current level of security hasn’t been an easy task and has taken a lot of work.
“We’ve had a really busy schedule, but it’s worth it because the people are happy and the city is still a very safe place for them,” Bachmann said. “I think when we leave, the unit taking over for us will be surprised with how safe and friendly the people in the area are.”