AL QA’IM, Iraq --
Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”
Prepared to unearth any remnants of those who intend to plant fear and insecurity in western Iraq, the Betio Bastards stand ready.
With the final elements of the battalion arriving to their area of operation, the Marines and sailors of Task Force 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, are primed and in place to maintain stability and bring prosperity to the region.
The infantry companies are set in motion and have started providing security and orienting themselves with the local populace. The numerous support elements of Headquarters and Support Company have also hit the ground running, providing intelligence, logistical support, communications and transportation, to name a few of their many missions.
Months of intense training have paid off in dividends, allowing the battalion to kick off their deployment without missing a beat.
Lt. Col. Peter B. Baumgarten, the battalion commander, met with the mayor, leaders of the Iraqi Police and Army, and numerous sheiks, to publicly assume command of the area of operation from Lt. Col. Jason Q. Bohm, the battalion commander of Task Force 1st Bn., 4th Marines.
“I, like Colonel Bohm, look to fill the shoes of my predecessors in a way that will be very positive to the people of Al Qa’im,” Baumgarten said. “I look forward to meeting each one of you and working together in the future months to be successful.”
The atmosphere was optimistic and productive as key leaders discussed several pressing issues and plans for the future, such as reopening the point of entry at the Syrian border in the town of Husaybah.
The sheiks spoke of unity amongst the many tribes within the region and setting a path of success for the rest of Iraq to follow.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the local leaders and sheiks treated the Marines to a traditional Iraqi meal. In customary fashion, there were no utensils; everyone ate with their hands from large platters of rice, vegetables and goat.
The meeting and luncheon helped to lay the groundwork for the battalion’s transition into their third deployment to Iraq in three years.
During the initial days of operation, the battalion’s progress has been substantial. Cooperation and coordination with the local leaders and forces are proving to be the crucial elements contributing to maintaining the security and bringing prosperity to Iraq. The Betio Bastards will continue working steadily to uproot any instability that remains.