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3/25 controls insurgency crossroads

23 Apr 2005 | Sgt. Stephen D'Alessio

The Euphrates River cuts through Iraq’s dry countryside, bringing life to the riverside villages along its twisting path. Its waters are a way of life for many of the tribes that reside along its banks. For the Marines who operate in western Iraq, it is a resource worth protecting. Marines live inside and work in sight of the dam. They share the space with Azerbaijani service members who have taken over the responsibility as the dam’s security element. For the Marines with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, the task of protecting their area of operations keeps them moving day-in and day-out. “This area is the entire crossroads for bad guys traveling through Iraq,” said Capt. John Kasparian, a 38-year-old East Longmeadow, Mass native and adjutant with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines. “One of our main purposes here is to contain the insurgency by disrupting their flow to the more southern regions of the country.” Most of the Marines here don’t actually spend much time at their base. They’re usually out in squad or company sized elements, searching for mines or creating blocking positions for other units engaging insurgents throughout the scattered farming villages in the area. On any given day, mobile assault platoons (MAP) are out on missions to clear mines and improvised explosive devices (IED) or collect intelligence from the locals who farm the banks of the Euphrates. “We have a two-part mission here,” said Maj. Steven White, a 34-year old Youngstown, Ohio native and operations officer for 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines. “We are continually engaging the enemy in areas like Hit and Kubaysah. And we share the protection of the base with the AZs (Azerbaijanis). It’s simply a good place to support the area of operations.” And there are no shortages of operations. Tanks, Assault Amphibian Vehicles and other motor transport sections work day and night to support missions directly affecting the welfare of the rest of the country. During the week of April 15, Marines battled insurgents who maintained a steady barrage of mortar and small arms fire on the Marines’ established positions from a nearby town. Land mines were also a problem, but the Marines successfully drove the insurgents to a smaller section of the town, allowing the battalion to concentrate its efforts. “We’re almost always engaged with the enemy out here,” said White. “The most important thing is to maintain that kind of intensity and protect this valuable infrastructure for the well being of the Iraqi people.”