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1/5's Charlie, ISF Commandos guard Ramadi entrance

21 Mar 2005 | Cpl. Tom Sloan

Between 500 and 1000 vehicles cross over the Euphrates River on the South Bridge to enter the city here each day. A dedicated team of Marines, often consisting of Cpl. Nicholas J. Boire's squad, and Iraqi Security Force Commandos work the city's busy entrance to stop any potential threats to coalition forces and innocent Iraqis from entering. Boire and other Marines with Company C, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, and ISF Commandos conduct random vehicle searches around the clock at the entry control point, located between Marine Camps Snake Pit and Hurricane Point. "We're looking for (improvised explosive devices), weapons and bad guys," explained the 22-year-old squad leader with 2nd Platoon. The Marines are currently the command element at the ECP and oversee the ISF Commandos conducting the searches, Boire said. The ISF will eventually assume authority of the ECP when assistance from the Marines is no longer required, which he is confident will happen.They have learned well and are working the ECP proficiently, the Minnetonka, Minn., native added. "They've picked up fast on what we've been teaching them."Boire explained the purpose of the ECP is finding explosives and materials that are used to make IEDs, identify and catch wanted insurgents and gather intelligence from Iraqis entering the city. Keeping the road safe for military convoys traveling to and from Marine camps is also a reason for the ECP, he added."This is a heavily traveled road by both the Marines and Iraqis," he explained. "Marines have convoys from (Camp Junction City), HP, SP and (Camp) Blue Diamond coming through here all the time."According to Boire, with help from his Marines, the ISF Commandos have discovered some dangerous items and prevented them from being put to use against innocent civilians and service members.The Commandos have an advantage when it comes to identifying the vehicles and individuals needing to be searched."They know their citizens," said an interpreter for 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, known as "Fadile" to many of the battalion's leathernecks. "They can tell who's suspicious. They are Iraqi and know how other Iraqis behave when they are trying to hide something."The Commandos recently discovered more than 12 automatic weapons by acting on their instincts. The Marines often change whom they target for searches so as to keep their enemy guessing. The infantry battalion's command element issues different search criteria each day."The insurgents would catch on after a while if we only searched cars with Iraqi men," explained Boire. "If we constantly change the types of vehicles and people we search, there's a good chance we'll catch them. "The effort is working. The Commandos and Marines are making discoveries."A lot of times, we'll find weapons and things to make IEDs," he said. "We'll find detonation cord, blasting caps and other things that add up to complete IEDs. It's like they are smuggling drugs."Insurgents bringing small pieces at a time into the city where they've got caches, explained Lance Cpl. Bradford L. Dunn, squad automatic gunner, 2nd Platoon, Company C. Their spreading out what they bring in over several trips, he added."They think we won't catch them," the 20-year-old Covington, Kan., native said. "We will, though."