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Photo Information

AR RAMADI, Iraq (December 8, 2005) - A Marine with 4th Platoon, Company I, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, stands guard over a man while the rest of his squad searches and clears a house during Operation Skinner Dec. 8. Photo by Cpl. Shane Suzuki

Photo by Cpl. Shane Suzuki

3/7 Marines wrap up Operation Skinner

8 Dec 2005 | Cpl. Shane Suzuki

It’s common knowledge here that the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, own the night. Between the technological advances and the extensive training they go through, the Marines hold the advantage during any patrol after the sun sets. Recently, the Marines took advantage of this by conducting a two-day sweep of one of the more dangerous areas of the city to find and capture insurgents and their weapons caches. The mission, dubbed Operation Skinner, was the last of seven major operations conducted to prepare the city for the elections and concentrated on the Souq region of the city, long known to be a base for the dwindling insurgency here.“Originally, the mission was set for Dec. 7, but unfortunately one of our companies got hit with an (improvised explosive device), which forced us to take up their job and made the battalion push the major portion of the operation back a day,” said Cpl. Chancey Cunningham, a rifleman with 4th Platoon, Company I. “The mission was to conduct a raid in a heavily-enemy populated area to disrupt and limit the enemies ability to operate in the city, especially during the elections coming up.”Although the operations was pushed back a day, the Marines still managed to discover a number of weapons caches and improvised explosive device shops during the sweeps, ending what was a devastating two weeks for the insurgency here in the capital of Al Anbar province. “During the last two weeks, we have found a number of weapons caches and detained quite a few suspected insurgents,” said 2nd Lt. Chris Hopkins, 4th Platoon’s commander. “I think we have done a thorough job preparing the city for the upcoming elections. I mean, there is no way we can find all the weapons caches hidden in the city, but we did make a pretty big dent in their stockpiles.”The first night concentrated on the shops and market district of the Souq resulting in the larger cache finds, while the second night concentrated on the more residential areas of the neighborhood in an attempt to ferret out information on the location of insurgent leaders. “The people of the city are a lot more helpful than they were leading up to the last elections,” said Hopkins. “We went from seeing zero support from the city to where we are now. The city is holding town hall meetings and imam meetings to discuss the future of their city. It’s very encouraging to see this improvement, especially during the short time we’ve been here. We are really making a difference here for these people.”