CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, Iraq -- The 2nd Marine Division, backed by Iraqi Security forces, uncovered what is possibly the largest series of insurgent weapons caches found this year in the Al Anbar province.
The biggest site was found near Karmah, a small city north of Fallujah. The 558- by 902-foot site, one of the biggest found since the beginning of operations here, was discovered in an abandoned rock quarry which and involved a series of bunkers insurgents used as an underground lair.
“The discoveries are part of ongoing counter-insurgency operations in the area,” according to Lt. Col. Andrew D. Bianca, 2nd Marine Division operations officer.
“We are finding these series of caches through aggressive Marine and Iraqi Security Force patrolling and tips from local citizens,” said Bianca. “The information often comes through our Tip Line, which received 30 to 40 calls in March and April. But last month, we tallied up to 120 actionable tips that revealed the locations of (improvised explosive devices) and caches.”
“Finding caches this large significantly decreases the threat of IED’s” according to Bianca. “The roadside bombs, detonated by remote devices, are hidden in plastic bottles, under cardboard and are even cemented into the roadways.”
Within the various rooms making up the facility, ISF and coalition forces discovered four fully furnished living spaces, a kitchen with fresh food, two shower facilities and a working air conditioner. Other bunkers were filled with weapons and ammunition thought to be used by the Arab-Sunni resistance using the vast stretch of desert land that stretches west to the Syrian border as a safe haven.
“What appears to be a supply warehouse, as well as the other caches, were found in a five-mile-stretch of open desert,” said Bianca. “The Marines and Iraqis were patrolling near the city of Karmah when they came across a lone building. During the search, they moved a freezer chest and found the entrance to underground rooms at one site.”
In one portion of the lair, coalition and ISF found numerous types of machineguns and ordnance to include mortars, rockets and artillery rounds. They also found black uniforms, ski masks, night vision goggles and charged cell phones.
The fresh food and charged phones indicated that someone had been there recently.
“We don’t know how long the bunker has been in use,” said Bianca. “But we’re still exploring the area and annotating everything we find. The number of caches in the area keeps climbing.”
Information garnered from detainees has also provided valuable information to U.S. and Iraqi forces as to the whereabouts of other caches in the area. The Marines are continuing to exploit the current site for information and will destroy all weapons and munitions through controlled detonation.
“Perseverance on the part of coalition and ISF troops are significantly affecting the number of caches found as well,” added Bianca. “This find is just another step closer to our goal of making Iraq a more secure and stable place for its citizens.”