HUSAYBAH, Iraq --
It was a quiet morning patrol; a standard Alpha Company mission. Donkeys, attached to carts, were unmanned while their owners were just waking up to the sound of roosters making their morning calls. The Marines were heading directly to solve a mystery. Who shot up a citizen’s house and why?
“We had an intelligence-driven patrol where a house was shot up a week ago,” said Cpl. Travis Banks, a team leader with 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, Task Force 1st Battalion, 4th Marines attached to Regimental Combat Team 2.
Marines are trained in various ways to combat terrorism, whether it is a full-scale battle, investigative searches or looking for rogue Iraqi policeman or local gangsters.
“These people are tired of being threatened by the insurgents,” said Cpl. Brian McNeill, a Springfield, Mo., native and team leader with A Company.
Husaybah used to be a hotbed for insurgency activity, but after years of fighting Marines, the townspeople now want to live in peace and realize the insurgents were only there to cause destruction. The new battle is winning the “hearts and minds” of the people here and that’s done by showing Marines care about the citizens here and by keeping fear away from their homes.
“The big fighting is done, but the insurgents are trying to intimidate the people,” said Cpl. Peter Andrisevic, a rifleman with A Company.
A handful of bullet holes in someone’s door won’t make the strong-willed citizens cower to insurgents, but the quicker the culprits are found, the quicker the people can go on living in peace.
“This is a dramatic change from OIF II,” Banks said. “This is a one-hundred and eighty degree turn around from what I saw before.”
Operation Iraqi Freedom II had major battles in large cities throughout Iraq, but this intelligence-driven war for the safety of Husaybah uses information from its people to capture insurgents and Al Qaeda in Iraq.
“The people who know the most are the average citizens,” Andrisevic said.
Insurgents and AQI know the Iraqi Army and Police, and the Marines are hunting them down through intelligence gathered by citizens looking for justice and peace, so they hide in towns like Husaybah, using guerrilla tactics.
“Insurgents are hiding here as a resting area,” Andrisevic said. “They aren’t trying to find us but we’re trying to find them.”
The enemy can’t hide forever because the people don’t want them in their town. Husaybah thrives off trade and business, and without safety and security, they can’t do either. Working with the newly formed government and coalition forces seems to be the right way in their minds.
“An IP called in with information about a weapons cache,” McNeill said.
The Marine said the IP was a former supporter of the insurgency here but has joined the police force and now fights for the peace and prosperity of his people.
The people here want their families to live in peace. Coalition forces want them to have peace.
“If we don’t stabilize the area and find the insurgents, we’ve wasted the last four years here,” Andrisevic said.