AL ASAD, Iraq -- Sitting silently on a chair next to two humvees, a Marine listens to the continuous static of the radio, waiting attentively for the call that would have him and his Marines load up in the two vehicles and move outside the fences of Al Asad in a moments notice.
The Perimeter Patrol Team with 2nd Platoon, E Company, 1st Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, Marine Wing Support Group 37 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, is responsible for keeping the surrounding areas around Al Asad, Iraq, secure, as well as to establish a presence with the locals.
Conducting multiple two- to three-hour patrols during their 24-hour shift rotations, the perimeter patrol Marines can also be called out randomly and immediately if someone or something is seen approaching the base.
"We are more of a presence patrol," said Sgt. Rodrigo Gonzalez, patrol leader, Perimeter Patrol Team south. "We go out, not hiding or anything, and show ourselves to the locals. We are a deterrent to any possible threats that may be getting close to the base."
The perimeter patrol Marines often run into situations that require them to dismount and conduct inspections or searches each time they leave the base.
"Every day we run into locals," said Gonzalez, a 27-year-old native of Oxnard, Calif. "Every day we are searching them, and every day we are interacting with them. They are the biggest challenge, as we are trying to find a happy medium between staying safe and staying polite at the same time."
The perimeter patrols can get to be monotonous, too, as the Marines see the same parts and pieces of the desert day after day, according to Lance Cpl. Jacob C. Griffin, machine gunner, Perimeter Patrol Team south. It's the part of experiencing a different way of life that keeps them alert and excited each and every time they go out.
"It's not every day that you get to see a new culture and how they act," said Griffin, a 21-year-old native of Cameron, Texas. "We get to see and meet new people that you wouldn't normally see in the United States. On a daily basis, we run into sheep herders. Most of them live around the local area, so we see them all of the time. We've even gotten to know some of them."
Although the scenery around Al Asad rarely changes, the Marines remain consistently alert and ready in the case that something will happen.
"I get really pumped up," said Lance Cpl. Brandi A. Colbert, machine gunner, Perimeter Patrol Team south. "I'm always on my toes. You never know when or where something will happen. You have to be ready for anything and everything. That's what I'm here for -- to protect the perimeter of the base -- and I have no problem doing that job."
Being part of a group of Marines specifically tasked with guarding the perimeter of the base can be pretty motivating compared to the desk jobs that some of the Marines had back in the United States. It also helps to build the camaraderie and collaboration to accomplish the mission in the easiest and most thorough manner possible.
"We've grown a lot closer as a team," said Griffin, a graduate of Cameron Yoe High School. "A big part of our job is everyone working together. The driver has to know what the gunner is thinking and vice versa, and we do that. I think we have a great crew."