AL-JAZIRAH DESERT, Iraq --
The Incident Response Team of Marine Wing Support Squadron 374, Marine Wing Support Group 37, patrols the northern Iraqi desert as a security measure for all Marines operating in the area.
Named Team Black Rhino, these 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) Marines have become the first wing support squadron to fill the role of a mounted combat team in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Marine Wing Support Squadrons frequently travel around the Anbar province, providing aviation ground support for the flying squadrons operating in country. The team operates on a different level, providing a ground combat component like that usually found in infantry units.
While patrolling, team members speak with locals to gather information that helps the Coalition gain a better understanding of the area.
“When we’re on patrol we’re investigating our area of responsibility for any enemy activity by speaking with the local Iraqis and driving designated routes based on information gathered,” said Cpl. Joshua A. Bugg, a turret gunner for Team Black Rhino. “Some of the most beneficial information can be received by speaking with the locals.”
For the first several weeks in country, Team Black Rhino’s duties entailed providing convoy security and explosive ordnance disposal escort services to the Marines aboard Camp Taqaddum. Now, their job consists of sending several search teams to assess the local area and provide site security for their location in the Jazirah Desert.
While most of the team members consist of military police officers trained in security operations, the rest are comprised of Marines from various military occupational specialties.
“We’ve got a very unique opportunity out here,” said Cpl. Julio C. Navar, a motor transportation operator with Team Black Rhino. “We’re out here with a number of assault vehicles and infantry units and we’re equally patrolling the area. It’s great for a wing support unit to be filling this role.”