AL ASAD, Iraq --
Reserve Marines and sailors with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment officially took over external security operations around Al Asad Air Base Sept. 17.
The company, which is attached to Security Battalion, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), replaced an element of Marine Wing Support Squadron 274, who had supported external security operations for the previous seven months.
“Internal security operations could best be described as police work,” said Capt. Darren Wallace, a platoon commander with Company F. “(External security operations) would be considered more of a kind of border security.”
The Albany, N.Y.-based unit conducted three months of pre-deployment training at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., prior to heading to Iraq. The training honed their counterinsurgency skills and familiarized them with the cultural awareness required for their missions in Iraq. “The training we received was very comprehensive and the younger Marines learned the skills necessary to complete this type of mission,” said Sgt. Clayton J. Covel, 25, platoon sergeant, 3rd Platoon, Company F.
In addition to security patrols, the Marines of the company will serve as a quick reaction force and support relationship-building activities with Iraqis in local villages.
Cpl. Joseph J. Schiller, a 23-year-old squad leader with 3rd Platoon, Company F, recognizes the security mission as integral to relationship-building.
“We want to deter any insurgent activity that may be happening in the area so that people can continue with their daily lives without any issues,” said Schiller. He would like to see his squad forge strong friendships with the Iraqis in the area and build on the gains made by previous Coalition forces.
Credit for some of those gains goes to members of Company F, as about one-third of the unit supported operations in Fallujah in 2006.
The unit is a unique combination of deployment experience, Marine Corps training and civilian job skills, according to Wallace.
“We bring more than just infantry skills to the fight,” said Wallace. “Every one of my Marines has a job or skill that is unique in the civilian world. I have gunsmiths, police officers, fire fighters, pharmacists, college students, jet engine manufacturers, prison guards, engineering project managers, systems engineers and many other different civilian jobs in my platoon alone.”
He said the mix enhances the unit’s ability to function independently and with limited resources.
2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment currently has several companies operating in al-Anbar province. The units are slated to support operations here through early 2009.