AL ASAD, Iraq -- During a routine gate inspection here Sept. 10, 4th Low-Altitude Air Defense Battalion Marines and reservist augments working with Security Battalion, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, discovered five Iraqi nationals leaving base with contraband in their possession.
"Some of the items that were found were a number of electronic devices that our Explosive Ordnance Disposal Marines have discovered in the use of IEDs," said Capt. Gene E. Colbert, adjutant, 4th LAAD Bn.
Only one of the Iraqis was detained for further questioning.
Recognizing the excellent work and diligent efforts of the Marines under his command, Lt. Col. Jay L. Huston, commanding officer, Security Bn., remarked that the Marines performed their role as base security superbly.
"What we bring to security concerns here is a high degree of situational awareness and an increased level of expertise related to our overall mission," said Maj. Patrick S. Aluotto, entry check point officer-in-charge, 4th LAAD Bn., who is an activated reservist and a narcotics officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. "As trained law enforcement in the civilian sector we have special skills that translate directly into our security role here.
"For instance, we know how to check vehicles thoroughly and for secret compartments. We also know how to properly search individuals for hidden items," he added.
Aluotto, who is also in charge of the military police platoon within the security battalion, mentioned that special search and detection teams and equipment are helping to detect suspicious activity.
"The canine handlers and their working dogs (in the battalion) not only help us to detect contraband more easily, but we hope they will serve as a deterrent," said the 32-year-old Los Angeles native. "We are also going to use explosive residue detectors, like we use with civilian police forces, that will also serve as a deterrent against any instances like this as well."
For many of the battalion's Marines, their experience as military and civilian police officers provides them with an extra advantage while performing their duties in Iraq.
"By working the same areas here, like most of us do on a 'beat' as civilian police officers, the Marines (in the battalion) gain a raised level of familiarity with their protection areas," said Maj. Leon Millholland, commanding officer, Company B, 4th LAAD Bn., who is also an activated reservist and a sheriff in Dawson County, Ga. "We are constantly reevaluating and improving our procedures to continue the protection of our force and the security of this base.
"Therefore, we can effectively detect any suspicious activity or anything out of the ordinary to respond to the situation immediately with the appropriate action," he finished.