CAMP KOREAN VILLAGE, Iraq -- The Camp Pendleton, Calif. based Sierra Battery, Battalion Landing Team 2/4, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) are operating in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
Sierra Battery fired eight 155-milimeter, high explosive rounds aimed at a location outside Camp Korean Village, Dec. 22.
But the threat of artillery fire is not the only mission Sierra Battery has in Al Anbar Province, according to 1st Lt. Quinn P. Nichols, executive officer, Sierra Battery, BLT 2/4, 15th MEU (SOC). “We’re furthering the 15th MEU’s mission of establishing a security presence in the area of operations,” Nichols said.
To do this, the Spartans are taking an aggressive posture and making themselves a visible security presence around Rutbah.
Sierra Battery operates at traffic control points (TCP’s) around the city of Rutbah, Iraq. The objective is to stop insurgents, weapons, and improvised explosive device (IED) making material from entering or exiting Rutbah, according to Capt. J. Michael Martin, commanding officer, Sierra Battery, BLT 2/4, 15th MEU (SOC). “We’re keeping all illegal arms and [bomb-making material] outside of the city through the vehicle check points and we’re searching for any HVI’s (high-value individuals) entering or exiting the city,” Martin said.
The Spartan’s presence in Rutbah acts as a deterrent to insurgent activities and limits their ability to threaten 15th MEU (SOC) Marines and sailors, according to Nichols. “We’re limiting their ability to utilize indirect fire against coalition forces,” Nichols said.
The vehicle check points outside Rutbah and continuous foot and vehicle patrols hinder insurgents from effectively challenging the 15th MEU (SOC), and limit their freedom of movement in Al Anbar. “We will find them,” said Lance Corporal Bryan E. McQuade, artilleryman, Sierra Battery, BLT 2/4, 15th MEU (SOC).
Sierra Battery’s mission at the traffic control points around Rutbah limits insurgents’ ability to operate freely, but it also helps develop a relationship with the citizens inside the city, according to Martin. Sierra Battery has “constant interaction with civilians at the TCP’s in order to gain their confidence,” said Martin.
Sierra Battery’s presence also allows 15th MEU (SOC) greater access to Rutbah, opening lines of communication between the people of the city and operating forces around Ruthbah, according to Nichols. “They’ve definitely helped us out in the past with information and helped us get a feel for how the city is doing,” said Nichols.
The added presence at the TCPs has given the Marines of the 15th MEU (SOC) greater freedom of movement in Rutbah, allowing for a better relationship with the citizens of Rutbah because the locals understand our mission better, according to Nichols.
The Iraqis of Rutbah see our presence as a positive, constricting the movement of anti-Iraqi forces in and out of the city, according to Nichols. “They don’t want the bad guys there anymore than we want them there,” Nichols said.