CAMP KOREAN VILLAGE, Iraq -- Marines and sailors assigned to Task Force Tarawa began Operation Southern Scimitar in the early morning of May 19, in order to sweep and clear their area of insurgent activity.
The operation was conducted due to reports of an enemy presence in a region east of Rutbah.
“Task Force Tarawa, 1st (Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion) and the Iraqi Highway Patrol were all involved in the joint operation,” said Gunnery Sgt. Frank M. Impagliazzo, motor transport operations chief, Task Force Tarawa. “The IHP’s patrolled north while LAR was sweeping east to west pushing enemy activity through several coalition phase lines.”
During the operation, Impagliazzo’s unit was used for Combat Service Support, supplying the units with fuel, food and other needed materials.
“We provided approximately 500 gallons of JP fuel to the sweeping units throughout the operation,” he added. “We helped in many ways. We had maintenance and armory parts and used all we had to help to keep the mobile force going, but the overall goal of the operation was to flush out any activity and to show a presence in the area, so the enemy would know ‘hey if you go out there and set something up, we’re going to find it’.”
The Iraqi Highway Patrol played a big part in the operation, setting up vehicle check-points in case insurgents tried to escape, said Staff Sgt. Matthew D. Seaburn, staff noncommissioned officer in charge, Police Training Team 22.
“Their main objective was to block Mobile Road to make sure insurgents didn’t try to flee once they realized the operation was going on,” said Seaburn. “This was the longest the IHPs patrolled, but we completed our mission very well with no one hurt, but there is always a threat of a vehicle-borne (improvised explosive devices) when doing the check-points.”
Seaburn, a Dellroy, Ohio, native, said the IHP were involved in a firefight in the same area a few weeks prior and knew there were insurgents in the area.
“I think the IHPs did a great job with the check-points,” said Maj. Alli Ayed Abd, an officer with the Iraqi Highway Patrol. “The only thing I think that could have been done differently is allowing more members of the IHP to patrol with the Marines, because they know the area and the people and may have been able to find out more intelligence from the locals.”
Prior to TFT and the Highway Patrol’s departure, a clearing team was sent out to clear the area before they arrived at their battle space, said Impagliazzo, a Scitvate, R.I., native.
“While we were out there I think the Marines did a pretty good job and let the people know that if they’re a part of any enemy activity to stay out of this part of the country,” said the 38-year-old. “The operation was originally planned for five days, but things went smoothly and only ended up being two days. But you never know what could happen in a split second, which is what keeps the Marines from becoming complacent.”
During the operation two detainees were brought in for questioning and there were no combat related injuries, so it was a success, added Impagliazzo.
“It was a very organized operation and the Marines and sailors performed excellently,” said Impagliazzo. “I wished more bad guys would’ve been caught, but as far as the operation went, all of us went out there and did exactly what we were supposed to do. There’s no way to even show on paper what a show of force does for a unit and the area and what operations like this do for the Iraqi people.”
Task Force Tarawa is part of Regimental Combat Team 2, a Marine Corps command responsible for more than 30,000 square miles and 5,500 Marines, sailors and soldiers in Iraq’s Al Anbar Province.