AL AMARI, Iraq -- The Marines of fourth platoon, Charlie Company, Task Force 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 2, patrolled the town of Al Amari at dusk, showing its citizens the Marines were in the area. Later, during the hours of darkness, fourth platoon snuck into an abandoned building and performed patrols searching for enemy activity keeping the small farming town safe from insurgency.
“The first thing we did was occupy an abandoned building as an observation post at night,” said Cpl. Brent Jackson, a squad leader with Charlie Company, TF 1/4.
Across town another section of fourth platoon set up an observation post thus covering the entire town with the two posts.
The overall TF 1/4 operation was in support of Operation Harris Ba’sil, meant to disrupt insurgent activities in towns like Al Amari.
“We were watching both sides of the Euphrates River letting the Marines at the clinic know if there were any enemies in the area,” said Sgt. Arthur Ruiz, a section leader with Charlie Company, TF 1/4.
Insurgents have used darkness to plant improvised explosive devices, ambush coalition forces and use weapon caches since the beginning of the war. Marines counteract the enemy’s methods by having a constant watch.
“We wanted to see what the town does at night because things can be much different than during the day,” Jackson said.
The patrolling Marines were not alone in their search for weapons caches because of good communication between the two observation posts.
“We had line-of-sight with the other OP so we could communicate back and forth,” Ruiz said.
The Marines had a constant watchful eye as they patrolled the town, even if the town’s local population were unaware of its friendly neighbors.
“Not everybody knew we were there, but we watch everything day or night,” Jackson said.
Observing the small town kept its residence safe but also allowed a strong force to react if any problems arose.
“If observation is kept, you know what goes in and out of the town, so you can react quickly if needed,” Jackson said.
Al Amari’s townspeople stayed safe that night while fourth platoon watched over them.
“The appearance of Marines keeps the bad guys in check,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Anderson, a platoon commander with Charlie Company, TF 1/4.
“Our presence and working with the locals makes them feel safer,” Anderson said. “They are less likely to work for the insurgents.”
“These inhabitants have lost a lot of people from insurgent attacks so they know who the enemy is now,” Anderson said.
Silence broke at dawn, not by gunfire or enemy movement, but by roosters cawing, telling everyone a new day has risen. The nocturnal Marines packed up their gear and left the town. They will be back again; making sure the insurgents have no place to hide in the small farming town of Al Amari.