MANASIR, Iraq -- Marines from 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment recently combined their infantry skills with soldiers from the Army’s 5th Squadron, 7th Calvary Regiment, for Operation Michigan, an operation designed to eliminate insurgent activity from this thumb-shaped piece of land 20 kilometers south of Fallujah.
The two units, which are both a part of Regimental Combat Team 6, worked effectively together. Army units sealed off the roads before the clearing operations began to prevent enemy forces from escaping. Once the roads were sealed tight, it was time to repeat history and “Send in the Marines!”
“They are a (mechanized unit) with Bradley’s and they don’t dismount too often,” said Cpl. Jeremy G. Scott, 25, from Lebanon, Tenn. “They needed someone foot mobile to sweep through the area and see what the atmospherics were like.”
The Marines of 1st and 3rd platoons, I Company, were perfectly suited for the task. Since arriving in the Habbaniyah in January they have made great progress establishing security and stability there.
“Two months after we got into Iraq things started really changing,” said Scott, a 2000 graduate of Lebanon High School. “People have been getting a lot friendlier and it seems like the IPs are standing up and doing their job protecting the people around here. It makes relationships between the Marines and the civilians a lot better, because we are actually working with them and not doing everything by ourselves.”
That reputation preceded them when they were chosen to work with the Army.
“We were selected because the Army needed help gathering data and they knew we were pretty good at it,” said 1st Lt. Travis W. Bowden, 24, from Richmond, Va. “We have a good reputation working with the people and the Iraqi Police on a one-on-one basis.”
The Marines left the familiar terrain of Habbaniyah behind in the early morning hours, convoying down to the area known only as the “Thumb.” They arrived shortly after dawn and immediately began fanning out, sweeping houses and fields. Since they were in an unfamiliar area they weren’t sure what to expect.
“I did expect light resistance,” said Scott, the squad leader for 3rd squad, 1st Platoon. “I thought we would get some potshots fired at us and maybe find some caches. It shows us that the IP’s are actually out there doing their job (and) starting to take over.”
With no resistance or huge weapons caches to slow them down the Marines were able to spend more time interacting with the people who welcomed them into their houses with open arms.
“The people were very friendly,” said Scott. “It was obvious they had been around the Marines or the Army before, because we would go into a house and the first thing they would do, without being told, was go grab their weapon and bring it to us.”
When the Marines finished their end of the operation and returned to their familiar stomping grounds in Habbaniyah, they did so with a little more experience under their belt.
“It was definitely nice to get out there and meet new people and do different things,” said Bowden, the platoon commander for 3rd Platoon. “It gave the Marines a lot of experience.”