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155th BCT hits the ground running

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 2005221122626
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Reeves

FORWARD OPERATING BASE CAMP LIMA, Iraq (Feb. 19, 2005) -- With less than one week of operating in Iraq, the 155th Brigade Combat Team has earned a respectable reputation for opening new doors for the future of Iraq.

The unit's top soldier, Col. Augustus L. Collins, commander of the 155th BCT and Lt. Col. Gary Huffman, commander of the 2-114th Field Artillery Battalion, met Sunday with Sheik Ibrahem, tribal leader of Banny Hassam in An Najaf and Karbala, Iraq. The leaders met at Forward Operating Base Lima to discuss the operations in the area.

“You are a brother now," said Ibrahem to Collins and his men. This was Ibrahem's first meeting with Collins and the 155th BCT. “When Iraqi people see me meeting here with you, they begin to see the American forces are here to help and work together with the people...to open new doors for the future of Iraq and welcome Democracy,” Ibrahem added.

The comment was welcomed by the 155th BCT who officially reported to duty with the I Marine Expeditionary Force after completing a transfer of authority with the 11th and 24th Marine Expeditionary Units on Feb. 14.

The 155th BCT is conducting security and stability operations in the Babil, Karbala and Najaf provinces. On Tuesday, the day after the transfer of authority, the soldiers from the 155th BCT destroyed a weapons cache that was uncovered southwest of Baghdad while the soldiers were on a patrol the day prior.

The weapons cache included an anti-aircraft gun and numerous rounds of assorted size and type, which were in good condition. Some of the rounds were still stored in the original plastic packaging and included: 1,500 37 mm anti-aircraft rounds; 1,426 57 mm rounds; 196 armor-piercing rounds; 81 20 mm rounds; one 80 mm mortar round; one 100 mm mortar round; four 130 mm mortar rounds; and six 155 mm artillery rounds.

The unit’s explosive ordnance disposal team conducted a controlled detonation at the site.

The 155th BCT will continue the ongoing projects within the area and work closely with the Iraqi security forces operating in the Babil, Karbala, and Najaf provinces, according to Collins.

During the meeting, the leaders discussed the current situation facing them in Iraq. The advancement that the country had made was echoed by Collins who spoke of the decrease in violence and the celebration of Ashura had taken place with little to no incidents of violence.

“We are people of peace and we have come to help,” Collins added. “If the people will help us to identify the bad people, we will catch them and put them in jail. The children’s waving at us says that we are welcome here.”

The meeting continued with much focus on completed projects, future projects and jobs, and how Multi-National Forces are helping to train the new Iraqi forces to do those jobs. Sheik Ibrahem stated that the relationship that had been started between the Marines and now Col. Collins and his unit would last forever, even after this team moves on and the next one comes in to replace it.

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