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MPs patrol, provide security, press on

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200541321410
Story by Cpl. C.J. Yard

CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq (April 13, 2005) -- Imagine patrolling the treacherous roads of Iraq for improvised explosive devices on a daily basis, stopping at commonly used IED sites and putting your life at risk to check a block of concrete along the road that was not there the day before.

Now, imagine yourself in the lead vehicle of a 20 to 30 vehicle convoy, driving down the same roads, past the same commonly used IED sites, but this time it is at night. All you can wonder is: Do my headlights reach far enough ahead to see anything in the road that should not be there? Did the other Military Policemen patrol this far out on their security patrol to deter insurgents from placing IEDs? Could the approaching car be a suicide bomber with a vehicle borne IED?

This is what the MPs of Bravo Company, 2nd Military Police Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 2nd Force Service Support Group (Forward), encounter every day doing their part in the Global War on Terrorism. For two weeks, the teams named “Evil Eye,” patrol convoy routes to detect IEDs and deter insurgents from placing IEDs along the road. After their two weeks of daytime security patrols, the teams are then employed as convoy security during nighttime convoy operations.

“I like working on the daytime patrols more because you interact with the nationals more often,” said Sgt. Keith Littreal, Alpha team leader, 3rd platoon and Greensboro, N.C., native. “I feel like we do more on the security patrols. There are a lot of Marines depending on us to make sure the roads are safe.”

“I love what we are doing,” said Cpl. Zack Doty, vehicle commander and native of Graham, N.C. “We are making sure convoys can travel these routes safely. We don’t only do security patrols, though. We also do [personal security detachment] route reconnaissance missions and nighttime convoy security as well.”

Security patrols are generally defensive in nature, but the MPs are prepared to counter-attack at a moments notice. MPs patrol Main Supply Routes in their up-armored humvees with heavy machineguns such as the M2 .50-caliber machinegun and the M240-G machinegun.

The heavy machineguns are a last resort for the gunners when applying escalation of force. The gunners first fire a green star cluster illumination round at them. If that does not stop the oncoming motorist the gunners use their M16A2 service rifle to shoot the engine block.

This standard operating procedure is drilled into the MPs to ensure the safety of the Iraqi citizens.

“Show, shout, shove, shoot!” echoed the MPs as Gunnery Sgt. Sean Spatar, 3rd platoon’s platoon sergeant, gave them their convoy brief. “We use 5.56 rounds to shoot the engine block, why?”

“Because every gunner has an M16 in the turret,” responded the Marines.

Spatar, a native of Logan, Ohio, reminded the Marines to remain vigilant on their security patrol.

“Everyday you go out there, you have to be observant; keep your eyes open,” he said. “The day that we get complacent is the day something is going to happen.”

Over the course of 10 days conducting security patrols the MPs found three IEDs, five pieces of unexploded ordnance and wires with an actuator on the top of them. Along with the wires they also found a pouch filled with receipts and documents, some of which were photos of the person who put them there, according to Spatar.

“Every Marine is a rifleman, but out there what else are you?” asked Spatar.

“Information collectors,” yelled the Marines.

When the Marines of the team are not patrolling MSRs, they are providing convoy security at night.

For Doty, providing convoy security is what he likes most and has come to terms with the fact that his life is in danger. “I would rather do convoy security. You’re more apt to see action at night. So far though, we haven’t seen much of anything, which is a good thing. But, going to war; that’s why people come into the Marine Corps.”

“I don’t really have any apprehension at all about nighttime convoys,” said Littreal. “I know that we’ve got a strict purpose; provide the convoy with the best security we can give them.”

The humvees the MPs call home for hours at a time are dispersed within the line of trucks to provide quick response to any hostile intent or attempt to hinder the progress of the convoy.

“I try to keep it light and joke around,” said Doty, known as “Legs” by the rest of Alpha team. “It’s good for morale if we joke around, but when it comes to business, I can be a jerk. My guys know when we have to work.”

“We’ve got a really good truck,” said Lance Cpl. Jonathon Burks, a military policeman. “I think we’ve got the best truck out here; we’re the most disciplined truck. We’re more like a family.

“We have our ups and downs,” continued Burks, a Cullman, Ala., native. “Corporal Doty is more like a big brother to us. He makes sure that we’re doing what we’re supposed to do and pushes us to do our best. We give each other a hard time because it keeps us awake and alert in the truck. I couldn’t just sit there and not have anybody talk.”

Burks’ current deployment puts him in Iraq for the second time, and he is patrolling the same routes he did during his previous deployment.

“I love it out here,” said the 20-year-old, nicknamed Boomhower after a TV show cartoon character because of his tendency to become incomprehensible when he gets excited. “This is like my second home now, and I would rather be out here, feeling like I’m serving a purpose, than pulling gate duty back in the states. That’s still doing something, but here I feel like I’m making a difference.”

The teams have been together for four months. They went through various training exercises such as a combined arms exercise, stability and security operations training at March Air Reserve Base and Military Operations in Urban Terrain.

“I’ve got a good group of guys here. They are doing really well and I am very proud of them,” said Littreal. “They are doing great things and never cease to amaze me.”

For more information about the Marines or news reported in this story, please contact by e-mail yardcj@cssemnf-wiraq.usmc.mil.

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