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Camp guard on call in one of Iraq's danger areas

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 20055385757
Story by Sgt. Stephen D'Alessio

CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, AR RAMADI, Iraq (May 3, 2005) -- Whether on a tower or patrolling by foot around the perimeter wall, the camp's guard is always on the alert, especially during one of their recent training exercises.

The men and women of the camp guard's Quick Reaction Force (QRF) are always on call, day or night, while eating or at rest. During a recent, successful training exercise the Marines and Sailors proved their mettle.

Their latest drill began as a scenario where insurgents broke through the wall surrounding the camp. As the mock incursion ensued, the Ready React Team assessed the situation by communicating from their respective posts. From there, they implemented one of their contingency plans to quell the infiltration.

"We've been training for situations like this since last August last year," said Sgt. Andrew Schwartz, Ready React Team platoon sergeant and QRF training non-commissioned officer-in-charge. "Our job requires us to continually patrol the area within the walls of the camp and to escort VIPs.," added the 23-year-old Ducor, Calif. native.

Within a few moments, two squads boarded their armored High Mobility Multi-Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs) and took off to the scene. When they reached the training area, the vehicle commanders shouted the order to dismount.

Commotion began as the teams jumped off of the back of the HMMWVs . Sand shrouded the scene as the Marines and Corpsmen ran in their stacked formations and dispersed individual team members to fortified positions, which are strategically placed throughout the camp.

In what seemed like less than one minute, the squads had isolated the entire area of the attack and provided security for an inspection of the military vehicles in the area.

"We do exercises like this every two weeks or so," said the 1999 Porterville High School graduate. "After we became proficient enough, we actually taught many of the Marines in our battalion an Enhanced Marksmanship Program (EMP)."

The EMP is the camp guard's foundation for defensive combat. It's a close quarters style of marksmanship and fighting favored by U.S. Special Forces personnel.

"Fortunately, we found out a year in advance that we had to learn this and I see improvements every time we go out, which is every day," added Schwartz.

No sooner did the team finish their Ready React exercise, than the alarm was sounded for a real threat.

"This is not a drill!" shouted Schwartz. "We have a possible break in the perimeter wall!"

A mortar had landed in the area and the squads loaded up on the HMMWVs with intensity unmatched by the training they just endured. As the trucks took off, the Marines loaded their rifles with a magazine each and monitored their radios.

By the time they reached the area of the wall where the mortar was reported to have landed, it was outside of the perimeter. Despite the false alarm, a valiant effort on their part was a testament to their preparedness in case of an actual event.

"The team really does well and I have full confidence that they'll be able to handle anything thrown their way," said Schwartz. "In the meantime, we'll just keep training for the worst."

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