CAMP RAMADI, Iraq -- After securing the Ramadi General Hospital earlier this week, efforts are being made to construct a nearby combat outpost where U.S. and Iraqi Security Forces will operate from in an effort to maintain a permanent presence in the area.
The combat outpost is located in close proximity to the city’s hospital, which is believed to have been frequently used by insurgents to treat their wounded, hide weapons and improvised explosive device-making materials, and coordinate attacks, said Maj. Maria J. Pallotta, the commanding officer of Combat Logistics Detachment 115, a contingent of approximately 80 Marines supporting the increased security operations in the city.
The Marines are using armored forklifts/scoop loaders, called TRAMs, to emplace concrete and sand-filled barriers to fortify the position, said Pallotta, a 35-year-old native of Cleveland, Ohio.
TRAM is an acronym for ‘tractor, rubber-tired, articulated steering, multi-purpose.
Iraqi and Coalition forces have previously received sniper fire from the hospital on multiple occasions, and credible intelligence reports indicated the hospital was being used as an insurgent safe haven and command center, according to a U.S. military press release.
Marines from 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, an infantry unit that led the operation to secure the hospital, are maintaining security at the new position as Marine Corps combat engineers from 3rd Bn., 8th Marines, led by 1st. Lt. Ben W. Klay, 3rd Bn., 8th Marines Combat Engineer Platoon commander, with the help of CLD 115 construct the latest in a series of outposts scattered throughout the city.
This latest outpost is being built around an abandoned house which lacks running water and electricity, just one of the many difficulties the Marines face while securing the position.
With gun shots and explosions at all hours of the day in the city – proof of the city’s insurgent activity – the fortifications being built by the combat engineers and CLD 115 will provide much needed protection for coalition and Iraqi forces who will be responsible for maintaining security around the hospital.
Combat Logistics Detachment 115 will also continue to provide escorts and transportation for hundreds of Iraqi soldiers and police with their armored troop transport trucks to the new hospital outpost. They have been conducting this transport mission throughout the city since operations started in mid-June.
“Iraqi police units are in the process of assuming primary responsibility for hospital security in order to facilitate its return to normal operations,” said Col. Sean B. MacFarland, commander of all coalition forces in the area.
These efforts are part of an overall mission to rid the capital of Al Anbar province from insurgent activity by gradually developing an Iraqi Army and police presence throughout the city, say military officials.
The Marines of CLD 115 are in a direct support role, which means they deliver supplies directly to the units requesting it--in this case the U.S. Army’s 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, rather than to other logistics units who then support smaller commands, said Pallotta.
This direct support role has given the Marines a different sense of accomplishment than what they are used to.
“You know that you’re doing something because you see the results of your work firsthand,” said Lance Cpl. Blake Dale, a field radio operator with CLD 115.
Operating in the city of Ramadi has been unique experience for the Marines of CLD 115, who typically operate from Camp Taqaddum, a logistics hub east of here and home of the 1st Marine Logistics Group, which has no major urban development in the immediate surrounding area.
“Everything is a lot more complex in the city,” said Dale, who has been on numerous convoys here. “The city can be dangerous because there are more places to hide. It’s different and more intense.”