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Task force charges into danger to provide security

7 Nov 2006 | Lance Cpl. Geoffrey P. Ingersoll

The room is silent but for a few snores.  The door opens and a silhouetted figure speaks only two words.

The lights are on before the door is finished closing.  Boots are being laced, sleep is being cleaned from tired eyes, and flame-resistant suits are being zipped shut.  Then in a matter of minutes, vehicle engines idle, purring and poised to roar as leaders gather to communicate final details.

Even though they may get into a fire fight, they aren't firefighters.  They are Security Company's quick reaction explosive ordinance disposal security squad and they just received a "nine line."

A "nine line" is a form of communication between units containing nine different fields of information.  Because a "nine line" sent to this squad means a potential improvised explosive device, a hasty advance can potentially save lives.

"We have to be to the trucks in thirty seconds, and out of the gates in minutes," said Cpl. Jason D. Green, a vehicle commander for Security Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 5, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward).  Green, a 24-year-old Lancaster, Calif native, said ensuring the safety of the service members encountering IEDs drives their sense of urgency.

"You have other people out there who depend on you being there as soon as possible," said Lance Cpl. Tiago Soltes, a gunner with Security Company, CLB-5.

"(Our urgency) is for the other Marines and everybody else out there," said Soltes, 23 from Roselle, Ill.

Both Marines said Security Company remains vigilant for the numerous dangers present in the city of Fallujah.

Gunners stand in the humvee weapon mounts, binoculars trained on the horizon, scanning building windows for snipers and the roads ahead for vehicle-borne IEDs. 

Other Marines dismount and provide direct security on foot for EOD technicians, whose concentration remains focused on the potential bomb threat.

"You just have to be aware of your surroundings, looking out for EOD, looking out for everybody else, and making sure no one else is around there making any danger for you and your team," said Soltes.

The security team immediately sets a perimeter around EOD when the vehicles pull up to the scene.  Everyone knows what to do and everyone knows what area to cover.

"You have to count on (the other Marines) so you can take care of your mission," said Green.  "(We have) a very strong bond because you have to rely on the brother next to you."

Whether it's training, going to chow together, goofing around, or playing late night video games, their bond is often visible.  And when they hear those two key words, their bond becomes almost palpable.

The biggest challenge is the sudden change of pace, said Green.  You go from sleep or watching a movie to making sure everyone is accounted for, has all their equipment, and is ready to go, he said.

Two squads rotate on twenty-four hour shifts.  During the shift, they train, eat, and rest all within the compound.  When they receive the order, often everything else stops; all that matters is the mission ahead.  They can react to a "nine line" at any time.

"You haven't had a call all day and all of a sudden you're miles off base," said Green.

"You get a kind of adrenalin rush," said Soltes, "you just have to keep your head in the game; you have to keep focused on everything and just go with the flow."

"You just never know when you are going to get that call," said Soltes.

Receiving the "nine line" means they know only the necessary information to respond.  Once they are on the move in the city of Fallujah, anything can happen.

What's most exciting is heading out into the unknown, said Green.  Green explained that in the unfamiliar, urban territory of Fallujah, fighting a faceless enemy always keeps these Marines focused.

Like a firefighter in a burning house, you have to be ready for anything, said Soltes.

But their sacrifices are vital to the American effort, in order to keep the routes clear for logistics convoys as well as infantry patrols, said 2nd Lt. Christ J. Pappas, executive officer for Security Company, CLB-5.

Danger for this squad is a foregone conclusion, but violence is never imminent.

If the job gets done correctly, said Pappas, 29 from Ocala, Fl., then no one gets hurt.
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