CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq -- Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment performed a multi-faceted mission near Camp Taqaddum, Iraq, March 12, as they carried out weapons cache sweeps, investigated possible improvised explosive devices and conducted route clearance operations during the daylong operation.
Along the way, the Illinois-based National Guard unit took time to interact with the locals, stopping in local villages around the base.
The soldiers’ primary mission is to provide base security for the Marines and sailors of the forward-deployed 1st Marine Logistics Group. The 4,200 joint-service members of 1st MLG are part of the 25,000 Marines, airmen, soldiers and sailors of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force’s forward deployed element.
The 1st MLG’s mission is to provide sustained logistics support to I MEF and Iraqi security forces operating in the Al Anbar province of Iraq. Marines with 1st MLG will also support the development of the Iraqi Security Forces' logistic capabilities in order to enable independent ISF led counter insurgency operations.
During their mission, the soldiers were acquainting themselves with the routes in their newly assigned area to ensure the safety of the roads for future convoys, said Staff Sgt. Thomas D. Reif, convoy patrol leader and 37-year-old native of Raymond, Ill.
To clear a route for future convoys the soldiers scan the roads for possible signs of makeshift bombs called improvised explosive devices.
The IEDs are manufactured in a variety of ways with a variety of explosives, and have been one of the leading causes of casualties for troops in Iraq. While on this patrol a suspicious mound of dirt drew the soldiers’ attention – a possible IED. After close inspection of the surrounding area with no results, it was decided that the mound of dirt was just that – a mount of dirt.
Later in the day, after they conducted the route clearing and terrain association mission, the soldiers stopped in two local towns to pass out stuffed animals, candy and toothbrushes to the Iraqi children. Although their primary mission was defensive patrols against the insurgency, the soldiers frequently interacted with the Iraqis, lightening the mood of their operations.
The soldiers were grateful it wasn’t business as usual and could do something a little light hearted. Whether it’s handing out candy or searching for IEDs, the soldiers are proud of what they are doing in Iraq, said Sgt. 1st Class Timothy J. Atteberry, platoon sergeant.
“The individual, personal satisfaction of helping another human being really comes from these kinds of humanitarian-aid type missions,” said Atteberry, a 38-year-old native of Champagne, Ill.
While the day ended with no weapons caches or IEDs discovered, it was ultimately a success for the soldiers, said Spec. Sean M. Seahausen, a 30-year-old native of Godfrey, Ill.
“As long as everybody gets back inside the wire safe (and) we put a few smiles on the faces around here… it’s definitely a good day,” said Seahausen.