CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq -- The artillerymen of 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, have placed their cannons aside and picked up their rifles to provide security for I Marine Expeditionary Force units operating throughout the Al Anbar Province of Iraq.
The Camp Lejeune-based battalion replaced 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, a reserve infantry unit headquartered out of St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 20, 2004.
The rotation was part of the seven-month deployment for Marine Corps units operating in Iraq. Both units are assigned to the 1st Force Service Support Group, responsible for providing logistical support to all Marine forces operating in Iraq.
The Marines of 2/10, who refer to themselves as "Second to None," have stepped out of their traditional role as "cannon-cockers," and into the role of provisional riflemen.
The battalion has spent the past seven months training for this mission, said Lt. Col. Terrance P. Brennan, commanding officer of 2/10.
"Marines and sailors of 2/10 are motivated and up to the tasks at hand," said the 44-year-old, Norfolk, Va., native.
The incoming unit has big boots to fill, building on the foundation 3/24 has lain. The Marines of 3/24 have worked around the clock conducting daily patrols and providing security for convoys operating within I Marine Expeditionary Force's area of operations.
Since February, the battalion successfully kept the enemy from penetrating the perimeter of various Marine camps in Iraq.
Recently, 3/24's Company K fought off insurgents speeding toward Abu Ghurayb prison in two vehicles - one mounted with a machine gun, the other a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. The Marines responded immediately, preventing the VBIED from reaching the base. A quick-reaction force's assessment of the damage included seven captured insurgents, an unspecified number of kills, seizure of the automatic weapons and eleven 155 mm artillery shells.
"We are able to respond to anything they (enemy forces) put out there," said Lt. Col. Roderick T. Arrington, commanding officer of 3/24 and 43-year-old Oscoda, Mich., native.
During their seven-month stay here, 3/24 also conducted many civil affairs missions in neighboring Iraqi villages - a mission 2/10 continues.
As a result of 3/24's efforts, neighboring villages have electricity, new water pumps and pipelines for clean water and refurbished schools.
Civil affairs missions help the Iraqis see that Marines are here to improve their way of life, said Cpl. Andrew L. Powell, a machine gunner with 2/10 and 22-year-old native of Raleigh, N.C.
Whether providing security or aiding local villages, the sum of 2/10's mission equates to one final objective: to bring stability to a country once gripped by fear.