‘Outlaws’ comb the desert for threats

31 Mar 2008 | Cpl Ryan Tomlinson

Marines with Delta Company, 2nd Light  Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5, are conducting vehicle route reconnaissance missions throughout the western Anbar province of Iraq in pursuit of insurgent activity that may be harmful towards Coalition forces, the local Iraqis and the Iraqi Security Forces.

Delta Co. Marines, who go by the nickname “Outlaws,” are also securing the area for a transition of control to the ISF.

“These operations are setting up future success for the Iraqi Security Forces,” said Cpl. Andrew H. Oquendo, a scout with Delta Co. “It’s a large part of the hand-over process.”

During the missions, the “Outlaws” search the desert and the roadways for areas where insurgents may have stored, smuggled or planted weapons. The Marines patrol for long hours every day to ensure the area of operations is clear of threats.

The Marines also engage with as many Iraqi civilians as possible, providing them with food, water and candy for children. The supplies and the visits signify the Coalition forces are available to help and give supplies to those in need.

“Our actions show the Iraqi people we aren’t leaving them alone,” said Sgt. James D. Leach, a scout squad leader with Delta Co. “We’re here to take care of them, so until everything is settled, we will be sticking around for them.”

Being part of this kind of operation has made an impact on the Marines conducting the house searches and area sweeps for weapons.

“I am very proud to be a part of this part of Operation Iraqi Freedom,” said Oquendo, 22, from Paterson, N.J. “The operations are another footprint in the road to success in this war.”

Some members of he “Outlaws” were here in 2007 and see a difference in the peoples’ attitude toward them and Iraq in general.

“Being a scout squad leader you have to meet with the people and communicate with them,” said Leach, 24, from Rutherfordton, N.C. “I could tell just by the way they speak, people are feeling safer and happier.”