CAMP BABYLON, Iraq -- It has been nearly one year since the I Marine Expeditionary Force vacated the ancient city of Babylon, which served as the Marines’ headquarters after seizing Baghdad in 2003.
2004 marked a new mission for the roughly 25,000 Marines operating under I MEF - securing and stabilizing the Al Anbar province.
However, the Corps is not without its presence in southwestern Iraq. Detachment C of the 4th Air-Naval Gunfire Liaison Company resides in the south supporting the Multi-National Division Central-South, a conglomerate of approximately 20 nations, led by the Polish at Camp Babylon. Their area of operation includes the cities of Al Kut, Al-Hillah, Najaf and Karbala.
The reserve Marines from West Palm Beach, Fla., took the reigns from their predecessors, another detachment from 4th ANGLICO, in early May. Elements of ANGLICO have been operating in Southern Iraq since the fall of Baghdad last year.
“Detachment Bravo set up lots of our liaisons for us,” said Maj. Stephen D. Danyluk, the unit’s air officer. “We pretty much came in and filled their shoes.”
ANGLICO is the liaison between foreign militaries, other U.S. services and Marine Corps assets. ANGLICO Fire Control Teams coordinate Marine Corps air and naval strikes for allied ground forces, thus their motto, “Lightning from the sky. Thunder from the sea.”
Since arriving in theater, 4th ANGLICO assets’ have provided vital support to numerous units including U.S. Army Special Forces, Navy explosive ordnance disposal teams and the Polish, Spanish, Ukraine and Latvian armies.
“All in all, we’ve had a great relationship with the Multi-National Division,” said Chief Warrant Officer Kenneth Mckelton, a team leader from Jupiter, Fla. “It’s a good experience for the Marines to learn how foreign militaries operate.”
The experience gained from this joint effort is garnering dividends and building alliances with foreign countries.
Members of the Polish training branch specifically have been observing Marines’ humvee-driving tactics during training and combat missions.
“It’s a really great opportunity to work with the Marines,” said Col. Thomas Bak, a member of the Polish training branch. “Especially watching them operate the humvees, because we plan on implementing them in our army in the near future.”
The Polish army hopes to incorporate lessons learned from the Marines’ humvee tactics into a training manual for their own soldiers.
“I think history has proven we are very good brothers-in-arms,” added Bak. “As the (MND commanding general) says, ‘One mission, one team.’ In the future we will operate more and more together.”
The highlight of the trip thus far for the crew is working with U.S. Special Forces.
“We feel we’ve been able to make the best contribution while working with Special Forces,” said Staff Sgt. Jose L. Jimenez, a team chief from Miami. “Our primary mission is being exercised while in a joint environment.”
Currently, the team has just entered the third month of their seven-month tour. Before leaving for Iraq, one of their lance corporals made the following comment about his activation: “I’m young. I’m wild. It’s adventurous and it’s free.”
ANGLICO Marines have adopted that saying as their own motto and are applying it daily in Southern Iraq.