AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq -- The Marines of Company E, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), recently moved into the outskirts of Hit, Iraq, and became familiar with the countryside.The unit patrolled the city outskirts for several days and provided rear area security while two other companies with BLT 2/1 cleared the town before setting up operations.“If we don’t patrol behind us, (the insurgents) blend in with the populace, take arms and attack us from the rear,” said 2nd Lt. Brian Williams, platoon commander, 2nd Platoon. “Then we’re fighting a battle on both sides.” Williams said constant patrols each day, helped maintain a Marine presence and discouraged insurgents from operating in the area. He added that a patrol from 3rd Platoon found and detained several insurgents attempting to blend in with the town residents. The majority of patrols turned up nothing, but the Marines of “Echo” Company didn’t allow that to lead to complacency. The patrols helped familiarize them with the area, which differs vastly from what they’ve experienced in recent operations. The countryside was split by the Euphrates River and local fauna flourished along the banks.Local irrigation ditches feed into palm groves and fields of grass. The image was jarring for several of the servicemembers, who had become accustomed to the vast desert landscapes and dense urban terrain of previous patrols.“It doesn’t look like Iraq, it looks like Northern California,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Jared Aguon, a corpsman with 2nd Platoon. The new terrain offered many challenges for the Marines and Sailors of Co. E.Staff Sgt. Jeremy H. Miller, an infantryman with Co. E, said the mission gave them an opportunity to practice their patrolling skills, in preparation for future missions. Echo Company recently participated in several operations that involved sweeping through and clearing buildings in an attempt to find enemy fighters and equipment. The Marines have shifted gears and will now focus more on patrolling skills than clearing a room.“Any type of patrolling allows them to refine their skills,” he added.Lance Cpl. Chuntian Huang, infantryman, 2nd Platoon, said the experience helps re-familiarize every one with the basic patrolling skills, as well as their role in squad movement.“I think we’re doing a really good job patrolling because everybody knows their job,” the 20-year-old, Twin City, Minn., native said. The Marines of BLT 2/1 and soldiers of the Iraqi Army are currently conducting security and stability operations throughout the city to ensure the safety of the resident in anticipation of the upcoming elections.