NEAR KARMAH, Iraq --
Following six days of counterinsurgency operations in an eastern area of operations in Al Anbar province, Marines from Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, dubbed Operation PEGASUS BRIDGE a “mission complete.”
The battalion executed cache sweeps, local “knock and talk” visits and engaged enemy fighters throughout the operation, which held an original time block of ten days, beginning July 30. The operation involved Lima, India and Weapons companies, along with support from Tanks platoon and air strikes courtesy of 2nd Marine Air Wing (Forward) and Multi-National Forces-West.
Numerous weapons caches, one of which consisted of 11 tons of ammonium nitrate, are among operational highlights. Dozens of enemy munitions, homemade explosives (HME) and rigged-to-blow Improvised Explosive Devices were also uncovered and destroyed in place by Combat Logistics Battalion 13 Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel.
In addition to enemy accelerants, an execution chamber was discovered July 30. The multi-level chamber contained two corpses less than three weeks old and ten human skeletons. Marines from Weapons Co., who discovered the bunker, said it appeared victims had been lined up and shot against a wall.
The difficulty of conducting counterinsurgency operations has caused frustration among junior Marines who expect high enemy body counts, according to 2nd Lt. Aaron Bell, an India Co. platoon commander. The positive impact on the local populace, however, speaks volumes on the effort of BLT 3/1 to maintain security in the area. During the operation, Bell said, local citizens freely offered information on insurgent activities and pointed out IED locations.
“I’ve been most impressed to see the Marines interacting with the Iraqis,” Bell, a Wausau, Wis. native said. “They do a good job and they’re respectful. They realize that most of these guys are just day-to-day people caught up in a war and looking after their families.”
Bell said the success during PEGASUS BRIDGE is a direct reflection of BLT 3/1 enlisted Marines and small unit leaders.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them. They’ve been kicking (butt) this entire time and exceeding expectations.”
As Battalion Landing Team 3/1 continues counterinsurgency operations here, the success of Operation PEGASUS BRIDGE has proved the tireless efforts of Marines are paying off in multitudes.
For more information about Battalion Landing Team 3/1, or the warriors of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, visit the unit’s Web site athttps://www.usmc.mi/13thmeu.