Golf 2/6 guard against terrorism

23 Apr 2003 | Gunnery Sgt. Chago Zapata 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Though the threat of weapons of mass destruction, scud attacks and Iraqi artillery no longer loom on the horizon, one major concern still exists here -- the threat of terrorist attacks.Marines from Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Task Force Yankee, based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., are the Anti Terrorism/Force Protection Company here and are responsible for defending and deterring against asymmetric terrorist threats against the camp."We look for terrorists, suicide bombers, infiltrators, intelligence gatherers and any other individuals threatening the security of the base," said Capt. Brian P. Burgess, 29, commanding officer of Golf Co. 2/6, from Memphis, Tenn."We didn't expect the Iraqis to come through the border, but the suicide vests that were found [in Iraq] are a big concern," Burgess said. "We expected someone to show up with one of those at one of our gates."Camp Commando, home of various elements of the I Marine Expeditionary Force during Operation Iraqi Freedom, is also one of the bases used as a staging point for units arriving and departing the theater of operations, according to Maj. Grant A. Williams, 35, camp commandant, from Oceanside, Calif."They've been doing an outstanding job out there," Williams said. "They're out there during every dust storm, no matter how hot it is or how miserable it gets. They're doing their job and we're all grateful."Marines from the AT/FP Company man dozens of posts throughout the base in shifts. They man towers along the base perimeter, entry points and other locations where threats are possible, and also work as liaisons with members of the Ministry of Defense (Kuwaiti) checkpoints."Our mission is to not allow anyone to pass without proper authority," said 1st Sgt. John C. Fiero, 39, Golf Co. first sergeant from Palmyra, N.Y. "We have an important responsibility and we're playing our part."Most of the situations they have responded to were not life threatening at the time they occurred, but could have escalated given the opportunity, according to Fiero."We have had situations where individuals have shown up to our gates with maps on them," Fiero said. "When that happened we and the counter intelligence team conducted a preliminary investigation, confiscated the maps and escorted them off the base."So far, the occasional vehicle parked near the base and sheepherders and camels coming too close to the perimeter are all the AT/FP Co. have had to respond to."We have also had shots fired from the road near camp, but there was no impact," Fiero continued.The unit's main concern is the possibility of someone who is not in agreement with the United States' mission here getting through the gate with the intent of gathering information, according to Fiero."We can't allow ourselves to get complacent and not do that pat down (of personnel) right or not ask the hard questions," Fiero said. "We focus and stress to every Marine in the unit that you must never take short cuts and get complacent."Although there have been no attacks repulsed or major infiltrations discovered, terrorism is still a constant threat, and the Marines must be constantly on the alert."The problem with asymmetric threats is that you don't really feel the effects at all or you feel it when it's too late," said Burgess. "The possibility of terrorist attacks could just as easily happen to us if we weren't taking appropriate measures."Because of the proactive protective measures we take, we present a hard target and that keeps them out," he said.Lance Cpl. Jeremy R. Magee, 24, a SAW gunner with Golf Co., 2/6, from Carlisle, Penn., and one of the Marines responsible for making Camp Commando a hard target, feels he's doing a job that really makes a difference."It's hard not being in the front lines, but it feels good to be part of something," said Magee. "We're here and we're making a difference."We're making a difference because, if we do our job right, the people on base can get their job done without having to worry about security," he said. "They can sleep safe at night because we're on post."Magee and other members of the unit understand the important role they play in Operation Iraqi Freedom."We were not in the fight, but we were definitely in support of it," said Seaman John A. Rodriguez, 21, a field corpsman with Golf Co., 2/6, from Herford, Texas. "It seems small, but we have an important role. We protect the people who are running the show."No matter the heat, rain, flies, mosquitoes, dust storms, lightning storms or any other nuisance, or weather condition, the Marines of Golf Co., 2/6, will do their job right, Burgess said."I'm proud of my Marines and the outstanding job they're doing to hold this post and hold it strong," Burgess said. "The discipline that every Marine has on post is the reason why we haven't been infiltrated. We're all proud to have a worthy mission."

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