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Task Force East Marines close chapter on successful deployment

AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq — Since the earliest days of the Marine Corps, all Marines have been taught they are riflemen first. This philosophy shines true with the Marines of Task Force East, II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group (Forward). As they depart Iraq, they do so knowing the basic training they received was the cornerstone for the experiences they shared here. With their deployment at its end, the Marines of TFE reflect on their overall experiences and lessons learned.

http://www.usmc.mil/unit/iimef/iimef-fwd/Pages/MeltingpotofMarinescloseschapteronsuccessfuldeployment.aspx

10/30/2009 By Cpl. Triah Pendracki, Multi National Force - West

“Task Force East has Marines from 42 different [military occupational specialties],” explained Capt. Patrick Boyce, the officer-in-charge of Al Asad Air Base’s Provost Marshal Office. “Our Marines are from the infantry, military police, supply, administration and even the band. It goes to show that any Marine, no matter what his MOS, can accomplish a mission when given the proper tools and leadership.”

After arriving at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, in July, some TFE Marines were sent out on military movement teams throughout the Al Anbar province to assist the Iraqi Police with training.

“Our MMTs were working in Haditha, Baghdadi, Hit, Ramadi, Fallujah, Al Qa’im and Habbaniyah,” explained Capt. Matthew Reis, the executive officer for TFE. “The mission of the MMTs was to provide mobility and security to the Iraqi Police advisors and interpreters, so that the professionalization of the IP forces throughout the province could continue to flourish.”

“I had a great time in Al Qa’im,” said Sgt. Joseph Segal, an assistant convoy commander for an MMT. “I think we all have a sense of accomplishment when we see how far the Iraqi Police have come. It’s surprising, but some of us don’t want to go home just yet.”

The MMTs conducted key leader engagements with the district chiefs of police and aided in the facilitation of classes for the police to include improvised explosive device awareness and an investigator’s course.

While some of the TFE Marines were conducting their missions away from Al Asad, many Marines aboard the base had their own tasks to attend to.

“The Marines with TFE that remained here on base managed internal security, base safety and traffic regulations,” said Boyce. “We worked with the base reaction force for any internal issues and with explosive ordnance disposal for the many unexploded ordnance found on and around the base.”

The Marines also searched third country nationals on base for contraband items such as cell phones and cameras.

Before arriving in Iraq, all the Marines had roughly five months to train with one another in a variety of ways including tactics and room-clearing procedures.

“Some of the Marines who were originally military police were tasked out to different areas, so we had to train all the Marines from the different MOSs in the unit to the MP standard,” explained Boyce. “They took their missions and ran with them, finding better and easier ways to solve problems and accomplish their mission. They operated as well as many schoolhouse trained MPs.”

Many of the Marines can take everything they learned during their time with TFE and build upon their own professionalism.

“These Marines can go back to their offices and use the leadership skills they have all gained out here for their job, no matter what MOS they may be,” concluded Boyce. “Deployment changes you, but it changed these Marines in a great way.”

Even though they were separated from family and friends, the Marines of TFE maintained a positive attitude toward their mission and toward the Iraqis they worked closely with on the MMTs.

“My Marines were motivated to do their part in this mission,” said Gunnery Sgt. Chad Eddy, operations chief for MMT-5. “They were excited to do their job every day.”

It is a bittersweet ending for these Marines heading back to Quantico to fulfill their mission back in the U.S.

“Most of my Marines wanted to stay,” joked Staff Sgt. Jose Santiago, watch commander with the unit. “It was a great experience for all of us, but now we have to pack up and head home.”