Marines with Security Platoon, Headquarters Company, Regimental Combat Team 5 keep Iraqis and Marines protected at the Fallujah Development Center.
The Marines are ready 24 hours a day to react to any trouble that may harm visitors of the FDC, outside Camp Fallujah.
“Their primary mission is basically to keep this compound secure,” said Sgt. Austin R. W. Moore, the 23-year-old security non-commissioned officer in charge, from Claxton, Tenn.
A detachment of Marines stand post at the FDC, each standing their own shift, said Cpl. Hugo J. Delgado-Hernandez, a 22-year-old watchman, from Indio, Calif.
“We’re pretty much always on the alert and everything,” Delgado-Hernandez added.
“Us providing security here enables the rest of the Marines to do what they need to do,” said Lance Cpl. Nathaniel D. Gilbert, a 26-year-old watchman, from Tulsa, Okla.
The FDC is a place where Iraqis are able to work on the details of rebuilding Fallujah with Marines, Moore said.
“And we protect all this and make sure it all happens and goes down,” he said. “Make sure that if we have any vehicles that go by, make sure that they don’t do anything stupid on the road; keep watch out for anything kind of unusual activities across the road while there’s civilians out.”
The posts for the ECP are the most vital posts for the FDC, Delgado-Hernandez said.
“We just make sure that Iraqis don’t get kind of froggy and stuff, try to get in,” he said.
Lately, the FDC hasn’t seen much hostile action, but Marines are constantly on guard, watching for any thing out of place, Delgado-Hernandez said.
“Everything from a shine in the far off click, to something as close as a vehicle breaking down,” he said. “I’d rather be safer than sorry,” he said.
The last time there was hostile action was when an interpreter was shot in the arm outside the ECP, Delgado-Hernandez said.
“We try to keep them inside the Hesco barriers, even across the ECP area, but they tend to get froggy themselves, and get all motivated,” he said.
Marines instantly helped the interpreter, and he is doing well now, he added.
Other than the rare incident of the interpreter, Marines are kept alert by Iraqi Army and Police convoys traveling down the roads nearby the center, shooting their weapons into the air, Moore said.
“That’s their escalation of force is to shoot in the air to get cars out of the way,” he said.
When the Marines aren’t standing watch, they’re helping to maintain the center and repair anything that needs improvement, said Cpl. William C. Brownlee, a 24-year-old watchman, from Grove City, Pa.
“Everything can always be improved,” Brownlee said. “As we find things, or as we uncover messes, we clean them up.”
Marines providing security at the FDC are content with their jobs, Moore said.
“I think they’re good to go with it,” he said. “Standing post gets kind of monotonous at times, but they find ways to get around it.”
Moore has seen only one major problem with his Marines performing their duties, he said.
“My main complaint from my Marines is it’s freaking cold,” he said. “We got space heaters to help them out with it.”
Through the cold and whatever monotony, the Marines keeping watch push to be diligent and alert with their posts. They protect the Marines and Iraqis inside the FDC, so developments for Fallujah can be done with security.
“We do our job; we make sure we’re diligent, make sure everybody gets where we’re at,” Delgado-Hernandez said. “I’ll be damned if one month before I leave something happens to one of our Marines.”
By Lance Cpl. Bryan Eberly