Before now poetry has taken notice
Of wars, and what are wars but politics
Transformed from chronic to acute and bloody?
from "Build Soil"
Robert Frost

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Falluja Road

Two weeks ago, along with another route clearance unit, my platoon spearheaded a large operation south of Falluja,. We cleared two routes into the farmland for over six hundred Marines and soldiers who were to operate in the area over the next few days.

The Route Clearance team at the staging area.
L>R: 2 Humvees, HEMMT Wrecker, HUSKY, Cougar.

The patrol commanders:
Hateful 16 (security) and Badger 36 (route clearance)
We traveled to the operation staging area early, and took our places among the tanks, trucks, and other vehicles. The gravel lot of the staging area was bigger than a football field, and the entire surface was filled with lines of vehicles. Marines clustered around groups of trucks making final checks and preparations.

AAV crewmen - "Gators"
A Marine guards weapons by his AAV
The Marines would be leaving some time after we started so as not to be held up on the road by our delays in disarming bombs. Most took the chance to eat another hot meal- the last they would see in days. Others took the opportunity to stock up on other needed commodities.

A Marine focused on the important things

The mission began just before sunset. We drove to the gate, and past the guards. We passed the concrete barriers printed in large red letters “COMPLACENCY KILLS”. We bumped through the ruts of hundreds of tanks and trucks, and out past the perimeter wire. We drove out into the gathering night and started looking for bombs. It was well past dark, and the moon was peeking from behind the clouds when we found the first IED of the night.

IED #1 exploding through thermal sights (credit PFC Strough)
A few hundred meters and not so many minutes later, we found a second bomb. The night was proving busier than we had expected.

The BUFFALO moves in on IED #2

We had completed clearing about two-thirds of the first route when we got the order to turn around and proceed to second route of the evening. Finishing the first route was lower priority than clearing the second and allowing the Marines who would follow us to insert before daylight.

The HUSKY finds a turnaround spot
After a short trip along Route Mobile, the major freeway connecting Ramadi, Falluja, and Baghdad, we pressed down into the darkness along the second route. This route is only a few kilometers from the first, separated by a deep canal. The Marines following us will set up checkpoints and occupy positions in order to catch fleeing insurgents as the first group of Marines sweeps them out.

These roads are familiar territory for us- we patrol them often, and we regularly disable IEDs here. This time, however, there was nothing. As we neared the end, there was a large explosion across the canal. The radio crackled- the Marines had found and detonated a parked car rigged as a VBIED on the first route, further down than we had cleared. They would go on to find several more IEDs. For us, though, the night is almost over.

We reach the limit of our advance and turn around again, threading through the Marines that have already begun to stretch out and dig in behind us. We barely beat the dawn into Falluja, and settle in for the day, exhausted by the constant strain of searching for bombs.

Dawn breaks over the convoy

*Originally posted at Pajamas Media


  1. Excellent photos, and news as always...

  2. Anonymous12/4/07 21:51

    Another night. Another round of disabling IEDs. Ho hum, just routine, man.

    You make it sound like just another job. But what a job! You guys are awesome.

    Great post, as usual. Stay safe, TD.

  3. You are doing a great job. Your courage and steadfastness are commendable.


  4. Anonymous13/4/07 04:35

    yes. great pictures. thanks.

  5. Anonymous13/4/07 06:01

    Incerdible pics of an intense "night out on the town."

  6. The pictures are amazing, especially considering I wouldn't see anything like it otherwise.

    Thank you!

  7. Enjoyed the post. Thank you to all of you, and stay safe!

  8. Fascinating post and several amazing photos.

  9. Anonymous13/4/07 17:55

    Thanks Again TD

  10. You make it sound like just another job. But what a job! You guys are awesome.

    No kidding. I'm constantly amazed when I read this blog and think about the stuff you guys deal with every day but that most of us back at home couldn't imagine having to live with. Thanks as always for the update, and be safe!

  11. thanks for sharing this td. be safe.

    smiles, bee