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Oct-13-2008 03:25printcommentsVideo

Marine Military Police Beat at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq (VIDEO)

Marine Corps Military Police have their hands full with a never ending list of tasks necessary for war zone security.
SSgt Justin Webber, 1st Lt. August McClung and Sgt. Bob Johnson at Al Asad Air Station in Iraq. Photo by Tim King

(Al Asad, Iraq) - Marine Corps military police in Iraq have a never ending yet ever changing job description. In one day here at the Al Asad Air Base in the Anbar Province, I will see these Marine MPs search base housing units of foreign employees, inspect commercial trucks that deliver supplies here, operate a traffic check point, and even search a FedEx jet delivering supplies to Iraq.

Marine Sgt. Bob Johnson says many of these inspections can be completed quickly, but sometimes they do find violations. Some of the contraband items raise problems with the law of the Islamic government, others can contain sensitive data that could compromise security.

"The biggest thing we find out here is any kind of pornography, no pornography is allowed. Sometimes we'll fined IPOD's, thumbdrives, things like that."

The people who live here, Third Country Nationals or TCN's, are brought outside to be searched by the Marines. It is part of a regular procedure that most are accustomed to, according to Corporal Zachary Cole.

"The thing we do as military police here on Al Asad Air Base, is ensure the safety of the military personnel here but also the TCN's as well. People that work here want to feel safe, they see us out here, they are not guilty, they pretty much welcome it."

Cpl. Kacie Worley fills a role that only a woman Marine can; "Everyone has to get searched and since the males can't search the females, that's why I'm here."

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That is a humble reply, Cpl. Worley of Eugene, Oregon, explained what they were expecting to find during the searches.

"Any form of contraband, anything they could have on them. At this point in time we have them all lined up, these guys are clear, anything they might have taken out of their rooms."

While the residents are kept outside, their living space is thoroughly checked out by the military police. One Marine working inside said people hide things in interesting locations sometimes, including the ceilings, under their floors, and outside of their living quarters.

Truck inspection are another important daily job for these Marines. L/Cpl Brandon Temple says they get to as many trucks as possible, depending on the number of Marines available.

"We pick one row, usually around 15 to 20 trucks, we go down the row, we get everyone out of the trucks, we get them to open up all the compartments, then we move everybody up to the front, and as they come up to the front we search them for things not allowed on base; thumb drives, cell phones, uniformed items, anything like that."

There are ghastly stories about trucks full of rotten and spoiled food items that drivers brought onto to the base, but overall the Marines say the drivers stick to the rules, and keep their refrigeration units running.

Most of these Marine MP's are actually from aviation roles, but a shortage of Marines has them performing jobs more closely related to security.

MSgt. Joseph Beall is one of the top staff non commissioned officers in charge of the mission.

"Most of us being air ops, we worked together on the airfield and that sort of created a bond before we even started."

Capt. Mario Soto says the Marines pulled together for their new role very fast.

"They had to participate together, they had to coordinate with one another, and they are outside the wire, it is still a threatful environment."

Not all of the MP's here are not pulled out of the aviation ranks. 1st Lt. August McClung is one of the Marines at Al Asad who signed up to be with the military police.

"I'm actually an MP officer by trade; my job here is to learn a general concept of everything that happens in the PMO office, as well as badging, and to allow a smooth transition for the next unit that comes in."

Ugandan soldiers at Al Asad maintain one flightline security checkpoint, but the Marine MP's also conduct traffic stops to make sure the vehicles traveling onto the flightline are supposed to be there, McClung explained.

"In order for vehicles to get onto the flightline here, they have to have a flightline pass issued by the badging facility, and they are checking to make sure that their frontline passes are valid and match the vehicle being used."

By the time early afternoon rolled around, the MP's were headed for the airfield itself where they inspect cargo planes flying into Iraq.

Sgt. Bob Johnson said the FedEx jet we inspected was larger than usual in terms of what they generally see. "This is a little larger, this is one of the bigger jets that comes in that we would search."

SSgt Justin Webber added, "The AN-12 is a little bit smaller, where the crew stays and stuff, we pretty much look for... we've found alcohol out here before."

There are many steps that these MP's must be take each day to maintain air base security, and the ability of the aviation Marines attached to the 3rd Marine Airwing to assume the role of military police has been graded as a successful operation.



Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Silver Spoke Award by the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (2011), Excellence in Journalism Award by the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs (2010), Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), First-place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Tim was a member of the National Press Photographer's Association for several years and is a current member of the Orange County Press Club.

Serving the community in very real terms, is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 82 writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can write to Tim at this address:

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adam tessema July 26, 2011 10:47 pm (Pacific time)

i remeber AL Asad 2003 is to difecalt and to hard time i spand all nihigt is bom bom bom that is so fany

Navy Mom October 10, 2010 8:15 pm (Pacific time)

My son is at Al Asad. Seeing this video of Marine MPs makes me feel better about my son being there. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Jean Pierre September 4, 2009 3:26 am (Pacific time)

Nice place! I'd like to be there in the sand and take part of that adventure! I hope all these people, working together in Al Asad, can get along well, wherever they come from... And I hope the Iraqis people will totally benefit of their own land in a near futur !

rod shivley August 8, 2009 8:04 am (Pacific time)

I spent a year at Al Asad as a private contractor assigned to Marines. Returned to U.S. in march of 09. It is probably the safest base in Iraq, but lived in a 12 man tent for 12 months, hot dry and dusty. Sand storms blocking out the sun are verrrry frequent. Glad to see water again.

MGySgt Garza April 24, 2009 11:28 am (Pacific time)

Proud to me one of the old school Marines and taking care of my Jr. Marines if my life when I was there over a year ago and going back for my last tour. Orah!

Tim King: Honored that you dropped by Master Gunny, your guys are going great and I might catch up with you all in Iraq again this year, the reporter credentials out of Baghdad are still good, thanks and Semper Fi! 

anon January 1, 2009 10:21 pm (Pacific time)

To blugn from Nov. 08. My fiance is there with the NAVY and so far I have not heard of violence in the province near him. He was just in the desert last week and told me it's cold there. We have 5 kids and don't know how long he is going to be there.

c. williams December 31, 2008 12:23 pm (Pacific time)

i just wonder if sandstorms could be "weather warfare"? or is that area historically prone to such weather type?

Tim King: That is certainly an interesting question, but my understanding is that it is a natural phenomenon.  

beverly December 16, 2008 6:37 am (Pacific time)

My husband is leaving today for Al Asad. I'm glad the Marines as well as others are there to keep him safe. He is a contract worker without a gun

Brenda December 13, 2008 9:45 am (Pacific time)

my husband has been in AL-ASAD IRAQ off and on for 2 years,very bad sand storms there.He gets that bad dry cough,this base isn't as hot as other bases,but still bad.

blujn November 15, 2008 4:37 pm (Pacific time)

My husband is about to go there. Or, is there an Al-Asad in Kuwait? I wonder if he heard that instead of "Iraq" bc of his fear to go there. Please give me some info as I am also interested in knowing more. He was told he's going in August next year, but told me today that he was not told when he is going. I need help, please so we can be somewhat informed. Also, would like to know if there have been any incidents, like firing upon and any violence that has been reported. Thanks anyone!!!

weydi November 5, 2008 7:17 pm (Pacific time)

whats up ?

sts October 14, 2008 6:18 pm (Pacific time)

these soldiers all swore to uphold the Constitution. To fight enemies domestic and foreign. Think about that for a minute ok? They SWORE, on their life, to uphold the Constitution. I know, because I swore the same thing when in the Navy. I gave MY WORD, to uphold the Constitution. And at 50 years old, I still hold that promise. How many soldiers take their oath seriously?

sts October 14, 2008 6:07 pm (Pacific time)

how about the displaced Iraqi's trying to return home and getting killed? How about the cholera? how about the Iraqi Christians that were making headway before the invasion? I am sorry, but these soldiers, bless their soul, have been lied to, and are fighting the devils battles. Just like viet nam. They need to be educated, not felt sorry for. If you care about the militry, turn off your tv, learn something, then share it with them. That is the truth about caring. They need to ALL COME HOME AND BE WITH THEIR FAMILIES!!!!!!! THAT, my friends, is the truth, and what "supporting the troops" actually means. turn off the tv

G/ 2-3: October 14, 2008 4:36 am (Pacific time)

I may have missed something, so could you tell me whose ..,idea?., the florescent targets were?, and if they are bullet proof? They cerrtainly blend in well with the background folaige don't they? Am I witnessing a flaw in military intellegence or what? These Marines ought to get a raise in pay just to put them on! Sorry, but it reminds me of lighting a cigarette in the dark, I am old and probably uninformed.

mira October 13, 2008 9:30 pm (Pacific time)

God bless all these brave men and women and pray for the safe return

Marines rock October 13, 2008 2:56 pm (Pacific time)

I spent some time at Al Asad. It is a hot and dusty desert with a few decent amenities. The work these MP's are doing each day is intensive and laborious, I do not envy them at all.

Anonymous October 13, 2008 12:25 pm (Pacific time)

Looks like a hard job to me. I never really knew very much about what military police do in places like Iraq, very interesting story.

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