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Marine Military Police Beat at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq (VIDEO)Tim King Salem-News.com
Marine Corps Military Police have their hands full with a never ending list of tasks necessary for war zone security.
(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."
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.
WATCH THE VIDEO NEWS REPORT:
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 Salem-News.com'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, Salem-News.com 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 Salem-News.com 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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