Skip to comments.Royal Marines team with Iraqis
Posted on 02/24/2007 11:55:25 AM PST by SandRat
BASRAH— Under Operation Thunderbird, troops from 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines (539 ASRM) and the Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement (DBE) have carried out anti-smuggling patrols of the Southern Maysaan waterways.
Concealing themselves in the marshes, troops set up observation posts to catch criminals illegally smuggling contraband and weapons into Iraq over the waterways.
Using their fast air boats, the Iraqi Border Police (DBE) patrolled the waters supported by the Royal Marines in their Zodiac raiding craft.
Throughout the operation, the joint force searched all types of craft for illegal contraband and weapons. The surrounding marshlands were searched for hidden weapon caches.
This type of joint operation is crucial to tackling anti-smuggling and stemming the flow of arms across the border, said Colour Sergeant Nigel Barlett, 38.
Working with the DBE is essential as they know this area like the back of their hands. This type of patrol reinforces the message that illegal activity will not be tolerated.
Trained by troops from the British led Multi-National Division (South East), Iraqi DBE police now handle their large fan-propelled air boats with great skill.
They now conduct waterway patrols as an independent capable border patrolling force. Powered by V8 engines, their airboats can travel at more than 55 miles per hour, out-stripping anything else on the waterways.
Southern Iraqs marshlands constitute the largest wetland ecosystem in the Middle East. In the early 1970s, the interconnected lakes, mudflats and wetlands in the lower Tigris-Euphrates basin, extended over 20,000 square kilometers of Iraq and Iran.
Under Saddam Husseins regime 90 percent of the wetlands were lost or damaged by dam construction and drainage operations. This forced the resident Marsh Arabs to move into the towns and cities.
When the regime collapsed in 2003, a UN environmental program began opening floodgates and breaching embankments to bring the water back, supported by local residents and the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources.
But in addition to the 500,000 Marsh Arabs who returned home, smugglers infiltrated the area, using the water as a convenient highway for moving contraband into the country.
Meanwhile, amid the significant Iraq policy and deployment announcements of this week, the Iraqi Ground Force Command deployed two battalions of the Iraqi Army 10th Division from the south of Iraq into Baghdad, in support of the Baghdad Security Plan.
The two Iraqi Battalions, which are now conducting additional training in the Baghdad area, are the 2nd Battalion of the 3rd Brigade of 10 Division and the 3rd Battalion of the 4th Brigade of 10 Division.
Each has deployed with a small coalition Military Training Team embedded within each Battalion - a small number of US personnel and the four UK regular forces personnel who have providing mentoring and support throughout their training.
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