HIT, Iraq -- Pushing out from their combat outposts, Marines from Battalion Landing Team, 1st Bn., 2nd Marine Regiment, recently began conducting foot and motorized patrols in the city of Hit, Iraq. During these patrols, Marines executed counter mortar and improvised explosive device sweeps on desert roads and in local neighborhoods to keep coalition forces and Iraqi citizens safe from insurgent attacks. The patrols are part of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable)’s ongoing counterinsurgency efforts in the Al Anbar province. “We are conducting these patrols to make our presence known to both the locals and insurgents,” said 1st Sgt. Jacky Evans, of Laurel, Miss., Bravo Co. 1st Sergeant. “These Marines are doing an outstanding job, day in and day out. They go out there with no fear. They know they have a mission to do, and are going to get it done.” As part of the patrols, Marines with Bravo Company are also conducting what they refer to as “house calls.” The purpose of these house calls is two-fold – to talk to the residents of Hit to find out if they have noticed any suspicious activity and to ensure the citizens of Hit are adhering to Iraqi weapons ordinances. These ordinances limit the number and types of weapons that each household can contain, and are designed to prevent insurgents from stockpiling arms and explosives. Thus far, the Marines of Bravo Company and their attached comrades from the Iraqi army have confiscated numerous weapons, including assault rifles, grenade launchers, and even a complete mortar system. “The people here are friendly and have been a big help,” said Evans. “They want to live free, without having to worry about insurgents, and that’s what we are trying to give them.” Evans and the other Bravo Company Marines credit their continued success on several factors, including the extensive Security and Stability Operations and Military Operations in Urban Terrain training they conducted prior to leaving the United States. Equipment-wise, the widely-used Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight scope on the Marines’ assault rifles enables the individuals to see further than with the naked eye, and without having to fumble with binoculars. This training and equipment, coupled with Bravo’s growing resume of first-hand experience, means they will continue to effectively drive a wedge between the insurgents and peace-loving Iraqi people they have terrorized for so long. “We have to stay aggressive,” said Lance Cpl. Daniel Bell, of Martinsburg, W.V., a squad leader in Bravo Company. “That’s why we do these patrols every day. We can’t let the insurgents think they have the upper hand.” In addition to BLT 1/2, the 22nd MEU (SOC) consists of its Command Element, MEU Service Support Group 22, and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (Reinforced). The MEU is operating with the 2nd Marine Division. For more information on the 22nd MEU (SOC)’s role in Operation Iraqi Freedom, visit the unit’s web site at http://www.22meu.usmc.mil.