Thursday, December 22, 2005
The Provisional MP's
Camp Farrar, named after Sgt. Andrew K. Farrar Jr., who was killed in action in the Al Anbar Province on Jan. 28, 2005
Corporal Aaron A. DeSalvo with his Military Working Dog, Bako at Camp Falluja, Iraq, December 22, 2005
I spent the day with Marines from the 5/14 Provisional Military Police Battalion, located at Camp Farrar, a small enclosed commune located within the perimeter of Camp Fallujah. The camp was named after Sgt. Andrew K. Farrar Jr., who was killed in action in the Al Anbar Province on Jan. 28, 2005. Units often rename their camps throughout the area of operations or as an honor to a hero in their service.
The military police officer's death was a tragedy for his unit, A Company, 2nd Military Police Battalion, and even more so for his family. Farrar was killed on his 31st birthday. The Weymouth, Mass., native left behind a wife and two children. He also left a lasting impression on his fellow Marines. "I think about Andrew everyday," said Sgt. Jonathan Bates, an accident investigator stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C. "He taught me that Marines want to be led, and
that it's my job to step up and lead them." Farrar's impact on Bates went
beyond the ranks. "I had the privilege of calling him my friend," he said.
While at Camp Farrar, I interviewed Several Marines, to include the Battalion S-6 Officer (CommO), the Officer in Charge of the Evaluation Assessment training Team (EATT), the unit legal clerk, and a female Regional Detention Facility (RDF) guard team member. It was an eclectic collection of Marines, ranging in rank from Lance Corporal to Captain. Although I was planning to travel to Ar Ramadi and Blue Diamond tomorrow, I have decided at the last minute to cancel my trip to continue my collection efforts with 5/14, thereby permitting myself to enjoy Christmas day in the comfort of my own little home away from home. I'll head north sometime after Christmas.
The last time 5th Battalion, 14th Marines, 4th Marine Division, was deployed to a combat zone, Franklin D. Roosevelt was president and the United States was in a world war against the Japanese in the South Pacific. Although 5th Bn., 14th Marines is an artillery unit by trade, they deployed as a provisional military police battalion with Marines coming from various active duty and reserve units throughout the Marine Corps. It includes 1st Battalion, 14th Marines, an active duty MP Company from Camp Pendleton, a TOW Company from 25th Regiment, MP’s from Louisiana and Minnesota, and Marines from 4th Force Reconnaissance from Hawaii and Reno, Nevada. The battalion is tasked with four main missions while serving in Iraq: area security, convoy security, law enforcement and operating five detention facilities throughout Al Anbar province.
Many of the reservists are civilian law enforcement officers or corrections personnel who are applying their civilian skill sets within their new environment. The very first interview I conducted was with the Battalion Executive Officer, himself a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration. These Marines have come together from all walks of life, intent on contributing to the continuing fight for democracy in Iraq.
Following today’s interviews, I stopped by the Military Working Dog (MWD) facility to take some photographs of the dog handlers with their canines. Corporal Aaron A. DeSalvo recognized me as I sauntered into the compound and immediately volunteered to bring his dog “Bako” out of his doggy-prison and into the yard, which DeSalvo refers to as the dog’s playground. As I prepared to snap some photos of Bako, the dog snapped back, growling and barking at me from several feet away. Holding Bakos’ leash tightly, Cpl. DeSalvo let me know in no uncertain terms that I should quicken my pace before Bako got the best of his leash. I didn’t argue. Although Bako is trained to sniff out explosives and other incendiary devices, I have no doubt that he might easily double as an attack dog. I didn't stick around to find out.