FORWARD OPERATING BASE ISKANDARIYAH, Iraq -- With mortar rounds and improvised explosive devices an ever present danger here, Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, including the Leathernecks from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, are doing their part to make this area safe for themselves and the Iraqi people who live here. Iskandariyah is located in the Babil province of Iraq just south of Baghdad, close to the Euphrates River. Over the past few months, the forward operating base located here has been hit with mortar fire from Iraqi insurgents and the surrounding area has been littered with improvised explosive devices.Mortar rounds used by the insurgents can be fired up to 5,000 meters from its intended target and are easily moved and fired from different locations, making them harder to track. Improvised Explosive Devices are even more dangerous and a lot harder to locateWith command of the area now under Marine control, 1st Bn., 2nd Marines is taking a very active part in making the area safe on its watch. "We're doing what we can to make our presence [in the area] known," said Captain Stephen Kloth, commanding officer Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, whose unit arrived here July 22. "This includes counter mortar patrols, convoys, and route reconnaissance in the zone." The Charlie Company Marines believe that their presence in the area will be enough to deter further attacks allowing the Marines to continue operations in the region."We have been out looking for clues as to where the insurgents were firing the mortars from," said Pfc. Tommy T. Smith a rifleman from Middlesboro, Ky. "We have had cobras as our guardian angels, and that has helped us out a lot."According to Smith, the Marines from Charlie Co., have already found a mortar pit and tube.The Marines are also spending time talking to the Iraqis trying to create a good relationship between them and the Marines operating here.Along with conducting patrols and convoys, Charlie Co., has also been busy improving the living conditions in and around the base here. They have also been busy providing security for the FOB and escorting important visitors to the area."We are standing post at the front gate also," said Smith. "We are checking the vehicles as they come in using dogs to help sniff out explosives."This occupied most of the company's time. "We've been [really busy] pulling shifts and standing post," said Sgt. Anthony Sanders, a Winston Salem, N.C. native. With much of their time dedicated to the mission at hand, the Marine presence is being felt by the community and may be the key to maintaining good relations with the Iraq people here.