FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq -- As the fight for a free and peaceful Iraq continues, key security responsibilities for the newly arrived 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit have fallen to an often-overlooked detachment of MEU Service Support Group 24 -- the Military Police.
Operating out of this forward operating base south of Baghdad, they're never here for very long before being called upon to provide safe passage for Marines and military personnel involved in bringing Iraq a safer tomorrow.
"One of the [good things] about our job is that we're always going to see different places in Iraq," said Cpl. Brandon Sullivan, 22, of Cincinnati.
It may seem with all their traveling that the MPs are able to see all of the danger and excitement Iraq has to offer. While true some extent, the MPs have not encountered hostile fire since they've been here, making many wonder what it is they're doing right.
"So far we haven't been attacked during any of our convoys. All we've seen here so far is tracer rounds," said Cpl. Jared Riske, 23, a military policeman from Concord, Mich. "Some people think it's because we [can drive faster than other military vehicles]. Others say [it's] because the [humvee mounted] weapons intimidate the insurgents. I think it's because before we go out I pray for everyone to come back safely. And as long as I do that, I think we'll come home [unharmed] every time."
Of course, the Marines prefer to keep divine intervention in reserve, relying on continuous training, heavy firepower, and constant reminders that, in this component, complacency kills.
For the MEU's military police, gratification cannot be found in medals or citations, but in the knowledge that they have completed their mission to protect their fellow Marines and provide the groundwork for a safe, sovereign Iraq.
"At least when I get out [of the military]," says Cpl. Matt Leer, 22, an MP and Pennsylvania Furnace, Pa., native with less than a year left on his Marine Corps contract, "no one can say that I didn't do anything for my country."