The Battalion

3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment (3/2) was first activated in WWII, and 3/2 Marines are known as the “Betio Bastards” in reference to the Battle of Tarawa in 1943. There the battalion stormed ashore on the main island of Betio, and after heavy losses vanquished the fanatical Japanese defenders.

Decades later, 3/2 landed on a different battlefield,  From February thru early September 2005, the battalion was deployed to the district of Al-Qaim, Iraq within Anbar Province. Operating on the banks of the ancient Euphrates river, hard alongside Iraq’s western border with Syria, they experienced some of the most intense combat in Iraq during that timeframe.

Stretched thin and facing fanatical enemies, they carried out their mission in a critical place at a pivotal time.  Several of the engagements they fought there have become legendary in the Marine Corps.

The Author

zionheadshotI am not a Marine.  But over my own career as a U.S. Air Force officer (active duty and in the reserves), I developed admiration and respect for the Marines.  Every one I worked with was dedicated, innovative and operationally focused.

I have deployed to Iraq, but not to Al-Qaim.  During 2004/2005 I staged from Qatar into Iraq for several short stints. Then, during the height of the “surge” in 2007, I was attached to the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, south of Baghdad.

I certainly do not claim to be a frontline warrior.  I am what the Marines call a POG (person other than grunt).  But I did come to understand quite personally both the overall operational realities in Iraq and the dangerous conditions that our troops lived and fought in.

After the 2007 deployment, I began considering writing something about the Marines’ campaign to secure the western border.  The more I researched, the more intrigued I became.  Finally I started putting pen to paper to write a book, a unique historical account.  I suggest you read the Preface, which explains a bit more.

–Roger “Ajax” Trueblood, USAF LtCol (retired)

Here’s more of my background, from an email exchange I had with Chris Ieva (former Commander of 3/2’s Kilo Company):

I’m a retired Air Force intel guy, but I’m actually very attuned to ground operations, COIN precepts, the progression of strategy and operations in Iraq, and the origins of the Awakening.  In 2004/05, I served a tour at the CAOC at Al-Udeid AB in Qatar, but with several in-and-out trips into Iraq. I was providing intel support to a ground Task Force around Balad, so struggled (like everyone then) to understand the multi-faceted, fast-morphing insurgency. Then, in 2007, I was attached to the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division during the surge and was involved in small exploitation teams supporting maneuver units south of Baghdad. I was at FOB Kalsu in the ‘southern belt’ and then out by Al-Kut and the Iranian border, trying to help stanch the flow of EFPs and other ‘accelerants’.  The effects of the Awakening were obvious and exciting.

My son and I, during a brief and fortuitous meeting at Camp Slayer, Iraq, summer of 2007.

Also, I’m the father of an Army Ranger, in the 75th RGR REGT.  He’s part of those ‘upper tier’ operators you mentioned, with 12 combat deployments in IZ and AF. So I have a very personal connection to someone at the spear-tip, and have learned much from him, in both concrete and intangible ways.

And, being an intel guy from way back, I have a knack for putting pieces together to form the bigger picture, and ‘filling in the holes’.  At this point, I’ve been studying the campaign in west Anbar for several years, and have amassed quite a chunk of references and reports.  And recently I’ve started reaching many 3/2 vets through Facebook. They have expanded my understanding in many ways.

I’m not saying this to impress, just so you know I’m not your typical ‘outsider’ (like a reporter, an academic or a staff researcher) coming in to skim off the surface. Except for 3/2 vets who were there, I think it would be hard to find anyone else that understands more about your 2005 deployment, the dynamics of your AO and the operational environment. I have truly been digging deep.


3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines and the fight for Al-Qaim, Iraq

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