By Cpl. Chris T. Mann
Regimental Combat Team 1
FALLUJAH, Iraq – Scout snipers with Teams 2 and 4 of Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, have taken on a new role during their deployment to Iraq.
The group of Marines, trained to conduct hidden movements and long-range target strikes, are now tasked as their battalion's quick reaction force to serve as the first coalition forces responders to any emergency.
"Being with the QRF means that we can be called out anywhere in the AO [area of operation] at anytime and support anyone," said Cpl. Nicolas B. Abernathy, a 25-year-old scout sniper from Las Vegas. "We have to remain versatile; our missions keep us working on many tasks and we need to be ready for anything that comes our way."
Since arriving to Iraq in October, Marines with the QRF team have trained and drilled to respond to emergencies as quickly as possible. Marines with the team say they are typically in their vehicles with their gear in less than three minutes.
"After arriving in country, we quickly learned to be a QRF and adapt to the changes," said Abernathy.
"We make it a point to be at the right place at the right time," added Sgt. Ryan D. Wiley, a 23-year-old scout sniper from Forest Grove, Ore. "We are doing what it takes to get this new job that has been given to us done."
During a recent mission, the team responded to a unit pinned down by enemy forces. The team quickly maneuvered to where the other unit was located and provided instantaneous support during a mass casualty evacuation.
"These guys immediately responded to the urgent situation and moved to the side of a building to provide support, and this allowed the other team to clear the building," said Staff Sgt. Ismael G. Bamba, a 32-year-old platoon sergeant from Ivory Coast, Africa.
"The team trains so they are nowhere to be seen, nowhere to be heard, and they can quickly react to situations at a moments notice," said Bamba. "They are using these skills while applying them to their QRF duties and also use their sniper rifles to provide support to units calling for them."
Although the Marines function as a QRF, they continue to occasionally conduct sniper missions, offering the battalion added capabilities.
The team also provides convoy escorts for service members traveling through Fallujah and occasionally provides personnel security for Iraqi city council members.
"These guys are doing a good job of being a QRF and applying the skills they have learned in the past to their current missions," said Bamba.