WASHINGTON, Sep. 4, 2006 – U.S. Marines from Regimental Combat Team 5 found hundreds of weapons recently during Operation Rubicon in Mushin, Iraq, west of Habbaniyah, U.S. officials reported. The Marines, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment and 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, seized more than 500 mortar rounds, nearly 100 artillery rounds, more than 130 rocket-propelled grenades, an excess of 120 grenades, 22 mines, 10 mortar tubes, 20 rifles and machine guns, 18 sets of body armor and various other items including binoculars and bayonets.
"This area was definitely an insurgent stronghold," said Cpl. Brandon M. Stair, 25, a team leader assigned to 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, who was among the group that discovered the cache sites. The insurgents, Stair said, had stored "stuff for the long fight, and they had stuff for tomorrow."
One cache yielded 500 blasting caps, each one capable of detonating a single improvised explosive device. Another cache yielded mortars. Another was a stash of sniper rifles. "Every cache was a separate set-up," explained 35-year-old Gunnery Sergeant Kenneth A. Westgate, assigned to 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion.
"We usually find just mortars or just guns. These had a mix of everything." Sgt. Joshua D. Cross, a 26-year-old reconnaissance team leader, said. A local Iraqi thanked the Marines for helping to clear the area of insurgents, Cross said. "He was real grateful for what we were doing there," the Marine said.