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While it wasn’t wrapped with a bow and placed under a tree, elements of the Okinawa-based 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit got something for Christmas that ensured the holidays are a little safer for U.S. and friendly forces in Iraq.

The Marines seized a weapons cache and detained two individuals during a security patrol south of Ar Rutbah Saturday night, according to a 31st MEU news release.

The patrol observed “14 military-aged males loading materials onto a trailer outside of a house,” the release stated. When the Marines investigated, they uncovered from 50 to 75 155 mm high explosive projectiles and empty ammunition crates.

After the find was made, the house’s owner and the truck’s driver were detained. No casualties were reported during the operation.

Further inspection, the release stated, disclosed an ammunition crate filled with military publications, including a military-type photo album. The publications contained a picture of Saddam Hussein and photos that appeared to be of U.S. military tactics.

The 31st MEU conducts the security patrols in an effort to disrupt insurgent activities in the Al Anbar province. Seizing weapons caches decreases the insurgents’ stockpile of munitions needed to produce improvised explosive devices, the release stated.

The approximately 2,300-strong 31st MEU arrived in Kuwait in September for training before heading into Iraq. The unit was to leave Iraq in January but its tour recently was extended so it could help provide security for the upcoming elections. The unit now possibly will leave the country at the end of February.

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