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BEIJI, Iraq — For the scouts of 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, seeking out insurgents in Iraq’s oil-rich north is a matter of persistence and footwork.

Instead of doing the customary mounted patrol in armored Humvees, the scouts, who are part of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, split into squad-size groups and roam the streets of Beiji on foot.

Scout Platoon leader 1st Lt. Ravi Venkataramani, 23, of Cincinnati, said he’s found much more insurgent activity while patrolling on foot than on drive-by patrols.

“Basically, that’s how we’ve had our success,” he said. “Had we done this in the beginning, I think it would’ve been very different right now.”

“The first night we did it, we caught three guys with [a rocket-propelled grenade],” said Staff Sgt. Dennis Kramer, 24. “And it just snowballed from there.”

A local Beiji sheik speaks with 1st Lt. Ravi Venkataramani, a platoon leader for Army scouts with the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment.

At twilight, a gun truck waits in the shadow of the largest mosque in Beiji, Iraq.

Pfc. Eric Sanders, 27, of Waynesboro, Pa., prepares for a dismounted patrol through the dark streets of Beiji.

Scouts conduct a search recently of a home in Beiji.

Back at the base, 1st Lt. Ravi Venkataramani digs into a 3 a.m. pizza.

It's Chewbacca meets G.I. Joe: Several members of Scout platoon, like Spc. John Herman, 20, of Green Bay, Wisc., have ornamented their body armor with torn-up sandbags, in order to blend in better with their surroundings.

Sgt. 1st Class Mike Caddel, 34, of Perryton, Texas, at left, searches the car of a man found outside after the 10 p.m. curfew. Patrolling on foot, he said, “is underrated. We've done more damage walking around than other units have sitting in their trucks.”


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