November 19th, 2006 08:55 EST
AIF cache complex Found by ISF, Coalition Forces
TIKRIT, Iraq – Task Force Lightning Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army, and the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, dealt a blow to anti-Iraqi forces by killing nearly 50 insurgents and capturing 20 while uncovering a large cache complex.
During this combined operation, Task Force Lightning Soldiers from the IA and coalition uncovered six caches, many of which were buried in underground bunkers. The caches included over 400,000 rounds of small-arms ammunition, 15,000 rounds of heavy machine gun ammunition, five mortar bipods, three heavy machine guns, three anti-tank weapons, two recoilless rifles and numerous mortar rounds, grenades, flares and artillery rounds. Additionally, the Soldiers noticed an abandoned Nissan truck with false license plates. Upon searching the vehicle, the Soldiers uncovered a number of IED making material and anti-Iraqi forces items such as batteries, cellular phones, blasting caps, explosives, propaganda materials and a large amount of U.S. dollars.
“We made a significant impact on the enemy’s ability to conduct any type of anti-Iraqi force operations,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Poppas, 5-73rd commander.
Elements of the 3/1-5 IA, and 5-73rd Cav., conducted the five-day mission, engaging insurgents while emplacing IEDs in the roads or maneuvering in tunnel and canal systems, staging for attacks.
“The Iraqi Army fought in partnership with us,” Poppas said. “They were dismounted; walking through the canals, in the lead in most cases, fighting side-by-side to root out this enemy insurgent that was dug in to prepared positions.”
Coalition forces used close air support and attack helicopters to assist in the fight with bombs and rockets.
“This was an operation of opportunity,” said Poppas, “through this operation we destroyed command and control structures, destroyed caches of arms, heavy weapons, hundreds of thousands of rounds, and enemy fighters.”
Coalition force units also conducted road-clearing missions and had several IEDs explode, resulting in the deaths of six IA soldiers. During the fighting, small-arms fire killed two CF Soldiers. The deaths of these Coalition Soldiers were discussed in a prior release of information.
Aside from the impact on the enemy’s stronghold, members of the unit also conducted engagements throughout the surrounding villages.
“At the same time, while we are having these direct kinetic operations, we are having non-kinetic engagements with the families of the village who also want the insurgents out of their area so they can return to a sense of normalcy,” Poppas said.
The items discovered in the caches were transferred to Kirkush Military Training Base. A weapons team will determine what items can be transferred to further equip the Iraqi police. The remaining items will be taken to a location for controlled detonation by an explosive ordnance disposal unit.