January 21st, 2007 05:33 EST
Soldiers clear village, find weapons
JANABI VILLAGE — Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldiers have been working hard to get the Iraqi Soldiers trained to enable them to take over Iraq’s security themselves.
So the recent success of the joint operation Jan. 15, which put the entire 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division together with Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment Military Transition Team and the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd BCT, was a victory not only against terror, but for the troops themselves.
The operation went smoothly with 600 troops participating.
Some troops air-assaulted into the village under cover of darkness, while the main force convoyed to the village, marching in at first light to search houses and fields, seeking weapons caches and suspected terrorists.
“It went very well for such a large operation,” said Capt. Art Stringer, a native of Dardanelle, Ark., and the field artillery effects trainer, who planned much of the mission.
“It was a complex operation – the joint air assault, and a large ground assault. Once on site, we used Task Force Iron Claw, engineers and explosive ordnance disposal, and they all combined very well,” Stringer said.
“Any time you can let the Iraqis test their boundaries, it’s good,” he said of the Iraqi army involvement. “It’s their battle space, and it helps them build confidence in themselves and in the U.S. forces.”
The operation, netted 87 detainees, 12 of whom were on the Iraqi Army blacklist, and several large caches of weaponry, which included rocket-propelled grenades and launchers. A large cache of improvised explosive device making materials was also recovered, which included cell phones, wire and other hardware.
Some residents directed the troops to the homes of suspicious people.
“We got information on two of the guys on the blacklist,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Myers, a native of Gasport, N.Y., who serves on a MTT, to one of the Iraqi Soldiers. The squad he was with questioned a man who gave them the information.
“The Iraqi Soldiers are very motivated,” Myers said. “They’re doing a lot better than they were at first; they’re doing more complex missions. They need some more experience with map reading and such, but they did an excellent job creating a secure perimeter. They’re doing well.”
First Lt. Bobby Temple, of Atlanta, concurred.
“They’ve got good situational awareness,” he said. “Our navigational and communications assets are still essential to them - they don’t have global positioning systems or even maps, but they’re doing better. And once they’ve been to a place, they can get there again, no problem.”
The Iraqi Army took a very active role in the searches and planning, Stringer said.
“The mentorship the U.S. forces are giving the Iraqi Soldiers is very helpful. We’re seeing a great increase in their ability from the hard work of our guys,” he said.
“Without the effort of the Iraqi Army being reciprocated, we couldn’t do this,” he added.
(By U.S. Army Spc. Christina McCann, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. Public Affairs)