March 17th, 2008 05:35 EST
Operation Marne Rugged Pressures Extremists
CAMP VICTORY, Iraq, March 16, 2008 " On the heels of two operations south of Baghdad, coalition forces of Multinational Division Center are pushing further south to squeeze extremists during Operation Marne Rugged, which began yesterday.
The operation is covering a rural area southeast of Baghdad, south of the Tigris River in the area of operation of, 3rd Infantry Division`s 4th Brigade Combat Team and the 8th Iraqi Army`s 3rd Brigade.
The establishment of Patrol Base Summers, a joint Iraqi Army and coalition forces base, is one of the operation`s goals. It is named for Staff Sgt. Vincent Summers, who paid the ultimate price while serving with the 3rd Infantry Division`s 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment.
"We have found that when we put Iraqi Army and coalition forces in a patrol base in an area like Summers, the population comes to us and gives us that refined intelligence, so that we can do precise operations against any al-Qaeda that may be in this area," said Col. Tom James, commander of 4th Brigade Combat Team.
In addition to establishing the patrol base and eliminating al Qaeda and any other extremists, Operation Marne Rugged will focus on capacity building. In anticipation of the operation, coalition forces and Iraqi Army troops have already identified approximately 2,500 Iraqi security volunteers who are eager to transition into Sons of Iraq in the short-term and into Iraqi Security Forces in the long-term.
"We see two major tasks that we have to accomplish: One, we have to integrate the Iraqi security volunteers," James said. "The other is to provide quick-impact, small projects to the local civilians."
Iraqi Col. Ali Abdul Hussein, commander of the Iraqi brigade, also cited the importance of local projects, in particular repairing water pumps that he said were damaged by terrorists.
Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of MND-C, told Hussein that Coalition forces could help the IA fix the pumps in addition to facilitating other projects.
"I believe we have a window of opportunity," Lynch said. "You see, I`ve got this idea to transition from security to stability, and stability is about jobs, services, schools, and we can help with all that."
(U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Connors is assigned to the Multinational Division Center Public Affairs Office.)
By Sgt. Michael Connors, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service