Monday, November 14, 2005

101st Airborne Back in Action

The Screaming Eagles are back in the Land of the Awful Sand. I'll be posting periodic updates in an effort to document their progress. The following update comes from SFC David Abrams...

U.S. combat ops continue to defeat terrorists on street, BAGHDAD, Iraq, November 13, 2005 6:54

Operation National Unity, an on-going operation by Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition Forces to root out terrorists in the Baghdad area, continues to meet with great success, said Task Force Baghdad officials.

"Iraqi and U.S. Soldiers are bravely carrying out their mission to provide a safe and secure environment for the democratic process to grow in Iraq," said Lt. Col. Robert Whetstone, Task Force Baghdad spokesperson. "Terrorist activities continue to attempt to derail that process, while Iraqi Security Force and Coalition Force successes occur daily."

In one 96-hour period alone in November, Task Force Baghdad conducted more than 1,030 patrols, carried out 100 cordon-and-searches and raids, and set up more than 400 tactical checkpoints during aggressive combat operations throughout the capitol city.

While the threat of improvised explosive devices still lingers for Soldiers on patrol, Task Force Baghdad officials report the number of successes far outweigh the number of IEDs struck by humvees and other military vehicles.

During combat operations Nov. 6-11, Coalition Forces detained more than 250 terror suspects, found seven weapons caches, and discovered 37 IEDs before they could be detonated.

This is typical of the missions U.S. Soldiers in Baghdad engage in every week as they work to create an environment where a strong Iraqi Security Force can contain and eventually defeat the insurgency, Whetstone noted.

Task Force Baghdad officials cite operations on Nov. 11 as examples of how U.S. and Iraqi forces are "taking the fight to the terrorists."

For instance, Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment interrupted a suspected assassination attempt in progress in the Ghazaliyah district. Around 6:30 p.m., the U.S. patrol reported taking small-arms fire from three individuals running from a store where they were believed to be intimidating or attempting to assassinate civilians inside. The Soldiers returned fire on the fleeing terrorists, killing two of them. No civilians were harmed in the incident.

Earlier in the day, an Iraqi-U.S. patrol northwest of Baghdad turned an IED strike into an opportunity to nab a terror suspect. The patrol from 2nd Battalion, 70th Armored Regiment, and 2nd Mechanized Battalion, 1st Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division hit the roadside bomb around noon and immediately took small-arms fire from two nearby cars. U.S. Soldiers returned fire and chased the vehicles from the area. The Soldiers returned to the IED site and found a secondary device. An explosives ordnance disposal team was called in to destroy the 155-millimeter round. Meanwhile, the Iraqi Soldiers noticed an individual throw a possible trigger device into a nearby canal. The suspect was detained and processed into the Iraqi judicial system. There were no injuries to Iraqi or U.S. forces during the incident.

In another example of Coalition troops responding with a show of force to a terrorist attack, a patrol from 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry killed a terrorist who fired on them with an AK-47 assault rifle around 7 a.m. south of the Abu Ghraib Prison Facility.Iraqi forces with 1st Battalion, 4th Public Order Brigade operating in Doura reported a success of their own around 5:30 p.m. when they caught a terrorist emplacing an IED along a major highway. A U.S. EOD team recovered the 107-millimeter rocket and the Iraqi Army unit detained the terrorist for questioning.

Other potential IEDs were discovered by U.S. Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team working the streets of east Baghdad.

Around noon, Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment reported finding a 130-millimeter round in the median of a major road. They secured the area and called for an EOD team. The Soldiers also found a secondary device consisting of 120-millimeter and 100-millimeter rounds encased in concrete. EOD recovered both devices.

In another location, Iraqi civilians waved down a patrol from the 26th Forward Support Battalion and told them of a suspicious device at the intersection of two main roads in the area shortly after 3 p.m. The U.S. Soldiers cordoned off the site and called in an EOD team to recover what turned out to be a potentially deadly IED.

"We (U.S. Forces) are not the determining factor with respect to the ultimate defeat of the terrorists—the Iraqi people are," said Col. Joseph DiSalvo, 2nd BCT commander. "The terrorists have no chance as long as the Iraqi people stand up against them." Task Force Baghdad Soldiers also seized weapons and munitions during combat operations Nov. 11.While searching a house, Soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division found three cases of 20-millimeter anti-aircraft ammunition, about 7 million in dinar (equivalent to nearly $5,000), and two loaded AK-47 assault rifles. Two terror suspects were detained at the house and held for further questioning.

Another 2nd Bde., 101st Airborne Div. unit found a cache consisting of four 3-foot rockets at a site southwest of Baghdad.Task Force Baghdad officials said Nov. 11 is just one example of how Operation National Unity is succeeding on all levels to keep the city’s terrorists on the defensive.

By Sgt. 1st Class David Abrams
Task Force Baghdad PAO

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