Dec 11, 2007
South of Baghdad with Task Force Marne
To look at the news coming from Iraq these days, it seems that there is either the expected bad news about IED’s and American casualties, or there is no news at all. But this lack of news does not mean that nothing is happening in Iraq any longer, and today OnPoint brings you a slice of a few days in the life of your Soldiers fighting south of Baghdad with Task Force Marne.
Both of these stories come from Sgt. Kevin Stabinsky, 2nd BCT, 3rd Inf. Div.
Concerned Local Citizens in Arab Jabour
An insurgent safe-house in Arab Jabour was destroyed Dec. 4 in a JDAM strike. Dropped by an Air Force F-16, the operation was a combined effort conducted on the ground by Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga., and the Concerned Local Citizens in the area.
The citizens, led by Salah Mubarak, conducted the mission after they experienced a number of attacks around the abandoned building, said Capt. Eric Melloh, commander of Company A, 1-30th Inf. Regt. when the CLCs conducted a daylight search of a suspected insurgent base of operations.
Tired of the violence, local residents including Mubarak’s cousin, who owned the structure, took proactive measures to stop the attacks. The citizens went to the building to gather intelligence and document anything found with a digital camera supplied by Melloh. Capt Melloh added that the citizens were aware of the enemy’s tactic of booby-trapping houses and found a pressure plate improvised explosive device on the second floor roof entrance. The initiator led to a recliner near the door, which the CLCs cut open to investigate. Packed inside the chair, Melloh said, was about 50 pounds of unknown bulk explosives, which could have killed an entire infantry squad.
The infantry squad responsible for this area was led by Sgt. Shawn Moehnke, who leads the 2nd Squad, 3rd Platoon, Company A. Moehnke said he respects the bravery of the CLC group. Often they take on high-risk missions in the name of securing their homes from terrorist threats.“They’re pretty good (at finding IEDs),” he added. “We trust them.” 1st Lt. Russell Deal, Moehnke’s platoon leader, agreed, “I think they do a great job. They are fantastic at finding IEDs and caches.” Then the Americans, with their trained EOD’s, defuse and destroy what the CLC’s find.
“Each of us loves something about the other,” said Deal. He said his men love the CLCs’ skill at finding things and gathering intelligence, while the CLCs love the combat power and weaponry the Soldiers bring. “In this sense we work together very well,” Deal added. “This is a great example of us working together with the Concerned Local Citizens.”
Motivated by the success, Deal said the CLCs and Soldiers will continue to push forward, riding the momentum against terrorists. “We’ll follow up with continued recon patrols and over-watches. We’ll keep pushing them further south.” Deal credits the partnership with the CLCs to good community relations between the Soldiers and the Arab Jabour residents. Knowing one day the Soldiers will leave, Deal said much of the time together is spent teaching them skills to take care of themselves, their families, community and nation. “With some good training they’ll do just fine,” Deal said about his CLC partners.
US – Iraqi Army Continue to Push Out Enemy Forces
Several operations led to the reduction of enemy fighters and insurgent resources Dec. 5 in Hawr Rajab and Arab Jabour.
In Hawr Rajab, Soldiers of Troop B, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga., detained four individuals during Operation Rounders, an overnight operation that searched a neighborhood for insurgents and weapons.
“This is pushing our operations into the east,” said 1st Lt. Ryan Resslera the XO for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 6-8th Cav. Regt.“This is giving us a foothold to better help the people.”
In another mission in Hawr Rajab, an Air Force fighter jet in support of the 6-8th Cav. Regt., destroyed an illegal canal crossing point with a GBU-31 laser guided smart bomb. Such crossings are often used by insurgent forces to circumnavigate Coalition Force checkpoints.
In Arab Jabour, Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, conducted several operations to eliminate insurgent resources. Soldiers of Company C, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment located an improvised explosive device while conducting a presence patrol in the area. The IED consisted of two 57 mm projectiles attached to a detonation cord.
Another IED was discovered by Concerned Local Citizens and reported to Soldiers of Company B, 1-30th Inf. Regt. While investigating the initial IED, an explosive ordnance disposal team in support of the Soldiers located a cache of 100 pounds of unknown bulk explosives.
Both the IED, which consisted of one anti-personnel mine with two 155 mm artillery rounds stacked beneath, and the explosives were destroyed in a controlled detonation.
Nearby, CLCs also discovered another weapons cache. The cache consisted of four 120 mm mortar rounds, two 60 mm mortar rounds, two 57 mm projectiles with detonation cord attached and one rocket-propelled grenade. The citizens took the cache to Soldiers of Company D, 1-30th Inf. Regt. who were conducting an overwatch in the area.
In a separate situation, an air weapons team was called in by Soldiers of the 833rd Military Transition Team. The team, which is training Soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division, called for the strike after being engaged by small arms fire from two buildings and two mud huts.
The structures were engaged by an Apache helicopter’s 30 mm cannons and Hellfire missiles, killing three insurgents. No Coalition Forces were injured in the attack.“The training they are receiving is helping them and that training is enabling them to take care of their area,” said Capt. Shane Williams, 833rd MiTT operations officer. Williams, a native of Plant City, Fla., said although the IA still needs some U.S. enablers such as close air support, on the ground the Iraqis were able to handle themselves superbly.