101st Airborne Pounds Insurgents with Iron Hammer
Dispatches from the Front:
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SUMMERALL, Nov. 24, 2007 -- 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division troops recently completed their first major offensive operation in the Salah Ad-Din province, since their arrival in theater in early October. Operation Bulldog Hammer, part of the larger Operation Iron Hammer, was designed to stifle al Qaida insurgents in cities like Bayji and Suniyah and to promote the continuing reconciliation effort here.
Various elements of the storied "Bastogne" Brigade along with their counterparts from the 4th Iraqi Army Division and Iraqi Police, conducted a series of simultaneous, combined operations, to disrupt terrorist activities in the largely Sunni area just north of Tikrit. Operations included raids on suspected insurgent safe-houses, as well as exhaustive searches for weapons caches and bomb-making materials.
“The operation went well,” said Cpt. Michael Sykes, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, who attributed the success to the effectiveness of Iraqi Security Forces working along side Coalition forces. “We worked well together and they took the ball and ran with it,” he said.
“Every time we go out and we work together, it boosts their confidence, they learn from us and gain experience,” said Infantryman Spc. Wesley Dobbs, an Infantryman with Abu Company, 1/327th. “It's a lot of help to have them out here, because they can interact with the locals better than we can,” he said.
“We appreciate your help,” said Iraqi Army Col. Hamid, 4th Iraqi Army Division. “This is our country and we will rebuild it again.”
An array of weapons were confiscated during the offensive phase of Iron Bulldog which was kicked off with a Screaming Eagle style air-assault that saw Iraqi Security Forces actually outnumber their U.S. partners.
The Iraqi Security Forces now have the capability to reach out and touch the bad-guys in remote locations, said Maj. Brad Mock, operations officer, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment.
“During the length of the operation ISF along side our Bulldog Soldiers have conducted multiple operations targeting specific threats to the security of this area,” said Mock. “With the ISF in the lead and our Soldiers there supporting them, we have made an impact on securing Bayji and its surrounding communities.”
Three caches were discovered, which included (21) mortar rounds, three landmines, eight hand-grenades and materials used to make improvised explosive devices.
Bulldog Soldiers along with their Iraqi counterparts also snatched nearly (50) AK-47 assault rifles off the streets during raids conducted on individual homes.
“Anytime we find that stuff, we save lives,” said Sykes, “American and Iraqi.”
ISF and 1st BCT troops also detained (43) suspected insurgents and discovered (23) IEDs during the (10)-day operation.
“The real long term success of the operation comes from the Iraqi people stepping up to the plate,” said Sykes. “Currently there are more than (600) ‘Concerned Local Citizens’ (CLC) in 1st Brigade’s area of operations who serve in a sort of neighborhood watch capacity, keeping cities like Bayji and Suniyah safe for the local citizenry.”
During the operation, more than (230) local Iraqi citizens volunteered for the CLC program which has been an effective deterrent against terrorist violence in the area.
“Strengthening local ties is important to fighting the terrorists here,” said Sykes. “They (Iraqi citizens) are finally starting to realize that they outnumber the handful of bad guys in their town, and they're starting to do something about it,” he said.
Col. Hamid agrees. “The citizens of Bayji are honorable people. There are two ways that men can go here. They can either be good guys, or they can be killed. We must wait and see.”
(Story by Spc. Rick Rzepka, 101st Airborne Division)
Related: Combat Camera: Forces Pound al-Qaida in Operation Iron Hammer
Tags: DOD, War, Military, GWOT, terrorism, al Qaeda, al Qaida, Middle East, Operation Iraqi Freedom, United States, U.S., coalition, Iraq, Dispatches from the Front, Multinational Force
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