Modesto, Calif., native Pvt. Chris Meyers provides security in a village near Hichel, Iraq, on March 10. Meyers, a cavalry scout, watched for threats as soldiers of Bandit Troop, 1st Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, talked with local Iraqis about possible insurgents in the village. (Photographer: Spc. Eric Rutherford, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)Soldiers of Bandit Troop, 1st Squadron, 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, spend time with local children in a village near Hichel, Iraq, March 9. Bandit conducted presence patrols into the outlying villages to check for the presence of insurgents who may be using the areas as support zones for the fight in the city of Mosul. (Photographer: Spc. Eric Rutherford, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)Lubbock, Texas, native Sgt. Adam Lofton climbs stairs in an Iraqi police station to provide security from the rooftop threats during a reconciliation program event in Hichel, Iraq, March 10. Lofton is a cavalry scout for Bandit Troop, 1st Squadron, 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment. (Photographer: Spc. Eric Rutherford, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)Lubbock, Texas, native Sgt. Adam Lofton steadies a spotting scope over the shoulder of Pvt. Chris Meyers, as they scan for threats during a reconciliation program event in Hichel, Iraq, March 10. Meyers, of Modesto, Calif., and Lofton are cavalry scouts for Bandit Troop, 1st Squadron, 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment. (Photographer: Spc. Eric Rutherford, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)1st Lt. Adam Moore talks with a local leader about operations Bandit Troop, 1st Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, had conducted near Hichel, Iraq, March 19. Moore, of Elizabethtown, Ky., is a platoon leader for Bandit. The mission was to gauge the local reaction to the capture of a high-value target in the area. (Photographer: Spc. Eric Rutherford, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)Walkerton, Ind., native Pfc. Jeffrey Roberts finishes checking a barn for a suspected insurgent, while Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Marrero, of Puerto Rico, provides security in a village near Hichel, Iraq, March 21. Roberts is a cavalry scout, and Marrero is the scout platoon sergeant for Bandit Troop, 1st Squadron, 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment. (Photographer: Spc. Eric Rutherford, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)D
ispatches from the Front:
AL QAYYARAH, Iraq, April 4, 2008 -- Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, with nearly 2 million people has been called the last terrorist stronghold in Iraq. Combating the insurgents in the city is a constant operation, which is handled by 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. When the fighting in the city takes its toll on the insurgents or they need to rest and re-supply, they run to the outlying rural areas of the Ninewah province to bed-down.
It is in these outlying areas that Tiger, 1st Squadron, 3rd ACR, takes the fight to the insurgents on the run from the city and works to keep the influx of fighters and supplies from making it back into Mosul.
“Our mission is to disrupt foreign fighter flow from the south and west areas of Mosul as safe havens and support zones,” said Maj. Matthew Dooley, Tiger Squadron’s executive officer. “They come south and use these areas to bed-down and to gather and rest before going back into Mosul to cause trouble.”
Tiger and its roughly 800 soldiers have been working in the Vermont-sized area of the Ninewah province for almost four months, and in that time they have seen a lot of progress.
“We have taken our number-one high-value target and a couple other guys on our list,” said Dooley “They are senior leaders that have influence on foreign fighters and flow of weapons into Mosul.”
Tiger has also captured almost 50 caches of weapons, ammunition, bombs and bomb making material, which has forced the insurgents to move, said Dooley.
Of the 40 or so suspected insurgents Tiger has captured, less than 10 have been released. This is due to Tiger making sure they have solid intelligence and enough evidence to put the insurgents away for a long time, said Dooley.
While the main focus for Tiger Squadron in this largely rural area is combating the insurgency to help keep the peace in Mosul, they are also putting an emphasis on helping rebuild the villages and towns that have lived under the shadow of terror for years.
To accomplish this, Tiger’s soldiers perform missions such as presence patrols, logistical convoys, bridge security, kinetic operations and working with locals to meet the needs of the Iraqi people in the area.
“We are continuing to put pressure on all fronts, directly attacking insurgents in their safe havens,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Dorame, Tiger’s commander. “We are out providing security for the people with the Iraqi army (IA) and Iraqi police (IP) and partnering with the local community and government to help develop essential services and economic progress. All of those things have a multiplying effect on each other and continue to push this mission in the right direction.”
That progress is working, but it is a slow, hard process, said Dorame, who added that each time Tiger takes down a cache or a high-value target, it adds to the progress they are making.
Part of the progress is being made by partnering with the IA and IP in the province. Tiger works with one brigade-sized and four battalion-sized IA elements, and around 2,000 IPs.
“I would love to see more IA and IP throughout the area,” said Dorame. “That would be a tremendous success here.”
The IA and IP in the area have the fundamental skills, but they still need continued support to develop, said Dorame.
Tiger is working side by side with the IA and IP, including training at the Iraqi non-commissioned officer academy, now in its third class of about 30 IA Soldiers. The squadron is making sure to allow the Iraqis to take the lead in their area.
“Truly part of the success is from the IA and IP,” said Dorame. “We have been very clear with them that we are the supporting role, and this is their mission that we support.”
The success Tiger is seeing has to do with being proactive when it comes to securing their area.
“You have to get off the forward operating base and get out there,” said Dooley. “We get out there into combat outposts among the population. It puts a constant presence. They see us there every day. The longer you are there, the better it gets, the more you get. The more it builds. You get to a point where there is a continuous information flow, and we are getting to that point now.”
One of the things Tiger has learned by being with the Iraqis every day is that the security issues they face are directly connected to the local economies.
“Part of the security issue is the high unemployment rate,” said Dooley “There is a disconnect between local governments and their needs and the time it takes the Iraqi government to respond. If you don’t do something about that, the insurgency finds a way to exploit that by paying people to do things that they might not normally do, but because they need money, they go out and do it.”
Finding an economic answer to their immediate needs is part of the security rather than just kinetic action, said Dooley, who believes the way forward is to help them stand up, improve their economy and their governments.
For 3rd ACR, there are two fights, said Dorame. The fight in Mosul, which is urban street to street fighting, and Tiger’s fight in the areas outside the city where the enemy would prefer to hide out.
“This fight out here is really a true counterinsurgency fight,” said Dorame. “It is our ability to get in there and partner with the local police and army to collect information from the local people to find them and get them out of there. It is working extremely well.”
Tiger has been working hard in the province since December to deny the insurgency from threatening the people and to keep the insurgents from moving freely in and out of the city. A diverse mission, which his Soldiers are doing remarkably well at accomplishing, said Dorame.
“The area that Tiger Squadron fights in is different in dynamics because it doesn’t have the sectarian issues or a large population center,” said Dorame. “This area is an area where the insurgents have tried to fight the U.S. forces in the population centers and use these areas to control and dominate for use as safe havens. Although it is less intense at times and less dynamic, it is a very complicated problem and it takes the true Soldier-statesmen mentality of partnering with the community to provide for the local people, but at the same time staying vigilant in tracking down the insurgencies. You have to win in both areas simultaneously if you are going to solve the problem in Iraq.”(Story by Spc. Eric A. Rutherford, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.) More Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSIONTags: DOD, Military, War, United States, U.S., Army, Middle East, Iraq, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Multinational Force, coalition, al Qaeda, al Qaida, GWOT, terrorism, photography, photo, photos, pictures, images, photojournalism, Combat Camera Dispatches from the Front
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