OEF Update, Aug. 3, 2009: Pre-Election Operation Disables Enemy in Afghanistan
Dispatches from the Front:
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Aug. 3, 2009 -- Afghan and U.S. forces completed an operation July 31 aimed at improving security for Afghanistan's upcoming presidential election.
Afghan security forces and Combined Joint Task Force 82 conducted Operation Champion Sword to disrupt enemy cells that have displayed increased activity linked to the scheduled Aug. 20 election. The 25th Infantry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team primarily conducted operations in the Sabari and Terezayi districts of Afghanistan's Khost province.
"The purpose of this operation was to remove enemy elements from the Sabari district and to target the major players in the area who are not only targeting Sabari, but also facilitating the terror operations throughout the entire Khost province," said Army Capt. Pat Tabin, commander of Company D, 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, who conducted missions in Sabari district.
"Part of this is to disrupt what we know the enemy is going to try to do during elections, and the other part is that Sabari needs to be cleaned up. They go hand in hand," he said.
The weeklong operation consisted of daily air-assault missions, and produced the capture of 14 known militants in Khost. The suspects are believed to be homemade bomb facilitators, suppliers and emplacers who targeted civilians, Afghan security forces and members of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.
"A lot of the key players have been removed from the battlefield, which contributes to our understanding of the enemy and has greatly increased our effectiveness," Tabin said.
The force also seized five large caches in Khost province that contained bomb-making materials, AK-47 assault rifles, small-arms weapons and munitions, hand grenades, dozens of mortar rounds and casings, large sums of money and myriad medical supplies.
"The benefit of destroying caches is that we remove those weapons off the battlefield," Tabin explained. "This affects the enemy in two ways: one, we remove the weapons from [the insurgents] who are out there trying to blow people up for money and take it out of his hands, and two, we are making the financiers pay, because they have to replace the weapons."
A militant was killed while attempting to attack paratroopers who were providing security for a search team. The rest of the operation proceeded without incident.
"[The operation] was successful; we caught the bad guys," said Army 1st Lt. Dan Perpich, platoon leader for Company D. "The intelligence they generated is going to push further operations in this district and the province as a whole."
(From a Combined Joint Task Force 82 news release.)
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