16 January 2006

A Good Day in Western Iraq

Great report by 1st Lt. Rob Dolan, Marines of 3/1 and Iraqi Army soldiers unearth weapons caches, to which I've added some photos from the region.

BARWANAH, Iraq(Jan. 15, 2006) -- The day is chilly and windy in the middle of a wadi on the outskirts of Barwanah where aside from the view of the city, there is nothing except barren desert.

Iraqi Army soldiers and U.S. Marines with 2nd Platoon, Company L, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, were conducting routine security patrols roughly 500 meters east of southern Barwanah Jan.14 and heading back to their base after a long day’s work.

That is when Friday, one of Company L’s interpreters, noticed a discoloration in the dirt. ( ... )

The Iraqi soldiers and U.S. Marines conducted a thorough search of the area and unearthed a total of 11 buried weapons caches within a 300 meter radius that terrorists planned to use during attacks in the area. ( ... )

“There were 12 Iraqi Army soldiers directly involved in finding and digging up these caches. This gives them a sense of ownership and pride in what they’re doing,” said 2nd Lt. Geoff Meno, 2nd Platoon Commander with Company L.

Although these caches were found by Marines and Iraqi Army soldiers patrolling, citizens of the Haditha region have increasingly provided information to disrupt insurgent activities so their community will be safe from insurgent attacks.

( ... ) If not found, these weapons are employed to kill Coalition Forces and innocent Iraqi civilians. For example, the day following the Iraqi National Parliamentary Elections insurgents targeted a polling site in Barwanah with indirect fire, only to kill four children and wound two others playing soccer.

“Taking these caches out of the hands of insurgents puts a tremendous dent in their logistics. Every round that the Marines and Iraqi Army take off the streets is one less (improvised explosive device) … one more saved life,” said Meno.

The Marines proudly piled the cache findings so the explosive ordnance disposal experts could destroy them on the spot.

“It is going to take between 2-3 satchels full of C4 to blow all this stuff,” said Chief Petty Officer Brad Bundy, the EOD team leader.

After moving to a safe distance, the Marines were able to see the culmination of their labor with the destruction of the cache findings, totaling more than 4,000 pounds of high explosives taken out of the hands of insurgents. ( ... )

“This is a testament to the vigilance of the Iraqi Army soldiers and U.S. Marines. They’ve been doing a hell of a job out here. It is nice for them to see what they are doing occasionally comes with a tangible pay off,” said Meno.

Update: This from a 14 January post from Mohammed at Iraq the Model:

Al-Qaeda is apparently being chased down and confronted by Iraqis in Anbar and Samarra according to a report from al-Sabah.

Mohammed al-Ubaidi is a citizen of Anbar who took part in a battle against al-Qaeda fighters said that people were enraged by the attacks that kill civilians in Anbar and other provinces and therefore have decided to form squads from the residents to rid Anbar from the foreign terrorists.

The reports mentions that several tribes’ sheikhs had a meeting in the home of a sheikh of the Dulaim tribe where they pledged to fight al-Qaeda and throw them out of the province. There are also news that some 120 al-Qaeda members have already fled outside Iraq after a series of battles between their cells and the residents of Ramadi and other towns and suburbs of Anbar.

According to the same report, similar measures are being taken by the residents in Samarra and have succeeded in forcing foreign terrorists out of their city.

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