26 November 2007

Air Assault at Salman Pak: "In the middle of the night, any given night, we can be in there”

Soldiers wait as a Black Hawk helicopter lands to take the troops and 13 detainees back to base after the raid. Photo and story: Joseph Giordono / S&S.

A pre-dawn air assault Sunday by members of the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment ended with the capture of 13 suspected insurgents, possibly including the No. 1 “high-value target” in the battalion’s area.

Some 40 soldiers sprang from Black Hawk helicopters around 4 a.m., raiding two compounds in a village of about 5,000 people near Salman Pak, southeast of Baghdad. Within minutes, the soldiers had gathered all the men they’d seized, questioning them and comparing their faces to a description and sketch of the target. ...

Planning and rehearsals for the raid had taken up much of the previous two days for the soldiers, led by the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry’s Company B, based at Combat Outpost Cahill, a small “surge” base on the edge of Salman Pak. Soldiers rehearsed landing about 500 meters from the target houses, then quickly setting blocking positions and searching a series of buildings.

It was at least the third raid targeting the man, described as a leading Sunni extremist who runs several cells in and around Salman Pak.

But just two hours before the raid was to launch, new intelligence said the target was at a different compound, some 500 meters away from the original target area, said Capt. Rich Thompson, Company B commander. The plan changed. ...

“Worst-case scenario, we disrupted what he wants to do,” Thompson, the company commander, said. Best-case scanario, they had their man.

But if the main target does not turn out to be one of those in custody, Thompson said, he now knows that “in the middle of the night, any given night, we can be in there.”

Update 27.11.: Well done.

COMBAT OUTPOST CLEARY, Iraq — The U.S. military confirmed that one of the men it captured in an early-morning air assault mission Sunday near Salman Pak was the “high-value individual” they were targeting.

Update: More action near Salman Pak on 7 November.

B-roll of Task Force Marne helicopters engaging two buildings and a tower from which an insurgent force was firing upon Combat Outpost Cahill. Scenes include gun tape footage of the buildings being fired upon. (Produced by MND-C HQ)

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