Friday, 15 December 2006
BAQUBAH — The Iraqi Army led a successful offensive operation here recently, capturing 10 suspected insurgents and rescuing a kidnapped 16-year-old Iraqi boy being held for a $150,000 ransom.
Iraqi Soldiers from 5th Iraqi Army conducted searches, while the U.S. Army’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, from Fort Hood, Texas, cordoned off several neighborhoods.
Maj. Kalil Malek Ahmad, commander, 4th Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army, said his Soldiers identified insurgents with the help of intelligence sources.
Lt. Col. Morris Goins, commander, 3rd Brigade’s 1-12 Combined Arms Battalion, which provided the cordon for the search, said the operation gave the Iraqi Army an opportunity to demonstrate it’s capability to play a primary role in military operations.
“Iraq is a sovereign nation. They have an Iraqi Police department. They have an Iraqi Army,” said Goins, a native of Southern Pines, N.C. “It’s important for them to conduct these operations. They are in the lead and we assist when needed.”
This most recent search for insurgents, which is part of a larger effort, “will help local residents by driving a wedge between the Iraqi people and al Qaeda,” said Goins.
Al Qaeda operatives are attempting to disrupt Coalition Forces and have threatened local residents in the neighborhoods of Khatoon and Mufrek, he said.
Capt. Scott Steele from the U.S. Army’s military training team in Baqubah, and native of Faripault, Minn., said it is important for the Iraqi Army to lead such operations in anticipation of full autonomy.
“If the Iraqis take over, the United States can leave,” he said. “We’re just helping them along so that they can secure their own country by themselves.”
Goins said his unit was presented with some challenges while working with the Iraqis, such as language barriers and differences in communications platforms, but those obstacles were overcome with prior coordination.
“As with any brand new government, you have challenges,” said Goins. “People often think the United States was born yesterday. It’ll take a little while. There’s a lot of promise here. The work is hard but it’s good.”
Photo: Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division get ready to enter a suspected insurgent's home during a massive cordon and search operation conducted in a neighborhood in Baqubah, Iraq, Dec. 2. Official Department of Defense photo.