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Dragon Fury revisits Shahi Kot Mountains

by Spc. Karlene Hemerly-Fluck

SHAHI KOT, Afghanistan (Army News Service June 13, 2003) - Coalition forces returned to the Shahi Kot mountain range June 2 for the first time since Operation Anaconda.

Operation Dragon Fury could be considered part two of Operation Anaconda. Like it's predecessor held in March 2002, the operation was conducted to root out al Qaeda and anti-coalition militias suspected of still operating in the valley near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

"Traffic definitely fluctuates in this area. Given the information received in the past month, this is the main channel, that we know, people are crossing the borders," said 1st Lt. Mike Swift, an intelligence officer in the 82nd Airborne Division.

Through different intelligence sources, information was received by coalition forces that there was a possible cell of anti-coalition militia and al-Qaeda with working plans to attack coalitions forces that are serving in the War on Terror in different areas of Afghanistan, said Maj. Jack Marr, executive officer, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

The operation was conducted to deny anti-coalition militia sanctuary and prevent further attacks against non-governmental organizations, coalition forces and equipment in the Shahi Kot region, said Marr.

Dragon Fury consisted of a brigade-size element of U.S. troops centered around the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment and the Italian army's Task Force Nibbio

More than 20 U.S. aircraft -- including UH-60 Black Hawk, CH-47 Chinooks and AH-64 Apache helicopters -- performed ground and air assaults during the operation.

About 150 soldiers and 60 vehicles from TF Nibbio, which is based out of Forward Operating Base Salerno, near Khowst, Afghanistan, established blocking positions to prevent escape from the valley region.

During the operation, Nibbio forces searched 300 vehicles, inspected 800 people and interviewed and released 13 persons.

Task Force Nibbio, proved to be an integral part of the operation, according to Lefforge.

"Objectives included establishing blocking positions to prevent ACM's from escaping the Shahi Kot area and defeating and capturing ACM's involved in terrorist operations," said Lt. Col. Douglas Lefforge, spokesperson for CJTF-180, in a press statement June 4.

"The troops went into this mission prepared," said 1st Lt. Emily Eagan, 293rd Military Police Company. "Things went really well for us, we got to do what we were trained to do and that was to detain and secure (Persons Under Control) in our established holding area and provide fields integration until the extraction."

By mission's end 21 people were taken into control by U.S. and Italian forces and are now being detained at an undisclosed holding area.

"The bottom line is, it could have been a very hostile area and we went in to execute a complex mission. It was executed very well and the mission was accomplished," said 2nd Lt. Jay W. Ross. chemical officer, 2nd Bn, 505th PIR.

The Shahi Kot region is near the town of Gardez, Afghanistan, and 85 miles south of Kabul, the capitol of Afghanistan.

(Editor's note: Spc. Karlene Hemerly-Fluck is a journalist with the 109th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

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