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Soldiers miss Fedayeen colonel, but uncover sizeable weapons cache

By Spc. Anthony K. Reinoso

BAGHDAD (Army News Service, June 27, 2003) -- Soldiers in Baghdad conducted an early morning raid on an alleged Saddam Feyadeen colonel's house and found a sizeable buried illegal weapons cache in a former Ba'ath Party building in Baghdad June 17 and 18.

A cavalry platoon from the 1st Armored Division's Troop H, 1st Cavalry Regiment received intelligence that a Fedayeen colonel was living in one of two houses in the southern part of Baghdad, said 1st Lt. Mark Stahlin, platoon leader. Stahlin's platoon conducted the raid.

The report said that a family with bodyguards could be living in the buildings. The guards might be armed with AK-47s too, Stahlin said.

"Even if we awake them and they have guns, they're not going to go for them because we are going to be fast for them," Stahlin said.

The raid was set for 2 a.m. and the soldiers swooped into the home. A small number of soldiers entered the house while others guard the perimeter.

Two women and a man lived inside the first house. The platoon also found a bolt-action rifle, two submachine guns, an assault rifle and a plastic bag of ammunition during the search of the first house.

The male turned out to be a major in the old regime's Special Republican Guard, and he was detained for questioning, Stahlin said.

Though the second house was furnished, it looked as if the occupants were in the process of moving, Stahlin said. Most of the items were in boxes or in suitcases, and no weapons were found either, he said.

The search missed the colonel however, Stahlin said.

The next day's operation proved to be a little more fruitful when soldiers from the 82nd Airborne, 1st Armored and 315th Psychological Operations Company searched a building in Baghdad that belonged to the outlawed Ba'ath Party.

Units from the 1st Battalion, 13th Armor Regiment, blocked traffic from coming in and out of the search area, while the paratroopers of Company B, 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, searched the building. The 315th PsyOps, with translators, used loudspeakers to tell the area's residents to leave the targeted buildings and to explain what the soldiers were doing.

An Iraqi man reported that a weapons cache was buried near a fence in front of the building, said Staff Sgt. Jay Hong, a team leader in the 315th PsyOps.

"We spoke to a gentleman who showed us where to start digging," Hong said. "Most of the time it is not difficult to gather information. The Iraqi people want to give information, especially when it deals with the old regime."

The man was probably there when they buried it originally, Hong surmised.

The search teams found a sizeable cache of weapons, said Capt. Gabe W. Barton, commander of Bravo, 1st Bn, 325th AIR.

Five mortar tubes, 50 81 mm mortar rounds without the fuses, 16 to 20 Rocket Propelled Grenade launchers, and 30 to 40 RPG rounds with some of those in the original packing were uncovered, Barton said.

"It was obviously dropped here in haste," said Barton. He added that nothing seemed to have been to prepare them for burial and the cache's location might have been short term until they could be retrieved.

(Editor's note: Spc. Anthony K. Reinoso is a journalist with the 372nd MPAD in Iraq.)


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