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Military

Operation 'Striker Hurricane' nets enemy, information

ARCENT Release

Release Date: 5/21/2004

Story by Sgt. M. Trent Lowry, USMC, 1AD PAO Photo courtesy 2nd BCT intelligence section

BAGHDAD, IRAQ (May 21, 2004) - When 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division gets hit by the opposition, they don't just take the punch, they hit back strong where it will really hurt their opponent.

That was the message the Iron Brigade wanted to send when it initiated Striker Hurricane May 1.

Instead of flaunting its superior firepower, the brigade chose to design the operation to round up insurgents and other anti-coalition parties, based on intelligence provided by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and using help from its sister brigade, 1st Brigade Combat Team, according to Staff Sgt. Matthew B. Rice, intelligence analyst with 2nd BCT.

Striker Hurricane was the response to the deaths -- by a vehicle borne improvised explosive device attack April 29 -- of eight soldiers from 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery, one of 2nd BCT's units.

"Operation Striker Hurricane was in response to that attack, which was a catastrophic loss for the brigade. We wanted to let the enemy know we're not going to flinch," said Rice, a native of Lancaster, Calif. "We targeted anyone we had enough (intelligence) for and decided we're going to collect them right now, to show the insurgents that the Coalition is here and we're not going away."

"I think it was a big eye-opener for the enemy," Rice added.

Striker Hurricane opened many peoples' eyes as it encompassed the 2nd BCT area of operations and netted eight of the targeted insurgents. Additionally, 61 enemy prisoners of war, who weren't on the list but were identified during the operation, were also captured.

"Aside from hitting our known targets, we also did a cordon and search operation that rooted out 61 (enemy prisoners of war) -- people with tons of intelligence potential for us," Rice said. "As far as intelligence sources are concerned, the operation was a great success."

Though the operation may have been initiated as a response to a tragedy, careful planning helped it reach another of the brigade's mission objectives: building up contacts within the community. The last 12 months of operations in Iraq for the brigade have been concerned with happenings in Baghdad. The unit has a new area of operations and is restarting its efforts at interaction with the community.

"We're building up our human intelligence base," said Spc. Kelly B. Leonard, intelligence analyst with 2nd BCT. "It was really our first chance to establish a presence in the area and make connections with the local populace."

Establishing those connections and establishing trust with the people is essential to digging up useful information, according to the analysts.

"The intel is really coming from the Iraqi people," Rice said. "Down at the ground level, the Iraqis are really contributing to the success of what we do. When we can get a local to say 'My neighbor has mortar rounds stashed in his backyard,' then a lot of good points come out that help us build a picture of the enemy."

When one element of the operation -- the cordon and search -- is done properly, it is the first step to building good relations with the residents. The ground elements of the operation, including Soldiers from 1st BCT, 4-27 FA, and 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry, applied sound search practices to try to minimize the inconvenience to the citizens of the community.

Information operations cells even sent out flyers to prepare the populace telling the residents that the 2nd BCT's operation was necessary to ensure the safety of the neighborhoods, according to Rice.

"When we were going into the areas, the local populace would stop their farming and were waving at us," said Leonard. "That's a good sign."

One of 2nd BCT's overall mission goals is to maintain lines of communication -- such as roadways, railways and communications networks -- keeping up the flow of information about Mujahadeen, anti-Coalition and foreign fighter activities is always relevant to preventing attacks and punishing those responsible for the attacks that do occur.

"Based on interrogations of the EPWs, we're getting new intel," Leonard said. "We have more up-to-date information based on what we know now."

This intelligence-gathering coup brought about by Striker Hurricane should not be the last of the information-gathering successes of the brigade. The 2nd BCT intelligence section is maneuvering as a well-oiled machine thanks to the experience it has gained over the past year.

"When Najaf was attacked we went; when Al Kut was attacked we went," Leonard said. "We've got some of the strongest people on this team that I've worked with."

"I believe 2nd Brigade can go into any part of Iraq and be successful," Rice said. "The brigade staff is dynamic. We can defeat our enemies and help support the rebuilding efforts in Iraq."



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