Joint Night Raid Snags Insurgents
Forward Operating Base Al-Amal, Baghdad, Iraq -- Under the cover of darkness on Dec. 28 Soldiers of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment and Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, both of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, circled their Bradley Fighting Vehicles -- type of armored troop transport -- around an insurgent target deep in East Baghdad's Sadr City.
The target, an alleged recruiter of anti-Iraqi fighters, and his brother, another wanted criminal, were apprehended by the Iraqi Police while the two cavalry companies supported the raid by forming an outer cordon, standing by to move in if the lightly equipped police came under enemy fire.
"We ended up getting the target and his brother, who was also a target," said 1st Lt. Nicholas Auletta, the leader of C Company's 2nd Platoon. "Getting someone that's [against us] off the streets is always a good thing. Unfortunately, you never get all of them, but every one helps."
A testament to the value of interacting with the community and always having an interpreter available while on patrol, the intelligence that led to the raid came from a random citizen while Auletta and his men patrolled the city.
Auletta said his unit was doing a regular patrol on Dec. 23 when a local told them some people from Fallujah had moved into the area. They had operated against Multi-National Forces there, and now they were trying to recruit others to fight them within Sadr City.
First Brigade Combat Team Commander Col. Robert Abrams said the origins of the two insurgents weren't clear until they had been questioned.
"It is hard to pin a label on somebody and say, 'Hey, he's a Fallujan fighter," he said. "The only thing that's clear for us is if someone is Mahdi Army or not. A lot of people like to say outsiders are doing it, but that's really hard to pin down. Potentially, we might have picked some guys up from Fallujah, but two and a half million people live in Sadr City who don't have anything better to do. All they like to do is fight, so someone offered them some money."
Regardless of the brothers' origins, the raid that caught them was executed perfectly, Abrams said.
This was "another great joint Iraqi Security Force and U.S. mission, executed to standard, in the middle of the night, in the deepest bowels of Sadr City, without incident," he said. "It's a great sign of the future. It's all about the Iraqi Security Forces being able to do these types of missions by themselves, and if they need our backup support, we'll give it to them."
Unlike some past raids conducted by the 1st Cavalry Division in this volatile region, not one resident in the vicinity of the target building protested against the troops' presence or the pair being arrested. In the past, Abrams said, hundreds might have protested the detention of the men. This time, residents told Soldiers in 2-5 Cavalry and local police that the two were bad men.
There was a "big, positive response from people in the neighborhood," Abrams said. "There were no people milling around, no firefight, nothing. In fact, some people actually came out and said through our translators, they were glad we picked these guys up because they were really well known bad guys. It's a pretty good sign."
The city's been really peaceful, quiet and very receptive when we provide services, such as rebuilding schools, giving clinics supplies and getting sewage out of the streets, Auletta said. People seem to be pretty happy with that. Very visible projects have been working well for us. People see that we're here to help their way of life."
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