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Cavalry Stakes Out New Territory in North Babil

Mamudiyah, Iraq -
A massive cordon and knock operation in the Mamudiyah area of north Babil Dec. 30 gave the troopers of 1st Cavalry Division's Task Force 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment 'Black Knights' a good feeling about their newly tasked mission in support of the upcoming Iraqi free elections in this largely rural area.

After spending almost a year working with the Iraqi people and fighting anti-Iraqi forces in Baghdad and other hot spots in Iraq, the Task Force, along with its parent 2nd Brigade Combat Team, was recently assigned to the section of Iraq running from south of Baghdad to north of Babylon. To introduce themselves to the area, the Black Knights kicked off Operation Crossroads, a 24-hour boots on the ground operation to root out potential anti-Iraq activity in the area.

"We didn't find a lot of bad guys, and we didn't' find and caches.but we did get a chance to meet some good people out there," Lt. Col. Myles Miyamasu, the Task Force commander said after the operation. "I think that more than anything else we put the information out that a large military force is now operating in your area, and if you want to play, you have to play nice. And if you want to play mean, then you're going to lose."

"I think it's the first time they saw that many tanks, Bradleys and infantrymen on the ground," Miyamasu continued. "And so it was a good calling card for the 1st Cavalry Division to introduce itself to the people of Mamudiyah."

Prior to this assignment, the Black Knights spent about 10 months patrolling the Kadimiyah neighborhood of Baghdad and conducted several other quick-fire missions, including two battles in Najaf in August and Fallujah in October. These troopers performed countless raids, searches and cordon actions before Operation Crossroads. The reaction they received from the Iraqis in Mamudiyah was somewhat more pleasant than what they've been accustomed to in the past, though, according to Capt. Steve Stauch, the Company A, 'Mad Dawgs' executive officer.

"We actually made and met some friends in the area," Stauch said. "A lot of the people are very happy to see us here. They were passing out bread to us and giving the Soldiers chai (local tea), and offering breakfast ...this, that and the other thing. That's always a good thing, it helps you build relations."

Because the Task Force didn't have any specific intelligence on anti-Iraqi activity in the area, there was no need to conduct a more aggressive raid, or cordon and search type operation where they would break down doors and search through belongings. Instead, they took a gentler approach toward the locals 1st Lt. Doug Schaffer, a Company A platoon leader, said.

"When we show up and we knock on their doors and we treat them with the respect that they're used to as Iraqis, and as people in general, that's what you get, you get hospitality and respect, you get information, you get a bond built if you will," Schaffer said of the hospitality his infantry troopers received from a majority of the approximately 300 houses they visited during the 15-hour cordon.

Even without making any arrests or finding much contraband, the operation was a success because of the intelligence gained, and the contacts made with the local populace. It was also a success because the Soldiers, though they were prepared to, didn't have to fight their way through another day, Sgt. Matthew Jones, an infantry Soldier with Company A's 1st Platoon said.

"A quiet, calm, happy town, keeping it [peaceful], sometimes that can be the hardest job you have in the country, but its also the best.because you've got something to maintain; a foothold. So it gives you something to work for while you're here. It gives you the feeling you're here for a reason," Jones said.

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