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Cavalry Troops Uncover IED Factory, Terrorist Cell

Baghdad, Iraq
- On Jan. 9, the Soldiers of Blue Platoon, B Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 5th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, embarked on a successful raid.

The target was a residential home in the Al Doura neighborhood. After thorough searching, the site yielded 23 artillery shells, heaps of wire and electrical triggers and other supplies that could be assembled into more than 50 improvised explosive devices (IED), said 1st Lt. Matthew Sullivan, Blue Platoon leader.

"We busted in the house and there were two guys who were in there. One just took off running right as we kicked down the door," said Sullivan, a Chattanooga, Tenn., native. "He managed to escape through the back door and scaled a wall, then ran through another house. His brother was in the house also, but we got him."

After all suspects were detained, the search of the home began.

"I checked all but one room and didn't see anything, and then I had some of my guys go upstairs to do some searching," Sullivan explained. "Right when they opened up they said, 'Oh sir, you have to check this out.' The room was just an IED workshop. All over the floor were wires, batteries and containers full of plastic explosives. There was even an IED already to go."

Spc. Jason Nelson, a gunner in Blue Platoon was among the first to enter the room with the IED workshop.

"I went into room, and I was just shocked by how much electrical stuff was in there laying on tables. I had never seen that much stuff," said Nelson, a Saukcentre, Minn., native. "By then, I already knew we made a big impact. I know having that out of those guys hands, it's safer for us and for the Iraqis."

After his men discovered this workshop, Sullivan called in for the explosives ordinance disposal team and the battalion's quick reaction force for additional support.

When the backup arrived a more thorough search continued. Metal detectors found the artillery shells buried in the back yard. A taxi cab parked at the home had a wire-rigged assembly in the trunk that could perfectly fit six artillery shells, Sullivan added.

Over the seven hours of searching, the list of suspicious items kept adding up: several handfuls of C4 explosives, bags of nails and marbles for shrapnel, tear gas grenades and gas masks, dozens of disassembled remote control cars, 30 cell phones, 50 Sony Playstations.

In all, the target was the most fruitful cache of weapons for a home this size in the battalion's history here, and a great victory against the source of anti-Iraqi attacks in B Company's sector, Sullivan said.

"We have been tracking these guys for a month and a half so far. They are linked to some IEDs that have hit our company," Sullivan continued.

Sullivan said that this operation not only helped keep his troops safe, but put an end to the terrorists' plans for the elections.

"We heard they were planning to hit a Christian church with their car bomb and just disrupt things before the elections, but we put a kink in that," he said. "Now we just need to find the rest of members of the cell one by one, and who's financing them."

The platoon leader said missions like this remind him of why he enjoys leading troops in combat.

"It's been a great experience doing this job. I can't ask for anything more than to lead a platoon in combat," Sullivan concluded. "It's kind of a rush sometimes. It's been something I'll remember for the rest of my life."

Release #050111w

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