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Annihilators keep pressure on insurgents in north Babil

Latifiyah, Iraq
-- The Company A 'Annihilators' of Task Force 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, have added to their record of finding weapons caches and arresting anti-Iraqi terrorists with every operation they've conducted since moving to the Latifiyah area of North Babil three weeks ago.

The infantry company, attached to Task Force 2-12 Cav. from 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, has arrested over 25 high-level anti-Iraqi insurgents, and has found 13 major weapons caches while conducting offensive operations in this previously un-patrolled area along the Euphrates River. Their efforts have already had a major impact, according to Capt. Korey Brown, the Annihilators company commander.

"Our purpose down here is to try to disrupt the anti-Iraqi forces from hindering the elections in Baghdad," Brown said. "So by applying pressure to them down here it makes [the enemy] fight in two different directions. They not only have to focus on their plans to disrupt the elections, but now they're focused on what we're doing down here as well.

"We've disrupted numerous terrorist cells, and have found all kinds of weapons caches and things that they may have used during the elections," he continued. "We've taken a lot of ordnance and a lot of terrorist activity out of this sector."

Staff Sgt. William Boyle Jr., a squad leader with Annihilator's 2nd Platoon, recounted an incident where his medic, Sgt. Christopher Wells, found a large cache of explosives during a Jan. 7 operation. Wells, from Austin, Texas, said he does pretty much everything the infantry does in addition to caring for the sick and wounded.

During the operation, the Annihilators were using metal detectors to search for ordnance in areas of suspected anti-Iraqi activity along the Euphrates River. Wells grabbed a metal detector and joined in on the search. He found a cache that amounted to over 1200 pounds of homemade explosives.

"To come across a big find like that, it just felt good to go out there and get that stuff off the streets and out of their hands," Wells said. "That was a big pile of stuff. If we hadn't found that stuff, they could have put it in their car, or made an [improvised explosive device]," he continued.

Boyle added that it was the loudest explosion he's ever heard when an explosive ordnance disposal team destroyed the cache with a controlled detonation.

Finding weapons caches and detaining high-level targets is what keeps the Annihilators going, according to Boyle. Their success in north Babil carries over from the success they've had dealing with anti-Iraqi forces in Abu Ghraib and other areas of Iraq, he said.

"I think the thing is with this company, when we were in Abu Ghraib we hit that place real hard, and we got a lot of bad guys. We got here, we hit this place hard, and we got a lot of bad guys again. So we're kind of used to success. We've been really good at [finding caches and detaining insurgents]," Boyle said.

During their most recent offensive, the Annihilators targeted several key members of a suspected terrorist cell Jan. 13. They marched over two kilometers in the early morning darkness to take their target by surprise, and went home at the end of the operation with 34 identified targets to add to the Task Force tally.

Brown said the Annihilators plan to remain on the offensive in this area until they redeploy to Fort Hood, Texas, sometime after the Iraqi free elections later this month.

Release #050116x

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