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American Forces Press Service

Guard Unit Credits Training in Overcoming 27 Insurgents

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 22, 2005 A Kentucky National Guard unit is being credited with responding in “textbook” fashion during an ambush here March 20, killing 27 insurgents and capturing a sizable weapons cache and valuable intelligence.

The insurgent death toll is the highest in Iraq since the Fallujah operation in November 2004 and, according to Army Capt. Todd Lindner, commander of the Richmond, Ky.-based 617th Military Police Company, represents “without a doubt, one of the most significant impacts an MP company has had in this war.”

Lindner credits his unit’s dogged commitment to training and unwillingness to cut corners with preparing his soldiers for the firefight along an alternative supply route about seven miles southeast of Baghdad.

Three squads from the 617th MP Company were providing security for a convoy along the supply route when it came under attack by 40 to 50 insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons.

According to Lindner, the soldiers positioned themselves between the convoy and the attackers, “putting down a heavy volume of fire” and flanking the enemy, when they began receiving fire from the rear.

“They were armed to the teeth, and looked like they were ready to fight for a long time,” Linder said of the insurgents.

Ultimately, the unit killed 27 of the insurgents and captured several more. After the attack, they recovered a cache of RPGs, rockets, machine guns, assault weapons, hand grenades and ammunition.

Three unit soldiers were wounded, two seriously.

“These guys were amazing,” Linder said of his soldiers. “This proves what we’ve been saying all along: These guys rock.”

Lindner credits training with making the vital difference in his unit’s ability to respond under fire.

“We’ve been training for this mission for the last year before we got here,” he said. “Once we knew we were coming (to Iraq), we changed our training to focus specifically on this mission.”

That training, he said, “absolutely made a difference” in his unit’s response during the weekend attack, sharpening its ability to maneuver while firing.

Sgt. 1st Class Marshall Ware, platoon sergeant for the squads involved, agrees the training the unit received “absolutely” made a difference during the attack.

“From Day 1, there was an emphasis on training,” he said. “We trained and trained and trained.”

Equally critical, he said, was the unit’s strict adherence to standards — conducting precombat inspections, making sure weapons are clean, and requiring use of body armor, Kevlar helmets and eye and hearing protection.

These steps have protected his company against numerous attacks, Ware said. “You can’t completely take the risk out of what we’re doing, but you can mitigate it,” he said.

Ware, who served 10 years on active duty before becoming a full-time National Guardsman, said he came to the Guard with prejudices that its members played second string to the active force. But he said the Guard members he worked with quickly proved him wrong.

“The Guard is not the same Guard it was two years ago,” he said. “They’re as good as any active duty unit.”

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