Commandos continue to press terrorists
CAMP LIBERTY , Iraq - Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division are conducting a variety of combat operations during their final days in Iraq .
Since May 20, 2nd BCT operations resulted in detaining more than 600 suspected terrorists, said Lt. Col. Michael J. Infanti, 2nd BCT deputy commander.
The Commandos recently completed Operation Squeeze Play South, an offensive operation meant to route terrorists out of southern Baghdad . Squeeze Play was the largest combined Iraqi-Coalition operation in Iraq to date, involving four Iraqi brigades and four American battalions, as well as U.S. Air Force and Navy support.
The operation was meant to both crush the terrorists around Baghdad and prepare the area for replacement units, said Capt. Bryan McCarthy, a liaison officer from Syracuse , N.Y. , with 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment. McCarthy said he and other Soldiers were not dismayed at the operations at the tail end of the deployment, but rather saw the mission as one final chance to leave their mark in Iraq .
“We'll be here until we leave anyway; this isn't interfering in our leaving,” McCarthy said. “We rounded up a lot of detainees and we're setting the next unit up for success.”
Part of the operation included an Iraqi-Coalition air assault mission to secure a terrorist safe-house. Iraqi units and Soldiers from 4-31 Infantry flew to the target and detained 50 suspected terrorists. The air assault was the first battalion-level air assault 4-31 Infantry Soldiers participated in since their previous deployment to Afghanistan . It was also only the second time 2nd BCT Soldiers air assaulted with Iraqi forces.
It was the ultimate culminating event for a successful year for 2nd BCT and 4-31 Infantry Soldiers, McCarthy said.
“This was a great way to end the year together, to do a battalion air assault,” he said, noting the importance of the element of surprise. “It keeps the enemy guessing. They never know when they are going to see us.”
Variety was key in the operation, as the Commando brigade threw everything they had at the terrorists, including air strikes and close air support. Air Force Jets bombed two bunkers used by terrorists to store munitions. No munitions were retrieved, but the number of explosions after the blast indicated a large number of explosives were in the bunkers, said Air Force Capt. Will McCrink, an Air Force liaison with the 20th Air Support Operations Squad, Fort Drum , N.Y.
“After the bombings, we had numerous secondary explosions for several hours, so obviously there were munitions there,” he said.
McCrink added that Air Force units also provide close air support during the air assaults as well as most of the mission. “This is the biggest operation we've done with 10th Mountain [Division]. We put the hurt on the enemy so it leaves the area stable for the transfer of authority.”
More than 230 suspected terrorists were detained during Operation Squeeze Play South. The brigade's previous mission, Operation Commando Brickyard, detained 440 suspected terrorists in the Abu Ghraib district of Baghdad. Second Brigade Soldiers worked with Iraqi Forces to quell the hostile area. Infanti was quick to note that although 2nd BCT commanded the operations, the large majority of raids and missions were handled by Iraqi forces.
“Contrary to what people believe, this is an Iraqi Army operation,” Infanti said. “Ninety-eight percent of the suspected anti-Iraqi forces detained are under the control of the Iraqi government. This is a great step forward not only for the government and military of Iraq , but for the people of Iraq as well.”
Assisting the military and Iraqi government in their time of need for the past year just adds to the legacy 2nd BCT will leave in Iraq , said 1st Lt. Eric Rose, a plans officer from Shawano , Wis.
Just because the Commandos are ready to go home doesn't mean the fight is over, he said.
“They deployed us for a year, we're going to fight for a year,” Rose said. “Until then, our mission is to ensure the success of the Iraqi government.”
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Story by Spc. Matthew McLaughlin, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division)
THIS STORY HAS ACCOMPANYING PHOTOGRAPHS. TO RECEIVE THE PHOTOS, E-MAIL THE CPIC PRESS DESK AT firstname.lastname@example.org .
CAMP LIBERTY , Iraq - Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, raid a house in south Baghdad June 5. The combined Iraqi/American operation netted around 50 detainees. (Photo by Spc. Matthew McLaughlin, 2 BCT/10 Mountain Division PAO)
CAMP LIBERTY , Iraq - A Soldier from 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment patrols a field after an air assault raid June 5. (Photo by Spc. Matthew McLaughlin, 2 BCT/10 Mountain Division PAO)
CAMP LIBERTY , Iraq - A Soldier from 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment talks on a radio during an air assault raid in Southern Baghdad June 5. (Photo by Spc. Matthew McLaughlin, 2 BCT/10 Mountain Division PAO)
CAMP LIBERTY , Iraq - Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment patrol into the early morning after an air assault raid June 5. The raid, a combined effort with Iraqi Army forces, resulted in detaining 50 suspected terrorists. (Photo by Spc. Matthew McLaughlin, 2 BCT/10 Mountain Division PAO)
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