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Release A050616a

Operation Moon River Dragon

Multi-National Force-Iraq

FORWARD OPERATING BASE WILSON, SAMARRA, Iraq -- “ Contact is imminent. Intel reports this guy does not want to be captured and may be wearing a suicide belt to prevent this,” said Capt. Robert Croft, commander, Company B, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry, Task Force Liberty. Be very cautious.”

Members of the Iraqi Army and Soldiers from 1-15 Infantry encircled several objectives in the village of Al Julaam as Operation Moon River Dragon commenced May 29 in hopes of apprehending the battalion's second-most- wanted suspected terrorist.

An Iraqi Army platoon from Company D, 203rd Battalion led the assault with the support of 100 Task Force Liberty infantrymen from Company B, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry and an M-1 Abrams tank company, as they searched the town, sector by sector.

The Soldiers worked in a coordinated manner to search the town. The Iraqi Army Soldiers evacuated the occupants from the homes, while Coalition Soldiers followed to search the homes.

“The Iraqi Army cleared the houses of all occupants and performed a hasty search of the home,” said Spc. James Dalton, infantryman. “After the house was clear, U.S. Soldiers were sent into the houses to do a more detailed search.”

Iraqi Army Soldiers escorted the villagers to a designated safe house in the town where the males were questioned about terrorist activity.

Although only the males were interrogated, the women and children were brought to the site for their safety, and to allow the Coalition Soldiers to move freely from house to house.

Overall, the unit questioned more than 40 males, but did not find their target.

“No one was arrested, but the interrogations yielded valuable information to continue to pursue the targets, limiting their operational freedom,” Croft said.
Iraqi Army units are being integrated with the U.S. Soldiers on an increasing level as they gain more experience in combat operations, the Soldiers said.

“We have been operating jointly with Company D for more than three months,” Croft said. “In our short time with them, they have become much better at both preparing for missions and actually conducting operations on the ground.”

“I like working with the Iraqi Army,” Dalton said. “We're trying to get them to take the lead and be more proactive in combat operations and eventually they will take over operations entirely.

“Although we didn't make contact with enemy forces as anticipated, I think they handled themselves pretty well,” he added.

Besides the added manpower, the Iraqi Army gives the Soldiers an even greater attribute to the mission, Croft said.

“The IA presence completely changes the dynamic of the operation,” Croft said. “People will cooperate with us just the same. However, when Iraqi Soldiers are in the lead giving the instructions, things happen much more quickly and with less confusion. The effect is that the operation is safer for both U.S. Soldiers and Iraqi civilians.”
Imminent danger or not, the Soldiers of Task Force Liberty along with members of the Iraqi Army will continue to assault the terrorist, rooting the terrorists out from the comfort of hiding in small communities, until their job is done.

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Text for release and opsec review provided by the 42ND Infantry Division Public Affairs Office. For more information, please contact 42 ID PAO at fortysecond.id.pao@us.army.MIL



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