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Release A050805d

Operation Thunder Cat nets 171 suspected terrorists

Multi-National Force-Iraq

BAGHDAD , Iraq - Soldiers of the 256th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, and the 1st and 3rd Iraqi Army Brigades, 6th Division, conducted combined offensive operations called Operation Thunder Cat I July 26-30, which was a series of cordon-and-attack missions resulting in the capture of 171 suspected terrorists.

Thunder Cat was part of a much larger Task Force Baghdad operation called Operation Thunder. The focus of this operation and future operations is to disrupt and destroy the insurgency, said Brig. Gen. John Basilica Jr., 256th Bde. Combat Team commander.

“This operation was primarily an Iraqi Army mission, beginning with intelligence gathering, all the way through to the capture and detainment of the Anti-Iraqi Forces,” he said. “Our brigade provided staff assistance to the Iraqi Security Forces and added combat power if needed.”

Of the 127 suspected terrorists, 33 were specific brigade-level targets of the 1st Iraq Army Brigade captured by Soldiers from 2nd, 4th and 5th battalions.

“Operation Thunder Cat was an outstanding opportunity for the Iraqis to demonstrate their continued development into a fully operational combat unit,” said Maj. Stuart Burruss, from New Orleans , executive officer for 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, who worked with the 5th Battalion, 1st IA Brigade during this operation.

“The 5th Bn. leaders did an outstanding job preparing for and executing the mission,” he said.

This was proven by their performance, both technically and tactically sound. It was also shown by the high morale of the junior leaders and Soldiers, Burruss added.

One of the most successful operations belonged to 3rd Battalion, 3rd Iraqi Army Brigade, who captured 45 detainees in the west Abu Ghraib district of Baghdad . Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment, 256th BCT, supported the mission by providing outer security.

Capt. Kurt Merseal from Steeleville , Mo. , commander of Company C, 2/130th Inf. Bn., said the IA showed significant improvement throughout Thunder Cat. “The Iraqi Army has progressed so much as a team and unit, and it is satisfying for me to assist them in accomplishing our collective goal,” he said.

“I noticed that the IA has improved their situational awareness, as well as working together as a team,” said Staff Sgt. Ronald Floyd, a squad leader for Co. C, 2/130th Inf. Bn., from Villa Grove , Ill. “As they improve, it helps Coalition Forces and Iraqi citizens move forward.”

Joint missions involving forces from different commands creates challenges in planning, execution and reporting which adds significant complexity to the operations, explained Basilica.

Operation Thunder Cat was the first time these challenges were managed using state-of-the-art computer networks to coordinate the efforts of the three brigades.

“The Iraqi Army has done a superb job and I am very proud of what they accomplished. The measure of success for this operation is not only the number of insurgents captured, but proof positive of the Iraqi Army's growth as a military force. It is also a clear indication that they are becoming stronger and more capable as a team,” Basilica exclaimed.




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