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IA, U.S. troops wrap up Operation Cowpens

By Sgt. Zach Mott

JABOURI PENINSULA, Iraq (Army News Service, March 30, 2006) – Anti-Iraqi Forces on the Jabouri Peninsula have taken a blow because of operations conducted by Coalition forces and their Iraqi army counterparts March 19-29.

Dubbed “Operation Cowpens,” the 10-day operation yielded numerous mortar and artillery rounds, small arms weapons and ammunition, surface-to-air missiles, improvised explosive device materials, other explosives and people deemed supportive to the AIF.

The operation’s intent was to weaken the AIF’s ability to build and employ improvised explosive devices, and also to weaken their supply system.

Iraqi forces take the lead

Elements of the Fort Carson, Colo., based 1-8 Combined Arms Battalion, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Task Force Band of Brothers, along with 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army Division and the 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 4th IAD, participated in the mission.

“The IA is the major search element and they’re doing an outstanding job,” said Capt. Timothy Knoth, commander of Rock Company, 1-8 CAB. “They have an inordinate amount of technical expertise. They also provide the initial confirmation or denial of enemy effects.”

Rock and War Machine companies of 1-8 CAB provided the bulk of the security elements for the operation as well as assisting with the cache searches using metal detectors and personnel.

Operations began March 19 with an early morning ground and air assault on the peninsula by members of the IA and 1-8 CAB. In the initial movement, Coalition forces and AIF exchanged small arms fire, inflicting seven confirmed enemy killed in action and detaining numerous AIF, while sustaining two U.S. wounded in action. A large cache of weapons, ammunition and mortar rounds was discovered within hours of the initial movement.

Major operations have been conducted twice before on the Jabouri Peninsula. The first operation was in June 2003 – shortly after Baghdad came under Coalition forces control – and was led by the Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade.

The second operation was conducted in October and November 2004 by the 1st Infantry Division.

Security challenge

Despite continuous efforts to improve the quality of life for citizens of this region, it continues to be a haven and supporter of AIF activities. However, after this latest operation generated large amounts of the AIF supply, some of the residents are becoming supportive of Coalition forces presence in the region.

“The people want to help and they’ve become permissive of our presence in the region,” Knoth said.

Working side-by-side with their IA counterparts allows the Fighting Eagles of 1-8 CAB an opportunity to use the knowledge of Iraqi soldiers.

“The Iraqi Army is the man-power for the searches,” Knoth said. “They’re literally turning places upside down to find things.”

During the 10-day mission, Coalition and Iraqi army forces confiscated more than 275 mortars, more than 20 projectiles, more than 15 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, more than 15 rockets, more than five AK- 47 rifles, more than 10 AK-47 magazines, more than 100 pounds of explosives, more than 20 blasting caps, more than 10 hand grenades, more than 10 cell phones, 115 sticks of dynamite, more than five radios and numerous IED-making materials.

(Editor’s note: Sgt. Zach Mott serves with 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs.)

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