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Operation Lion's Hunt brings IA closer to autonomy (Tikrit)

Multi-National Force-Iraq

Monday, 09 June 2008
Multi-National Corps – Iraq
Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory
APO AE 09342

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RELEASE No. 20080609-03
June 9, 2008

Operation Lion’s Hunt brings IA closer to autonomy
Multi-National Division – North

TIKRIT, Iraq – Operation Lion’s Hunt, a joint operation that began in Ninewah province June 6 between three Iraqi Army elements was the first unilateral Iraqi-led aerial operation of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The proof-of-concept operation was an unqualified success, netting eight suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq operators, and pulling the village of Markab al Tair from the grip of the insurgency.

“The 11th Brigade of the 3rd Iraqi Army Division had a need to move a long distance in a very short amount of time,” said Lt. Col Michael Tetu, the 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment commander, and the air mission commander. “The best way for the Iraqi Army to do that was not to go in by convoy, but to go in by air. In the eyes of the Military Transition Team, who trained these guys, they were ready for the next step, and that was to go in on an air assault.

“We are almost at opposite ends of MND-N (Multi-National Division-North), so the distance factor had a big vote in how easy this was to coordinate. What we wound up doing was picking a point in-between to move our aircraft and our crews up there early so we could pre-position a couple days prior,” Tetu said.

Once in position, the battalions still needed to train the Iraqi Army on the infiltration and exfiltration sections of the mission. To make absolutely sure the IA Soldiers would be ready for the actual mission; the 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment flew to COP Nimr the day before the mission, coordinated directly with the Iraqi Army, and ran rehearsals with them.

“We took the aircraft and the training opportunity to rehearse right into their camp, and we went through every opportunity to practice our contingency missions, our emergency actions,” said Tetu.

The IA Soldiers practiced loading and offloading when the engines were off, and then when the blades were turning, getting the full effect of the twin-engine Chinook.

“It was a good experience,” said Sgt. Alexander S. Rolinski, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, who served as a flight engineer for the mission. “It was rather new because normally we work together with the Americans and the IA, but considering this was all IA, it was different, a lot of diversity but I think it went well, because we got to communicate through the interpreters and work in conjunction with them, and it flowed. We were working as a team.”

With everything briefed, and all of the training conducted, the Iraqi and American n troops hit the rack for some much needed sleep.

At 10 p.m. June 5, the pilots conducted their final mission brief. At 1:40 a.m., the birds took off for COP Nimr. The Chinooks lifted off with the 11th Brigade, 3rd Iraqi Army Division soldiers at 3:50 a.m. Seconds later, the Chinooks were airborne again, and the pilots and crews had nearly completed their role in this monumental step toward Iraqi air-assault independence.

The Chinooks returned to COP Nimr and waited for a possible exfiltration. However, because of heavy existing support and a lack of resistance, rapid exfiltration was not needed and the Chinooks returned to Speicher.

“It’s a huge message that’s being sent to the population because their flag is coming out of our helicopters on the IA uniforms. People who speak their language and potentially their own relatives are the ones providing their security,” said Tetu.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT THE MULTI-NATIONAL DIVISION – NORTH PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE AT: MNDNPAO@1AD.ARMY.MIL OR DSN 318-856-0218

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