Troopers Hit Baghdad's Streets in Operation Iron Promise
By Staff Sgt. James Sailer, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 29, 2004 In what has become almost a nightly ritual, soldiers from A Troop, 1st Squadron, 5th Cavalry Regiment, lined up their vehicles on a quiet side street in the sleepy town of Abu Ghuraib, Iraq, just before initiating a cordon-and-search mission March 17.
Soldiers from A Troop, 1st Squadron, 5th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division, prepare to search a house in the Abu Ghuraib neighborhood during a cordon-and-search operation carried out March 17 during Task Force 1st Armored Division's Operation Iron Promise. Photo by Staff Sgt. James Sailer, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
This time, A Troop, part of the 1st Cavalry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, Task Force 1st Armored Division, was part of the divisionwide Operation Iron Promise.
Officials say the operation is being carried out on the streets of Baghdad to show the Iraqi people that coalition forces are committed to securing the region and are determined to eradicate groups that pose a threat to a free Iraq.
It consists of targeting known enemy locations and aggressively carrying out cordon-and-search operations looking for insurgents, former regime sympathizers and foreign fighters.
"We are going to exploit insurgent threats in hopes of gathering more intelligence on people and weapons caches," said Capt. Joseph C. James, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Squadron, 12th Cavalry. "We will be part of a divisionwide coordinated and simultaneous sweep."
More than 3,000 2nd BCT soldiers took to the Baghdad streets for the nightlong operation.
"We have 88 buildings to cover in our sector," said Capt. David Perry, A Troop commander. "We will probably get to 50 or 55 of them. Sweeping the buildings is fast; it's the identification and interviewing of the people that takes so much time."
Perry, from Eufaula, Ala., said many residents in his sector are reluctant to talk to coalition forces out of fear of retaliation from insurgent forces. "We hope to change that. Maybe our efforts will help alleviate those fears," Perry said.
During the sweep of more than 700 houses, seven wanted individuals were found and detained. The suspected insurgents surrendered quietly and there were no injuries to coalition or Iraqi forces.
Not all weapons discovered were confiscated. Residents may have one AK-47 or similar rifle and no more than 200 rounds of ammunition per household for personal protection.
"They need these weapons, because the local banks are not too secure, so it is quite common for the average Iraqi citizen to keep all of his money in his house. We routinely run across homes that have several million dinar socked away," Perry said. "We don't confiscate the money unless the person is on our wanted list; we usually just document who has it and where it is."
As the night progressed, Alpha Troop remained on the lookout for improvised explosive devices or harassment from small-arms fire. One IED was discovered along a side route, and an explosive ordnance disposal team was called to remove it.
During the operation, civil affairs and psychological operations teams settled disputes between soldiers and residents. The teams also interviewed civilians, assessed damage and processed damage claims.
"Damage to property so far has been minimal. We will see in the next few days what else pops up," said Capt. Paul McBride, 2nd Squadron civil affairs officer.
Soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division are learning how to operate in Baghdad's urban environment and mastering new tools in the soldier's trade, Perry said.
"It is the leader's responsibility to realize the changes and adapt to the nature of this fight," Perry said. "But our soldiers on the ground will always do the right thing in carrying out our missions."
(Army Staff Sgt. James Sailer is assigned to the 122nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)