4th ID Follows up Big Catch with Operation in Samarra
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
KIRKUK, Iraq, Dec. 17, 2003 The Army's 4th Infantry Division is continuing its aggressive fight against enemy cells with a raid in Samarra that picked up 73 men and a significant amount of material useful in making improvised explosive devices.
Army Maj . Gen. Raymond Ordierno, the division commander, said the operation against the Samarra cell continues. He said the operation acknowledges that despite the division's capture of Saddam Hussein Dec. 13, a lot of work remains in Iraq.
"We think it was a complete cell we caught at a meeting," Ordierno said during an interview in Kirkuk. He was in the northern Iraqi city to meet with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers.
Ordierno said 4th Infantry Division soldiers had picked up nine other individuals from different cells operating in the area. "Whenever we have more success, we get more intel and more fidelity," the general said to reporters traveling with Myers. "We also have more people coming forward and giving us more info. That's always helpful."
The general said the division has had a number of problems in Samarra, and the city council asked the division for its help. Ordierno credits the young commanders and sergeants in his units for the successes. "We've been here nine months now," he said. "Every single day they go out there, they are at some risk. You never get a day off. Every day there is a potential that you will come into conflict. The mental toughness that our soldiers have shown has been absolutely unbelievable. The leaders that we are developing out of these young Americans is incredible. We don't say enough about that."
The young commanders have had to adapt to an enemy that can change tactics quickly. Ordierno said he sees another enemy change coming. He believes the cells might launch horror attacks. "I see them going to more horrific events more suicide bombers, vehicle-borne IEDs because everything else hasn't worked, and they don't have much else left," he said.
He is incredulous at the fact that the former regime cells are already going after Iraqis. He said the Iraqi police and the Civil Defense Corps are common targets. "And they always kill innocent civilians at the same time," he said.
One key to the division's success has been the way it has integrated with special operations forces, Ordierno said. "We have been linked (with special operating forces) from the beginning," he said. "The conventional and special operating forces are one, and I think that's a big part of the success of nabbing Saddam Hussein and a lot of other things that we've done."
The general said the division must continue to work on the intelligence aspect of operations in Iraq. "We are still working through the intelligence we captured with Saddam Hussein," he said.
He said the number of incidents in his region the most contested part of Iraq has remained fairly constant, but the nature of the incidents has changed. "There are a lot of what I call 'drive-by shootings,'" he said. The attacks don't require a lot of preparation and generally do not do any damage, he added.
Ordierno said it is an honor to command the 4th Infantry Division. He said the soldiers have adapted quickly to many changing circumstances. "They are professional at what they do," he said. "They study what they do every day; they react to things that occur, and they just stick at it. They're just absolutely dedicated."