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82nd Airborne Launches Operation Near Bagram

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2003 – Coalition forces in Afghanistan launched another battalion-sized operation March 27, this time in the Kohe Safi Mountains near Bagram Air Base, Combined Joint Task Force180 officials said.

Troops from the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, kicked off Operation Desert Lion with an air assault from Chinook and Black Hawk helicopters.

The area is just five kilometers from the air base. Troopers found two caches of weapons that included 107 mm rockets, mortar rounds, recoilless rocket rounds and cases of machine-gun ammunition. Disposal experts blew up the caches in place.

CJTF-180 spokeswoman Army Capt. Alayne Cramer said coalition troops had searched the area before. "Intelligence sources and tips from local Afghans suggested we revisit the area," she said.

Cramer also said that Operation Valiant Strike is drawing to a close. That operation, in the Sami Ghar Mountains near Kandahar, began March 20. The battalion-sized operation included troops from the 82nd Airborne, special operations forces and Romanian soldiers. Cramer said the operation detained nine Afghans with suspected Taliban ties. "There was no enemy contact the whole time," she said.

In the Afghan capital of Kabul, the seventh battalion of Afghan national army recruits graduated from the Military Training Center. The army will use the more than 600 graduates to bring its first two battalions up to full strength. The Afghan national army now has more than 3,000 soldiers.

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