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Coalition Forces Complete Operation Mountain Sweep

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 26, 2002 – More than 2,000 U.S. and coalition forces completed Operation Mountain Sweep in the former al Qaeda and Taliban areas of Southeastern Afghanistan.

Army Maj. Gary Tallman, a spokesman with Combined Joint Task Force-180, said the operation was the first for the 82nd Airborne Division since its arrival in country. "They performed flawlessly," Tallman said.

The troopers of the 82nd joined with Army Rangers and other coalition special operations forces to mount five combat air assault missions. Combat engineers, aviation assets and civil affairs detachments also took part in the operation that started Aug. 18.

Tallman said Mountain Sweep continues Operation Mountain Lion in searching out al Qaeda and Taliban forces and information about the terrorist organizations. The troops discovered five separate weapons caches and two caches of Taliban documents. The operation took place mainly around the villages of Dormat and Narizah south of the cities of Khowst and Gardez. The troopers found an anti-aircraft artillery gun, two 82mm mortars and ammunition, a recoilless rifle, rockets, rocket-propelled grenades, machines guns and thousands of small arms rounds.

Coalition forces detained 10 persons during the operation. They are now at Bagram air base for questioning and processing, Tallman said.

Tallman said U.S. forces came under small arms fire twice during the operation. In both instances, U.S. forces returned fire. There were no U.S. casualties and American troops were unable to ascertain what damage if any they did to enemy forces.

Tallman said the combat air assaults were complex operations with some of the assaults requiring two lifts to get all the forces into the area. The troops went in aboard CH-47 helicopters escorted by Apache gunships. "This was the first opportunity for the 82nd to project combat power in the theater and they did it in a professional manner," Tallman said.

Operations will continue to search for and find remaining al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. Operations will also continue to locate arms caches and intelligence information.

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