Weapons Cache Grows as Soldiers Keep Digging
By Pfc. Kelly K. McDowell, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, Nov. 18, 2005 After receiving a tip from a local resident, soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, uncovered what turned out to be a large weapons cache west of Baghdad.
Capt. Matt Ruckman, commander of B Troop, 1st Squadron, 75th Cavalry Regiment, looks at a mortar, one of many discovered in a weapons cache his soldiers uncovered west of Baghdad Nov. 16. Photo by Pfc. Kelly K. McDowell, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The unit initially found a small cache consisting of two rocket-propelled grenades and an AK-47 assault rifle Nov. 14. But after uncovering this weapons cache, the soldiers of 1st Squadron, 75th Cavalry Regiment, expanded the search of the area, resulting in one of the largest of 17 weapons cache discoveries the team has made to date.
After receiving the informant's tip, the soldiers started their search by using a metal detector. They began to dig up munitions and weapons at 3 p.m., and the dig continued until after midnight Nov. 16. When an explosives ordnance disposal team arrived at the site, the soldiers were still discovering more weapons caches buried in the field.
"After we found the smaller cache, it just kept going," said Staff. Sgt. Joel Killian, 1st Platoon, B Troop, 1st Squadron, 75th Cavalry. "First we would find a mortar plate, then we would find the tube. Next, every side road was filled with weapons, so we just continued to search and continued to discover more and more weapons buried in the field."
When the troops find a cache, they dig by hand with shovels for hours before uncovering the full load of munitions and weapons.
As of Nov. 16, the weapons cache consisted of 150,000 7.62 rounds of ammunition, 600 propellant charges, 500 blasting caps, 400 artillery fuses, 150 hand grenades, 150 120 mm rounds, 125 rockets, 100 primer charges, 85 82 mm mortar rounds, 68 60 mm rounds, 50 plastic grenades, 35 anti-tank mines, 13 20 mm rockets, 12 RPG launchers, multiple barrels and bags of small-arms ammunition, seven missiles, seven rolls of copper wire, three 60 mm mortar systems, three 55-gallon drums of fertilizer, three rolls of detonation cord, two 82 mm mortar tubes with bases, and one 82 mm mortar system.
"This is a great step in removing capability, the means with which terrorists execute their indiscriminate and cowardly violence," said Army Col. Todd Ebel, 2nd Brigade Combat Team commander. "I am very proud of all the soldiers involved with this cache find. These soldiers and others like them across this brigade combat team are making a difference in the safety of south Baghdad."
(Army Pfc. Kelly K. McDowell is assigned to the 101st Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)