All Assets Engaged to Find U.S. Soldiers Missing in Iraq
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 14, 2007 All available assets are being engaged to find three missing U.S. soldiers who apparently were captured by enemy forces during a May 12 ambush near Mahmoudiya, Iraq, a senior U.S. military officer told reporters yesterday at a Baghdad news conference.
Aircraft, intelligence units and thousands of U.S. troops have been scouring an area about 20 miles south of Baghdad where the attack occurred, Army Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, told reporters.
“We have an ongoing effort, obviously, to find our three soldiers that have a duty status of whereabouts unknown,” Caldwell said. About 4,000 U.S. forces, he said, are “directly associated” with search efforts.
“Everybody is fully engaged” in the search for the soldiers, Caldwell pointed out, noting “every asset we have, from national (other U.S. government) assets to tactical assets” are being employed.
A convoy-conveyed squad of eight soldiers, seven Americans and one Iraqi army interpreter was attacked by insurgent forces about 12 miles west of Mahmoudiya on May 12, according to U.S. military officials.
An al Qaeda-affiliated terror group that operates in Iraq has since claimed responsibility for the attack and says it is holding the missing U.S. soldiers.
Five soldiers were reported killed in the engagement, Caldwell said, adding the U.S. military sends its thoughts and prayers to the families of the soldiers who were killed or are missing.
Officials have identified four of the five soldiers killed in the attack as being three American and an Iraqi army interpreter, Caldwell said. Efforts continue to identify the remaining deceased U.S. soldier, Caldwell said.
“We have not released even the unit identification to which those soldiers are assigned, because we don’t know who the fifth soldier is yet,” Caldwell said, noting identification of the fifth deceased soldier should be completed soon.
Caldwell pointed to the “Soldier’s Creed,” which says soldiers are not to leave fallen comrades on the field of battle.
“To every man and woman out there serving in uniform here in Iraq from the United States, we believe in this deeply,” Caldwell said. “And, therefore, we will make every effort available to find our three missing soldiers.”