1st Cavalry News
Iraqi troops, Mountain Soldiers find largest cache in Commando Brigade history, more than 1100 mortar rounds
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs
YUSUFIYAH, Iraq — Iraqi Army and Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers uncovered more than 1,100 81mm high-explosive mortar rounds at a cache near the main highway, Route Tampa, leading into the Iraqi capital Feb. 3.Troops from 3rd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division and Troop B, 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment “Wolverines,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), made the discovery during Operation Wolverine Alesia near Yusufiyah, Iraq, just 10 miles southwest of the capital.Acting on a tip from a local resident, the troops conducted an intentional search of the area which resulted in the largest cache find in 2nd “Commando” Brigade’s history. In all, 1,129 mortar rounds were uncovered.
The cache, which was buried in the dirt, was larger than expected. As the Soldiers continued to unearth more mortar rounds, it became evident that this was a major find
These mortars rounds are in the configuration to use as improvised explosive devises,” said Lt. Col. Mark Suich, the 1-89th’s commander and native of Redding, Pa. “The mortar rounds in this state cannot be used for indirect fire; they are fabricated and stored to be used against the coalition and sectarian enemies as IEDs.
Suich said the seizure of so many munitions can only hurt terrorist operations. “We put a significant reduction in the enemy’s ability to emplace IEDs in this area today,” Suich said. “We are pretty sure that these are affiliated with al Qaeda in Iraq.
The area around Yusufiyah has long been identified as an al-Qaeda and former regime safe haven where attacks against Baghdad and coalition and Iraqi security forces originated.
“This is what we refer to as a weapons supermarket-type cache,” said Maj. Mark Aitken, the 1-89th executive officer and a naturalized U.S. citizen from Leicester, England. “The terrorists place a large cache of weapons in one place to draw from. They then pre-position what they draw in many other smaller caches around the countryside.
During the operation four individuals were detained by the Iraqi Army for suspicious activity in the vicinity of the cache.
At a second cache site located nearby, Troop C, 1-89th found 20 120mm mortar rounds, 26 81mm mortar rounds, four medium machine guns, 8,000 rounds of machine gun ammunition, three rifle scopes, 60 fragmentation hand grenades, 50 pounds of homemade explosives, 27 boxes of 5.56mm rifle ammunition and 10 rocket-propelled grenade projectiles.
Operation Wolverine Alesia is a joint operation designed to deny terrorist sanctuary along Route Tampa, the military designation for Iraqi Highway One, leading into Baghdad from the south. The operation began Feb. 3 and is ongoing.
The operation is named after a Roman battle led by Julius Caesar against the Gauls in 52 B.C., where the conquering force surrounded the enemy at the fortifications of Alesia in modern-day eastern France and defeated the defenders through siege warfare. The battle of Alesia marked the turning point in the Gallic Wars.
“Today we took over 1,100 IEDs off of the streets of Baghdad,” said Maj. Web Wright, spokesman for the Commando Brigade and a native of Annapolis, Md. “Not only did we take these weapons off of the streets, 3-4-6 IA is fully integrated into this operation. Last night, they found three caches and were actively involved in finding these two.”
The mortar rounds were destroyed during a controlled detonation by the explosive ordnance disposal detachment at approximately 2:35 p.m. The blast could be heard for more than 20 miles.
The four suspects detained are being held for questioning.
More than 1100 mortar rounds were found by Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 89th Calvary Regiment “Wolverines,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) along Route Tampa, just 10 miles southwest of Baghdad Feb. 3. (U.S.Army photo)