Large cache discoveries highlight security efforts
By Master Sgt. Dave Larsen
1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers, together with Iraqi security forces uncovered more than 10 times the number of mortar rounds and small arms ammunition this week, thanks in large part to several large cache finds southwest of the Iraqi capital.
More than 21,000 small arms round were confiscated this week, up from 2,160 the previous week; while 937 mortar rounds were discovered, up from 89 the week before.
“Our operations are denying terrorists and extremist elements the ability to wage war against innocent Iraqi citizens and our own forces,” said Brig. Gen. John F. Campbell, deputy commanding general for maneuver for MND-B.
“Together with our Iraqi counterparts, we continue the effort to provide a lasting peace here in Baghdad.”
Noting the impact of the arrival of U.S. and Iraqi troops into Baghdad to implement the new security plan, Campbell pointed to the districts of Adhamiyah and Sadr City as recent success stories, based on the decrease in the number of attacks in those areas.
In December, the two eastern Baghdad districts accounted for 440 total attacks, which include small arms fire, improvised explosive device explosions and sectarian murders. From Feb. 5 through March 5 this year, however, Campbell said those attacks dropped to 91.
“Over the past month, there were 18 small arms attacks and 19 murders,” Campbell said. “That is a dramatic decrease from December totals of 116 and 254,respectively.”
The number of IED attacks decreased by nine, compared to the December 2006 monthly total, from 40 down to 31. Campbell said efforts continue in and around Baghdad to take weapons out of the hands of extremists.
The 10th Mountain Division’s 2nd “Commando” Brigade alone uncovered 23 caches during the week of Feb. 24 through March 2.
In all, MND-B units found 51 caches, up 11 from the previous week. In one mission alone, Operation Eagle Viper conducted March 1, the Commando Brigade uncovered eight caches and detained 42 suspects in Janabi Village, Iraq.
With additional troops arriving in the Iraqi capital every day, Campbell noted a steady rise in the number of security patrols in and around Baghdad.
“This week, we conducted more than 24,000 patrols in support of Operation Fardh Al-Qanoon,” Campbell said. “That’s up more than 2,500 from the previous week. Of those 24,000 patrols, more than half were conducted by the Iraqi police and national police forces.”
As security forces throughout Multi-National Division Baghdad expand into the neighborhoods and streets of the city, setting up patrol bases and Joint Security Stations, Campbell said there is an immediate impact on the enemy.
“We’ve seen in a continuing downward trend in attacks,” he said. “”Despite determination by terrorists with Al Qaeda in Iraq to instigate sectarian violence through senseless killing of Iraqi civilians, we are seeing the lethality of these vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices and suicide attacks declining, significantly,” Campbell added. “And sectarian murder levels remain lower than prior to the start of Operation Fardh al-Qanoon.”
Even as the level of violence continues to decline in and around the Iraqi capital, civil affairs operations, especially construction projects were slowed this week. The slow down was not due to violence in the city streets, but rather because of heavy rain and religious holidays, according to Navy Cmdr. Michael Sanchez, a civil military affairs plans officer with MND-B.
However, Sanchez said, the division hosted a team of industry executives, who visited several state-run enterprises in and around Baghdad to gain an appreciation for the existing capabilities and to begin developing strategies to revitalize industry.
“The executive team was sponsored by Paul Brinkley, the Defense Undersecretary for Business Transformation,” Sanchez said. “They went to factories in Iskandariyah, Mussayib and Al Doura.”
Another group brought in by Brinkley focused on agriculture, according to Sanchez. “This team of agricultural experts met with division representatives to discuss agriculturerelated initiatives being conducted in the farming regions around Baghdad,” Sanchez said.
“Three full weeks into the new security plan, we’re seeing the fruits of our labors,” he said. “There is progress being made on the streets of Baghdad as we take the fight to the enemies of a free Iraq.”
(Photo by Pfc. Benjamin Gable 7th MPAD)
Capt. Jeff Noll (left), commander of Co. B, 1st Bn., 23rd Inf. Regt., 3rd SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div., speaks with local residents in Baghdad’s Sadr City district March 4. Coalition forces, together with the Iraqi Army, searched the area and met with elders to discuss how to better the conditions in the area.