G.N. F. the 13th (part 3)

Would someone please make sure a certain member of the Senate reads this article? I will not call him out by name…  For that would be so snarky and I am a nice person. (really!)

1st Cavalry News

“Shake & Bake”

 Paratroopers in Adhamiyah use brains over brawn

By Sgt. Mike Pryor
2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs

            BAGHDAD – Staff Sgt. Darin Morgan’s platoon had just snatched a suspected insurgent off the streets. They had done it without Apache gun ships hovering overhead and without Stryker vehicles blocking the roads. They did it without blowing open any doors or damaging any property. And they did it without firing a single shot.

All of which, Morgan said, means they did it the right way.

There’s a time and a place for overwhelming force, but in Baghdad’s Adhamiyah District, paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division are learning that sometimes a soft touch can be just as effective.

“We live here. If we have to go in hard, we still have to come back the next day. So if we can take an insurgent off the streets with the minimum amount of firepower and resources necessary, it’s a good thing,” said Morgan, a platoon sergeant with Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

It all began at the tail-end of a long foot patrol April 1, when Morgan’s platoon leader, 1st Lt. Larry Pitts, stopped to talk to a man on the steps of his house in Graya’at, a poor, mostly-Sunni neighborhood in the Adhamiyah district.

2nd Platoon had spent the past five hours knocking on doors and talking to people about their problems. Everyone up to that point had been happy to talk, chattering away as Pitts wrote their answers down in his little green composition pad.

But the owner of this house was different. He and his wife were defensive, reluctant to give Pitts any information. After a few minutes of getting nowhere, Pitts took the man’s name, thanked him for his time, and walked back to his platoon.

Pitts couldn’t shake the feeling something was wrong. He pulled aside intelligence analyst Sgt. Zac Manafort of Moondus, Conn., and asked if he recognized the man’s name. Manafort had memorized the names and aliases of hundreds of suspected insurgents in the area, and this one set off an alarm in his head.

“That guy’s dirty,” Manafort said.

Pitts immediately radioed the man’s name up to headquarters for verification. They said it would take a few minutes. In the meantime, Pitts told the platoon to look busy.

The paratroopers spread out, pretending like they were checking out some shops on the suspect’s street. Staff Sgt. Antonio Alvarado and a few others crowded into a record store around the corner, pretending to look for CDs. The shocked shopkeepers stared wide-eyed at the paratroopers as they browsed the shelves, their bulky body armor, radio antennas, and weapons making it a tight fit inside the cramped shop.

“Here’s that Ricky Martin CD you wanted,” one paratrooper teased his buddy.

Pitts was across the street in a smoothie bar when the response finally came back from headquarters – the suspect’s name matched that of a wanted insurgent. Detain him, they told Pitts.

Pitts and Morgan quickly huddled together to come up with a plan. They needed to separate the suspect from his family.

“We knew they had kids inside (the house), the family was all there, so instead of blowing the door down or kicking it in, we decided to try to gain entry without force,” Pitts said.

Pitts and Morgan decided the circumstances called for a little deception.

They went back to the house. Pitts knocked on the front gate, waving a scrap of paper. It was his phone number, he said, in case the man needed to reach him. The suspect came out to get it. As he took the paper from Pitts’ hands, Pitts took a step back.

“Get him,” he said, out of the corner of his mouth.

San Antonio native Sgt. Hector Hernandez stepped forward and took the man by the hand, pulling him outside into the street. A humvee pulled up. The man looked confused. Within 30 seconds, he was flex-cuffed, searched, and bundled into the waiting vehicle.

The rest of the platoon rushed up to clear the house and search for evidence.  

Pitts found Morgan inside. Morgan congratulated the platoon leader on his performance with the phone number.

“Smooth,” said Morgan.

“Shake and bake,” replied Pitts.

Afterwards, Morgan was pleased at how it had all gone down.

“I think it’s actually more of a surprise than a traditional raid,” he said. “You’re shaking the dude’s hand and then you slap the cuffs on him.”

He said he wasn’t sorry about grabbing the man under false pretences.

“(Insurgents) live a two-faced life, so this was just a taste of their own medicine,” he said.

Pitts was just happy that the platoon had been able to take the man outside, in the open, when they knew he was unarmed.

“It’s safer for our guys and it’s safer for the family,” Pitts said. “If we had to go in blind, that’s when bullets start flying.”

On the ride home in Morgan’s truck, someone realized that it had been a fitting day for the kind of deception they had just pulled off.

It was April Fool’s Day.

 

Pvt. Todd Thomas (foreground) of Hillsboro, Ohio, a radio telephone operator with Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, pulls security while other members of his platoon engage local residents during a patrol in Baghdad's Adhamiyah district April 1. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd Bct, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs)

Pvt. Todd Thomas (foreground) of Hillsboro, Ohio, a radio telephone operator with Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, pulls security while other members of his platoon engage local residents during a patrol in Baghdad’s Adhamiyah district April 1. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd Bct, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs)

 

Los Angeles native Staff Sgt. Julian Romo (right), a squad leader with Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, provides security while platoon sergeant Staff Sgt. Darin Morgan of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., has a conversation about security in the backyard of a local man during a patrol in the Graya'at area of Baghdad's Adhamiyah district April 1. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd Bct, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs)

Los Angeles native Staff Sgt. Julian Romo (right), a squad leader with Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, provides security while platoon sergeant Staff Sgt. Darin Morgan of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., has a conversation about security in the backyard of a local man during a patrol in the Graya’at area of Baghdad’s Adhamiyah district April 1. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd Bct, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs)

 

1st Lt. Larry Pitts (center), of Fayetteville, N.C., a platoon leader with Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, talks with shopkeepers in the Graya'at area of Baghdad's Adhamiyah District during an evening patrol April 1. Pitts' platoon later conducted a successful raid based on information gathered from talking to the neighborhood people. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd Bct, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs)

1st Lt. Larry Pitts (center), of Fayetteville, N.C., a platoon leader with Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, talks with shopkeepers in the Graya’at area of Baghdad’s Adhamiyah District during an evening patrol April 1. Pitts’ platoon later conducted a successful raid based on information gathered from talking to the neighborhood people. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd Bct, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs)

 

Pfc. Reid Woydziak covers Sgt. Hector Hernandez as paratroopers from Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, clear a house during an impromptu raid in the Graya'at area of Baghdad's Adhamiyah district April 1. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd Bct, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs)

Pfc. Reid Woydziak covers Sgt. Hector Hernandez as paratroopers from Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, clear a house during an impromptu raid in the Graya’at area of Baghdad’s Adhamiyah district April 1. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd Bct, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs)

 

Staff Sgt. Antonio Alvarado of Edcouch, Texas, a squad leader with Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, doesn't let artwork depicting a vacation resort distract him from the mission during a raid on a suspected insurgent's house in the Graya'at area of Baghdad's Adhamiyah district April 1. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd Bct, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs)

Staff Sgt. Antonio Alvarado of Edcouch, Texas, a squad leader with Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, doesn’t let artwork depicting a vacation resort distract him from the mission during a raid on a suspected insurgent’s house in the Graya’at area of Baghdad’s Adhamiyah district April 1. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd Bct, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs)
 

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7 Responses to G.N. F. the 13th (part 3)

  1. yankeemom says:

    Our guys are the bestest!!!!

  2. Yankeemom says:

    […] Paratroopers in Adhamiyah use brains over brawn […]

  3. Mulletar says:

    I’m a good friend of the Pvt. Todd Thomas in the first picture. Very cool that the 319th is getting a lot of exposure recently.

    Hooah!

  4. Angel Marge (Soldiers Angel) says:

    I want to THANK all of you guys for what you are doing, for all the sacrifices you’re making by serving our great country! You guys ARE making a difference by being there, after all, how can you have soooo many hero’s in one country and NOT make a difference!!! Angel hugs and lots of prayers coming your way, praying for your safe return!

  5. cavmom says:

    Mulletar ~ Their is so much good going on in the Middle East that it is tough for our military reporters to cover it all. Hugs to your good friend Pvt. Todd Thomas. 🙂

    Angel Marge ~ Thanks for stopping in and sending out hugs to our men and women in the service. The great work of the Angels is very much appreciated by the families back home.

  6. Angel Heather (Soldiers Angels) says:

    I was immediatly drawn to this article…. I sent a care package to this unit and one of the soldiers adopted me (well… I guess you could say it was mutual:). It gets me all teary eyed to actually see what my soldier is doing…. mostly because I am so proud of them. You guys are definatly my heros and you have NO IDEA how much all of us are praying for you and wishing you all a safe return. Just remember…..
    “The task ahead of you is NEVER as great as the POWER BEHIND you”

  7. cavmom says:

    Angel Heather ~ Speaking on behalf of all of us moms, I would like to thank you for reaching out and adopting a Soldier. Every letter, every card, every package that is sent to our sons and daughters helps us back home. To know our loved one is befriended by a stranger, is very heart warming.

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