Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 19 Dec 2007

From MNF-I, Concerned Local Citizens turn over large cache (Al Bawi).

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – Concerned Local Citizens handed over a large cache to Soldiers from Company A, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment near Al Bawi, Iraq, Dec. 16.

The seizure of the cache came just one day after Company A Soldiers and CLCs cleared the main route into Al Bawi from the north in a combined operation.

“This cache find is another event that proves the Concerned Local Citizens are part of the team and willing to fight the fight to get rid of extremists,” said Maj. John Cushing, from Rochester, Mich., the operations officer for the 1-15th Inf. Regt.

The cache consisted of 100 land mines, two 105 mm projectiles, two 120 mm mortars, two 120 mm projectiles, two 152 mm projectiles, 100 pounds of propellant, 7.62 mm ammunition and an explosively-formed projectile casing.

Soldiers from Company A worked with CLCs to clear the main route into Al Bawi from the north Dec. 13 and 14. During the clearing operation, Soldiers helped the CLCs establish checkpoints along the route from which locals could maintain security in the region. Company A Soldiers were patrolling the newly cleared route and checking on their new partners when CLCs brought the contents of the cache to one of the recently established checkpoints.

Capt. Will Clark, from Wheeling, Ill., the Company A commander, said the route was dominated by al-Qaeda in Iraq elements in the Al Bawi vicinity and the western side of the Tigris River that commonly fired upon the route with small arms and indirect fire assets.

“Clearing the route will facilitate civilian movement and allow the Concerned Local Citizens to defend against AQI on the western side of the Tigris River,” Clark said. “Hopefully, at some point, the open roadway will stimulate economic growth in Al Bawi. It has been relatively non-existent because people are just trying to get by.”

Clark explained that seizing large caches contributes to his unit accomplishing its primary purpose – blocking ammunition from moving into Baghdad for use by extremists. Clark is optimistic that the recent operations will limit insurgents’ ability to traffic weapons and ammunition through the area.

The 1-15th Inf. Regt. is part of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga., and has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March.