Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie
2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)
QUARGHULI VILLAGE, Iraq — Quarghuli Village is one of the wealthiest communities in Iraq, mostly because it was funded by Saddam Hussein before his fall of power. Terrorists migrated and settled in the area for money and safe haven.
In the past when the militaries have gone into the village, terrorists used a unique escape route – the Euphrates River.
Soldiers of the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, “Polar Bears,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), were able to stop any terrorists from escaping the village by using air, land and water assets during Operation Polar Valor on Dec. 7.
“In the past no one has used boats to go into the village,” Maj. Robert Griggs, a native of Stockton Calif., who serves as the operations officer for 4-31. “We used boats to travel down the Euphrates in order to seal off any escape routes that the terrorists may use.”
Although the mission was complex, planning the date that it would occur was also a contributing factor in the operation. The Polar Bears chose to launch Operation Polar Valor on Dec. 7, the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.
“We try to pick days that the enemy knows are holidays to the Americans,” Griggs said. “It is during those times that the enemy is less likely to think we are going to do anything.”
The complex operation involved support from Soldiers of many companies and careful coordination to plan.
“In the past units have used helicopters and trucks to get into villages,” Griggs said. “This is the first time the 2nd BCT has used boats in combat operations. They (the boats) give us another way to get into the village.”
While Soldiers of Company A, the 4-31 Military Transition Team, and scouts traveled down the water, Soldiers of Company C. air assaulted from Yusufiyah, Iraq into the village. Meanwhile, Soldiers of Company D worked with engineers to clear a road fromm one strongpoint in the village to their link-up location with the other companies.
The intent of the mission was for all of the companies to meet up and establish a strongpoint within the village and stop any terrorist form escaping.
“It was nice to do something that you do not get to do every day,” said Pfc. Eric Olson, a native of Lon Tree, Iowa, who serves as an infantryman with Co. C. “The mission went smooth and everyone knew what they were doing – to include the Iraqi Army soldiers.”
IA soldiers from the 4th Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, participated in the operation and proved to be successful.
“The IA soldiers did well – they did everything the right way the first time,” said Sgt. 1st Class Dell Rodriguez, the MITT sergeant and native of Redding, Calif. “They have been doing fairly well in everything and are eager to learn.
During the operation one of the IA soldiers had a chance to speak of the experience. “The mission was great,” said Lt. Hesham, an IA officer. “It is good that we are clearing a dangerous area from terrorists.”
It was through the hard work, careful planning and constant communication that allowed the boats and the helicopters to arrive to Quarghuli Village at the same time. They were perfectly synched with one another.
And having them arrive to the village at the same time proved to be successful. The noise of the helicopters masked the boat operation that was happening at the same time.
One of the local nationals stated that he did not know the U.S. Soldiers were coming into the village by boats since all he heard was helicopters.
After all of the companies met up they set up a temporary battle position until they were able to establish a strong point within the village.
The operation did not allow any terrorists to escape the area.
“We expect to find any terrorists in the area within days,” Griggs said. “The boats allowed us to seal off any area that the terrorists may have tried to use to escape.”
During the operation three, non-detonated improvised explosive devices were found , six detainees were captured and Soldiers from Co. D. were able to maintain a permanent presence in the village.
“The Soldiers did a fantastic job,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Alexander Jiminez, the 4-31 command sergeant major and native of Springfield, Mass. “They cleared an area, found a suitable place to maintain and find some stability and established a strongpoint.”
In the end the Soldiers appreciated the experience.
“This was an experience that you could not get anywhere else but here,” said Pfc. James Knight, a 4-31 infantryman from Madison, Ala.