Thursday, January 18, 2007

Wolverine Soldiers assault packaging plants

Spc. Chris McCann
2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)

BAGHDAD, Iraq — It’s the stuff war movies are made of – breaking in doors, Soldiers moving in, rifles at the ready. And it isn’t just movies.
Soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI) conducted a nighttime raid on a Baghdad meat-packaging facility suspected of being a terrorist meeting place Jan. 7.
The 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division concurrently assaulted the salt factory next door, also a suspected terrorist planning area. The two-pronged assault netted 32 detainees and more than 20 weapons, including 11 AK-47s, a Kalishnikov assault rifle, two SKS Russian-made carbines, 15 60mm mortar rounds and a PPSh submachine gun.
The men, some of whom were guards at the building, were detained due to suspicion that they were allowing the buildings to be used as a terrorist rendezvous point, a suspicion strengthened by the weapons found in the area.
The 1-89 Wolverines staged at Forward Operating Base Falcon, Iraq, with the 1-18, then rolled out under cover of darkness.
“It was our first joint operation,” said Lt. Col. Mark Suich, a native of Greenville, Penn., and commander of 1-89. “It was a very successful operation.”
Sgt. Jess Thurman of Denver, Colo., a team leader with Troop C, 1-89, said that the Soldiers seemed glad to put their skills to use.
“It’s not often we get to do this,” Thurman said. “It’s fun to do our job as infantrymen and take down the ‘bad guys’.”
The factory was locked up for the night, and Soldiers stormed the building methodically, breaking down doors and clearing each room despite the fact that they had been awake and working for many hours.
“It’s been a long day,” said Thurman, “But everyone kept their heads up and kept their motivation.”
Pfc. William Salser, a dismount with C Troop and a native of Calumet City, Ill., enjoyed the mission.
“This mission rocked,” he said. “We got to enter and clear a building. My buddy and I got to kick a door down. It really increased my motivation hearing the word ‘Breach!’”
Platoon leader 1st Lt. Andy Kimes, a native of Fostoria, Ohio, said he was pleased by the Soldiers’ teamwork, which they’ve trained on extensively.
“I enjoyed it because it’s payoff of all the training,” he said. “Seeing it all come together was great.”
Troop C’s lead scout, Staff Sgt. Myles Page, a native of Birmingham, Ala., also was pleased by the execution of the mission.
“The motivation the entire platoon had upon entering the objective was high,” he said. “Everyone was pumped about such a large-scale operation. All the drills we’d completed and the skills we’ve acquired gave us the will to accomplish the mission.”
The raid netted 32 people who were detained for questioning. Six of those were kept in custody and brought to Camp Cropper, Iraq, for further questioning; the others were released.
In addition to the men detained in the operation, Soldiers found money and bonds from various countries in one of the buildings and a cache of 15 mortar rounds nearby.
Spc. Christopher Ray, a native of Waveland, Miss., and a cook with 1-89, guarded and searched the detainees. He summed up the mission in a single sentence.
“We were expecting weapons and bad guys,” Ray said. “We found what we were looking for.”

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