By Spc. Chris McCann
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) PAO
RADWANIYAH, Iraq — The area just west of Baghdad and the coalition forces’ Victory Base Complex is quiet – so quiet that the tiny villages south of Az-Zaidon get very little attention.
But there are fears that this area, just southeast of Fallujah, is a bit too quiet.
“It’s an intelligence gap,” said Capt. Josh Betty, a native of College Station, Texas, and the assistant plans officer for the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) out of Fort Drum, N.Y.
The battalion has made several incursions into the area, but hasn’t established a permanent foothold there. The intelligence gap – as well as some tips that two Soldiers captured in a May 12 attack had been taken to the Radwaniyah area – meant another mission in the area was due.
Troops from Companies B and D of the 2-14 were dispatched June 3 to clear several houses in what was dubbed Operation Hermes. But with such a large area, the “Golden Dragons,” as 2-14 is called, needed assistance. They called on Co. C of the 1st Battalion (Stryker), 23rd Infantry Regiment, which had been aiding in the search for the missing Soldiers, to lend a hand.
The 2-14 Soldiers air-assaulted into the area while the Stryker vehicles moved in under cover of darkness.
“It’s an isolated objective area southwest of Baghdad,” said Betty. “Right now, we don’t have a lot of intelligence on the area, so we were gathering intelligence for conducting future operations.”
The area, like most of the 2nd BCT’s area of operations, is pastoral. Children herd sheep and goats while adults work fields of wheat, alfalfa, and vegetables.
The troops of the Stryker battalion cleared many houses as the 2-14 Soldiers provided the security cordon around the area, moving through the scattered groups of homes with Iraqi Army troops. One of the homes had an SA-7 – a shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile system - and two men were detained and taken to Camp Striker for questioning about the weapon.
Having the extra Soldiers was critical, Betty said.
“Due to our current situation, our organic elements are tied up with their own patrols and patrol bases – they don’t have a lot of people to flex one way or another. This gave us the ability to use our own small organic units and a whole company of personnel to actually go in and secure the objective – it let us put a lot more people on the ground.”
The fields and farmlands of the Radwaniyah and Zaidon areas will continue to be patrolled by the 2-14th, Betty said, in an effort to keep terror at bay and the population there safe.
“We’ve been up there a number of times,” said Betty, “and we’re continuing to operate in the area to make it safer for Iraq and get a better picture of what’s going on there.”
Thursday, June 07, 2007
By Spc. Chris McCann