Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Iraqi ‘Commando Company’ shines in Apollo Fury

2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. PAO

SADR AL-YUSUFIYAH, Iraq — An operation called Apollo Fury let a company of Iraqi Army soldiers demonstrate their growing skills June 6 southwest of Baghdad.
Soldiers of the 4th Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division led the operation in conjunction with troops of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) out of Fort Drum, N.Y., near the village of Sadr Al-Yusufiyah, Iraq.
The mission, aimed at capturing high-profile targets responsible for trafficking in foreign fighters, resulted in the detention of 13 men. Eleven were released after questioning at Camp Striker, and two processed into the Iraqi judicial system. But even beyond capturing the targets, the mission showed how much Iraqi troops of the 4/4/6 are progressing.
“They’re the best-trained company in the brigade,” said 1st Lt. Michael Keasler, a native of Augusta, Ga., and the executive officer for Co. B. “They were clearing houses and routes, exploiting caches and were absolutely pivotal in finding information.
“They’re the best Iraqi troops I’ve ever worked with, the most energetic and motivated, and their initiative on the objectives was outstanding. I’d fight with them anywhere.”
The company, nicknamed “Commandos” for their capabilities, has not been trained any differently than any other Iraqi troops. They just do a better job than the average soldier, said Keasler.
The operation included checking a mosque known to be hostile to Coalition Forces, Keasler said. But instead of breaking down the door, the soldiers went to the local imam, who unlocked the door for them, and then followed all the proper customs for entering the sanctuary.
“They were very courteous and gave an outstanding performance,” Keasler said. “They deal with the locals very well, they’re helping build a large intelligence network, and their actions are definitely based on their stealth and use of tactics and warfare.”
The company’s presence for Operation Apollo Fury wasn’t an accident, he said.
“Gen. Ali Jassim al-Frejee (commander of the 4/6 IA) chose this company for the mission because of its complexity,” said Keasler. “They have often been used for the most challenging, immediate reaction missions. Most of them have been serving in the Iraqi Army for two or three years now, and for the last 11 months have been training with the 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd BCT, there in Mahmudiyah.”
The skills of the Commando Company offer hope in the bleak picture the media often paints of Iraqi security forces.
“I really hope they’re an example of what the Iraqi Army will be soon,” said Keasler. “They’ll be a solid, effective fighting force.”

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