• "The locals have been supportive of us and it's helped a lot with our job of keeping this place as secure as possible," said Houston native 1st Lt. Adrian Moreno, a platoon leader and combat engineer assigned to Echo Troop, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, as an Iraqi farmer explains the security situation here, April 10. On the outskirts of Baghdad, Echo Troop carried out disruption patrols along the canals to hinder insurgents from bringing improvised explosive device materials and weapons into their area of operations.

    "The locals have been supportive of us and it's...

    "The locals have been supportive of us and it's helped a lot with our job of keeping this place as secure as possible," said Houston native 1st Lt. Adrian Moreno, a platoon leader and combat engineer assigned to Echo Troop, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry...

  • An Echo Troop Soldier waits for an Iraqi farmer to cross a canal into Shaab on the outskirts of Baghdad, April 10. "The Iraqis are honored that we're here to watch out for the security of the local people and the children," said 1st Lt. Adrian Moreno, a platoon leader and combat engineer from Houston assigned to Echo Troop, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment.

    An Echo Troop Soldier waits for an Iraqi farmer...

    An Echo Troop Soldier waits for an Iraqi farmer to cross a canal into Shaab on the outskirts of Baghdad, April 10. "The Iraqis are honored that we're here to watch out for the security of the local people and the children," said 1st Lt. Adrian Moreno...

  • Staff Sgt. Lee Anthony, from Copperas Cove, Texas, a combat engineer squad leader assigned to Echo Troop, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, waits for Iraqi farmers to cross a canal before searching their bags for weapons in northern Adhamiyah here, April 10. During Operation Magnon al-Wombet, Echo Troop Soldiers made sure people weren't transporting improvised explosive devices, weapons or contraband at different locations throughout the neighborhood. The operation stifled insurgents smuggling items into Baghdad from the outskirts of the city.

    Staff Sgt. Lee Anthony, from Copperas Cove...

    Staff Sgt. Lee Anthony, from Copperas Cove, Texas, a combat engineer squad leader assigned to Echo Troop, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, waits for Iraqi farmers to cross a canal before searching their bags for weapons in northern Adhamiyah here...

  • Staff Sgt. Brooks Corpening (left), from Lenior, N.C., a combat engineer squad leader and Staff Sgt. Mason Wood, a native of Kopperl, Texas, both assigned to Echo Troop, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, navigate a pipeline used for smuggling contraband into Baghdad, April 10. The Soldiers continually patrol the area to discourage insurgent activity and encourage security in the neighborhood of Shaab.

    Staff Sgt. Brooks Corpening (left), from...

    Staff Sgt. Brooks Corpening (left), from Lenior, N.C., a combat engineer squad leader and Staff Sgt. Mason Wood, a native of Kopperl, Texas, both assigned to Echo Troop, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, navigate a pipeline used for smuggling...

  • Echo Troop, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment Soldiers stand guard while an Iraqi man watches in the distance as the sun sets at the beginning of a patrol during Operation Magnon al-Wombet in Shaab, April 10. The operation was designed specifically to stop the flow of improvised explosive devices, weapons and contraband from the outskirts of the city to the center of Baghdad.

    Echo Troop, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment...

    Echo Troop, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment Soldiers stand guard while an Iraqi man watches in the distance as the sun sets at the beginning of a patrol during Operation Magnon al-Wombet in Shaab, April 10. The operation was designed specifically...

BAGHDAD - In a neighborhood in northern Adhamiyah here, a 3-foot wide pipe juts out of murky water connecting two steep banks. The north side of the canal has lush, green fields of varying crops. On the south side, there are disheveled residences with children peeking out from behind doorways. From the fields to their homes, children work with their parents transporting crops on their backs across the pipe that intersects the canal. But crops aren't the only things that can be transported across these slippery pipes.

"This is one of only a few locations where locals can get from the north to the south," said 1st Lt. Adrian Moreno, a combat engineer and platoon leader from Houston assigned to Echo Troop, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. "We have to make sure they are only transporting crops and that the people aren't transporting improvised explosive device materials and weapons."

Stopping the flow of IED materials, weapons and other contraband into the center of Baghdad from places like Shaab on the outskirts of the city, is a difficult task. According to Moreno, Echo Troop has located possible smuggling points and increased security on the canals in their area of operation during Operation Magnon al-Wombet.

"Any area's going to have its weak links. One of the weakest links in the outskirts of Baghdad I've noticed is the farmlands and the canals," said Sweetwater, Texas native Cpl. Martin McDonell, a combat engineer team leader assigned to Echo Troop. "That's where a lot of weapons smuggling is coming in, so if we provide disruption patrols up there and maybe make the terrorists or insurgents...make them think twice about bringing weapons into the area, then it's going to benefit the city center and our AO specifically in Shaab."

For this operation, the Echo Troop Soldiers work hand-in-hand with the Iraqi National Police to establish checkpoints in critical smuggling thoroughfares.

"These checkpoints are external checkpoints on the outskirts that we set up and control and search people," added Maj. Talib Mishat Khamis, the commander for the 4th Company, 3rd Bn., 4th Bde., 1st National Police Division. "With these checkpoints, we can control the stability and climate of the center of Baghdad."

These operations are vital to the security of Baghdad and have an active role in seizing weapons headed toward the heart of the city, added Talib.

"The people that are trying to smuggle in weapons see us out here and they're going to think twice about it," explained McDonell. "The Iraqi population is going to see us doing these CPs and they're going to feel more secure and more comforted. It's just a snowball effect of things getting better."

Getting better for Coalition forces, Iraqi Security Forces, but more importantly, it's getting better for the people of Iraq.

"When citizens see us out here providing security, they feel more secure," emphasized Talib. "We notice it on the people's faces. When they pass us, they give us a warm greeting."

Even though many of the Iraqi farmers have toiled most of the day in the fields just north of the canal, they don't mind being stopped on their way back home.

"I believe that the majority of them don't see it as a hindrance," confided McDonell. "It may disrupt their daily lives a little bit, but what they realize is that a minor disruption today is insignificant compared to if we hadn't done these."

The few minutes it takes Moreno and his men to thoroughly search the heaping bags of freshly reaped wheat will safeguard the neighborhood of Shaab. Operations like Magnon al-Wombet, secure the smaller neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city directly impacting the overall security of Baghdad.

Page last updated Mon April 20th, 2009 at 16:14