Vigilant eyes make for safer villages: Keystone troops search for caches
May 7, 2009
TAJI, Iraq - Soldiers of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, 56th Styker Brigade Combat Team, scoured a portion of a canal embankment for buried weapons May 4 near Taji, north of Baghdad, in an area where previous joint patrols have found large weapons caches. Though the latest search did not yield a new cache, Soldiers from Company C, 1-112th said the effort was worthwhile.
Capt. Nicholas Buchheit, commander, Co. C, said finding caches "robs the enemy of resources and takes money out of their pockets."
"It's a good fight to fight," he said. "Today's mission was a follow-on mission to the discovery of a large cache."
Co. C Soldiers, working with Iraqi Army Soldiers and Iraqi Police officers, found three weapons caches April 21 near the village of Uhm Najim. The cache totaled 219 pieces of ordnance, including 94 artillery rounds, 54 grenades, 45 mortars and 26 rockets. Soldiers using metal detectors found the cache.
"It was a pretty good day," Sgt. Daniel Kysela of Pittsburgh recalled.
Kysela, a team leader with Co. C's 1st Platoon, said the April find was gratifying for the Soldiers considering the hours of work spent on previous searches that did not turn up explosives or weapons.
"It was kind of refreshing, because we're always out there searching," Kysela said. "Most of the time, we don't find anything; but eventually we do."
Kysela, a student at Pitt University, is on his second deployment to Iraq, after deploying in 2004 with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard's 2nd Brigade. He said there have been big gains by Iraqi Security Forces in that time period.
"They've come a long way," Kysela said.
Kysela believes that showing respect to Iraqi Police officers and Iraqi Army Soldiers - through small gestures such as remembering names and exchanging greetings at the start and end of joint patrols - does a lot to develop working relationships, especially with junior Iraqi Soldiers and police officers.
"I believe that will go a long way in developing their junior NCO's [noncommissioned officers]," he said.