Iraqi National Police, Warhorse Battalion knock on "Old Town's" doors
May 20, 2009
MOSUL, Iraq - Insurgents thought they'd found a haven in Old Town, a neighborhood on the west side of Mosul, and the city's oldest area, but on April 15 the Mosul Iraqi National Police Brigade and 3rd "Warhorse" Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division joined forces and kicked off an operation to sweep, clear and census in this area.
Operation Warhorse Scimitar brought the Iraqi National Police and Warhorse Battalion together to clear and conduct census of Old Town, denying insurgents and criminals from using it as a bed down area and meeting location.
"Operation Warhorse Scimitar was conducted jointly with Iraqi Security Forces on the west side of Mosul and what we have done not only for this mission, but for the last several months is we have embedded in the Iraqi Security Force formations and conducted clearing operations throughout the periphery of what is called west Mosul," said Warhorse Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Thomas Cipolla.
The densely populated area of Old Town has seen little security force presence in the past, opening the door for insurgents to operate in and around the region. In planning this operation, one of the highlighted goals was to root out insurgent and criminal activity and establish a permanent presence of security throughout the neighborhoods. This operation lasted 15 days and spanned four of the six distinct neighborhoods in Old Town.
"Old Town is the older part of Mosul. It's densely populated. The streets aren't nearly as well developed [as other areas in Mosul]. The infrastructure is much more underdeveloped as opposed to the rest of Mosul," said Cpt. Jeffrey Hendrix, the commander of B Co., 3rd Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. "And we were responsible for supporting the Mosul National Police Brigade as they cleared four of the neighborhoods in Old Town."
The Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces traversed the narrow alleyways and streets together, clearing 5,780 buildings in four neighborhoods and detaining seven individuals suspected of terrorist activities.
The census conducted during the operation determined who lives and works in the neighborhoods, what insurgents were using the neighborhood, where they were working in the neighborhood and what their plans were.
"We were there getting the intel, seeing who lives in this area, who operates this area, who from this area is doing X, Y and Z," said Staff Sgt. John V. Nightingale, the platoon sergeant for B Co.'s 3rd Platoon.
The Mosul Bde. conducted a majority of the census and clearing of the neighborhoods, while Warhorse Battalion provided perimeter security. This handshaking has allowed Coalition Forces to swap trade secrets with the ISF to help them become more successful in securing their own communities.
"We're actually doing some good with the National Police. They're catching onto our actions, how we clear houses, how we walk in formation, why we stagger trucks and how we act toward the Iraqi civilians we encounter, they're really starting to catch on," said Nightingale.
The operation as a whole has played a critical role toward the combined efforts to deny sanctuary to insurgent networks that would likely utilize the area for their own operations and a newly established security presence is beginning to reap rewards.
"We are getting a lot of positive feedback from the neighborhoods [about the operation]," said Hendrix. "We've had a large decrease in significant activities in these neighborhoods. We are working with local police to continue patrols in these areas and that has been successful. I think that the impact and effect we wanted, we are starting to see."
Six neighborhoods are expected to be cleared by the end of this operation. Neighborhoods such as Baghdad Garage, Bab Al Beeth, Bab Al Jadeed and Bab Al Toob, all in west Mosul, will begin to see relative peace and the start of reconstruction and commerce as this operation winds down and ISF establish a consistent presence here.
Cipolla said, "As we came into Mosul we saw a lot of areas that were completely demoralized and not living under normal conditions by any stretch of the imagination. Now we are starting to see areas where we have gained security footholds start to blossom and start to flourish.
"There are businesses that are opening back up. There are projects that are happening in these areas," he said. "We view the Old Town area as the most challenging area but one of the areas that has the most potential for growth as well."