• TAJI, Iraq - Staff Sgt. Craig Stevens (center), of Pottsville, Pa., with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, maneuvers through a cloud of dust to get into position between two other Soldiers, June 3, after dismounting the departing UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. The 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team Soldiers air assaulted into the desert near Nubai, northwest of Taji, along with Iraqi Army Soldiers to conduct searches for possible weapons caches.

    TAJI, Iraq - Staff Sgt. Craig Stevens (center)...

    TAJI, Iraq - Staff Sgt. Craig Stevens (center), of Pottsville, Pa., with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, maneuvers through a cloud of dust to get into position between two other Soldiers, June 3, after...

  • TAJI, Iraq - Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team move toward a waiting UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, June 3, to leave a search site in the Iraqi desert near Nubai. The Pennsylvania Guardsmen worked with Soldiers of the Iraqi Army's 2nd Battalion, 37th Brigade to search for possible weapons caches after air assaulting into the area.

    TAJI, Iraq - Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 112th...

    TAJI, Iraq - Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team move toward a waiting UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, June 3, to leave a search site in the Iraqi desert near Nubai. The Pennsylvania Guardsmen worked with...

  • TAJI, Iraq - Spc. Elam Scott (left), of Pottstown, Pa., Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion 112th Infantry Regiment, and an Iraqi Army Soldier make their way off a helipad at Camp Taji, June 3, at the end of a mission. The 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team Soldiers worked with IA Soldiers to search for weapons caches after air assaulting into the Iraqi desert near Nubai, northwest of Taji.

    TAJI, Iraq - Spc. Elam Scott (left), of...

    TAJI, Iraq - Spc. Elam Scott (left), of Pottstown, Pa., Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion 112th Infantry Regiment, and an Iraqi Army Soldier make their way off a helipad at Camp Taji, June 3, at the end of a mission. The 56th Stryker...

  • TAJI, Iraq - Sonja, a military working dog, and her handler, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert Weigold, with the 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, climb out of a gulley in the Iraqi desert near Numbai, northwest of Taji, June 3. The duo joined Soldiers of Company A, 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team in searching for weapons caches.

    TAJI, Iraq - Sonja, a military working dog, and...

    TAJI, Iraq - Sonja, a military working dog, and her handler, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert Weigold, with the 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, climb out of a gulley in the Iraqi desert near Numbai, northwest of Taji, June 3. The duo joined...

  • TAJI, Iraq - Staff Sgt. Theodore Rakar (left), of Portage, Pa., with 856th Engineer Company, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, and Capt. James Collard (center), of Louisville, Ky., with a military transition team attached to the Iraqi Army's 37th Brigade, talk with two IA Soldiers, June 3, following a search for possible weapons caches in the desert near Nubai.

    TAJI, Iraq - Staff Sgt. Theodore Rakar (left)...

    TAJI, Iraq - Staff Sgt. Theodore Rakar (left), of Portage, Pa., with 856th Engineer Company, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, and Capt. James Collard (center), of Louisville, Ky., with a military transition team attached to the Iraqi Army's 37th...

  • TAJI, Iraq - A metal detector operator prepares to move with fellow 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team Soldiers to another search point in the desert near Nubai, June 3. Detectors, shovels and a little luck are some of the tools used to hunt for weapons caches in the vast open spaces of the Iraqi desert.

    TAJI, Iraq - A metal detector operator prepares...

    TAJI, Iraq - A metal detector operator prepares to move with fellow 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team Soldiers to another search point in the desert near Nubai, June 3. Detectors, shovels and a little luck are some of the tools used to hunt for weapons...

  • TAJI, Iraq - Sgt. Brian Reger, of Ellicott City, Md., 856th Engineer Company, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, runs a metal detector over a suspected weapons cache site, June 3. "Independence" Soldiers worked with Iraqi Army Soldiers to search an area northwest of Taji which has been used in the past for hiding weapons.

    TAJI, Iraq - Sgt. Brian Reger, of Ellicott...

    TAJI, Iraq - Sgt. Brian Reger, of Ellicott City, Md., 856th Engineer Company, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, runs a metal detector over a suspected weapons cache site, June 3. "Independence" Soldiers worked with Iraqi Army Soldiers to search an area...

  • TAJI, Iraq - Spc. Elam Scott, of Pottstown, Pa., Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, kicks through some loose soil, June 3, after running a metal detector over a suspected weapons cache site. Soldiers from the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team worked with Iraqi Army Soldiers to search an area northwest of Taji which has been used in the past for hiding weapons.

    TAJI, Iraq - Spc. Elam Scott, of Pottstown...

    TAJI, Iraq - Spc. Elam Scott, of Pottstown, Pa., Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, kicks through some loose soil, June 3, after running a metal detector over a suspected weapons cache site. Soldiers from the...

  • TAJI, Iraq - Spc. Elam Scott (left), of Pottstown, Pa., and Staff Sgt. Craig Stevens, of Pottsville, Pa., both with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry, check the coordinates of their next search point, June 3. Soldiers searched for weapons caches in the Iraqi desert, near Nubai.

    TAJI, Iraq - Spc. Elam Scott (left), of...

    TAJI, Iraq - Spc. Elam Scott (left), of Pottstown, Pa., and Staff Sgt. Craig Stevens, of Pottsville, Pa., both with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry, check the coordinates of their next search point, June 3. Soldiers...

TAJI, Iraq - Soldiers from a Pennsylvania Army National Guard unit worked with Iraqi Army Soldiers, June 3, to confirm that insurgents have not reseeded a small portion of desert area, northwest of Taji, with weapon caches.

The joint mission also provided IA Soldiers an opportunity to hone air assault skills as the Iraqis participated in a helicopter insertion into the search point with their 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team counterparts.

"Today's mission was a combined air assault operation. The purpose was to confirm or deny whether the area is being used by the enemy for logistics," said Capt. Greg Holloway, of Slippery Rock, Pa., commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, 56th SBCT.

Holloway said insurgents have used the location in the past for hiding weapons. U.S. and Iraqi forces periodically search such areas to ensure insurgents don't begin using them again.

"We try to get out and search those areas," Holloway said. "Overall, we confirmed that it's not being used. Also, we were giving the Iraqi Army some general experience in using Army aircraft."

Nearly 50 Pennsylvania National Guard Soldiers and IA Soldiers participated in the mission. After scrambling from a pair of UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, Soldiers divided into search teams and used metal detectors and two military working dogs to search an area near Nubai.

"This was historically a cache site. There have been some things found here in the past," said Staff Sgt. Craig Stevens, of Pottsville, Pa.

Though the Soldiers discovered no weapons caches on this mission, Stevens said the times when weapons are found are rewarding. Stevens said anything found by Iraqi and U.S. forces is that many fewer weapons available to insurgents.

"We've found some timing devices and initiators," Stevens said of previous searches by his squad in other areas. "It's kind of exciting when you find something."

Spc. Elam Scott, also of Pottstown, Pa., operated a metal detector for one team and pinpointed his team's search locations using GPS technology. His team excavated several small areas but found only old, expended rounds and other bits of metal. Finding no new caches confirmed what areas have not been used by insurgents. Even though the searches turned up nothing, a gain was made.

"It's a good opportunity to work with the Iraqi Army," Scott said.

A team of Soldiers secured the perimeter of the area while the search teams worked. Holloway said there was very little civilian traffic in the area. He said that traffic was related to farming or related to a fuel depot in the area.

"Just people living their lives in the middle of nowhere," Holloway said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16