CAMP STRIKER, Iraq (Army News Service, Aug. 13, 2008) - Iraqi Army and Rakkasan Soldiers executed Operation Kips Bay, an air assault to establish a solid IA presence in Al Betra in the early morning hours Aug. 8.

Al Betra is approximately 30 kilometers southwest of Baghdad and has had only a small presence of Coalition and IA forces in the area.

The 4th Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Brigade, 17th Iraqi Army Division and Company A, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) conducted the combined mission.

Teams of Soldiers searched houses for any evidence of caches and insurgent activity and assessed the area for terrorist threats during the sweep.

"This mission was good for the Iraqi Army; it shows that we are concerned about the area and here for the people," said 2nd Lt. Thaw Al Fkar, 4/1/23/17th IA. "The area we went into has been known for terrorist activity, and going in showed that the terrorists cannot have this area."

"Prior to even coming into the area we spent five days (surveying), speaking with the local sheikhs and leaders, gaining information on what to expect," said 2nd Lt. Jerry Wolfe, from Headquarters Platoon, Co. A, 3-187th Inf. Regt.

"We are making sure the IA stays focused in the area. They (play) more of a dominant role in the region, and the people see them and interact with them," Wolfe said. "The main thing is to keep the IA in the lead."

Coalition forces are functioning in primarily a support role on missions like Kips Bay to prepare the IA for their transition to the lead security element in the area currently under 3rd BCT, 101st Abn. Div. (AASLT) control.

"(Kips Bay) helps with transition," Fkar said. "The Soldiers involved were well prepared, and there was good work between the Coalition and IA."