By Pfc. Evan Loyd, 2nd BCT PAO, 1st Armd. Div., MND-BApril 20, 2009
BAGHDAD - Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers and Iraqi Soldiers of the Commando Battalion, 17th Iraqi Army Brigade, conducted Operation Al-Sakar, a combined counter insurgency operation in support of the Security Agreement, in the Owesat area southwest of Baghdad April 12.
The purpose of the counter insurgency operation was to clear weapons and explosives caches and capture insurgents in the Owesat area. The IA with support from Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd 'Iron' Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, also sought to establish security in the area for the people of Owesat in order to implement permanent reforms in security and quality of life.
"The Owesat area is void of a Coalition forces presence and is a potential location to move accelerants into the Baghdad area," said Lt. Col. Brian Eifler, of Detroit, commander, 1-6 Inf., 2nd BCT, 1st Armd. Div. "The objective of this mission was to destabilize any AQI and other terrorist organization operations in the Owesat area."
The cornerstone of any counter insurgency effort is establishing security for the local population and controlling the area. Once security is stable, a long-term presence can be implemented to facilitate the basic needs of the people.
The joint task forces began the operation in the early morning hours of April 12 with an air-assault insertion to secure and defend the objective in the Owesat area.
"We wanted to surprise any insurgents and show them that nowhere is safe from the combined ISF and Coalition Forces," said Eifler. "We can surround an area in minutes with little to no warning and that we can do it anytime."
During the mission the joint task forces cleared a total of six square kilometers and found one cache consisting of five 152mm rounds and detained several individuals.
A successful counter insurgency operation depends on thoroughly understanding the society and culture within which the operation is being conducted and building support of the local population. The 17th IA Bde., made a point in engaging the local population.
"Today's mission was a success not only in what we found but in our building relationships with the local citizens of Owesat," said Lt. Col. Ayoob, commander, Commando Battalion, 17th Iraqi Army Brigade. "It's important that the people of the area can see the Iraqi Army as a positive influence they can trust to keep them safe."
Beyond securing weapons, explosives and detaining insurgents the goal was also to show the local Iraqi citizens that the Iraqi Army and MND-B Forces were there to meet their needs and improve the quality of life in the area. One of the goodwill projects carried out during the operation was the handing out of backpacks and school supplies to the local children.
"The local populace didn't feel threatened by us, instead they felt secure against an AQI presence being built up in their area," said Eifler."We showed the local Iraqis that the Iraqi Army and Coalition Forces still care about them."
Leaders in both Task Force 1-6 Infantry and the Commando Battalion trained their troops for the joint air assault and ground mission through joint rehearsals and simulations since Task Force 1-6 Infantry's arrival at Forward Operating Base Falcon from Sadr City in early March.
The operation enabled the IA and MND-B forces to achieve security and stability in the area and deny insurgents freedom of movement in Owesat. It demonstrates to the people of Owesat the commitment the two forces have in building positive relationships with the people and the ability of the IA to successfully conduct counter insurgency operations.
"I've ridden in helicopters before, but the Coalition's attention to detail is something different," said Ayoob. "I hope that the Iraqi Army will continue to improve in all areas until we are equal to the Coalition Forces."