Where family, friends, and strangers can come to follow the life of a soldier as he tours the globe.

9.17.2007

Making Progress

Making Progress: Unit relationships with Iraqi locals pays off
Multi-National Division – North PAO

By Spc. Eric A. Rutherford, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment


SAMARRA, Iraq – As the much anticipated Iraq Report was released this month, one unit is finding that they are making progress.


An Iraqi teenager who was an informant for coalition forces in Samarra was kidnapped by insurgents and held for several days. He was beaten and moved to different locations. The teen managed to escape, ignoring the death threats of his captors for talking with coalition forces, and after his escape, he went straight to Forward Operating Base Brassfield-Mora to ask for help.
That help came from Company A, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, which kicked off Operation Reciprocity II Aug. 27.

“They kidnapped him, beat him and then made him promise to never come to this area again or work with coalition forces,” said Capt. Adisa King, Alpha Company commander. ”The kid agreed, went into his house, took the AK that he had and shot at the guys who kidnapped him, then took their truck and came here and told us about the whole thing. So he was a hero to us and that’s how we got the information that led up to Reciprocity.”


Reciprocity II, a pre-dawn raid in the areas south of Samarra was built off intelligence from the teenage informant based on what he saw as a captive.


King, of Jackson, Miss., said the informant is about 16 years old and very intelligent, being able to read maps and help them find insurgent targets, many of whom were aiding foreign fighters in the area. According to the informant, they were also part of an IED cell that emplaced culvert bombs in the area. Alpha Company was gathering information on locals in their area from the time they arrived, just over a year ago. This helped to identify who the kidnappers were and where they lived.


Alpha Company launched a ground and air assault that consisted of over 100 personnel on three objectives, including a tank element from 2nd Platoon, Company D, 3rd Combined Arms Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment. During the assault, Alpha Company Soldiers detained 17 suspects and found one IED consisting of two 155 artillery rounds buried under the road.
During the raid, elements of 3rd Platoon assaulted one of the houses and detained eight suspects. Like the rest of the elements, 3rd Platoon suffered no casualties.


“The mission went well. We found a good amount of personnel that we feel the evidence pointed towards them being anti-Iraqi forces,” said Sgt. Eldon Garhart of Spearfish, S.D., a forward observer with 3rd Platoon. “Of course, as always, it was a great mission as everyone returned back safe and unharmed.”



The mission demonstrated the success of the troops in the area. Locals are trusting coalition forces enough to inform on suspected al-Qaida in Iraq forces, and raids are producing results.


“We found the targets,” King said. “Several things we were looking for were: AQI facilitators and the bunker that the kid was supposedly taken to during the kidnapping and thrown in. We didn’t find that, but we did find a lot of information about the travel of their groups in that area, and that was the best thing about going through and infiltrating that. Hopefully we got a lot of people responsible for the culvert bombs. It is a good thing that we’re still going after them.”


With just a few months left of their deployment, Alpha Company plans to continue going after insurgents, not slowing down their pace, even if they are on the home stretch, King said.


“Just like in a football game or any sport you’re in, if you start slowing down, hanging back, guys get lax. ‘Ah, you know, we only have 15 more days or 30 more days until we go home,’” King said about his company, which continue to go on missions without losing momentum. “You start thinking that way when you’re out there, then you forget about the fact that there’s still somebody out there right now who is planning and who is waiting for the opportunity to kill you, to take you out. So if you’re not on your A-game when you’re out there, that’s a problem. The barn door’s not open yet … you’re not there.”


When it comes to building relationships with the Iraqi people, Alpha Company has been working with the Iraqi Army and locals throughout its tour to build relationships. It appears to have paid off.


“We’re getting to know the people,” King said. “We talk about winning hearts and minds, but you find out after working with the IA, as coalition, we don’t really need to win hearts and minds. I truly believe that because to this day I’ve had several Iraqis come up to me and say, ‘We know you guys are merciful. We know you’re not mean. We know you won’t abuse people.’ They know that, but they’re afraid because they know we’re going to leave. Sometimes it’s the Iraqi forces we need to work with and say ‘Look, this is how you do it.’ Iraqi forces are really the ones who need to win hearts and minds. And we are there helping them out to do that, taking them on missions and putting them in the forefront.”











Sgt. Eldon Garhart guards detainees during a raid in a village south of Samarra, Iraq August 27. Garhart, of Spearfish, S.D., is a forward observer with 3rd Platoon, Company A 2-505th Parachute Infantry Regiment out of Fort Bragg, N.C. The raid was part of Operation Reciprocity II, an operation to arrest suspected kidnappers and Improvised Explosive Device implanters in the area. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Eric A. Rutherford)

















Soldiers from 3rd Platoon, Company A, 2-505th Parachute Infantry Regiment out of Fort Bragg, N.C., prepare to provide security for detainee extraction during a raid in a village south of Samarra, Iraq, August 27. The raid was part of Operation Reciprocity II, an operation to arrest suspected kidnappers and Improvised Explosive Device implanters in the area. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Eric A. Rutherford)









Soldiers from 3rd Platoon, Company A, 2-505th Parachute Infantry Regiment out of Fort Bragg, N.C., load onto a CH-47 Chinook helicopter after conducting a raid in a village south of Samarra, Iraq, August 27. The raid was part of Operation Reciprocity II, a mission to arrest suspected kidnappers and Improvised Explosive Device implanters in the area. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Eric A. Rutherford)

5 Comments:

Blogger Flag Gazer said...

Great piece, Eric...
Thank you!

17 September, 2007 22:48

 
Blogger Agricola said...

Eric:

Thanks for your service and thanks for posting. I'll add you to my bookmarks.

I know you're on active duty and this is not that important, but you should check out your settings and add a feed of your site to make it easier for folks to follow your writing -- which is very good.
(Setings > Site Feed > Short or Full (from the drop down).

Be well, and thanks again for your service.

17 September, 2007 23:57

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Eric!

Also, we thank you for your service! We miss you and keep you in our prayers. Your writing and photos are great. We pass it on to our Bible Study and friends who also keep you in their prayers.

I'm sure Lisa will be sending you Trinity Lake pictures. Next year you'll be with us!!

M&M

18 September, 2007 07:36

 
Blogger Jason Campbell said...

Never ever heard anything from the media anything like this; that makes me so mad!

Weird though, sounds more like a SWAT operation than something ground pounders would do. The angle in the story captures what seems to be the big struggle in Iraq--getting things to stick with the indigenous population sounds like a tall order, especially when you are used to the kind of effectiveness and efficiency of the US personnel.

Keep up the great work!

18 September, 2007 18:33

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric, Is it kosher for your parents to make comments here? We want all to know how extremely proud of you we are. Your sensitivity to the problems there, your dedication & passion for what you are doing is wonderful! The story & pictures are so good. I feel as Jason does; upset at the media for not reporting all the positive things going on. Thank you for letting us know the real stories. We love you & pray everyday for your safety.

Mom

18 September, 2007 21:07

 

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