SAKRAN WEST, Iraq --
Task Force 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, recently teamed up with 2nd Platoon, 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, to defeat insurgent activity in the Hadithah Triad.
After numerous improvised explosive devices were found on the main roads near Sakran West over the past four months, it was suggested that there might be an insurgent presence in the area that needed to be weeded out, explained Staff Sgt. John M. Wear, the battalion’s intelligence chief.
“We figured as a result of significant Coalition Force presence elsewhere, insurgents might have left their towns and moved to Sakran West and use the area as a safe haven,” said Wear, a native of Port St. Joe, Fla. “The abundance of IEDs in the area led us to conduct the operation there.”
Realizing the threat this area posed, a combined operation was organized and planned. With 2nd Platoon, 4th Reconnaissance as the main effort, the operation would consist of various units within Task Force 1/3, to include, R Battery, 5th Battalion, 11th Marines; a Human Exploitation Team; A Company, and Iraqi Police from Barwanah..
Throughout the operation, a cordon was maintained, census sweeps were conducted, and targeted raids were executed.
“The operation included both lightening quick raids to catch the insurgents off-balance, as well as a methodical sweep to conduct detailed and thorough searches. These searches contributed to a tremendous amount of information being collected,” said Lt. Col. Paul A. Konopka, platoon commander, 2nd Platoon, 4th Reconnaissance.
“Once the area was cordoned, we executed targeted raids against known or suspected insurgent safe-houses in the town,” said Konopka. “Upon completion of the raids, we swept the town for any additional intelligence and collected census data on its male residents. Near the end of the operation, we detained 19 individuals for known or suspected bomb making or having enemy ties.”
Konopka explained how the Human Exploitation Team from Regimental Combat Team 2 and Task Force 1/3, combined their efforts into revealing and refining targets in the town. He considers the operation extremely successful for all units participating.
“This was a true team effort, where all the players came together and executed seamlessly,” said Konopka. “Although a fairly complex mission with numerous units involved, this mission went from concept, through planning, and into execution in less than 26 hours. It was truly a remarkable feat, and one that can only be accomplished when the team is comprised of dedicated experts.”
Konopka went on to describe the Marines from 1/3 as “quiet professionals.”
“I know of 1/3 by their reputation in the Marine Corps, and knew that my Marines and I were joining up with a true group of warriors,” said Konopka. “They were always disciplined, with unbelievable stamina in the face of brutal Iraqi weather and other conditions.”
Furthermore, Konopka discussed the importance of the Barwanah Iraqi Police and their involvement in the operation.
“They were given a section of the town to sweep during the census portion,” said Konopka. “Their contributions were critical, in that the Iraqi people could see their own government stepping forward to control criminal and insurgent activity in the town, while helping to obtain important pieces of intelligence.”
Operations like this will also help Iraq reach its goal of self-governance, and prove to the local populace that Coalition Forces will not rest until enemy forces are defeated.
“The Iraqi people must see the Government of Iraq stepping up to govern. This means, among other things, enforcing the law as part of the executive branches’ role,” he said. “In that regard, the IP were a pivotal asset.”
Konopka added their presence helped to stabilize the community, which is critical to the peace and infrastructure building process.
“At the end of the day, the operation decimated the insurgent activity in the area for at least the near term,” said Konopka. “As insurgent and criminal activity diminishes, more resources and assets can be directed to other efforts.”
The importance of combined operations cannot be understated. They prove to be valuable and a factor for Iraq’s success.