An Iraqi army soldier with the 55th Brigade, 17th IA Division, patrols the streets and checkpoints, Dec. 26, around the Karb de Gla community of the Rashid District in southern Baghdad. The 55th Bde. is partnered with the 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, attached to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, which is scheduled to redeploy upon completing its 14-month mission early next month. The 1st “Panther” Bn., 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 3rd BCT, 82nd Airborne Div., out of Fort Bragg, N.C., is scheduled to replace the “Warriors” Bn.
Photo By: Staff Sgt. Brent Williams – 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. James Gautier reviews the operating manual for a hand-held mine detector. U.S. Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, and Iraqi soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 19th Brigade, 5th Division, are preparing palm groves around Naqib, Iraq, for a controlled burn that will expose or detonate the massive amounts of booby traps, improvised explosive devices and weapons caches that are hindering local Iraqi’s attempts to farm this al-Qaida stronghold on Dec. 20.
Photo By: Petty Officer 2nd Class Walter Pels – Joint Combat Camera Center Iraq
Drugs and Weapons in the Middle East
Over the weekend, both Iraqi and coalition forces have uncovered several enemy weapons stockpiles in recent operations, according to U.S. military officials.
On December 28, 2008, southeast of Baghdad, Iraqi police seized a weapons cache while conducting a dismounted patrol. The cache contained 36 100mm illumination mortar rounds, two 120mm mortars, five unserviceable rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launchers, a mortar bipod and an unserviceable machine gun barrel. The munitions were transported to a joint security station and destroyed by an explosive ordnance detachment.
Also on Sunday, in Baghdadâ€™s Rashid district, Iraqi security forces and U.S. soldiers confiscated eight assault rifles. Iraqi soldiers also found and cleared a homemade bomb. An Iraqi explosives ordnance disposal team dismantled the bomb.
In addition to that, Iraqi soldiers found a cache in Baghdadâ€™s Mansour district that included three propane tanks rigged as bombs, 40 pounds of ball bearings, seven rocket-propelled grenade heads, six cell phone chargers, two mortar rounds, two license plates, two 45 pound bags of explosives, a pressure plate, four sniper rifles, a cell phone, three light switches and a spool of copper wire. Earlier, U.S. soldiers found a cache of 16 mortar rounds northwest of Baghdad.
On Saturday, December 27, 2008, in the Rashid district, Iraqi soldiers found two 120mm mortar rounds and U.S. soldiers confiscated five assault rifles, two rifles and an ammunition magazine while enforcing the Baghdad Weapons Free Zone Policy.
Coalition Ships Seize 20 Tons of Drugs
In Manama, Bahrain, on December 29, 2008 coalition warships, while operating in the North Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden as part of Combined Task Force 150, have seized more than 20 tons of narcotics since October 2008. The drugs have an estimated value of more than $100 million, according to U.S. officials.
CTF 150 is part of a continual presence in the region committed to creating and maintaining a lawful maritime order that is also tasked with conducting counter-piracy operations. The task force has seized more than 53 tons of narcotics during 2008, officials said. The drugs, seized by U.S. and Royal Navy forces, otherwise could have been used to help fund the insurgency fighting coalition forces in Afghanistan and contributed to instability in the region, officials said.
“The seizure of these drugs cuts off a vital lifeline of funds to those conducting destabilizing activities in the region,” said Royal Navy Commodore Tim Lowe, deputy commander of Combined Maritime Forces. “By stemming the flow of these drugs, we play a crucial role in providing security and stability to the entire region.”
Sailors discovered hidden drugs in vessels operating along the so-called “Hash Highway.” They destroyed large quantities of narcotics, but always ensured sufficient evidence was gathered to aid in subsequent investigations by local authorities after the drug smugglers were handed over for prosecution, officials said.
“The smugglers need to know there are consequences for their actions,” Lowe said. “By aggressively patrolling these waters, we send a message to all would-be smugglers that we are here, and we won’t tolerate drug trafficking in international waters.”
CTF 150 is a multinational task force that conducts maritime security operations in and around the Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.
Whether it’s guns or drugs that the terrorists are using, our men and women are out there denying them over and over again.
This is Sgt. Stryker signing out.