By Carmen L. Gleason
American Forces Press Service
July 25, 2007 - The surge of American forces in Iraq has brought about tangible results on the ground, a U.S. military spokesman said during a news conference today in Baghdad. Within the past few days, numerous operations have resulted in the discovery of a "remarkable number" of arms caches in areas throughout Iraq, said Navy Rear Adm. Mark I. Fox, a spokesman for Multinational Force Iraq.
During routine offensive operations July 23, forces discovered nine weapons stockpiles containing 391 mortar rounds, 252 rockets, 21 rifles and pistols, 28 grenades, and multiple homemade weapons, including 475 gallons of nitric acid and 5,000 pounds of fertilizer, he told reporters.
"We are seeing increasingly positive trends in the number of weapons and explosives being taken from the enemy," Fox said. "Forces have seized more weapons caches in the first half of 2007 than all of last year."
The reason for the "dramatic increase" is the volume and accuracy of tips coming from local Iraqi citizens, the admiral said. More than 2,300 tips are coming in to coalition and Iraqi forces on a monthly basis -- four times greater than at the same time last year
Local Iraqis are able to lead forces to weapons stockpiles that couldn't be found otherwise, he said.
Fox said the increase is a result of how coalition and Iraqi security forces are "holding the initiative" by pressuring terrorists, keeping them off balance and constantly being on the move with a mobility and reach that exceeds that of the past four years.
"The combination of surge forces, of increasing local intelligence, growing pressure on the enemy, and the removal of (enemy) sanctuaries reflects, once again, units in the 'pursuit phase' of Phantom Thunder," Fox said.
Iraqi security forces are key partners in the effort, as well, Fox said. He told reporters of an Iraqi pilot who thwarted the piracy of Iraqi oil by thieves during an Iraqi security force operation last week.
"We often speak of one team, one mission," he said. "(Multinational Force Iraq), Army Corps of Engineers and our Iraq counterparts have literally linked arms to do just that.
"The way forward requires more than just military success," Fox said. "We're committed to working side by side to support the Iraq government's effort provide a secure, stable and self-governing nation."