Special to American Forces Press Service
Dec. 18, 2007 - Concerned local citizens near Bawi, Iraq, handed over a large weapons cache to soldiers from Company A, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, Dec. 16. The seizure of the cache came just one day after Company A soldiers and concerned local citizens cleared the main route into Bawi from the north in a combined operation.
"This cache find is another event that proves the concerned local citizens are part of the team and willing to fight the fight to get rid of extremists," said Army Maj. John Cushing, from Rochester, Mich., operations officer for the 1-15th Infantry Regiment.
The cache consisted of 100 land mines, two 105 mm projectiles, two 120 mm mortars, two 120 mm projectiles, two 152 mm projectiles, 100 pounds of propellant, 7.62 mm ammunition and a casing for an armor-piercing explosively formed projectile.
Company A soldiers worked with the citizens group to clear the main route into Bawi from the north Dec. 13 and 14. During the clearing operation, soldiers helped the citizens establish checkpoints along the route from which they could maintain security in the region. Company A soldiers were patrolling the newly cleared route and checking on their new partners when citizens brought the contents of the cache to one of the recently established checkpoints.
Army Capt. Will Clark, from Wheeling, Ill., the Company A commander, said the route was dominated by al Qaeda elements in the Bawi vicinity and the western side of the Tigris River who commonly fired upon the route with small arms and indirect fire. Clearing the route will facilitate civilian movement and allow the citizens to defend against the al Qaeda in Iraq elements, said he added. "Hopefully, at some point, the open roadway will stimulate economic growth in Al Bawi. It has been relatively nonexistent, because people are just trying to get by," he said.
Clark explained that seizing large caches contributes to his unit accomplishing its primary purpose of blocking ammunition from moving into Baghdad for use by extremists. Clark is optimistic that the recent operations will limit insurgents' ability to traffic weapons and ammunition through the area.
The 1-15th Infantry Regiment is part of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga., and has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March.
(Army Maj. Joe Sowers is assigned to the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Public Affairs Office.)