By Army Sgt. 1st Class Stacy Niles
Special to American Forces Press Service
April 11, 2008 - A police-led operation in Numaniyah, Iraq, sent a message to criminals in the city: Iraqi security forces are in control. More than 300 Iraqi police and soldiers and coalition forces troops deployed to Numaniyah to conduct checkpoint operations April 7. Dubbed Operation Crystal Springs, the mission also provided Iraqi security forces and coalition leadership the opportunity to engage with local government officials and sheikhs.
"It was an operation that was planned by the Iraqi police, supported by the Iraqi army and the coalition forces," said Army Capt. Eric Wigley, commander of the 511th Military Police Company. "The mission was designed as a nonkinetic mission to go out to Numaniyah ... to set up and conduct numerous checkpoints and just to let the people know that the Iraqi police, the Iraqi army and the coalition forces can plan and operate together."
Army Sgt. Shane McAllister, a team leader with the 511th MP Company, said the mission showed the local populace that Iraqi security forces are in control of the area and enforcing the rule of law.
Numaniyah has had little coalition presence in the past. The Wasit police chief and the 8th Iraqi Army Division commander identified the city as a security priority, Wigley said.
"They wanted to show the people that they are committed to the city, they are committed to their populace and they can, when they want, mass forces to help secure the population," he added.
The forces established four checkpoints strategically placed in and around the city to interact with residents, search vehicles for contraband and distribute humanitarian assistance.
At one checkpoint, the Iraqi security forces, along with soldiers from 511th MP Company, Fort Drum, N.Y., searched more than 200 vehicles. The U.S. forces were there in an advisory role, Army 1st Lt. Lynnette Jefferson, a platoon leader with 511th MP Company, said.
"Our soldiers knew what was expected of them," she said. "They understood that the checkpoints were an IP responsibility."
Jefferson said the MPs have trained with the Iraqi police on conducting vehicle and personnel searches, conducting joint patrols and reacting to improvised explosive devices, small-arms fire and precision gunfire.
(Army Sgt. 1st Class Stacy Niles serves with the 214th Fires Brigade Public Affairs Office.)