Coalition Forces Continue To Help Residents By Clearing Routes & Securing Towns
July 29, 2007
Every day our Troops are making a difference in the lives of people both in Iraq and Afghanistan. Every day the people of these countries are recognizing that they are not safe as long as insurgents are present in their neighborhoods. Some are fleeing out of fear of the insurgents, others are standing up and turning the insurgents in, helping Coaltion Frces and Iraqi Forces find the terrorists, so that their neighborhoods will be safer for themselves and their families.
In Diyala province, there were two key towns which had been held captive by terrorists. This effectively blocked a major supply route and essentially isolated the citizens of these two towns located in the Diyala River Valley. Many of the citizens had fled their towns as the terrorists had continued their reign of terror and became refugees in the nearby town of Anbakia. This caused over crowding in Anbakia and created a shortage of food and services for that town and it’s residents.
All of that changed on July 22nd when Iraqi soldiers on foot and teams of paratroopers from the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, attached to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, came to town in force and destroyed the terrorist cells in the two small towns, as they kicked off Operation Olympus.
“Our operation attacked these two villages that were harboring these terrorists, isolating them and bringing overall combat power to destroy them,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Poppas. This was a number of campaigns in an overall campaign plan to bring safety and security to the Diyala River Valley,” Poppas said.
“Previous intelligence-driven operations have been specifically directed at destroying anti-Iraqi forces in this region,” he said. “We have been extremely effective… at destroying the enemy in order to supply safety and security to the area.”
The operation not only focused on clearing the two small towns of insurgents, but also on Anbakia, the town that was hosting all of the refugees from these towns. A civil military operations (CMO) team was dispatched to Anbakia to deliver initial supplies and services, such as food and medical treatment. With the addition of the refugees, the town’s rations of food and their capability to care for the people was severely taxed. The brigade surgeon for 3BCT, 1st CD, Capt. Henry Shih conducted a combined medical engagement in Anbakia, with Lt. Wassim from the Iraqi Army. According to Capt. Shih, Wassim was extremely helpful because not only did he have a knowledge of medicine, but he also knew English and was able to serve as an interpreter for Capt. Shih. Patients that were seen, had problems ranging from diabetes and heart problems to rare and chronic congenital diseases. Lt. Wassim was also helpful in the goal of helping the people of Anbakia reach the overall goal of the coalition, which is to become more self sufficient.
“We are trying to pus them to be more reliant on the Iraqi army for security and other services,” said Shih. “They will have to be more independent when we leave.”
Coalition commanders citied the mission as an example of the Iraqi Army’s capability to handled both complicated and multi-faceted missions. In addition to clearing the area of insurgents, and providing medical support, food supplies were also supplied to the residents of the region.
“This operation is indicative of the duality of a mission profile in which we have anti-Iraqi forces which try to attempt to deny freedom of movement for coalition forces and freedom of movement along the entire route,” Poppas said.
Enroute to Anbakia, the team cleared the route of IED’s, barriers that had been placed by the insurgents and illegal check points that the insurgents had set up. By doing this, it opened up the road, allowing travel between Baqubah and Khalis.
“The town has been friendly to coalition forces,” said Shih. “They help us so we help them,” he said. “We will continue to work with them and not just abandon them.”
“Our deliberate destruction of anti_Iraqi forces throughout the entire region has set conditions for the repariation of these dislodged individuals,” said Poppas.
At the end of the mission, Iraqi security forces set up security positions in the towns as well as along the roadway that had been cleared. This will allow free movement by the people of the region and allow the displaced citizens to return to their homes.
“The establishment of Iraqi security forces will allow for long-term safety and security and freedom of movement in the entire region,” Poppas said.