FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq, Aug. 10, 2006 -- Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, conducted Operation River Falcon July 25-27 in and around the town of Sayifiyah.
The goal was to set conditions in the area in support of future projects and more kinetic operations, said Capt. Colin Brooks, commander, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment.
Sayifiyah had once been a French Riviera-type region for Sunnis, who were given preferential treatment under the Sadam regime, Brooks said. Located southeast of Baghdad on the Tigris River, the small area, which is full of date palm groves and plush two-story waterfront houses, had become a sanctuary for terrorists.
Some difficult regions to the northwest caused security force leadership to shift their focus to those areas, leaving the relatively peaceful town of Sayifiyah unguarded, said 1st Lt. Leon Satchell, platoon leader, Company B. Soldiers departed here July 25 and rode into town in the pre-dawn hours inside Humvees and Bradley Fighting Vehicles in search of terrorists. Five men, all of whom were on a suspect list, were detained during the initial cordon and search mission.
We sent a strong message that the area is no longer a place where the enemy can move freely, said Brooks, a native of Cleveland. They will think twice about conducting (terrorist) operations in Sayifiyah.
Soldiers continued searching houses and introducing themselves to many weary and mystified residents, who were unsure of the soldiers reasons for coming into town. The soldiers set up a temporary operating base on the outskirts of town.
Soldiers continued patrolling the streets, looking for anything out of the ordinary. One platoon was tasked with combing a thick date palm grove in the Abasha Farms section of town that drew the suspicions of many. The suspicions turned out to be valid as soldiers unearthed an enormous cache that will affect enemy logistics, both in the short-term and long-term scheme of things, Brooks said. Multiple vehicles suspected of being used to transport weapons and car bombs were also found.
One man was detained after soldiers witnessed him attempting to emplace a roadside bomb in front of a traveling combat patrol. The detainee was caught with detonation chord, an ignition battery and admitted to his crime on tape.
Soldiers discovered numerous defensive roadside bombs in front of known safe houses. The bombs were large and buried underneath the concrete road. An Explosive Ordnance Disposal team conducted a controlled detonation of the bombs.
We definitely disrupted the insurgency, said Sgt. 1st Class Ken Hignight, platoon sergeant with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, a native of Moline, Ill. The cache was the biggest we have found since we got to Iraq.
Soldiers set out on the final day of the operation to meet the residents and explain to them they were in town to get rid of the terrorists. They handed out humanitarian aid bags, food, a variety of helpful items and TIPS cards so the residents could inform Multi-National Division – Baghdad soldiers or Iraqi Security Forces if terrorist activity was occurring in the area.