News: Seven more detained during Marne Avalanche
4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division
KALSU, Iraq – Paratroopers from Strike Force Geronimo captured one insurgent from a cell responsible for attacks against citizens and security forces in north Babil during Operation Marne Avalanche July 26 northwest of Iskandariyah.
Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 509th Airborne, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, conducted an early morning air assault and continued raids throughout the day in an al-Qaida stronghold several kilometers northwest of the city.
"Our primary target was an al-Qaida safe house being used to interrogate and torture residents," said Capt. David Coulombe, a platoon leader with Company B, from New Lennox, Ill. "We wanted to secure that, and then push out into the town to search the area and talk to the locals."
After securing the safe house, the paratroopers began pushing into the town, where their mission began in earnest.
"As we were moving into the town, an Iraqi army platoon was out in front and they started taking fire from insurgents," said Staff Sgt. John Panowich, a squad leader with Company B, from Anderson, S.C. "When we moved in, we were talking to the helicopters flying close air support for us. We moved into a building to get better security and found the first cache hidden in there."
In addition to capturing the insurgent, paratroopers discovered three weapons caches during the operation. In the first cache, they found a DSKA .50-caliber heavy machine gun with 75 rounds, a rocket propelled grenade launcher with seven rounds and 100 RPK heavy machine gun rounds. In the second cache, more than 400 RPK rounds were uncovered. The third cache consisted of three AK-47 assault rifles, an RPK heavy machine gun, an ammunition vest and a can of 7.62mm ammunition.
"Going into areas like this, where insurgents have been running around freely really makes them think twice," Panowich said. "No coalition or Iraqi security forces have been in that area for quite some time. So, for us to just pop up in his own back yard one night is going to keep him laying low and watching over his shoulder for a while."
The insurgent is being held for further questioning.
An explosive ordnance disposal team destroyed the weapons on site.
During 12 days of Operation Marne Avalanche, the paratroopers of the 4th BCT (Abn.) have killed seven insurgents, conducted numerous precision raids, captured more than 60 insurgents including six cell leaders and other high value individuals.