News: Putting Iraq Out Front: Soldiers aid Iraqi Police with missions
Story by Sgt. Eric Rutherford
By Spc. Eric A. Rutherford
115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
QAYYARAH, Iraq – A joint Iraqi police (IP) and coalition forces operation netted a counterfeit document production facility in Qayyarah, Iraq, Sept. 13.
The site included a printing press, printer plates, gold leaf used to reproduce official gold seals on documents, ID cards, and ink and accessories used in creating false documentation.
Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Battery (HHB), 5th Battalion, 82D Field Artillery of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, assisted the IP with the raid.
The mission was to detain suspected counterfeiters who were facilitating Al Qaeda in Iraq supporters, and seize and disrupt their activities.
"We got intelligence from a local informant," said Capt. Daniel Lloyd, HHB's Commander. "The IP were in front, primarily the IP in coordination with the Iraqi Army. The two targets were suspected of facilitating AQ-I through financing, and producing counterfeit documents, IDs, money and government fuel coupons."
The Soldiers, deployed out of Fort Bliss, Texas, alongside the IP, conducted a cordon and knock in the neighborhood, and questioned residents about the operation. The suspect residence was located, and a sensitive-site exploitation search began.
The IP and Soldiers from the battery's White Platoon provided security and helped search the residence and detain and question the suspects. After the exploitation, the Soldiers and IP loaded the two detainees and all of the seized equipment into IP vehicles and trailers provided by the battery's Red Platoon, which provided the quick reaction force during the raid.
The IP and White Platoon then moved into the marketplace in Qayyarah to search the suspect's photo shop.
"We got the key from the owner, and made soft entry," Lloyd said. "We got more hard drives and printers. This mission specifically was targeting people that are facilitating foreign fighters and Al Qaeda. We are trying to stop the money going to the terrorists funding, the financial path. It is a crime operation and they are making money from the whole thing, but at the same time, that money and the services they provide aid to the terrorist to operate in the area freely."
During the raid, Cpl. Mason Radcliff conducted searches and provided security for the mission. Radcliff feels that working alongside the IP is helping to make a difference.
"It is important to work with the IP," said Radcliff of Prattville, Ala. "The Iraqi people will see coalition forces, but they also see the IP out there doing good things to help catch bad people in their community. With the IP, they (Iraqis) see us working with them -- it is kind of like bonding with them. It lets the Iraqis know that we are there to help."
That help came in the form of having a suspected terrorist financier and illegal document forger being removed from their neighborhood. For this raid, the intelligence definitely pointed in the right direction.
"We got a lot of information, so I think they will be going away for a while," said Radcliff. "It was a big success."
Lloyd agrees with the mission being a success, and points out why it helps the Iraqis.
"Obviously it's like anything -- you are going to have bad guys in your neighborhood," said Lloyd. "If bad guys are in your neighborhoods, then foreign fighters and Al Qaeda are going to be coming into Qayyarah because they know they are getting their help from that area. We are cutting the jugular right there, if we get rid of the facilitators, then they are not going to come to Qayyarah to try to get money, passports, or documentation, to legitimize themselves. As a whole, operations like this help out the public because we are pulling bad guys out of the city. If the bad guys aren't there to create documents and aide in operations of the safe houses, they have to move somewhere else, or cease to exist."
During the raid, in which no shots were fired and no injuries occurred, Soldiers of HHB once again helped build relationships with not just the people of Iraq, but with the IP as well, by allowing their Iraqi counterparts to lead, and by taking a supporting role in the mission.
"We transitioned from unilateral to bilateral operations almost immediately after we got here," said Lloyd. "We immediately adopted the whole idea of Iraqis in the lead. They are going to be the ones that actually control the operations. We are going to be there to aide and facilitate in the operations."