Saturday, August 04, 2007

Perspective: Night raid in Iraq

Above: Paratroopers from FOB Kalsu begin moving toward their target after being helicoptered to Iskandariya in July.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq — Capt. Eric Nylander passed the word down the line of soldiers in the darkened Chinook helicopter: “Ice,” meaning the landing area was free of enemy fighters.

The helicopter touched down, and the troops, night vision devices fixed to their helmets, scrambled over the canals and through a boggy field to the farmhouses in the distance.

The mission was to detain as many of the 31 militants on the soldiers’ target list as they could find, uncover arms caches and generally develop intelligence on an area where substantial numbers of American troops had not been for months.

The raid, involving 310 soldiers flown to multiple landing zones northeast of Iskandariya on July 16, was the largest air assault since the Third Combat Aviation Brigade of the Third Infantry Division arrived more than a month earlier.

As American forces hunt for insurgents in the Sunni-dominated belts surrounding Baghdad, air assaults have become an increasingly important tactic.

Read the rest at the NY Times