Olmsted was determined to make a difference in Iraq. "The sooner the Iraqi government doesn't need U.S. support to provide security for its people, the sooner we will probably be asked to leave."
Technically, the job we do is one the Army has had troops doing for many years: Foreign Internal Defense, or FID, is a core task of the Special Forces and has been for decades. For a very long time, the SF has spent a great deal of its time and energy on training local security forces to make them capable of defending their own lands, and they are reputed to be quite good at it. However, there are not enough ODAs (Operational Detachment Alpha, an SF team of 10-12 men, formerly known as an A Team) to train an army the size of Iraq's, particularly as the Army has been relying on the SF to do many more kinetic operations during this war. Thus the MiTTs.
We are fortunate that the local ODA is very user-friendly and has worked very well with us thus far; we gone on three different missions with them, including yesterday's. A total of five ODAs launched a midnight raid into one of the worst parts of our AO, rolling up a pair of the AQI leadership in our area as well as a number of smaller fish. Because the raid went off at night, it was hard to find caches, so first thing the next morning we rolled out to our nearest company and asked if they could help us. They were more than willing, so we headed into enemy territory and started searching the areas for weapons caches.
We hit the jackpot, finding a store of IED-making materials, mortars, RPGs, huge artillery rounds, ammunition, fuzes...it was an incredible amount of stuff, and it took close to three hours to unearth it all, catalog it, and destroy it. (Sadly, I didn't get a picture of the explosion...most impressive.) That was the high point of the day, as we struck out at the other places we searched, even during a mildly stressful search of an Iraqi compound where the enemy was reputed to have a hiding place we had to find while being prepared to be engaged by defenders. As it turned out, it was abandoned and we couldn't find any hiding places, so after about ten hours we called it a day and headed back to the FOB.
And a good thing, too. Walking around fields wearing body armor, weapons, and more looking for signs of digging is an unpleasant task. I'm pleased to report that the Iraqis did a great job, though, finding several things we missed and demonstrating both initiative and determination to finish the job. It was a good operation, even if it feels as though I'm developing a hunchback, and we look forward to the IA stepping up their operations in the AO now that we've taken down two of the worst customers in the area.Posted by Andrew Olmsted at 12:36 AM | Comments (10)