Published: November 08, 2007
Headhunters Keep Watchful Eye on Western Ninevah
By Spc. Bradley J. Clark
Sergeant 1st Class Ed Allen, (left), platoon sergeant, and Staff Sgt. Mason Livingston, squad leader, both cavalry scouts with A Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, check their location and await orders for their next movement Nov. 5 in Sheik Abraheim, Iraq. The Soldiers in A Troop have persistently taken the fight to terrorist in western Ninevah province since they took over operational control of the area in August. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Bradley J. Clark, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division public affairs)
Cavalry scouts climb aboard the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter during the early morning dark in preparation for their mission of the day from Forward Operating Base Sykes in northern Iraq.
While the transportation may be different for the Soldiers in A Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, the mission is one they know all too well, for it is the job of a cavalry scout.
"Our job was to setup a blocking position on the ridgeline north east of Sheik Abraheim," said Pfc. Michael McKinnon. "Our position allowed us to provide overwatch for the raid element in the village."
Cavalry scouts from A Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division provide overwatch during an early morning raid Nov. 5 in Sheik Abraheim, Iraq. The overwatch position doubled as a blocking position for any enemy insurgents trying to escape the village through the wadi system. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Bradley J. Clark, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division public affairs)
While setting up a blocking position might not always be the most action packed duty, these Soldiers know how essential it is to mission success.
"Our blocking position was important because it cut off an escape route for the enemy," said Spc. Brian Lowery. "Based on previous operations in the village, we know that the enemy likes to use the wadi system to escape out of the village and through the desert."
From their position on the ridgeline the headhunter Soldiers were able to relay movement in the target location to their fellow scouts in the village in search of the enemy.
Cavalry scouts from A Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division are clouded with green smoke as they wait to be picked up by two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters Nov. 5 in Sheik Abraheim, Iraq. The Headhunter Squadron Soldiers have been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since October 2006. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Bradley J. Clark, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division public affairs)
"The operation went smoothly because everyone knew what to do," said Staff Sgt. Isaac Acosta. "We had great planning and I am highly confident in all of our guys' ability to respond to any situation."
The only thing Acosta was upset with was, "We just didn't catch anything."
While it can be frustrating for Soldiers to come up empty handed at the end of a mission, the reason behind the scouts' lack of a detainee is positive.
According to Lt. Col. Keitron Todd, squadron commander, the headhunters list of high-value targets has gone from 50 people three months ago to a current list of eight people.
Two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from the 4th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment currently assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division prepare to land Nov. 5, outside the village of Sheik Abraheim, Iraq. The Blackhawks were there to pick up cavalry scouts from A Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div., who were conducting an operation in the village. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Bradley J. Clark, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division public affairs)
The drop in the number of insurgents can be attributed to the cavalry scouts operation tempo.
"We have been pushing hard and finding a lot," said McKinnon. "With our pressure here, if we aren't catching the insurgents, then we are pushing them out to Mosul where they are getting picked up by Iraqi Security Forces."
As the green smoke signals the helicopter pilots it's time to head back to the FOB, the scouts know that they are not only one day closer to going home, but also one day closer to ridding western Ninevah province from the enemies of a safe and peaceful Iraq, no matter how few there may be left.
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