Hunters Survey Lake, Hope to Halt Insurgent Flow of Goods

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Maj. Joel Stephenson, 9th Cavalry operations officer with a fish he caught while patrolling Hamrin Lake in northern Diyala Province.
Maj. Joel Stephenson, operations officer, 2nd Squadron, 9th Cavalry, Task Force Lightning, holds up a fish he caught while patrolling Hamrin Lake in northern Diyala Province. Stephenson and his fellow Soldiers from 2nd Squadron, 9th Cavalry were patrolling the lake to determine the enemy’s capability to use the waterway as a way to transport goods.

HAMRIN, Iraq (October 7, 2006) – Water can be a scarce resource in many regions of Iraq. However, there are some areas, namely along the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys, that thrive because of the direct access to water.

These liquid highways can also serve as an avenue for insurgents to traffic their goods, be it improvised explosive device materials or people. In northern Diyala Province, there is a man-made lake in the village of Hamrin that could serve as a quick getaway for insurgents.

Soldiers from the 2nd Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, Task Force Lightning conducted a reconnaissance of the lake to assess the enemy’s capabilities as well as show the ability to halt this trafficking lane.

Task Force Lightning soldiers return to the shore after patrolling Hamrin Lake in northern Diyala Province
A patrol of Soldiers from 2nd Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Task Force Lightning return to the shore after patrolling Hamrin Lake in northern Diyala Province.

“We’re mostly focused on showing the capability to the enemy so that they know that they’ll have to account for that or at least keep that in their decision cycle,” said Lt. Col. Louis Lartigue, commander, 2nd Squadron, 9th Cavalry, after piloting several tours around the lake.

Soldiers from the squadron’s support unit had to make a few repairs and changes to the boat trailer prior to it getting on the water.

“We serviced the engine to make sure everything ran,” said Staff Sgt. Phillip Kitchen, team chief, Service and Recovery Section, Dragoon Troop, 2-9 CAV. “The prop that was on it when we got it was destroyed, so we had to re-do the prop; sand it down, grind it down, make it better. The boat had a hole in it so we had to patch the underside of the boat so that it wouldn’t leak in.”

Task Force Lightning search the Hamrin Lake for signs of an insurgent
A patrol of Soldiers from 2nd Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Task Force Lightning search the Hamrin Lake for signs of an insurgents presence on the waterway

In getting the boat on the open water, and not the fast-moving river during previous operations, there were a few kinks that will need to be worked out.

“So far, it’s good. It got into the water; the trailer’s a little high based on what we had to work with when we built it,” said Capt. Dave Buehler, commander, Dragoon Troop.

After taking over operations from the 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry when the unit redeployed to the United States in August, the Hunters wanted to authenticate the tool before handing it over to their eventual replacements.

2nd Squadron, 9th Cavalry patrol after patrolling Hamrin Lake
A patrol of Soldiers from 2nd Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Task Force Lightning return to the shore after patrolling Hamrin Lake in northern Diyala Province.

“We’re validating both the maintenance readiness of it and the functionality of the boat out in the lake to prove that it’s actually a task that we need to (hand) over to the next unit,” Buehler said.

Earlier in this deployment to Iraq, the Hunters conducted similar operations on the Tigris River while at Forward Operating Base Wilson. For many, this wasn’t their first time cruising the waterways of this mostly desert country, but most relished the change from the norm.

“But when it comes down to it, it’s fun to get out on the water and do something different than a regular 1114 patrol,” Lartigue said.

boat used by Soldiers from the 2nd Squadron, 9th Cavalry, Task Force Lightning is lowered into the Hamrin Lake.
The boat used by Soldiers from the 2nd Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Task Force Lightning is lowered into the Hamrin Lake.
Soldiers from the 2nd Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 3rd HBCT, 4ID, Task Force Lightning, and Iraqi Army 3rd Bd, 5Div.
Soldiers from the 2nd Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Task Force Lightning, and members of the Iraqi Army’s 3rd Brigade, 5th Division return to the shore after patrolling Hamrin Lake in northern Diyala Province.

Sgt. Zach Mott, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office

By Sgt. Zach Mott

Military Friends of NewsBlaze originated these stories, sending them directly to us from Iraq, some from Afghanistan and some in the USA.