By Staff Sgt. Mark Wojciechowski, 133rd MPAD
MUQDADIYAH, Iraq – Continuous efforts to thwart Anti-Iraqi Forces and weapons caches are keys to the stability and protection of the citizens of Iraq.
Operation “Dirty Harry” was a joint operation between U.S. Army elements of the 4th Infantry Division’s 1-68 Combined Arms Battalion, Air Force dog handlers from the 35th Security Forces Squadron, and Iraqi army forces. The operation aimed at sectioning off and searching a neighborhood and farmlands in south Muqdadiya in the Diyala Province.
The joint effort dismounted their vehicles and tactically moved into the neighborhood lead by the Iraqi army Soldiers. The neighborhood children smiled and waved as the patrol moved through the side streets.
The Iraqi Soldiers approached the homes and explained the intent of their search to the residents, while U.S. forces pulled security on the streets outside.
After the Iraqi army departed the homes the Air Force dog teams were called in to do a “once over” to ensure there was not any explosive residue present.
When the last home was thoroughly searched yielding no contra-band the joint forces assembled on line to sweep through an area of farmland behind the neighborhood.
Sgt. Steven Gonzales, a combat engineer from the 4th Infantry Division’s 1-68 Combined Arms Battalion, swept the field with a mine detector when its alarm sounded.
“We were using this mine detector to search for any caches,” said Gonzales.
“The mine detector called me over,” said Spc. Peter Mendiola, a Guam native. “He said he had a metal of some sort.”
“I dug it up, it happened to be a pretty big mortar round.”
“I think the IA is performing very well they don’t have a problem taking charge and moving in the front,” said Sgt. Muriel Orlando Droke of Company C, 1-68 CAB, and Sacramento, Calif., native. “We just pulled security for them.”
Continuous operations such as these build confidence in the ever-growing Iraqi security forces and helps rid the area of threats to the Iraqi people.