Thursday, March 16, 2006

101st in action in biggest Air Assault since start of Iraq war

I don't often post or comment on breaking news, but when it concerns my old division--the 101st--I make an exception:

U.S. forces and Iraqi troops launched what the military described as the largest air assault since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion Thursday, targeting insurgent strongholds north of the capital.

The U.S. military said the raid, dubbed Operation Swarmer, was aimed at clearing "a suspected insurgent operating area" northeast of Samarra and was expected to last several days. The Pentagon said 41 people were arrested but it was not clear if suspected insurgents put up any resistance. [...]

Near the end of the first day of the operation, the military said a number of weapons caches have been captured, containing artillery shells, explosives, bomb-making materials and military uniforms.

It said the attack began with soldiers from the Iraqi army's 1st Brigade, 4th Division, the U.S. 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team and the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade conducting a combined air and ground assault to isolate the objective area.

Air power backed the operation and delivered troops from the Iraq army's 4th Division, the Rakkasans from 1st and 3rd Battalions, 187th Infantry Regiment and the Hunters from 2nd Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment to multiple objectives.

The military said forces from the 2nd Commando Brigade then completed a ground infiltration to secure numerous structures in the area.

In its description of the operation, the 101st Airborne Division used the term "air assault," which refers to the use of attack and transport helicopters to move infantry soldiers to a ground target or group of targets. It does not generally include fixed-wing warplanes like fighter jets or bombers, and there was no early indication that such planes played a predominant role in the assault.

The units of the 101st Airborne that are involved in this operation are equipped with Apache attack helicopters, Black Hawk transport helicopters and Chinook helicopters to are capable of lifting and moving vehicle like Humvees.

In its description of the operation, the 101st Airborne Division used the term "air assault," which refers to the use of attack and transport helicopters to move infantry soldiers to a ground target or group of targets. It does not generally include fixed-wing warplanes like fighter jets or bombers, and there was no early indication that such planes played a predominant role in the assault.

The units of the 101st Airborne that are involved in this operation are equipped with Apache attack helicopters, Black Hawk transport helicopters and Chinook helicopters to are capable of lifting and moving vehicle like Humvees. [...]

Few things are as impressive as scores of Black Hawks and Chinooks landing on the LZ, disgorging troops, and then lifting off again, all while Apaches swarm about providing cover.

The 101st has a well deserved reputation as one of the top fighting forces in the US military. I expect they'll complete this mission with professionalism and a certain level of panache.