Soldiers hope for the best, expect the worst on raids in Iraq
January 12, 2005
BAGHDAD — It doesn’t matter how good the intelligence is, soldiers entering a house during a raid say they can’t know what’s on the other side of the front door.
When soldiers of Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment raided a house in a west-central Baghdad neighborhood Monday, they were expecting the worst. Intelligence reports stated there were more than a dozen heavily armed insurgents inside.
Instead of fighters, there were families. Soldiers quickly moved them all out of the house, and searched it and the surrounding grounds, finding only three loaded AK-47 magazines, but no assault rifle.
Most of the unit’s soldiers have raided only a few houses, but the Battery B platoon leader, 1st Lt. Dave Lucas, has more than a few under his ammo belt. He estimates he’s either raided or searched more than 1,000 homes while assigned as the fire support officer for Company A, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment.
He said that most of the raids end up without gunfire from either side.
“Most of the time when they’ve got families in there, they’re not stupid,” he said about raid suspects. “They don’t want us to fire with their families there.
“Everyone except one went quietly,” he said of his raid experiences. A suspect tried to run, but was caught without shots being fired.
Despite the odds being in favor of an uneventful search or raid, soldiers say they still must prepare for the worst case scenario.
“You’re always going into the house nervous, always nervous,” said Staff Sgt. Joey Washington, 25, of Raleigh, N.C. “Well, I wouldn’t call it nervous, I’d call it anxious.”
“From the beginning, you never know,” said Sgt. David MacDonald, 24, of Memphis, Tenn. “You’ve got to be prepared for anything.
“I’m always hoping the intel is wrong,” he added. “If I can go through the whole thing without firing a shot, that’s OK.”