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Mideast edition, Wednesday, May 2, 2007

ARLINGTON, Va. — A monthlong clearing mission in Baghdad’s Mansour neighborhood was “the most successful” of nine such operations conducted by the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division to date, its commander, Col. Steve Townsend, said Monday.

As a result of the March 20-April 29 Operation Arrowhead Strike, “3,200 roadside bombs have been prevented, 42 terrorists were jailed, and enough weapons and explosives were captured to outfit an enemy infantry battalion,” Townsend told Pentagon reporters in a briefing from his Camp Liberty, Baghdad, headquarters.

The mission went well because “this is the ninth one like this that we’ve done,” Townsend said.

“So we’ve learned a lot and gotten better at this.”

Townsend said the main reason the operation was so successful was because commanders decided to wait to bring in the Strykers until the so-called “land owning” U.S. military unit in the area to be cleared had time to become “very familiar with the ground.”

Until now, these clearing operations were specifically designed “to introduce new [land-owner] forces into their zone,” Townsend said.

But those forces “were less able to assist us [in areas unfamiliar to Stryker troopers] because they were new to the area themselves,” Townsend said.

For Arrowhead Strike, however, the “Dagger Brigade,” or 1st Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team out of Schweinfurt, Germany, which is responsible for Mansour, “were veterans in their area of operations,” Townsend said.

Unlike most U.S. military brigades doing rotations in Iraq, the Arrowhead Stryker brigade is not a “land owner,” meaning it’s not responsible for a neighborhood or province, Townsend said.

Instead, the Strykers are being used as a mobile “strike force,” conducting clearing operations or raids in cooperation with whatever U.S. military unit and Iraqi army unit actually “owns” a given area, he said.

Unit lists items seized during raids

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Arrowhead Stryker Brigade Combat Team officials provided a complete list of all items captured by troops during Operation Arrowhead Strike.

The majority of items U.S. troops seize during raids are taken to prevent future attacks on U.S. forces or Iraqi citizens, officials said. Others, like documents and passports, provide clues to insurgent activities.

But U.S. military regulations require that all items U.S. troops pick up — no matter how mundane — must be documented, to prevent accusations of looting.

Here is just a fraction of the hundreds of items listed on the three-page, single-spaced list:

226 AK-47 assault rifles9 rocket-propelled grenade launchers7 swords22,680 7.62 rounds (used for AK-47 assault rifles)12 bird-shot shotgun rounds2 rigged suicide vests8 blocks of C-4 (a military plastic explosive)200 radio wrist watches (can be used to make roadside bombs)5 atropine injectors (atropine is an antidote for nerve poisoning)49 Iraqi Army uniforms50 cases of Johnny Walker and 100 cases of Smirnoff1 SUV with bullet-proof glass1 watch with Iranian symbol1 chai (tea) set

— Lisa Burgess

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