U.S. forces destroy targets near base in Iraq
COMBAT OUTPOST CAHILL, Iraq — A barrage of heavy bombs and rockets obliterated five homes and targets as close as 500 yards from Combat Outpost Cahill shortly after midnight Monday.
A B-1 bomber dropped 2,000-pound bombs on some structures and four 500-pound bombs on another, 3rd Infantry Division soldiers said. A Multiple Launch Rocket System took out other targets, they added.
The abandoned homes and an observation tower were being used to stage attacks and watch Cahill, say soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade.
“In three months, we had three complex attacks … and they were getting progressively longer,” said Sgt. Paul Bates, a forward observer from Knoxville, Tenn.
The last such attack on the outpost came Nov. 6. Another attack came a month ago, when insurgent fire put a hole through an Apache helicopter rotor and forced an emergency landing, said the Company B commander, Capt. Richard Thompson.
Soldiers searched houses in the nearby area along the Tigris River and found shell casings, personal effects and other evidence of activity, but not permanent residence, Bates said.
They also used surveillance from unmanned aerial vehicles and Iraqi sources to choose targets before seeking mission approval, he said.
Before the bombing, soldiers checked the homes and nearby area to make sure no one was in the blast zone, Bates said.
The attacks destroyed both abandoned homes and a lookout tower at five target locations. A sixth target was dropped because it was within 15 feet of a $12,000 pumping station providing water to nearby Salman Pak, a city of roughly 25,000 people.
The bombing’s proximity to the base shook walls at Combat Outpost Cahill, but did no damage to the base.
Following the bombing, Cahill’s soldiers said they hoped the big bomb drop sent a message.
“It should have a significant effect on the bad guys when they see something like that,” Thompson said.