Written by U.S. Army 1st Lt. R.J. Peek
Task Force Rakkasan
Ghazni Province, Afghanistan – Afghan forces and members of Task Force Iron Rakkasan conducted combined combat operations, taking the fight to an enemy safe haven in Ghazni Province November 28th.
Soldiers of TF Iron Rakkasan, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, conducted Iron Blade II, a battalion-level operation against a large cluster of villages in the Brimzi area insurgents used as a safe haven for the last several years.
Afghan Uniform Police and Afghan National Army units combined with Task Force Iron’s three organic infantry companies to attack the safe haven in a pre-dawn operation.In addition to human-gathered intelligence, the attacking forces employed remotely piloted vehicles, close-air support and other aerial detection platforms to find, fix and finish the insurgents.
During the initial phase of the operation, Soldiers from Company C, 3rd Bn., 187th Inf., identified a 40-pound improvised explosive device and safely destroyed it with the help of a route-clearance package and a U.S. Air Force explosive ordnance disposal team. Soldiers on the ground continued to move under the cover of darkness to their respective blocking positions when Co. C struck a second IED. The IED strike caused no injuries.
By morning, three companies had maneuvered deep into an insurgent safe haven, enabling ground forces to employ air assets to hunt the enemy. Using a combination of “eyes in the sky,” TF Iron identified and tracked multiple groups of insurgents.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Erik Padilla from Clarksville, Tennessee, for the 3rd Bn., 187th Inf. Bn., personnel security detachment platoon sergeant, worked alongside A Company.
“A Co. was very tactically sound,” Padilla said. “They communicated and maneuvered very well amongst themselves and with the air assets.”
As Co. A moved through its objective, the insurgents began to flee. With help from U.S. Army Capt. Edward Peskie from Smock, PA, Co. A commander, an RPV identified one insurgent with an AK-47 and military binoculars. After maintaining positive identification, attack aircraft engaged the position with aerial munitions, eliminating the insurgent and destroying his motorcycle.
Later, the RPV identified and eliminated two more insurgents on a motorcycle, carrying AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades.
Additionally, the aerial detection platforms employed during Operation Iron Blade II allowed Task Force Iron to identify several possible cache locations and insurgent safe havens to target in future operations.
“The (RPV) was a huge contributor to the success of today’s operation,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ryan Horton from Sarasota, FL, 3rd Bn, 187th Inf., joint terminal attack controller. “The ground forces flushed the insurgents out, and the (RPV) finished them. The asset was outstanding at tracking the insurgents and feeding information back to the Soldiers on the ground. This was definitely one of the best coordinated operations I’ve worked.”
The Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces searched houses, talked to key leaders, detained one insurgent and seized three RPGs.
The combined efforts by all elements of Task Force Iron made the operation a tremendous success and greatly disrupted insurgent operations in eastern Ghazni, said U.S. Army Lt. Col. David Fivecoat from Delaware, Ohio, 3rd Bn, 187th Inf., commander.
Deh Yak’s Afghan Uniform Police Chief, Haji Faiz Mohammad, agreed with Fivecoat’s assessment of the mission’s success and its importance to the people of eastern Ghazni province.
“We had a good and successful mission in Aziz Godale,” said Faiz Mohammad. “Everyone is pleased that we have Americans in our district. They’ve brought increased security by working alongside of the AUP and [Afghan National Army] here.”