[Date Taken: December 4th, 2007. Location: Forward Operating Base Kalsu, IQ. Photographer: Sgt. Kevin Stabinsky, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs.]
An Iraqi Concerned Local Citizen pulls back part of an armchair revealing unknown bulk explosive (50 pounds) inside the cushion of a chair, Dec. 4, in an insurgent safehouse in Arab Jabour. The IED was designed to kill an entire squad when entering the building. The building was destroyed by a joint direct attack ammunition bomb once it was found to be booby-trapped.
Sergeant Stabinsky's report about how the local Iraqis are helping Soldiers is after the jump.
...The chain of events began Dec. 2, when the CLCs conducted a daylight search of a suspected insurgent base of operations.
The citizens, led by Salah Mubarak, conducted the mission after they experienced a number of attacks around the abandoned building, said Capt. Eric Melloh, from Hunstville, Texas, commander, Company A, 1-30th Inf. Regt.
Tired of the violence, local residents including Mubarak’s cousin, who owned the structure, took proactive measures to stop the attacks.
The citizens went to the building to gather intelligence and document anything found with a digital camera supplied by Melloh.
Melloh said the citizens were aware of the enemy’s tactic of booby-trapping houses and found a pressure plate improvised explosive device on the second floor roof entrance. The initiator led to a recliner near the door, which the CLCs cut open to investigate.
Packed inside the chair, Melloh said, was about 50 pounds of unknown bulk explosives, which could have killed an entire infantry squad.
The infantry squad located in the area was led by Sgt. Shawn Moehnke, a Fort Dodge, Iowa, native.
Moehnke of the 2nd Squad, 3rd Platoon, Company A, said he respects the bravery of the CLC group. Often they take on high-risk missions in the name of securing their homes from terrorist threats.
“They’re pretty good (at finding IEDs),” Moehnke said. “We trust them.”
First Lt. Russell Deal, Moehnke’s platoon leader, agreed, “I think they do a great job. They are fantastic at finding IEDs and caches.”
Because of equipment limitations, it is often necessary to have coalition forces aid in removing the devices.
“Each of us loves something about the other,” said Deal, from Charleston, S.C. He said his men love the CLCs’ skill at finding things and gathering intelligence, while the CLCs love the combat power and weaponry the Soldiers bring.
“In this sense we work together very well,” Deal added. “This is a great example of us working together with the Concerned Local Citizens.”
Moehnke, who was on the ground nearby helping evacuate civilians from the surrounding area, said seeing the building destroyed gave him and his Soldiers a good feeling.
“It takes out one more limitation we have. It is one less building we have to worry about,” he said. The CLCs, who often reported taking small arms fire from the building, were also excited at the operation’s results, Deal said.
“Any time we destroy an IED or any other threat to Soldiers it is a big boost for morale,” said Deal, whose battalion knows the pain of loss from house-borne IEDs, having suffered four casualties in August.
Motivated by the success, Deal said the CLCs and Soldiers will continue to push forward, riding the momentum against terrorists.
“We’ll follow up with continued recon patrols and overwatches. We’ll keep pushing them further south.”
Deal credits the partnership with the CLCs to good community relations between the Soldiers and the Arab Jabour residents.
“It goes back to before the Concerned Local Citizens, just treating the community with respect. We spend a lot of time together,” Deal said.
Knowing one day the Soldiers will leave, Deal said much of the time together is spent teaching them skills to take care of themselves, their families, community and nation.
“With some good training they’ll do just fine,” Deal said about the CLCs.