Dec 29, 2006
BY Staff Sgt. Kason Fark, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regimen -
BAGHDAD - Staring down at an empty lot, Spc. Craig McBaine wonderedhow such a tranquil neighborhood could be the scene of so much carnage.
Nicknamed "IED Alley East," this 700-meter stretch of barren earth hasbeen the scene of many attacks against coalition and Iraqi securityforces.
On this day, the patch of land, bordered on three sides byonce-beautiful three-story houses, is occupied by up-armored Humvees,Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Abrams Battle Tanks, all in support ofOperation Beastmaster.
During Beastmaster, troops from the 4th Battalion, 1st Brigade, 6thIraqi Army Division cleared three large neighborhoods in the westernBaghdad suburb of Ghazaliya. The sight of much sectarian violence,Ghazaliya is the battle ground for Sunni insurgents trying to push backthe overwhelming Shia population in the northern and eastern areas ofBaghdad.
"Alternate Supply Route Sword," the U.S. military's name for thelargest road running through southern Ghazaliya, is also the in-roadfrom Fallujah to Baghdad proper.
Having just arrived weeks ago, Soldiers of Company D, 2nd Battalion,12th Cavalry Regiment, attached to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1stInfantry Division, have set upon the goal of taking over the securityof Ghazaliya from the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 23rd InfantryRegiment, 2nd Infantry Division.
"It's been pretty crazy already," McBaine said. The Florida native'spatrol would later be hit multiple times by small arms fire, arocket-propelled grenade and a roadside bomb.
Based out of Fort Bliss, Texas, 2-12 Cavalry is part of the 1st CavalryDivision's newest brigade - the 4th "Long Knife" Brigade Combat Team.While the unit may be new to El Paso, Texas, it is no stranger tocombat.
2-12 Cavalry was de-activated shortly after its return from OperationIraqi Freedom II in March 2005. The unit has also earned streamers inother conflicts such as World War II, Vietnam, and Desert Storm. Theunit was the first U.S. unit in Leyte and Japan. The unit re-activatedat Fort Bliss 18 months after returning from Iraq.
Participation in operations such as Beastmaster with the Iraqi Army isthe key to handing Iraq back over to its people. The Iraqi soldiersinvolved were being observed by coalition forces to gauge their abilityto perform urban warfare tasks.
Overall, Operation Beastmaster was a huge success. In the course ofthree days of house to house searches, the Iraqi Army troops uncoveredseven weapons caches, numerous roadside bomb-making materials andcaptured a high-value target.