BAGHDAD -- Third infantry division troops are helping mount what officials hope will be the deathblow to al Qaeda in Iraq.
The Multinational Division Center announced Tuesday that its forces began pursuit of remaining insurgent elements near Salman Pak on Friday, kicking off of Operation Marne Grand Slam.
Troops from the 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, are moving into Combat Outpost Carver, under construction southeast of Salman Pak. The outpost, in an area that was a former stronghold of the Iraqi Republican Guard, is on a Tigris River peninsula. From there, soldiers can keep an eye on river traffic and impede insurgent movement, officials said.
The 3rd BCT is out of Fort Benning.
The first phase of Grand Slam involves clearing a peninsula that stretches into the Tigris River, directly south of the city of Salman Pak. In addition to targeting the terrorist network there, coalition forces will go after al Qaeda in Iraq's infrastructure of safe houses, weapon caches and firing points.From that point, officials said, U.S. soldiers will increase their presence in the surrounding area to help the local population regain control.
The outpost is named after Pvt. Cody Carver, from Haskell, Okla., one of three soldiers killed in an Oct. 30 attack in Salman Pak and, at 19, the youngest of the 10 battalion soldiers killed over the past year. Officials said Combat Outpost Carver hosts the first permanent presence of coalition forces in an area that has troubled the battalion for months.
The move south was facilitated by cooperation with coalition partners from the Republic of Georgia. A battalion of Georgian troops, part of 1st Georgian Brigade, recently assumed control of an area north of Combat Outpost Carver, allowing U.S. troops to move south.
U.S. commanders are working with local tribal sheiks to set up a security cooperation arrangement with their tribesmen, the same as has been done elsewhere throughout Multinational Division Center with "Sons of Iraq" citizen security groups. Talks have been under way for almost a month, preceding Marne Grand Slam, to organize Sons of Iraq leaders and plot locations for security checkpoints, officials said.
(From a Multinational Division Center news release.)