Largest Air Operation Since Beginning Of Iraq War
In the face of escalating insurgent violence and a looming
threat of civil war, military officials announced Thursday morning
that Iraqi and coalition forces launched the largest air
assault operation since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom in
southern Salah Ad Din province, to clear a suspected insurgent
operating area northeast of Samarra -- about sixty miles from
"Operation Swarmer" began this morning with soldiers from the
Iraqi army's 1st Brigade, 4th Division; the US Army 101st Airborne
Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team; and the 101st Combat Aviation
Brigade conducting a combined air and ground assault to isolate the
objective area, officials said.
Attack and assault aircraft provided aerial weapons support for
the operation and also delivered troops from the Iraqi army's 4th
Division; the "Rakkasans" from 1st and 3rd Battalions, 187th
Infantry Regiment, of the US Army; and the "Hunters" from 2nd
Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, US Army, to "multiple objectives"
according to a Multinational Force Iraq statement. Forces from
Iraq's 2nd Commando Brigade then completed a ground infiltration to
secure numerous structures in the area, officials said.
More than 1,500 Iraqi and coalition troops, more than 200
tactical vehicles, and more than 50 aircraft participated in the
operation, according to the MNF-I statement.
Initial reports from the objective area indicate that a number
of enemy weapons caches -- containing artillery shells, explosives,
materials for making homemade bombs, and military uniforms -- have
The operation is expected to continue for several days, as a
thorough search of the objective area is conducted, officials
Operation Swarmer follows closely the completion of a combined
Iraqi and coalition operation west of Samarra in early March that
yielded substantial enemy weapons and equipment caches.
Officials state the name "Swarmer" was derived from the name
given to the largest peacetime airborne maneuvers ever conducted,
in spring 1950 in North Carolina. Soon after this exercise, the
187th Infantry was selected to deploy to Korea as an airborne
regimental combat team to provide Gen. Douglas MacArthur with an