By Multi-National Division - Center
Public Affairs Office
BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division – Center forces began pursuit of remaining insurgent elements near Salman Pak Feb. 15 with the kickoff of Operation Marne Grand Slam. The operation is designed to terminally disable the dwindling number of al-Qaida in Iraq operatives remaining in the region southeast of Baghdad.
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 AQI’s infrastructure of safe houses, weapon caches and firing points.
From that point, U.S. Soldiers will increase their presence in the area surrounding Salman Pak, to assist the local population in regaining control of their area.
Troops from the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division are already moving into Combat Outpost Carver, currently under construction southeast of Salman Pak. The outpost is located on a peninsula on the Tigris River, in an area that was a former stronghold of the Iraqi Republican Guard. From here, Soldiers can maintain visibility on river traffic and impede insurgent movement.
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.
COP 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 the 1st Georgian Brigade, recently assumed control of an area to the north of COP Carver, allowing U.S. troops to move south.
U.S. commanders are now working with local tribal sheiks to set up a security cooperation arrangement with their tribesmen, the same as has been done elsewhere throughout MND-C with the Sons of Iraq groups. Talks have been underway for almost a month, preceding Marne Grand Slam, to organize SoI leaders and plot locations for security checkpoints.