The following was released by Spc. Ricardo Branch, 1st BCT Public Affairs, 3rd ID:
RAMADI, Iraq (May 8, 2007) - The Iraqi Army Soldiers arrived just after dawn bleary eyed, but determined at the shore of the Euphrates River. For someone looking at them, one might think they were just another group of "U.S. Joes" out on a mission, but this was different, patrolling on their own.
Most operations, Iraqi Soldiers work alongside Coalition troops to learn from their Coalition counterparts, but they never operate independently until everyone believes they are ready.
The small contingent of Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division proved their capability first hand during a sweep for weapons caches along the Nazer Canal May 7 south of Ramadi.
Maj. Ani, battalion intelligence officer, 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division said the mission was to show the Iraqi Army's capability to hunt down the weapons caches of insurgents attacking Ramadi.
"We're here today to sweep the banks for caches," Ani said. "There have been mortars, improvised explosive devices, and small-arms weapons found here in the past because insurgents use this area a lot."
During the mission, the Iraqi Soldiers searched the riverbanks and nearby fields for anything suspicious. They divided into two teams, who each went separate ways to cover more ground during the search of the banks.
"You find lots of munitions during searches like this," Ani said. "We find something almost daily. Earlier today, we found a rocket wired with some detonation cord that could have killed many people."
While the search was going on, Staff Sgt. Clifton Terry and Military Transition Team Soldiers monitored their progress from a distance.
"This is all their show," he said. "The only thing were doing here is getting an eye on things if we need to call for air support, or if we run into coalition forces, to act as the mediators."
Terry said that the Iraqi troops he works with are doing a good job.
"Everything they do here today is a reflection of their training," he said. "All the things they recover and stop today are them. We're just here to watch."