Thursday, December 22, 2005

U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division finds "large cache"

You have to go to Russia to hear whats going on with our soldiers

01:10 2005-12-21
As the piles of missiles and rockets dug from the desert floor grew, smiles on U.S. Army soldiers' faces turned to scowls of serious concern. Working on a tip from an informant, soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division on Tuesday dug up more than a thousand aging rockets and missiles wrapped in plastic, some of which had been buried as recently as two weeks ago, Army officials said. "This is the mother load, right here," Sgt. Jeremy Galusha, 25, of Dallas, Ore., said, leaning on a shovel after uncovering more than 20 Soviet missiles. As the sun set Tuesday, U.S. soldiers continued to uncover more, following zigzagging tire tracks across the desert floor and using metal detectors to locateweapons including mines, mortars and machine gun rounds. But the growing piles of missiles and rockets were of primary concern for the soldiers in Iraq, where bombs made with loose ordinance by insurgents are the preferred method to target coalition forces. "In our eyes, every one of these rockets represents one less IED," said 2nd Lt. Patrick Vardaro, 23, of Norwood, Massachusetts, a platoon leader in the division's 187th Infantry Regiment. Vardaro would not comment on whether there were signs the caches had been used recently to make bombs, but the service records accompanying the missiles dated to 1984, suggesting they were buried by the Iraqi military under Saddam Hussein. Still, the plastic around some of the rockets _ of Soviet, German and French origins _ appeared to be fresh and had not deteriorated as it had on some of the older munitions. An U.S. Air Force explosive ordinance team planned to begin destroying them as early as Wednesday morning. Commanders in the 101st said knowing that an Iraqi tipped them off to the buried weapons could mean that residents in this largely Sunni Arab region about 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of Baghdad are beginning to warm up to coalition forces. "The tide is turning," Vardaro said. "It's better to work with Americans than against us." Army officials would not say who had informed them of the weapons caches or whether national security forces including Iraqi Army and police had helped. "A good Samaritan told us about it," he said, reports AP. O.Ch.

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