Grape identified the 101st Brigade Support Battalion, which belongs to
the 1st Infantry Division, as responsible for the effort to defend U.S.
aircraft against SAM strikes in northern Iraq, Middle East Newsline reported. The battalion has been
conducting patrols around U.S. bases amid the threat of Iranian-sponsored
Shi'ite militia operations against the American military.
Officials said the Shi'ite militias were believed to have received
rockets and SAM systems that could down U.S. military helicopters as well as
low-flying fixed-wing aircraft. They said the 101st Brigade was patrolling
outside major bases to prevent insurgency squads from approaching with such
weapons as the Russian-origin SAM-7, with a range of 3.5 kilometers.
"I help develop our anti-SAM tactics," Chief Warrant Officer Shane
Nicholson, a helicopter pilot, said. "The unit's intent is a good one, but
we must be able to change and adapt to what the enemy might do next."
The Army has assigned 4,000 soldiers to protect U.S. facilities from
militia attacks in an effort that includes regular evaluation of enemy
strength and tactics. Officials said the military expected attacks to
increase as the United States prepares to withdraw from Iraq in December.
"As we close on Operation New Dawn, units are required, on a daily
basis, to conduct new missions that are not normally in their spectrum of
operations," Maj. Edward Huddleston, an operations officer, said. "This
deployment, the battalion continues to do more and more non-traditional