CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
101st Airborne Conducts Support, Stabilization Operations
Aired April 13, 2003 - 06:17 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I believe we have Ryan Chilcote on the line. We do have Ryan Chilcote on the line. Of course, he's embedded with the 101st Airborne. Good morning. What's happening with you, Ryan?
RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. Well, a bit of a different scene here in Baghdad. Soldiers of the 101st Airborne inching away from combat operations into what is called SASO, or support and stabilization operations. First on the top of the agenda for the soldiers of the 101st Airborne today, going through some 32 schools in their sector of southern Baghdad. Schools throughout this war have been used by the Iraqis to hide weapons caches. They're going through those schools right now. Initial reports that we're getting back is that they are indeed here in Baghdad, like they found in other cities, finding small arms in a lot of the elementary schools here in southern Baghdad.
Also, they're paying a visit to the power plant. This part of Baghdad, like most of Baghdad, is without electricity, and it is something obviously that the U.S. Army would like to correct as quickly as possible. The commander of the 101st Airborne's 3rd Brigade meeting today with the power plant director, being told, look, in order to get our power back on line, we need your help. We need American troops to guard our power plant from looters. Also being told that in order to get the power plant back on line, they are going to need a lot of help with the reconstruction of the plant. It was apparently very heavily damaged in U.S. bombing.
Yesterday was also a very busy day for the troops here. First they were led by an Iraqi man into an empty lot in southern Baghdad, where they found the remains of a U.S. serviceman. They then said a short prayer over the remains of that soldier, and evacuated his remains from the area.
Lastly, they also hit a Baath Party residence yesterday. Really inspecting it. Quite an interesting scene. I don't know if you can see the video right now, but we have some pictures of what they found there. First, they found a pretty decadent home by Iraqi standards, complete with a full bar, which is something I guess you wouldn't expect in this part of the world. Also, a Rolls Royce parked in the parking lot, in the driveway, rather, a swimming pool, and believe it or not, an American-made Huey helicopter, camouflaged out there in the backyard.
So the troops are going to go street by street, block by block, through their sectors in southern Baghdad, looking for weapons and looking for stray Iraqi soldiers, or as I'm sure heard, hundreds of times now, these Fedayeen fighters, the so-called paramilitary fighters.
But so far, what they're running into is primarily weapons caches, not a whole lot of contact with any kind of Iraqi forces -- Carol.
COSTELLO: I'm still getting over the Huey helicopter in the backyard. That truly is amazing. From where you're standing, Ryan, things look rather peaceful, but sometimes pictures can be deceiving. Are they running into any resistance, from your vantage point?
CHILCOTE: No resistance today. They did find a lot of weapons caches outside at the schools. I talked about the schools, but they also found a lot of abandoned military equipment, outside of schools, including some more helicopters, like the one you saw in that pictures, also some Russian-made helicopters, both the Russian-made attack helicopter and a Russian-made troop mover. They found today and they destroyed those helicopters.
But they were just sitting on the ground, completely abandoned. Also, a lot of surface-to-air missiles found today.
They are not seeing a lot of contact, which is something that I think is really surprising to everyone here. What they are finding is a lot of people, a lot of Iraqi people here in southern Baghdad, turning to the troops for assistance, saying, hey, look in my neighbor's house, there is a bomb. Could you please remove it and dispose of it? Or down the street, like yesterday, there is a mosque, and inside of it, they were going to find 30 Fedayeen paramilitary fighters. That did not turn out to be the case, but they are getting lots of these tips, from Iraqis, who really want the U.S. forces to help them clean up, if you will, and make this area more stable -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Understand. Ryan Chilcote, many thanks to you, reporting live from Baghdad, with the 101st Airborne Division.
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