Following the “Rachel” and “Racket” operations, Detachment One was set to hunt for an HVT known only as “X” (the actual identity of “X” still hasn’t been unclassified).  “X” was believed to be a high-level insurgent facilitator; one of his associates had been captured in May, putting him on the operational radar.  He showed signs of military and intelligence training and had eluded capture more than once already.  A previous task group had been after him and had come up short every time.  Part of the reason for this, in addition to his proven tradecraft, was the fact that he could not be positively identified.  There were no images of him in Coalition hands.

The Det personnel, including Maj Carter, Captain Batts, and GySgt Johnston (who was the liaison between the Det and various other government agencies), began working with other government agencies to start zeroing in on “X.”  While the agencies had sources close to “X”s organization, those sources weren’t highly-placed enough to lead anyone to “X” himself.  So, they started small.

A source was able to finger a van that was used by “X”s organization, and assets started tracking the van.  In a short time, they were able to use the van’s movements to determine the residence of one of “X”s subordinates on the northeast edge of Baghdad.  The residence was code-named “Red Bull” and the Det One Marines started preparing for the hit.

This was not a time-sensitive target.  The Det One Marines spent two weeks preparing for the raid.  While this might seem like a long time to prep for a raid (and in a combat environment, it is), there was a good reason for it: other assets were using their sources and methods to attempt to lure “X” to the residence on the night of the raid.

On the evening of May 11, the raid force was on the vehicles, lined up and waiting for the “go.”  The intel and support staff were in contact with the case officer, who was in contact with the source, who was watching the house.  As soon as the source signaled that the man suspected of being “X” was on-site, the convoy launched.

The Marines hit the house smoothly and uneventfully.  There was no resistance.  There was also no “X.”  He had slipped away.  Later investigation revealed that there had been a break in contact with the source, who had not had eyes-on the target building for that time.

The raid wasn’t a complete bust, though.  The owner of the house was an associate of “X”, and had in fact been schooled in bomb-making by the HVT.  The house also provided a wealth of intelligence further revealing elements of “X”‘s operations.

“X” wasn’t standing still, however.  Shortly after the raid, one of the sources close to his organization was murdered, along with his young daughter.  This was not the first source who had been found out and killed.  The Marines pushed harder to close the net and catch “X.”